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tour du monde famille

The logistics of our 5-month world tour as a family

To the point

Here we are at the beginning of a 5-month world tour with our family! Here is a presentation of the set-up of this world tour, the points we used and the destinations we will discover.

Why this trip?

Audrey and I have two children:

  • Alexandra, 4 and a half years old
  • Arthur, 2 and a half years old

Alexandra will be leaving daycare next September to start school, which means less flexibility to go on trips.

We are frequent travellers, as are our children. After all, they’ve already done a “mini-world tour” passing through France, Vietnam, Hong Kong and San Francisco in 2018.

Travel with children 37
Family in San Francisco

I have been working on the “milesopedia project” since Alexandra was born almost 5 years ago. I might as well tell you that this is my third child to whom I devote a lot of time: it’s not a classic 9-to-5 job, but a real entrepreneurial job, evenings and weekends included. The community can attest to that!

This leaves little time for real family life.

We adjusted our lives accordingly: in December 2018, I quit my comfortable job to devote myself fully to milesopedia. And Audrey chose to leave her job as a salaried pharmacist to become a substitute pharmacist so that she could control her schedule and help me with this project.

One Saturday afternoon in April 2019, when Alexandra was about to turn 4, she told me this:

Dad, can you stop milesopedia and play with Arthur and I for a little bit?

Alexandra
Voyage avec enfants 08
Alexandra boucle sa ceinture !

From this reflection was born the idea of leaving for several months, all 4 of us, to find ourselves as a family and break our routine.

The destinations

Several factors impacted our choice of destinations.

If you’re going to travel for 5 months, you might as well do it during the Canadian winter! So we decided to travel between December and April.

Once the travel period was decided on, we had to decide on where to go. December is a great time to visit the southern hemisphere. After thinking about South America for a while, we chose South Africa as our first stop. It was indeed easier to reach Asia and Oceania from South Africa than South America.

For the end of our trip, in March-April, we turned our attention to Japan and South Korea in order to take advantage of the spring period, associated with cherry blossom.

Between these two fixed points of our trip, we needed a “hub” from which we could explore a “hot spot” between January and March. Singapore naturally stood out (especially since we have family living there).

daisy enfant avion
En famille avec leur grand-mère

Setting up the itinerary

Steps via Aeroplan

So in May 2019, I booked a mini-world-tour ticket with Aeroplan, as it was then allowed:

  • A first stop in South Africa
  • A second stop in Singapore
  • A third stop in Taipei (destination)
mtm famille milesopedia
Notre tour du monde

Additional rules are in effect since September 1, 2019, removing one stop. For more details on permitted routes, read this article.

Why Taipei and not Japan? It was difficult to find 4 seats – in business class – leaving Japan in spring. EVA Air offers a 14-hour flight from Taipei to Toronto with no carrier surcharges via Aeroplan. And 4 seats were available.

Taipei would be our base in Asia and our point of return to Canada.

Arthur dort avion
Arthur et Audrey en avion

Airline companies

Here are the airlines used for this itinerary with Aeroplan Miles:

Departure Arrival Airline Cabin Aircraft
Montreal Zurich Swiss Business A330
Zurich Johannesburg Swiss Business A340
Johannesburg Singapore Singapore Airlines Business A350
Singapore Taipei EVA Air Business B777
Taipei Toronto EVA Air Business B777
Toronto Montreal Air Canada Business A320
alex ipad avion
Alexandra sur Swiss

The cost

With the exception of Air Canada, these are only airlines that do not charge a carrier surcharge when using Aeroplan Miles.

Thus, the cost of the itinerary, per person, in business class was:

  • 150,000 Aeroplan Miles (Asia Rate 1: Taiwan)
  • 216.52 in taxes (including $30 in telephone booking fees)

That’s a total of 600,000 Aeroplan Miles and $866.08 for 4 people. It’s ridiculous for a ticket of this type in business class!

classe affaires enfant
En classe affaires avec les points

The other steps

On our 5-month world tour, we left room over 3 months to modulate our itinerary according to our children. We had never travelled with them for so long, so it was difficult to know their limits.

So, we based ourselves in Singapore/Kuala Lumpur to explore the region according to them:

  • Malaysia / Langkawi
  • Cambodia
  • Burma
  • Philippines
  • Bali
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

We will of course have to make choices: at the time of writing this article, we have some doubts about their capacity to endure the long hours of driving “imposed” by a trip to New Zealand and their interest for a “100% nature” trip.

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Alexandra et son château de sable au Vietnam

Other points used

On this trip, beyond the Aeroplan Miles used for the main itinerary, we’ll be using different point & mile currencies.

Airline miles

British Airways Executive Club Avios

British Airways Executive Club is an easily accessible program in North America.

