Daily 3 Cards, 3 Continents Update: And just like that, the competition ends with a splash!

109

We’ve had so much fun following three very different journeys during this 3 Cards, 3 Continents challenge, and I’m sad to say that today marks the last day. We’ll have summary posts coming up with information about voting, but in the meantime, enjoy a recap of the journeys we followed!

What is 3 Cards, 3 Continents? Frequent Miler loves creating fun and competitive team challenges. This year Greg, Nick, and Stephen are competing to book the most amazing 3-continent dream-trip using 3 credit card welcome bonuses.

Where in the world are the 3 Cards, 3 Continents contestants today?

Greg was the only contestant still traveling today and while his third and final continent was probably closer to home than some might have guessed, he still wrapped his trip-theme up quite nicely.

Review each contestant’s individual journeys so far. We’re slowly but surely adding clips to YouTube (below), but for “live” updates, make sure to follow us on Instagram too!

Nick’s trip so far…

Nick started out with 88K Capital One points, (75K from the welcome bonus and 13K from spend), 106K American Express Membership Rewards points (100K from the welcome bonus and 6K from spend), and 82.5K American Airline miles (80K from the welcome bonus and 2.5K from spend). He boosted his $1,000 starting allowance to $1,770 by cashing in 70K Membership Rewards points for $770. His card fees cost him $790.

Day 1: Nick started his trip off with a flight from DC to Cairo on Egyptair, part of a more complex flight itinerary which we’ll learn more about as he goes. This cost him 105,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles which he’d gotten by transferring 88K from Capital One and 22K from Amex. (A previous version of the trip required 110K total before it was changed to this current version.)

Though just a layover, his Cairo visit was plenty of time for a guided tour of the Pyramids and Sphinx before hopping right back on a plane for his Cairo to Istanbul leg with Turkish Airlines. All this and he still had time to join our Ask Us Anything from the Crowne Plaza Istanbul Harbiye. (He booked the stay with 10K of the 22K IHG points he bought for $126.50.)

Day 2: From the time Nick woke up in Istanbul he was already on his second continent (on the Europe side of the city). And even though this was another <24 hour layover, he jumped on a yacht trip to cruise and cross the Bosphorus. (Now we see why his packing strategy deserved so much attention!) This helped him achieve his third continent by day 2: Asia. Then it was back to the airport yet again where he awaited the next leg of his flight in the Turkish Airlines business class lounge, (which he says is so nice it rivals Qatar’s business class lounge for the best he’s ever seen!)

Day 3: Late night arrivals and action-packed layovers seem to be Nick’s new life and his itinerary today was no different. He spent most of his incredible day swimming with whale sharks and sea turtles until it was time to go to the airport for his next mystery destination. Luckily the Grand Hyatt Muscat (which he snagged for just $115) gave him a late checkout so he had time to attempt to dry his swim gear with a hair dryer. (Not all luxury travel is luxurious, folks!)

Day 4: Nick, Nick Nick. My head spins just trying to keep up with you. He started his day on an Oman Air business class flight (one of Air Canada’s non-alliance partners), and spent a few hours admiring the sites of Bangkok – (I’m convinced just to remedy old wounds from his Air Asia ticket preventing Thailand entry back in the 40K to Far Away challenge). And just when we thought he might kick back and stick around somewhere, he headed right back to the airport for a 5th Freedom Flight on Gulf Air (another of Air Canada’s many non-alliance airline partners).

Day 5: Nick woke in a Capsule hotel in Singapore and made a bee-line for the J2 Crispy Curry Puffs, Michelin Bib Gourmand food stall for some incredible looking food for just a few bucks. By noon it was already time for him to board a Singapore Airlines flight in their 737-MAX business class. He’s since reported that it knocked his socks off, saying: “After flying so many times in such close succession, it stands out even more…the service is head and shoulders ahead of most airlines.”

