Round the World Travel Begins!
After over a year of planning and grinding away at work to save up money, I’m finally on my way to my first one year round the world adventure!
My first stop is Tel-Aviv Israel.
We booked our flight a while back and thanks to travel hacking, we managed to book our flight from Vancouver to Tel-Aviv for only $73.53. Travel hacking will be very helpful at saving us money because of my limited budget.
Originally, my goal was to save up $16,000 prior to leaving Vancouver. Unfortunately, I fell a little short and only ended up with $15,500.
Regardless, I’ll survive and make it work somehow.
Points, Miles, Hotel Status
On the travel hacking front, I did pretty well and ended up with the following points and miles prior to my departure:
- Aeroplan: 392,000 miles
- Alaska Airline: 75,000 miles
- American Express: 135,000 points
- IHG: 50,000 points
- Starwood Preferred Guest: 89,000 points
- Marriott Hotel: 67,000 points
It took me two years to save up all the points and miles listed above! I’m hoping that all that effort of earning tons of points will pay off as it will allow me to travel around the world despite only having $15,500 saved up!
I also managed to acquire the following hotel status’ before departure:
- Marriott Gold Status
- Starwood Gold Status
- Hilton Gold Status
- Best Western Platinum Status
- Fairmont Premier Status
- Club Carlson Gold Status
I’m hoping to score some room upgrades when I redeem my points or if I book any rooms with any of the above hotel groups. I think it’s kind of funny because my round the world travel style will be a mix of two worlds: backpacker type staying at hostels and luxurious type staying at nicer hotels.
I feel like I am going to war with the money, points, miles and hotel status being my “war supplies” for this big endeavour.
Another random item I measured before this upcoming round the world trip is my weight. I heard that males tend to lose a lot of weight when they travel and I wanted to experiment with this and see if this is true. My starting weight before departing is 160 lbs. We’ll see how much weight I lose in the coming months as I travel from one country to the next.
Flying from Vancouver to Toronto
We started our flight to Israel by heading over to the Vancouver International Airport. We arrived three hours early in the airport to check in for our first connecting flight to Toronto.
The biggest game changer for this trip was the fact that I went and got the American Express Platinum Card. Despite the hefty annual fee of $699 (you get $400 back as a travel credit so it’s really only $299), you also get a priority pass which gives you unlimited lounge access for you and one guest.
Relaxing in Plaza Premium Lounge
Karen and I hung out at the Plaza Premium Lounge to eat lunch and relax before the upcoming trip. The food was delicious. We plowed through butter chicken, sausages, veggies, soup, rice, and cakes (you might be wondering now how I will lose weight eating all of this). This perk alone made it feel like getting the priority pass was totally worth it.
Delicious Butter Chicken with Rice
We also discovered that you can shower for free in many lounges which I’m sure will come in handy down the road.
We then boarded our 4.5 hour flight on Air Canada to Toronto. What I like about Air Canada is that their cabin is quite roomy. The major downside is that there is no complimentary food, and you have to pay for some dinky snacks they offer on board.
Flying from Toronto to Istanbul
Upon arriving in Toronto, we had to gun it from one side of the airport to the other to catch our connecting flight to Istanbul.
The long trek from one side of the airport to the other was tedious especially when you are carrying two big backpacks with you.
We also didn’t have time to check out the lounge in Toronto and was unfortunately left no choice but to purchase overpriced sandwiches and a banana loaf for a grand total of $14.
I really hate how airport price gouges the passengers. Regardless, we were starving and getting light headed so we bit the bullet and just bought the food and scarfed it down before boarding the plane.
Our next flight was on Turkish Airlines which was an interesting experience on its own. First of all, no one follows the rules once you are on board. During takeoff, you see people standing up and opening the overhead compartment. Talk about safety issues. It felt like a circus in there as people pushed and shoved without apologizing.
Tasty Turkish Airline Meal
On the bright side, the food was amazing and we ended up eating delicious fish (chicken for Karen). The movie selection was also amazing and I ended up watching Batman vs Superman, a movie I missed watching earlier this year, as well as Joy (a stressful but good movie to watch). Sleep was difficult because the legroom wasn’t exactly roomy. The pillow I received from them also appeared to have some blood-like looking stains as well…
After the 10 hour flight, we finally arrived at Istanbul!
Flying from Istanbul to Tel Aviv
Istanbul Airport is interesting… The place is huge and going from one place to another was a long hard hike.
The first thing we noticed after landing was that the airport is really hot and stuffy. Karen and I were parched and felt very uncomfortable.
I also had a dispute with customs as they looked through my bag and saw my big bottles of contact lens solution. They told me that it’s forbidden to bring such a large amount of liquid and I had to explain to them that I needed that specific brand for my eyes as prescribed by my optometrist.
Thankfully, they let me keep it because I am going to need them for the entire duration of my one year trip.
After the gong show of dealing with the stuffiness, the crowds, and the customs, Karen and I started to venture off to look for a lounge we could relax and hangout in.
At this point, we had a pounding headache and were dying of thirst.
The first lounge we accessed was the PrimeClass CIP lounge. The customer service representative in this lounge had a snobby attitude which was very amusing to see. The lounge itself wasn’t impressive at all compared to Vancouver, and the snobby attitude did not match the actual establishment he worked in.
Rehydrating ourselves in the HSBC Lounge
We decided not to stay here as the atmosphere was too chaotic and so we moved to another lounge. Instead, Karen and myself went up to the HSBC lounge which proved a bit better. Mainly, because it wasn’t as chaotic and crowded. This gave us the necessary headspace to relax a little and get some badly needed water to rehydrate ourself in this sauna of an airport.
It appears that having lounge access will be a life saver for this round the world adventure. Being able to get unlimited access to water and access to a refuge away from the busy hustle bustle of the airport will really help keep us alive as we go from one airport to the next.
After relaxing for a bit before our next flight, we left the comfort of the lounge to venture off to another section of the airport.
We were then faced with another bag check before boarding the plane headed to Tel Aviv.
Our bags were thoroughly checked with some questioning before we boarded the plane.
We were glad to finally board the plane for the final two hour flight to our destination.
Arriving at Tel-Aviv
The flight to Tel-Aviv was pretty pleasant. Karen and I passed out hard during the entire flight from sheer exhaustion.
We were awoken to more food which was amazing, especially the strawberry rhubarb dessert.
Navigating through the Tel-Aviv airport was pretty smooth and we only had one lineup to deal with at this point. Thankfully, Karen and I were only asked three questions by customs and we were on our way to our hotel!
We made it to Israel!
Unfortunately for us, we were overcharged by 20 shekels by our cab driver. We learned this when I asked the hotel manager of the real price upon arriving at Best Western hotel.
At this point, we were too exhausted to think about it as we got ready for bed. Honestly, we badly needed sleep and get ready for the next day to explore our first destination.
Visibly exhausted but happy to finally get some rest.
This round the world adventure will not be an easy. But, I feel confident that it will be an important life changing experience for me and anyone who dares to attempt this feat.