Being stationed in Korea for a year, military members are entitled to a “mid-tour” which is a one month vacation to get away from the stress of the work. Myself and Rac wanted to take advantage to this by going to places we haven’t been before and with planning and research, the trip evolved into another mini Asian tour. This time, we were heading west to visit the Maldives, India and Nepal before heading to Manila.
The highlight of our trip would be our “free” stay at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in Maldives, Male. For a paid stay, one would have to shell out over $1600 a night but with the help of HHonor points, our six-night stay would be free. Since I was a Hilton Gold, we would also be getting tons of freebies like free breakfast, free internet, a free bottle of wine and other amenities. After booking our Maldives accommodations, we then looked for flights to get us there. Since, I was coming from Korea, I was going to be flying with China Southern Airlines. I was lucky enough to snag a very cheap ticket that would get me to Male the night before our stay. The trip would also net be valuable miles to add to the stockpile of Delta Skymiles that I have. Also, since I have Platinum status with Delta, all Skyteam flights give me double miles. For Rac, I used my 25k United Dividend miles to fly her from Manila to Male connecting via Singapore. The ticket would normally cost $1,000 so this was definitely a nice redemption. We booked a cheap hotel since we both got to Male a day early. We also arranged seaplane transfers with Conrad to get to the actual resort.
The next stop on the trip was India. Since it was less than 2 hours to get there, it wasn’t really worth it to redeem miles for the flights. I found a low-cost carrier named Spice Jet that has flights from Male to Delhi for a fraction of the price. The only downside was there was a stopover in Mumbai but since the flight was less than half of the price of the direct flights, it was a no-brainer. For our hotel accommodations, I originally booked us three nights at the Radisson Plaza New Delhi for 45k Club Carlson points. I got those points from a promotion about a year ago so I was happy to able to finally use the points. At the last minute, we decided that it was best to book an organized tour with my friend Sheena since there was so much to see in India and there was not enough time. The tours that we purchased came with accommodations so we cancelled our award stays at Radisson.
The next stop on our trip was Nepal. Again, it was a quick flight to Nepal from Delhi so we decided to book flights with Air India. For accommodations, we found a very cheap hotel (around $20 a night) that also had free transfers from the airport! We really made the right choice as the hotel and its staff proved to be one of the many highlights of the trip. With our west Asia tour out of the way, we needed to get back to Manila. With the use of 50k United miles, we booked tickets from Kathmandu to Manila with layovers in both Bangkok and Singapore. This was an awesome redemption since tickets to get back to Manila were pricey and it definitely helped that the flights were operated by Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines, both excellent airlines.
All in all, this trip wouldn’t have been possible if not for travel hacking. We saved over $15,000 all in all and we were able to experience things that we could only dream of.