Day 6: Nick decided that rest isn’t in his itinerary just yet, so he awoke in Cebu, Philippines in time for a 5 am start to a 15 hour tour! That tour had him mostly off-grid, adventuring through waterfalls and participating in something called a “sardine run”. While we won’t know much else until he can upload all his GoPro footage, I’m wondering if he’s finally feeling worn out.

Day 7: Today our roving adventurer went to…a shopping mall? Yep! That’s right – local friends raved about a little mall spot called “CNT Lechon” for local Filipino pork so he made sure to give it a visit before departing the Philippines, and found it quite worthy of a stop. (Perhaps he’s trying to show-up Greg and Maisie’s food-themed trip?) He then had a canceled discount airline flight to contend with getting from Cebu to Manila, and more bad news for his next leg. His next flight, on Qatar, was on a 777 but was scheduled to be their old business class, instead of the coveted Qsuites. He’d been hoping for an equipment swap, but I guess luck was not in his favor. We have yet to find out exactly where he’s headed…

Day 8: Nick managed to have an impressive day despite hardly leaving the airport. How? He flew Manila to Doha to Dubai, using 40K American Airlines miles to book this in business class. However, he booked the Dubai routing specifically because Qatar markets the leg from Doha to Dubai as “first” class even though it’s only a 1hr flight. This meant he was able to access the first class lounge in Doha, which included a private bedroom. Not only this, but he then finally got his Qsuites experience for the next leg of flying AND checked into the Waldorf-Astoria Palm Jumeriah upon landing in Dubai. Nick is competing on every angle he can! 

Day 9: Today Nick made himself at home at the Waldorf-Astoria Palm Jumeria in Dubai where he ordered an “anti-aging” pillow off the pillow menu and some baklava from the room service (almost certainly just to show Greg and Maisie that he could ;-D). While I’m sure he would have loved to stay longer, we’re not surprised at all to hear that he’s already flown onward.

Day 10: Nick is heading back into mystery land (and I can’t believe he’s not done yet!) He had a quick stop in Budapest (staying at an “Easy Hotel” – like Easyjet, but a hotel), and then headed onward to someplace he won’t publicly say yet…but I happen to have inside information which is enough to confirm – it’s amazing.

Day 11: Wow – Nick did something totally unexpected, yet again! Even though Greg jokingly mentioned visiting Santa in the North Pole when brainstorming examples of eccentric things which could maybe bend the continent-counting rules, I don’t think any of us took the comment even remotely seriously. But sure enough, Nick shocked us all by visiting Santa Clause above the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi Finland. He booked a stay at *yes I’m serious* the Santa Claus Holiday Village! Not only that, but he caught an epic view of the northern lights while he was “in the neighborhood.” Absolutely incredible day for Nick.

And on a house-keeping note, he has now submitted all kinds of expense updates which I’ll try to work into his graph within the next day. (And I have now lost track of whether he’s on Day 11 or 12..because we might have lost a day in his transit all the way North to visit his buddy Saint Nick.

Day 12 (Final Day!): Nick is so dedicated to his budget that he got up just a few hours after midnight to walk himself out to the airport before 5 am. While I’m impressed by his diligence…it crossed my mind that maybe he was also hoping for one more peak at the Northern Lights. 😉 We’re getting closer to sorting out his status chart too: his flight home was booked via AA for 30K miles and $65. He specifically booked AA on the way home even thought the taxes cost more because he could use his Amex Platinum card airline fee credit to buy an extra legroom seat.

I’ve updated the mileage portion of Nick’s graph, (which includes this flight home as well as his Manila to Doha to Dubai flight for 40,000 American Airlines miles and his Budapest to Rovaniemi flight for 12,500 AA) but I’m still all jumbled up on his various cash charges, so I’ve left that part in question for now. I’ve also added Santa’s Village as his his possible honorary fourth continent… it’s up to you all whether or not that should count!

Stephen’s trip so far…

Stephen started with 156K American Express Membership Rewards (150K from the bonus and 6K from spend), 60K American Airline Miles, and 88.5K Chase Ultimate Rewards (75K from the bonus and 13.5K from spend). He boosted his $1,000 starting allowance to $1,546 by cashing out 88.5K UR ($885) and 50K MR for a $500 Home Depot gift card which he sold for $455. His card fees totaled $794.

