Now this is fun…

Seeing the world one city at a time is going to take a long time. Maybe, too long. Flying somewhere far away, just to turn around and go home seems like a wasted opportunity, especially when airlines will make you fly through at least one more destination en routeΒ anyway. That’s why around the world trips don’t just sound cool – they are cool. Turning two weeks into three or more new continents, a handful of new cities and endless array of experiences is the way to go, and using credit card points or airline miles, it’s surprisingly easy…

Open Your Travel Nerd Tool Kit

Being a nerd has its benefits, and when you fly around the world at a fraction of the price, you’ll agree. You’re going to want to open two more window tabs to play along. The first: GCMap. It’s a tool which tells you the mileage (in distance, not points) between two places. The second, Google Flights. Around the world trips using points are down to exactly how many actual miles you want to fly, and if the airlines you can use actually fly there. You’ll use GCMap to make sure you don’t go over the allowed mileage, and Google Flights to validate that an airline flies between the two places you wish to go. Now, we’re all set…

Great Distance Based Options

Around the world trips can be clever points redemptions thrown together in pieces, or one big trip, methodically planned. AsiaMiles, which is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express and Capital One is a great option. ANA Mileage Club, which is a transfer partner of the US American Express program is also another brilliant option. These trip styles allow you to stop off in each city for a duration of your choosing, which is cool, and if you keep it under 24 hours, it doesn’t even count as a stopover. We’ll focus on those two for now…

AsiaMiles

Transfer Partners: You can create AsiaMiles almost instantly by transferring Amex, Citi, Capital One or Marriott Rewards Points. Points transfers are one way only, so only transfer if you are sure you’ll use your points with AsiaMiles.

Distance Based Options: The key here is using more than one OneWorld airline, and ideally three or four. So if you’re interested, go over to your Google Flights tab and click “airlines” then select “OneWorld”. You should also select “non-stop”. This will make sure you only see flights that you can actually take, and plot your route from there. For a trip of 20,000 miles, which is enough to pretty much get you around the world, you’d need the following number of points…

  • Economy – 105,000
  • Business – 165,000
  • First Class – 260,000

Now the big move is finding a routing to places you want to go, with your combined efforts of Google Flights and GCMap. If you want to go further, you can – just check the AsiaMiles multi airline chart to see how many points you’ll need. For reference, 20,000 miles of actual distance covers an itinerary like Seattle to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Tokyo, Tokyo to Delhi, Delhi to London and London to New York. Cathay Pacific flies Seattle to Hong Kong and both JAL and Cathay fly Hong Kong to Tokyo, and JAL flies Tokyo to Delhi and British Airways flies Delhi London and London to New York direct, so you’re good to go.

Finding Seats: British Airways website is the best tool for finding OneWorld airline seat availability and it’s free. You’ll see partner results below British Airways results. Ignore the British Airways Avios Points rates. These kind of crazy multi city itineraries can be worth hiring a service like AwardExpert or JuicyMiles to do the legwork for you and find all the availability. Expect taxes and surcharges between $500 to $1200 depending on which airlines and where. Not bad for around the world, especially in style!

Booking

Booking this amazing redemption will inevitably require a call to AsiaMiles. Write down the flight numbers and dates where you found availability in your desired cabin and feed the information to the agent. They’ll put it all together and help get you booked. Plan to set aside some time.

ANA Mileage Club

Transfer Partners: You’re limited to US Amex Points, Marriott Points and flying Star Alliance Airlines.

ANA MileageClub offers the very best option for around the world travel. If you have Amex Points in the USA, just 125,000 points can take you around the world in business class. That’s magic. This time you’ll need to swap your Google Flights settings from OneWorld to Star Alliance, to look for non stop routes where ANA and its many Star Alliance partners fly direct. 125,000 points covers up to 22,000 miles of actually flown distance, which is incredibly generous. You can go the full monty and do 25,000 miles of distance for 20,000 more points. The points breakdowns for 22,000 miles of distance are…

  • Economy – 85,000.
  • Business – 125,000.
  • First Class – 200,000.

Once again you’ll want to look for direct routes to keep your mileage low, and confirm the actual distances on GCMap.com. You’ll also want to try and stick to airlines which don’t add steep fuel surcharges. 22,000 miles would be enough for London to Vancouver, Vancouver to Tokyo, Tokyo to Auckland and Auckland back to West Coast USA. An additional 15,000-20,000 points will get you all the way back to the start.

Finding Seats: United.com is the best way to search for seats. You’ll want to find dates where “saver” seats are available, which signifies they’ll also be available via ANA when you make the *lengthy* call to book. Ignore the United rates, you just care about finding “saver seats”. These kind of crazy multi city itineraries can be worth hiring a service like AwardExpert or JuicyMiles to do the legwork for you and find all the availability. Expect taxes and surcharges between $500 to $1200 depending on which airlines and where.

Booking

Booking this amazing redemption will inevitably require a call to ANA. Write down the flight numbers and dates where you found “saver” availability in your desired cabin and feed the information to the agent one piece at a time. They’ll put it all together and help get you booked.

Connecting Random Redemptions

Pulling together clever, unrelated points redemptions can be a really cool way to go. For example, just 25,000 Alaska MileagePlan miles is enough to fly business class from Delhi to Tokyo, stop in Tokyo for as long as you like, and then fly onward to any Southeast Asian destination which JAL flies direct. The same works in reverse, so if you found a cool routing or points redemption which got you to Singapore, or to Delhi, you could then join up to another redemption on the other end via this cool move. Perhaps something like…

The point is, the points options are endless. These are just a few gems you can use working in either direction, and regardless of where you’re starting from. Sprinkle a little magic from one program with a little bit from another, and you’ve started to put together an incredible around the world trip, seeing all the coolest cities.

Are you planning an around the world bucket list trip?