5 Countries, 7 Days, Less than $1,100

Trip Overview:

If you thought our last trip in December was crazy, think again.

We just wrapped up booking our craziest trip yet to 5 countries on 3 continents in 7 days. This trip is just over 25,000 miles flown in economy and business class. Best part? We booked it all for less than $1,100.

Keep reading to check out out itinerary and how we did it!

Trip Map

Leg 1: Los Angeles to Houston

Houston Skyline | Credit: @adamkylejackson

Things get started with a late night/early morning flight on March 29th (technically March 30th.) Although San Diego International is closer, there was not red-eye flight to Houston. For the short flight, economy is the no-brainer.

Los Angeles (LAX) had a couple of red-eye flights and although there was a cheaper flight that got in 1t 5:30am, a 6:22am arrival is better timing to meet up with a friend to play a round of golf in Houston before my second leg begins.

For this flight, I will earn 578 miles for booking with my United Mileage Club Card from Chase in addition to 1,792 award miles for the flight. I am also eligible for a premier upgrade on the flight. (Keep you posted if I get it!)

United accruals include: 1,370 PQM and $256 PQD towards keeping my Premier Silver status with United.

UA Itinerary LAX to IAH

Cost: $289

Leg 2: Houston to Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland Skyline | Credit: @mrlesterchan

After coordinating a meetup with a friend it Houston, it couldn’t have worked out better to go down to New Zealand. Air New Zealand offers a direct flight from Houston to Auckland, New Zealand which clocks in just over 15 hours. 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t book this trip with points. I ran into issues with award availability through United due to Air New Zealand being slow to update their award availability. One minute I was trying to book with points, the next, the award flight wasn’t available.

I was stuck paying cash for this one and it wasn’t too much. The base fare was $563 and I paid an extra $50 to have a preferred seat and hopefully my own row if no one else books in my row.

I looked at booking a SkyCouch but that would have run me an extra $999. I’ll take my chances.

For this flight I should earn 1,854 award miles (.25 multiplier for G class) and $511 or $556 PQD depending on if United counts my paid upgrade. Air New Zealand is a member of the Star Alliance.

Cost: $902

Leg 3: Auckland, New Zealand to Tokyo, Japan

Melbourne Skyline | Credit: @101collinsstree

Next up is probably the most exciting leg. For a mere 40,000 American Airlines Rewards Points, I am able to fly from Auckland to Melbourne with a day layover before heading to Sydney and onwards to Haneda, Tokyo…all in business class on Qantas thanks to them being a One World Alliance Partner.

4 hours in an Airbus A330, just over an hour in a Boeing 737, and best of all, 9+ hours on the upper deck of the Boeing 747-400. I couldn’t be more excited to fly one of the older Queens of the sky.

I transferred 50,000 Marriott points to American Airlines which converted to 16,667 miles. This added to my balance of 23,492 miles and gave me 159 more miles than needed to book the flight. I paid an additional $115 in taxes and fees using my Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

Mt. Fuij | Credit: @jamesrelfdyer

Cost: $1,017

Leg 4: Tokyo, Japan to Los Angeles

Vancouver Skyline | Credit: @erikandersen

The final leg of the trip takes me to Canada for the first time. Checking United to award availability, I was also able to find flights on Air Canada which will also be a first for me. There was only award availability in economy class.

90,000 Marriott points converted to 33,000 United miles and I earned an additional 15,000 bonus points from Marriott for transferring more than 60,000 points. This equated to 5,500 extra United miles rounding out my total to 48,000 United miles.

In hindsight, I could have transferred over less Marriott points to be closer to my threshold for the reward but I learned a valuable lesson out of all of this, transfer early if you’re thinking of flying. I lost out on a great reward flight because the miles took 2 days to transfer from Marriott to United.

Cost: $1,066

And there you have it, less than $1,100 around the Pacific Rim in 7 days. Can’t forget to mention I’ll be squeezing in 6 rounds of golf and only have 3 nights in a hotel which will save some more money. 

There was certainly a lot of juggling and getting the right pieces to fit but it paid off and it’s going to be an epic trip.

I’m very excited for the upcoming trip and am already looking to book my next one. Where should I go? Comment below!