Planning any trip can be difficult but imagine trying to put together an action plan for an epic round the world adventure! Throw into the mix this trip will be accomplished in only three weeks and it’s starting to get a little ambitious. Well, that’s exactly what we have been doing over the last few months as we prepare to embark on a journey that will see us visit five different countries, four continents and literally circumnavigate the globe. What are your plans for Christmas and New Year?
Our Round the World Adventure
We want to share some of our plans for this upcoming trip and give a brief insight into what to expect over the next three weeks. Our desire to achieve as much as possible in a short time is being pushed to the maximum on the trip but of course, the highlight of this adventure is visiting a number of new destinations and experiencing different cultures.
The hope is that we will have some pretty consistent Internet connectivity throughout our journey so that we can keep everyone up-to-date on our adventures because I think it’s safe to say we have some pretty amazing experiences awaiting us.
Let’s take a look at exactly where we are going and what you can expect us to get up to in each country. Don’t worry, there will always be room for some spontaneity so be prepared for anything!
Ok, so it’s likely you are going to want to know how much this is costing and whether it’s feasible for you to experience such an adventure yourself. I did quite a bit of research and planning to come up with the routes and fares that we found but ultimately it’s going to be about timing, desired airlines and undoubtedly a little bit of fortune to ensure that you can make this as affordable as possible.
Leg 1 – Memphis to Chicago
Airline – Southwest Airlines
We are flying from Memphis to Chicago on Southwest Airlines. We have been owners of the Rapid Rewards credit card by Chase for a couple of years and have accrued enough points to pay for this leg of the flight. In fact, we purchased these tickets during Southwest’s semi-annual sale which meant that the fare was around 4,000 points each or $69.
Legs 2 and 3 – Chicago to Abu Dhabi to Singapore
Airline – Etihad Airways
Chicago to Abu Dhabi was the most expensive flight that we booked at $1270 each. However, this includes a 3-day layover in the United Arab Emirates plus the onward flight to Singapore. We are flying Etihad Airways and we have heard a lot of great things about this airline so we are excited to experience them on this 13-hour flight.
Leg 4 – Singapore to Melbourne
Airline – Jetstar
Our ‘luxury’ leg that we are most excited about is our flight from Singapore to Melbourne with Jetstar. Not only are we flying on the new 787 Dreamliner, we have purchased tickets in business class. We are really looking forward to this experience. This flight was $750 each.
Leg 5 – Melbourne to Auckland
Airline – Virgin Australia
After a week Down Under, we are heading to Auckland courtesy of Virgin Australia. There were a number of options but we wanted to fly late in the evening to make the most of our final day in Melbourne so Virgin was the best airline and reasonably priced at $260 each.
Leg 6 – Auckland to Honolulu
Airline – Air New Zealand
Probably the best value fare that we purchased was with Air New Zealand for our flight from Auckland to Honolulu. $460 was a pretty good price and again we will be flying on a 787 Dreamliner for this flight to arrive in what will be our 50th and final US state!
Leg 7 – Honolulu to San Francisco to Dallas
Airline – Virgin America
Our journey home begins with a route from Honolulu to San Francisco where we will spend overnight and then catch a midday flight to Dallas before heading back home. The cost for this flight was $370 each.
Leg 8 – Dallas to Memphis
Airline – Southwest Airlines
After this amazing journey, our final flight will be a short one hour route from Dallas to Memphis with Southwest Airlines. We again took advantage of the semi-annual sale and purchased these flights with points (approximately 5,800 which is equivalent to around $89).
Total Flight Cost
When we add up all eight legs of this flight, we have spent around $3200 each. This could have been less had we opted for economy class on our route from Singapore to Melbourne and also found a cheaper flight en route to New Zealand. You could likely do all of this for around $2500 per person.
Rather than listing a whole bunch of alternative search engines to find the best flights, we would rather focus on one option that we have found to be an awesome resource for this trip – Google Flights. I LOVE the flexibility of the search feature and how you can enter destinations or use the map feature to find the cheapest flight based on your departure airport and dates.
