We just returned home from our month-long adventure using ANA’s Round the World (RTW) redemption mentioned in my previous blog post. This trip was all about exploring new cultures, relaxing in luxurious hotels, and arriving everywhere well rested via business class flights ✈️.
Here’s a rundown of all the countries and cities we visited along with the airlines we flew. All this was done for only 145,000 points per person via ANA’s RTW program. If you’re interested in learning how to earn enough points to do this trip, check out the best bonuses post.
|Taipei (TPE)||EVA||J – Business|
|Seoul (ICN)||Asiana||J – Business|
|Jeju (CJU)||Asiana||Y – Economy|
|Saigon (SGN – Layover)||Asiana||Y – Economy|
|Istanbul (IST – Layover)||Turkish||J – Business|
|Munich (MUC)||Lufthansa||J – Business|
|Berlin (BER)||Lufthansa||J – Business|
|Lisbon (LIS)||TAP||J – Business|
|San Francisco (SFO)||TAP||J – Business|
Our RTW journey – 23,606 miles one way around the world 🌎
Traveling in Comfort
Prior to this trip, Jenny and I had only flown business class (or “J” in aviation lingo) on a handful of occasions. Our most recent experience was Japan Airlines from Ho Chi Minh City to San Francisco, which was an incredible experience. Nothing beats arriving at your destination well rested and well fueled from all the in-flight food, booze, food, and unlimited snacks. For this RTW trip, we were able to snag seven out of nine legs in J. As mentioned in my previous post, finding J availability is the trickiest part to this whole itinerary as most airlines only release 1-2 J seats per flight.
There were many highlights on our flights, so check out the photo gallery photo below. Our favorite airline was EVA since the hard product (actual seats and aircraft) and soft product (service) was top notch. Each passenger was provided with a pre-takeoff drink, amenity kit, pajamas, and unlimited snacks. The food and beverage menu was extensive as well. A close second would be Turkish since all their planes are fairly new and the cabin was spacious and the seats were arranged in suite-like manner, providing a ton of privacy no matter where you sat. In last place was TAP, whose flights were constantly delayed, seats were dirty, food was lacking, but most importantly, no pre-takeoff drink!!
I highly recommend experience business class for any flight over 8+ hours. Being able to lay flat, rest, and dine in comfort and privacy is worth every point! In addition to the flight itself, having a J fare code makes you eligible to access business class lounges. These are often a step up from the usual lounges you would see with Priority Pass or American Express and is much less crowded, allowing us to eat and rest before our next flight in comfort.
A snapshot of our flights in business class
Accommodations: During this journey, we had the privilege of staying in mostly 5-star hotels. We were able to book most of the nights with points and credit card deals, so I’ll share the full details below.
|Hotel Name||How We Booked||Perks We Received|
|Shangri-La Far Eastern, Taipei||Standard benefits of Amex FHR, including late checkout, $100 onsite credit, and preferred room upgrade.|
|Kimpton Da An Hotel||Late checkout, $100 onsite credit, and preferred room upgrade from holding IHG Platinum Elite status|
|Hilton Garden Inn||Late checkout and complimentary breakfast from holding Hilton Diamond status.|
|Grand Hyatt||Late checkout and preferred room upgrade. |
This room had an incredible view – check out the gallery later below.
|Four Seasons||Late checkout, $100 onsite credit, preferred room upgrade, free breakfast buffet and room service. Access to VIP concierge. |
All this was received through booking with the Preferred Partner travel agent. Highly recommended if you ever stay at a 4S. The service was incredible!
|Grand Hyatt Jeju||Late checkout, preferred room upgrade.|
|Holiday Inn and Suites||Late checkout, preferred room upgrade. Two welcome drinks.|
|Hotel Schlosskrone Füssen||Complimentary breakfast buffet. Great Bavarian cuisine – Jenny loved the pretzels.|
|Hilton Munich City||Early checkin (10am!). They were booked pretty full with Oktoberfest in town, so we didn’t expect much here.|
|Grand Hyatt Berlin||Late checkout, preferred room upgrade.|
|The Emerald House Lisbon, Curio Collection by Hilton||Late checkout, $100 onsite credit, preferred room upgrade, complimentary breakfast buffet. Two welcome drinks.|
In total, we used 435,000 points and ~$1400 in cash for a month’s worth of hotel stays. Pretty good if you ask me and is much better than slumming from AirBnB to AirBnB. Also, hotels have more amenities – I didn’t even bring a toothbrush on the trip as I could rely on hotels the entire way.
We leveraged status earned through credit cards and preferred booking partners to get as much value as we could. Having status is helpful as it usually includes free breakfast, upgrades, a quicker check-in experience, and getting a human on the customer service line easier. Here’s all the status we hold and how we attained it:
- Hyatt Globalist: Hyatt’s top-tier status earned through a combination of attaining Discoverist via the Hyatt Credit Card, status matching to Explorist, and meeting the night requirement for Globalist via a corporate status challenge.
- Hilton Diamond: Hilton’s top-tier status earned through simply holding the Hilton Aspire Credit Card.
- IHG Platinum Elite: IHG’s second highest status earned through holding the IHG Credit Card.
- Four Seasons: This chain doesn’t have a loyalty program, but they do recognize status if you book with a known travel agent in their Preferred Partner network. You can find an agent via Virtuoso. We found ours (Sarah Lee) on the /r/fattravel subbreddit and she was wonderful in connecting us with the concierge at the 4S. We booked 6 super hard to reserve tastings and cocktail bars through them. Ping me if you need a referral 🙂
A glimpse into our hotels
Food and Culture: Wow, it’s hard to know where to begin with what we saw, ate, and drank, so I’ll mostly rely on the photos below to convey the journey. It was such an educational experience getting to experience how people live, celebrate, and eat throughout the world. We were fortunate enough to be traveling during festival season in several countries – Chuseok in Korea and German Unity Day / Oktoberfest in Germany. It was fascinating seeing how people celebrated their cultures differently, but at the same time, familiarly. This reinforces the point that we’re all human and we each want to live and grow.
We were also joined by great friends, which made the experience even better! Thomas, Kerry, and Weiland joined for Taiwan and Korea. Brian and Kristen surprised us in Korea. We met up with other friends Ryrixx, Vanessa, and a long awaited reunion with Kevin in Korea.
What’s Next: This RTW trip was a once in a lifetime trip booked almost entirely on points with little out of pocket – what can beat that?! Actually, Jenny and I are already cooking on something for next year so stay tuned for those details! In the meantime, feel free to reach out if you’re interested in booking a RTW trip for yourself. It’s legwork upfront, but worth every penny (and point)!