In Canada, for example, you can earn British Airways Executive Club Avios miles:

Avios are particularly useful in different parts of the world, including Asia and Australia.

So, we have already booked some of our flights for our Asia trip with our Avios miles:

  • in Japan
  • between Tokyo and Seoul
  • between Seoul and Taipei

And we’re planning to use it for some flights with Qantas in Australia, and eventually between Australia and New Zealand.

Our Avios miles were earned primarily through the American Express Membership Rewards program and specifically our American ExpressMD Gold Rewards Cards.

Alexandra et arthur jouent avion
Alexandra-and-arthur-play-plane

Hotel points

Over the course of our nearly 150-day journey, we will visit many hotels and airbnb accommodations.

In order to reduce the cost of our journey, redeeming points will be very useful!

Marriott Bonvoy points

Marriott Bonvoy is our preferred hotel program for 3 reasons:

There are many ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points:

We estimate that about 60 nights during our journey will be fully paid for by the points.

For example, in South Africa, the majority of the hotels we visited cost between 5,000 and 10,000 points per night! Find out more about this country in this article.

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Alexandra au J

Best Western Rewards points

Between the two of us, we have earned- for free – over 100,000 Best Western Rewards points. These come exclusively from the MastercardMD Best Western RewardsMD credit card welcome bonuses that we have each had several times over the past few years.

We have combined all the points into one account as Best Western Rewards allows it, free of charge.

So now is the time to use those Best Western Rewards points!

Photo reports will progressively come on milesopedia to tell you the hotels we’ve been to: we expect at least 1 week of our trip to be covered by these points.

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Alexandra et Arthur à la plage

Hilton Honors points

Hilton Honors does not offer any credit card in Canada that lets you earn points directly.

Of course, it is still possible to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors points, but the transfer rate is not optimal.

We still earned Hilton Honors points in two ways:

In addition, with the Platinum CardMD from American Express, we have Gold Hilton Honors status, which has a definite advantage when traveling with a family: free breakfasts.

We estimate that we will stay at Hilton hotels for about 15 nights on our trip. To learn more about the benefits of the American Express Platinum Card, check out this article.

IHG points

IHG Rewards Club does not offer credit cards in Canada that earn points directly. And it is not possible to earn them via transfer.

We earned IHG points by purchasing them during promotional periods and in anticipation of this trip, with the intention of taking advantage of the PointBreaks promotion.

This way, we can have some points in reserve for a few nights.

Points for Airbnb

We will not only stay in hotels during our trip! Indeed, for a few long stays or in some destinations, we will book Airbnb accommodations.

To do this, you can use points from certain loyalty programs to offset the expense on Airbnb:

alex avion ipad
Alexandra et son iPad en avion

The travel points

Travel points offered by certain loyalty programs can be used to save on many travel-related expenses:

  • Car rentals
  • Transportation costs (train, plane, boat)
  • Hotels

Here are the different types of points that we also have in the bank.

BMO Rewards points

Thanks to welcome bonuses and spending on our BMO Rewards credit cards, we each have close to 100,000 BMO Rewards points, worth over $700.

Nearly $1,500 will be available to cover select car rentals by using our points through the BMO Rewards portal. More details on how to use BMO Rewards points here.

With the BMO World Elite Mastercard, we’ll also have great insurance for those car rentals made with our points. Read more about the card’s insurance here.

American Express Membership Rewards points

While I prefer to transfer my Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan / Avios miles or my Select Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy points, I reserve the opportunity to use them to cover certain travel expenses such as Airbnb or airfare on certain low cost airlines.

It is therefore a currency that I treasure because of its flexibility.

alex dodo masque avion
Alexandra sur Turkish Airlines

HSBC Rewards points

Although we have been HSBC Premier customers since we arrived in Canada (which made it easier for us to get a bank account in this country), the HSBC Rewards program is new for us.

In order to diversify our points & miles accumulation, we decided to apply when we saw an excellent promotion on the HSBC World Elite card.

HSBC Rewards points can be redeemed for any travel purchase (Airbnb, plane ticket…) via a fixed price schedule. They can also be transferred to 3 airline loyalty programs including the British Airways Executive Club.

We will use these points especially for our Airbnb bookings or low cost airline tickets in Asia.

Scotia Bonus Points

With our multiple Scotia Rewards cards, we each have close to 100,000 Scotia Rewards points, which is worth approximately $1,000.

So here we have a budget of nearly $2,000 that can be used on Airbnb rentals or transportation.

AIR MILES Rewards

Finally, AIR MILES Dream Miles.

I prefer to use our AIR MILES Dream Miles for short-haul flights within North America. However, we do have about 15,000 Dream Miles that could be useful for some hotel reservations!