If you have flexibility within your schedule and also don’t mind which airport you fly into, there are a lot of great deals to be found. You can also schedule a multi-city itinerary which is how we found the Etihad deal from Chicago to Singapore via Abu Dhabi.
Forget Expedia, Skyscanner, Travelocity et al. and use Google Flights…it’s the best resource out there for planning an exciting round the world adventure like we have done!
When you are booking a trip like this, you have a couple of options when it comes to booking accommodation. You can try to plan in advance and book everything and for those that prefer a more structured itinerary, this is probably the best route to take.
However, we have adopted a more spontaneous approach and only have a few different hotels booked allowing us a little more freedom to explore and travel away from the above cities if we want to.
United Arab Emirates
Given that we are only spending three nights in the United Arab Emirates, we already have those hotels booked. We are spending two nights at the gorgeous Shangri-La Dubai hotel before heading back to Abu Dhabi and experiencing the beautiful Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana. I think it’s safe to say we are having a luxurious time in the Arab Emirates…it’s Christmas right!
Unfortunately, we are only spending two days and one night in Singapore but we have a great hotel booked at The Westin Singapore which is in a great location and offers the perfect gateway to explore this beautiful city.
Our plan is to spend the majority of our time in Melbourne though we may take a day trip or two to spots outside of the city, the Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles are particularly intriguing which may require an overnight stay. However, we are spending a couple of nights at the Pullman Melbourne On The Park next to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (yes, we are heading to the Boxing Day test match also!).
And The Rest…
Beyond the above-mentioned hotels, the rest is going to be spontaneous! We are planning on renting a car in New Zealand to explore the North Island after spending a day or two in Auckland but we are not sure exactly what we are doing yet.
We love following the philosophy of ‘spontaneous travel’ and we certainly got used to that during our amazing two-week Eurail adventure around Europe last year.
Let’s talk about packing for a three-week adventure across a number of countries. Fortunately, we are heading to places that are going to be warm so it makes it much easier than if we were heading to Iceland and then to the Southern Hemisphere on the same trip.
We prefer to travel as light as possible so it’s likely that we will take one bag between us and then a backpack each. Given that all our flights are going to be ‘international’ (except for the internal US flights), we feel pretty comfortable checking in one bag with the knowledge that we won’t have to deal with additional baggage fees (we have checked that all our tickets have at least one checked bag for free).
A couple of the top tips that we can provide based on our experiences are as follows:
- Spare Clothes – If you are checking a bag, be sure to take a spare change of clothes in your carry-on bag. You never know what may happen to your bag and we have experienced on several occasions that we arrive but our bag didn’t.
- Technology Items – Keep all of your electronic/technology items with you. Not only are they likely to be high-value products that you don’t want to lose or break, you never know when you might need them!
- Overpacking – Don’t overpack! You can always reuse t-shirts, shorts, jeans. Heather can attest that even the females shouldn’t worry about taking too much…novice travelers always overpack and end up returning home with unused items.
Things to Do
We have spent hours researching websites, reading travel guide books and taking tips from friends that have traveled through the countries we are visiting. The reality is there are plenty of attractions in every country we are visiting and we are only going to catch a brief glimpse of what each one has to offer.
Here are some of the top attractions we would like to experience during our trip.
Things to Do in United Arab Emirates
- Burj Khalifa – It’s the tallest building in the world and we love skyscrapers so it’s pretty obvious this will be top of our list of things to do when we arrive in Dubai!
- Burj Al Arab – Ok, so we can’t afford to stay at this high-end luxury hotel, but it’s certainly dubbed as a ‘symbol of Dubai’ courtesy of its stunning architectural design.
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Considered to be the key site for Muslim worship in Abu Dhabi, this breathtaking construction is the epitome of grandeur.
