What’s Next?

17Jul12

I’ve been back in the United States for about a month now. I spent 5 enjoyable days in Tucson, Arizona before driving 2,600 miles across the country. Unlike last summer’s sprawling road trip that took me from Nova Scotia to Seattle, I took a more direct route on this recent cross-country trek, only stopping a few times along the way. Over the past three weeks, I’ve been visiting with friends and family in Connecticut and Maine. It’s a been a good few weeks with plenty of time for reflection on my recently completed travels. It’s a great feeling realizing that I completed this amazing journey through Central and South America!

With this experience under my belt, it is surely time to find a new job and begin re-establishing my community in the United States? I have missed having projects to work on and I know that the time away from the office environment has recharged my batteries to the point where a new work opportunity appeals to me. Additionally, I miss seeing my good friends on a regular basis and miss being involved in the various community projects that help make a difference in Tucson. Floating between work, community, relationships and travel is not always the easiest place to exist. It can feel a little lonely. From time to time over the past few weeks, I have had the urge to settle into a more stable routine.

On the other hand, over the past few years, some of you have heard me mention the idea of an round-the-world (RTW) trip, an adventure that appeals to my travel planning instincts and desire to experience a little part of the furthest reaches of the globe. A typical RTW trip involves a year or more of continuous travel in one direction, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, while visiting 6-8 destinations.

A number of years ago, I realized that my small fortune of frequent flyer miles on Delta Airlines, slowing accumulating since the early 1990s, could be used to travel round the world. Last summer, I considered cashing in my miles for an RTW ticket. However, since I was so busy seeing the United States, I didn’t have the time to research destinations and find available seats. One of the advantages of starting my international travels in Central and South America was there was minimal pre-planning involved. A one-way ticket to Guatemala was all I needed to be on my way.

When I arrived back in the United States a month ago, I decided that I would look more closely at the possibility of using my frequent flyer miles to travel round-the-world. Upon arriving in Connecticut, I set to work researching how to use my Delta SkyMiles for an RTW ticket. Fortunately, there are some great resources on the web and I began to build an itinerary based on the rules and some of the places I have a strong interest in visiting. Over the course of 3 -4 days, I spent several hours compiling possible destinations and locating available seats on a few of Delta’s and SkyTeam’s partner airlines, including KLM and Air France. Weighing the opportunity to continue travelling against looking for work, admittedly not a fair comparison, I knew that I needed to call Delta and proceed with the reservation. Additionally, while researching the RTW flights, I was feeling a renewed energy to continue travelling. On July 5th,  I called Delta’s Round-the-World Rewards Desk and emailed my itinerary to the reservations agent.  I was hopeful that the reservations agent would be able to not only book the seats I had located doing my own on-line research, but also find seats for a few of the other destinations. The agent was great; after nearly three hours on the phone, I had a RTW ticket with a confirmed itinerary nearly identical to the my preliminary route!

BTW, SkyTeam’s RTW Planner is a great tool for looking at different possibilities. Since the rules for using frequent flyer miles for an RTW awards ticket are different from purchasing a RTW ticket, I did not use this planner. But, I did create the following map that approximates the route I will be taking. I’ve also included my actual itinerary; I’m excited to be flying on some great airlines.

Thanks to everyone who continues to provide encouragement and inspiration. It is great hearing from you and I can’t wait to share my adventures as I go RTW!

Here is a conceptual map of my RTW trip!

Here are my confirmed flights. Using my Delta SkyMiles was a great value. These flights cost me under $600 USD (I only had to pay the taxes). I priced out these same flights at over $10,000!

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3 Responses to “What’s Next?”

  1. 1 Scott

    How exciting!

    Some great destinations and time to enjoy them, India to Thailand overland should be interesting, Nepal? Bhutan?

    Safe travels

    • So far, so good…

      I’m glad that my time in India is open-ended. I couldn’t find a flight out of India with my RTW ticket, so will probably buy something to SE Asia. I can easily spend 2 months in India, but I may still split those 2.5 months between India and SE Asia. I’ll probably get to Nepal for a bit too. My mom is coming to China for 10 days, which I’m also looking forward to.

      Sounds like I missed some good rain! It must be super green! I’m in verdant Scotland, heading to the Isle of Skye to locate the castle ruins of Clan MacKinnon, my mom’s relatives!

      Hope all is well there…


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