These miles were earned in just a few months with credit card welcome bonuses following our 2019 game plan!

Status

With the American Express Platinum Card, we have earned several statuses that will provide us with undeniable benefits.

And since we each have our own card, we can enjoy the benefits with our children, especially for access to airport lounges.

  • Free unlimited access to Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Hilton Honors Gold status (free breakfast at all Hilton hotels)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold status (not helpful as I have Titanium status due to our 2018-2019 stays)

In addition to free unlimited airport lounge access (especially useful when we travel to Asia on low-cost flights since much of the international itinerary will be in business class), our most valuable benefit will be Marriott Bonvoy’s Titanium status.

Voyage avec enfants 25
N'oubliez pas la lettre de consentement parental si vous voyagez seul(e) !

In fact, from the Platinum status (50 nights per year), the benefits are already exceptional:

  • Free breakfast in most hotels
  • Access to hotel lounges
  • Upgrade to a suite
  • Early check-in (12pm)
  • Late check-out (4pm)
  • High speed Wi-Fi access

With children, all these advantages are important:

  • The breakfasts in Marriott hotels can easily allow us to hold until the end of the day, allowing us to lower the meal budget
  • Having access to the lounges will allow us to eat in the evening and to have free access to different drinks, including milk (for Arthur) and alcohol (for Dad / Mom) 🙂
  • Upgrading allows for larger rooms so that children can have fun and parents can have privacy
  • The early check-in will eventually allow usto take a nap… while the late check-out will allow us to take a shower after visiting the city and before taking the plane back
  • High speed Wi-Fi access… for Netflix!

Credit cards

If there is one question that I am frequently asked in the Facebook group, it is this one:

What credit cards will you use during your 5 months of travel?

With nearly fifteen active cards at the time of our departure, we were spoilt for choice. And very often, the cards used ed to PLAN our trip, are different from those used ON the trip.

This is our strategy!

For restaurants and grocery stores

Whenever possible, we use our American Express Cobalt Card for all our restaurant and grocery store expenses.

This card earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on these types of purchases. Even though it charges a 2.5% conversion fee for transactions in foreign currencies, it’s a big win because of the flexibility of the Membership Rewards points earned.

For hotels

For the hotels, we will use the credit card linked to the loyalty program: this is what allows us to earn as many points as possible.

In this article, I showed how it works with the Marriott Bonvoy program: all the expenses in a hotel should be carried on your room to enable you to earn the most points possible. Then later pay for that with the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, since it earns 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar for purchases at Marriott hotels!

Here are the 3 cards that we will use mainly for the hotels:

For all other purchases

For all the other purchases we will make in the different countries we intend to visit, we will use the HSBC World Elite Mastercard or the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card: Both of these credit cards have no foreign currency conversion fees. That’s a saving of 2.5% on every purchase!

And the fact that we have a MASTERCARD and a VISA card in our wallet allows us to be prepared for any eventuality. Indeed, we have already had one or the other refused.

For car rental deposits

We have limits of about $10,000 on each of our credit cards. However, some car rental agencies will hold up to $5,000 as a deposit on the credit card for the duration of the rental (even 1 week to 10 days beyond the rental).

To get around this, we use the American Express PlatinumMD Card when we pay for our rentals (i.e., when we do not use our points).

This card is a payment card: it has no limit (American Express sets a limit based on your relationship with the issuer and your past purchases, you can simulate a purchase in your account to test your limit).

This allows us not to tie up our other credit cards with our car rental deposits!

Also, unlike most other cards covering vehicles up to $60,000, the Platinum Card® from American Express covers up to $85,000, which can make a difference in some countries.

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Notre voiture de location à Abu Dhabi

For cash withdrawals

For cash withdrawals, we will use our HSBC Premier debit card (no conversion fees for foreign currency transactions, no ATM withdrawal fees).

We also brought our Tangerine debit card as well as other debit cards from “neo-banks”: Revolut and Transferwise (obtained in France).

This way we are prepared for all eventualities!

For more information on how to save money abroad, check out this article!

Follow us on this world tour

instagram milesopedia
Notre fil instagram

Conclusion

Our friends Jessica, Poly and their children from The Wonderlusters have greatly inspired us, as they left for 14 months for an incredible world tour: We invite you to read their articles, especially their review.

Going on a trip like this with our children is an incredible opportunity that we too will have the chance to experience over the next few months. Not everything will be easy, that’s for sure, but such is the case with the life of a family every day. We hope to come out of it more united, more complicit, and somehow better.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in comments of our articles, on the forum or in the facebook group!

tour du monde famille
Let's go for a 5 months world tour with the family!

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