- Emirates Palace – Another gorgeous hotel in the United Arab Emirates, Emirates Palace offers a distinctive “blend of splendor with the latest technology to create a magical and memorable experience.” (Visit Abu Dhabi)
- Ferrari World – Amusement park located on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World is the only Ferrari branded theme park in the world.
Things to Do in Singapore
- Gardens by the Bay – In the heart of downtown Singapore is an area of green space spanning over 100 hectares. Comprising of three waterfront parks, the Gardens by the Bay is a gorgeous collection of plant life waiting to be explored.
- Tiger Sky Tower – For the best panoramic views across Singapore, the Tiger Sky Tower stands at 361 feet tall and is located in the center of Sentosa Island.
- Marina Bay Sands – The Marina Bay Sands resort is possibly the most iconic hotel in the world and it is highlighted by the gorgeous infinity pool on the rooftop overlooking the city.
Things to Do in Australia
As we are planning on staying primarily in Melbourne, the top attractions we want to visit are all focused in this part of Australia.
- Melbourne Cricket Ground – Visiting Melbourne at Christmas gives us the opportunity to experience the infamous “Boxing Day Test” and this year the Aussie cricket team are playing Pakistan. We have tickets for Boxing Day and look forward to this experience at one of the world’s most iconic cricket venues.
- Eureka Skydeck – The tallest structure in Australia is the Eureka Tower and we look forward to visiting another modern-day skyscraper. “The Edge” is a glass cube offering visitors the thrill of a lifetime as you extend from the 88th floor surrounded by glass.
- Great Ocean Road & Twelve Apostles – A day trip we would love to take is along the Great Ocean Road to admire the amazing scenery outside of the city along the south coast of Australia. The iconic Twelve Apostles are a collection of limestone stacks making this a frequently visited tourist attraction.
Things to Do in New Zealand
Given that we are spending less than a week in New Zealand, we are focusing our attention on the North Island and in particular the region around Auckland.
- Sky Tower – We are visiting skyscrapers everywhere else so why not visit the tallest building in New Zealand. The Sky Tower in Auckland stands at just over 1000 feet tall and offers stunning panoramic views across the city and beyond.
- Rotorua – Renowned for the geothermal activity and Maori culture, Rotorua is just a couple of hours south of Auckland.
- Waitomo Caves – Known for its population of glowworms, Waitomo Caves is another spectacular day trip from Auckland.
- Auckland War Memorial Museum – Heather is a huge history fan, so visiting one of New Zealand’s most historic museums is near the top of her to-do list.
Things to Do in Hawaii
We will be spending a couple of days on the island of Oahu and as we won’t have any time to explore any of Hawaii’s other islands.
- Pearl Harbor – It has to be the most popular attraction in Hawaii so any first-time visitors to Oahu will need to pay a visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona. The history of Pearl Harbor is such that this needs no explaining to anyone around the world, so iconic spots like this just have to be experienced to understand the poignancy and history behind them.
- Diamond Head – Diamond Head State Monument offers breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in Honolulu, take the short journey to Diamond Head to experience walking trails that will take you to the edge of a 300,000 crater.
- ‘Iolani Palace – Known as the royal residence of Hawaii, ‘Iolani Palace was home to King Kalakaua and Queen Lili`uokalani, the last monarch in the state. This attraction also serves as the only state residence of royalty in the United States.
That is how you come up with one amazing round the world adventure! It’s taken us quite a bit of planning but we are done with all of that and we are ready to head on our first flight and get this epic adventure underway.
We are focused on sharing live updates throughout our journey so that all of our followers can keep up-to-date with some of the attractions we experience. We are delighted to be partnering with KnowRoaming to ensure that we are connected 24/7 throughout all of the countries we are visiting. There will be more details soon on this amazing service but for those of you that know all about data roaming charges, this service is certainly something you should be aware of!
Please feel free to share any recommendations on things we cannot afford to miss in any of the cities/destinations we are traveling to. We hope that you enjoy our journey as much as we do but most importantly, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!