With all our travel throughout the year, we still make it a point to make our anniversary trip extra special. This is our fourth installment of our yearly adventure and I must say that this is our most ambitious one yet. Not because of the number of destinations or the First Class flights but because we wanted this trip to be FREE! Or as close as possible..
To give you an idea of how crazy we can get on our annual trips, our first one took us to the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong & Macau. The next trip then took us to West Asia where we visited the Maldives, Nepal, India, Thailand & Singapore. Last year, we took it easy since we were on our honeymoon and went to Palawan, Philippines & Bali, Indonesia.
Our trip planning usually starts with finding out that one place we really want to go to. From there, we see what other places are close and see if we can get there economically. One thing we knew for sure is that we had to use our massive stockpile of Hilton points since the company was gearing up to dramatically increase the prices of award bookings. Originally, we booked rooms in Bora Bora but quickly realized how hard it was to go there. Since we had a deadline to use the points, we changed the booking to Hilton Northolme in Seychelles! Now, we’ve already been to Maldives and heard great stories about the small country of Seychelles so it was a pretty easy decision. Additionally, it was way easier to get to compared to Bora Bora and the rooms we were booking with points were selling for 600 euros a night so it was great value for our points!
Next, we had to decide which other countries we wanted to hit up. Surely, Seychelles is not enough right? Well, Rac really wanted to see more of Africa and we quickly agreed that there is one city we definitely have to hit up… Cape Town!
A quick look at the flights and there were very few options to get to South Africa from Seychelles. About 3 months out from the trip, I finally pulled the trigger and booked our flights with United Miles. Since revenue flights in economy would cost over $5000 for our trip, it made sense to use our miles. It cost us a total of 155k United miles plus taxes for our 10 segment itinerary which also gave us a short layover to Istanbul, Turkey on the return leg.
Here’s our final itinerary:
Venice – Austria – Ethiopia – Seychelles
Seychelles – Ethiopia – Uganda – Johannesburg – Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town – Johannesburg – Istanbul
Istanbul – Venice
For our accommodations, I booked us 8 nights in Hilton Northolme Seychelles which set us back a total of 340k Hilton points. For Cape Town, we booked Hilton Doubletree in Cape Town for 20k points a night. For our short layover in Istanbul, Turkish Airlines provides a free tour of Istanbul to their flyers. They even pay for your transportation, food and entrance fees!
For our flights and accommodations, we easily saved over $10,000 on this trip.. There is no way we could afford to go on trips like this without the help of miles and points and we are always willing to help others with travel hacking! While the whole trip wasn’t totally free since we still had to pay for food and activities, we are definitely not complaining. Stay tuned for more detailed posts of the trip!