11 flights, 10 Countries, 9,779 miles, $4850 in Flights – Pay no more than taxes

I have 55,800 American Express Membership Rewards points that I got from The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN.  As we’ve talked about before, miles and points generally fall into one of three categories: Airline Miles, which you can use to book flights, Hotel Points, which you can use to book rooms, or Bank Points, which you can use to do either or transfer to some specific programs.  These Membership Rewards fall into that last category.  Right now there’s a promotion to get a 35% bonus when you transfer from Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios.  With the bonus right now, I could rack up 75,330 Avios. We’ve told you before how nice these points can be for short, direct flights like SLC-LAX or BOI-SEA. But tonight I’m thinking bigger.

Brazil tourYou see, I just got off the phone with my youngest brother who is two weeks into a two month tour of Latin America.  He started in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has thus far worked his way down to Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Of course he is raving about the experience and I’m a deep shade of green with envy.

And you know what envy does to a wanderluster… it doesn’t throw them into bouts of woe and depression, it incites them to action.  It invites them to say not “I can’t do that,” but “how can I do that?”  Well, I got a little carried away and I am in total shock and awe at what could be done with my Membership Rewards.

I set out to get maximum exploration for my miles.  This is kind of a “diagnosed-with-terminal-disease” itinerary.  My only objective was to touch as many areas as possible, and minimize any non-air travel.  If I included some bus routes between these areas, it would be even more incredible what could be done.

British Airways South America

Even still, this is what we have: 11 flights, 10 countries, 9,779 miles, $4,850 in flights. Now, given that there are some taxes and fees you’d have to pay on these flights, along with departure fees and various other add-ons, what I’m telling you is that my miles could buy me almost $5000 in flights.

Route BA Avios Retail Cost
DFW-CUN      7,500  $       315
CUN-MIA      4,500  $       280
MIA-SJU      7,500  $       120
SJU-CCS      4,500  $       710
CCS-LIM    10,000  $       890
LIM-UIO      7,500  $       548
UIO-MDE      4,500  $       462
MDE-LIM    10,000  $       575
LIM-TCQ      4,500  $       173
Bus to La Paz
LPB-SCL    10,000  $       278
SCL-COR      4,500  $       499
Total    75,000  $    4,850

I know this seems unfathomable. There’s no possible way that you could do something this amazing purely through wanderlust, a willingness to use the manner of your everyday purchases to accumulate miles, and some cunning planning, right?

Well, here it is, and you can check it for yourself.  I searched out flight routes on British Airways’ Routemap tool, double checked with the British Airways Avios Calculator, measured distances with the Great Circle Mapper, and checked prices with flights every 5 days on Expedia.com.

In fact, I’m willing to offer a challenge.  If you can come up with a route that touches more countries, starting in Dallas and ending wherever you’d like, I’ll very happily send you a $50 – and then I’ll book the trip for myself.

What I’m trying to impart here is that there is no boundary for the wanderluster. Anything you want to do, you can do.  You must be flexible.  You must be creative.  You must be willing to put in the research.  I’ve been voraciously thirsting for global conquest for about 13 of my 34 years, and I’m nowhere near stopping.

Get yourself some British Airways Avios and open the door to Latin America.  You can transfer the Membership Rewards you can get from the The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, or go for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card.

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10 Responses to 11 flights, 10 Countries, 9,779 miles, $4850 in Flights – Pay no more than taxes

  1. Karen Cagle says:

    So did I miss the part that says how u get home?

    • bradleyjai says:

      Lol. That’s just the point – Argentina becomes home! No, there’s obviously ways to change the itinerary to make it a loop. In one iteration I was playing with the traveler would have stopped in on Easter Island before ending in Tahiti… Maybe that would be a better place to make home. 🙂

      No, the idea was just to show how much could be done with the miles when you maximize their value. Thanks for following and commenting.

      Do you have any exciting trips planned?

      • Karen Cagle says:

        Arrived home Thursday from a relaxing trip to westin lagunamar in cancun. NYC trip planned for June, and a month in our
        Westin kaanapali villas ( timeshare) yearly trip in October, plus a week at hyatt lost pines outside of Austin, ( another time share, my husband is a super easy target for those sales people!) next month. Will fill in with a few camping/fishing/tubing trips …always on the go. Oh, maui flight is with united points, every year. I pay for the shorter flights and use points on the big ones..did Thailand/ japan a couple yes ago for free too! Love my points!

        • Sheldon says:

          @Karen- You’ve got it all figured out. So glad to hear that you’re traveling. How many countries have you visited?

          • Karen Cagle says:

            Not sure that I have it ” all figured out”, but I work at it!
            I have enjoyed travel to Thailand
            Japan..Tokyo and Kyoto
            Amsterdam
            Germany
            Switzerland
            France
            Belgium
            Netherlands
            Monaco
            Canada
            Mexico
            And yearly to Maui for a month
            We sold our business a few yrs ago and retired when I was 47 yrs young, and hit the road also doing 2 month long driving trips all over the USA.
            Usually have at least 4 trips in the planning mode at once, love to go go go !

          • Sheldon says:

            @Karen- Way to go! That is the way to live life. Hopefully I can do the same when I’m 37 to one up you. 😉

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  4. Devin says:

    My dad has always wanted to visit Machu Picchu, and now that I’ve discovered the world of Wanderlusting, I’ve decided to try and go with him on the cheap. In your professional opinion, what points should I go after to make this amazing trip happen? Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Sheldon says:

      Devin- You got it! Your best bet would be to book the flight with American Airlines. As long as you go during their off-peak times (Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela: January 16 – June 14; September 7 – November 14) then it will only cost you 30,000 AAdvantage miles round trip. You can easily score 30k with American, and their award availability is amongst the best. This will get you to Lima. You could either take a bus or a flight to Cusco. The flight to cusco would be best done with British Airways miles. They can be obtained through the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the British Airways card, or any American Express Membership Rewards card. That should only cost you 9000 Avios each for the round trip. Happy WorldWanderlusting

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