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One Year of Traveling for Free

Last Saturday I told you about the five trips I took this year for free or nearly free using the methods I learned from Shelli that we taught in the course, “How to Travel the World…”

I promised I would get Shelli to reveal all of the trips she took this year using this method.

As I told you, I’m only using the method at the “intermediate” stage. Shelli is truly a master in the art of free traveling!

Here are all the trips she booked for 2013 and exactly how much it cost for each.

My Year of Traveling in Style and Luxury on a Cheap Budget

by Shelli Stein 

This year I’ll be turning 59.

A few years ago, I decided the time was right to start traveling abroad — something that always has been an ambition of mine, but one that I never fully accomplished.

I didn’t want to wake up at 60 and start this new decade of my life thinking of all of the things I wished I had done and seen when I was younger. So I decided I would learn everything there is to learn about traveling using points and miles.

I spent a considerable amount of time learning these methods from scratch. At first, I didn’t know what I was doing! But little by little, I discovered how to make the method work. I taught my old friend Frederic how to do it, and last year he asked me to create a course with him on the topic. It was an honor to be able to reach out to so many people. I want to inspire them to achieve their travel dreams, just as I am. As I said to Frederic many times: this is about making your dreams come true. It’s about traveling to the places you’ve always wanted to visit, at a price you can afford.

Frederic asked me to list all of the trips I booked in 2013, and give details about each trip. I’m happy to do that!

So here we go! Let’s take a look…

1. Europe in the Spring

My first trip of the year was to Budapest and Vienna, with my partner. Both cities were absolutely wonderful and a first-time experience for us.

We flew using United, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines. All in business class. One highlight of the trip was during the four-hour layover in London, England. Because we traveled business class we had access to the lounge. Much to our surprise and delight, the lounge had showers. After a long overnight flight from the west coast to Europe, it was great to be able to take showers and freshen up before the rest of the trip!

The entire trip cost me $247.10 in taxes and fees for the plane tickets. The same trip out-of-pocket would cost between $4000 and $5000 per person.

For hotels, we stayed for a week at the Budapest Hilton Castle District, all on points. Wonderful hotel, great services and amenities, and excellent location! Regular price would be $200 a night, but we got it for free.

In Vienna, we stayed for a week at the Hotel Bristol, which is a Starwood Preferred Guest hotel choice. I used points and paid $99 a night. This is an amazing luxury hotel right near the Vienna opera house. Regular price for this hotel is around 230 euros a night, or around $300 U.S. We were upgraded to a suite room with an incredible view of the opera house.

Hotel Bristol, Vienna

2. Europe in August 2013.

The second trip of the year is one I just completed! My partner and I just came back from a trip to London and Paris.

We flew with United and US Air, all in first class. Yes, not business, but FIRST! Normal price for this would be $4200.

I’ve always wondered what first class travel was like, so I decided to splurge. It was even more private than business class, and the lie-flat seats really make the journey much more comfortable. The food and amenities, like pillows and blankets, were better as well. There were two particular benefits of flying first class. One was that our plane was very late getting into San Francisco for our connection to London. Not only did they hold the plane for us,  but they sent an escort to meet us and get us as quickly as possible to our London flight. This was amazing because we would have missed our plane and would have had to spend the day at the San Francisco airport instead of London! The other benefit of flying first class was that we were given special vouchers for clearing customs in London, so that when we got off the plane we scooted right through in our own line.

In Paris, because we flew back on US Air Envoy class, we didn’t have to stand on any long lines at the airport for security or to check in, so we had more time to enjoy breakfast in the lounge. The food and service of Envoy class was great, and they even have an espresso machine on board the plane!

Total cost was $139.80 in taxes and fees.

Hotels: In London, we stayed a few nights at the Andaz Hyatt Liverpool using certificates I could buy from Hyatt. I bought the certificates for $260 USD a night (that includes all taxes and fees).

I’ve always wanted to try a Hyatt Andaz hotel and really enjoyed it. I loved the boutique atmosphere of the hotel and the service and Andaz team were excellent. I’ll be back!

The other nights we stayed at the London Hilton on Park Lane for free.

This hotel is right across the street from Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace and the views from our upgraded 22nd story room were wonderful.

So if you count the nights we paid and the nights that were free, we spent $130 a night for top London hotels. Remember that London and Paris are very expensive cities! So our average for hotels, for two people, was very low, considering the level of luxury we enjoyed.

London Hilton on Park Lane
Andaz Hyatt Liverpool

In Paris–We rented an apartment and then spent two free nights at the Paris Park Hyatt Vendome.

This is a luxury hotel that is absolutely gorgeous. The spa was incredible as well. And even though it’s a very luxurious and expensive hotel, the manager sat talking with us for quite some time. We enjoyed our time with him. I felt he really wanted to know about our experience with the Hyatt hotels and he even gifted us with beautiful scented candles to remember our stay at his hotel.

So if we amortize lodging for the whole trip, the paid nights and free nights, it comes to about $85 dollars a night.

That’s an amazing bargain for such wonderful hotels in incredible world-class cities.

3. Israel in the fall.

I booked another trip for this fall to Israel. This time I’m going alone.

I’ve always wanted to go to Israel, but always seemed to put it off. Either I didn’t have the time or felt I didn’t have the money to spend on a trip like this. But now that I’m leveraging miles and points, I don’t have to put this trip off any longer. I’ve very excited about this adventure and this will be my first trip to this part of the world.

I’m flying using several airlines: United, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, and US Air, all Business class.

The total for the flight was $162.17 in taxes and fees. Again, out-of-pocket this would be $4000-5000 in business class.

I’m staying and using points in Tel Aviv at the Sheraton for $110 a night. Regular price would be around $300 a night, with taxes.

Sheraton Tel Aviv

4. Winter Trip to Chile

My last trip for 2013 is to Chile, with my partner. We’re flying American in First Class and Lan Chile in Business class. Total cost to me was $77.50 in taxes and fees. Price for this in business class would be $3000-4000.

We have no hotels there because we’ll be visiting family.

Seventeen years ago my cousin, who I grew up with, moved to Chile to be by his wife’s family. I haven’t seen him, except for a recent day in California, which inspired this trip. I have no idea what his life is like or what it’s been like for him to live in South America all these years.  I’ve never been to South America as it’s always felt too far away for me to travel. Well not any more. I feel so lucky to be able to make this trip, and my cousin is beyond excited as well. He’s so excited I keep getting emails telling me to practice my Spanish!

5. Hanoi and Bangkok in 2014

The last trip I booked, which will be my first trip in 2014, is to South East Asia.

I’ll be visiting Bangkok and Hanoi, flying using Thai Airways, Asiana and ANA all in business class. Fees for the whole trip were $100 in taxes and fees. Tickets going this far in business class can cost up to $10,000, but a minimum of $6000! So it will be an incredible experience.

No hotels booked for this one yet!

So as you can see, my trips were not all 100% free, but my method is more about stretching my travel budget, because airfare and hotels will always be the most costly part of any trip. This way I can travel more often.

So perhaps instead of one big trip a year we can now do three. For me what I want is to be able to travel to places I’ve always wanted to see, taking these long haul trips in business class and experience some 4-star hotels. Using miles and points allows me to see the world on a much more affordable budget!

I truly hope hearing about all these trips will inspire you to learn these methods so you too can visit the places you’ve always wanted to see.

NOTE: Get 50% off the course by using coupon code AUG24. Coupon expires on August 25th. Click on image below to learn more about the course. Make sure to use coupon code upon checkout. 

Do you have a question? Ask Shelli below in the comments section!

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.