Day 1: Stephen’s trip has just barely begun, starting with an evening flight from JFK to London on a brand new discount airline: Norse Atlantic Airways. He booked this flight for just $228.80 cash. Luckily his Amex Platinum gives him the Priority Pass, which means despite flying a discount airline, he’s been chilling in the Primeclass Lounge at JFK while he awaits his flight!

Norse Atlantic Airways Premium Economy seating
Norse Atlantic Airways Premium Economy seating

Day 2: Much of Stephen’s trip is still shrouded in mystery as he’s alluded to the fact that he chose Europe as his first destination for a very specific, yet undisclosed reason, though he’s given some details about his day visiting castles and footballers here. We’re intrigued what else awaits him in Aberdeen…(or elsewhere?)

Inside the Keep at Dunnottar Castle
Inside the Keep at Dunnottar Castle

Day 3: Today we resolved the mystery of why Stephen had his eye on Scotland…he was headed after the world’s shortest flight, a 1.5 minute Loganair flight from one Orkney Island (Papa Westray) to another (Westray). While on the Orkney Islands, he got to see sites even more ancient than the pyramids!

Loganair plane for Papa Westray to Westray flight
Loganair plane for Papa Westray to Westray flight

Day 4: Stephen’s been soaking up all the ancient and fascinating sites the Orkney Islands have to offer, but today he boarded that same record-short flight, this time to make his way back to London before he moves onward. While Nick and Greg are taunting each other with food posts, Stephen’s taking the high road and shared a savvy tip about Premier Inn, a brand common in the UK which doesn’t show up on OTAs. That’s his depot for the night until he heads to some unknown spot tomorrow.

Day 5: It’s been a transit day for Stephen. Despite dealing with a two hour delay for his London to Cairo flight, he had some luck upon landing, getting a nice upgrade to a Regency Suite at the Hyatt Regency Cairo West. Greg and Nick may be burning the candle from both ends, but Stephen’s proving a great trip requires some R & R. He’s kicking back to enjoy his suite before sight-seeing in Cairo begins.

Sunset on the way to London
Sunset on the way to London

Day 6: Stephen is not convinced that dashing about trying to fit tours into short visits is the right way to have a “dream trip.” Instead, he’s been drinking cocktails by the pool, catching up on the game, and of course squeezing in more world-record sites like the Tahya Misr Bridge in Cairo, the widest cable-stayed bridge on record!

Day 7: Stephen may have started his journey with discount airliners, but today he kicked back in Etihad business class. He booked his Cairo to mystery-destination flight using 40,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Any guesses as to where he’s headed, (and why)?

Day 8: Those of you who guessed Stephen was headed to Singapore were right! He enjoyed the luxurious Shangri-La Singapore, but also headed out to the Mandai Night Safari at the Singapore zoo. (You can read his thoughts about it here.) You might have guessed his country of destination, but I bet you didn’t guess his activity for the day!

Mandai Night Safari

Day 9: Stephen proved that, while Singapore has some cool sites, the airport itself is a worthwhile site of its own! He even found out about a rooftop pool. And it seems he’s not finished collecting world records either as this airport also has the world’s tallest indoor waterfall!

View from the Canopy Walk at Jewel Changi Airport
View from the Canopy Walk at Jewel Changi Airport

Day 10 (Final Day!): Stephen arrived back at JFK tonight after taking the world’s longest flight from Singapore – a very appropriate way for him to wrap up a 3 Cards, 3 Continents trip that started with the world’s shortest flight back on Day 3, and included a few other world-record sites sprinkled in. Watch out for Stephen’s wrap-up posts in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, here’s his quick report of the world’s longest flight: Overall it was a great experience, but he hadn’t realized there was no scheduled meal service for the last 8 hours and so was pretty hungry by the time they landed!

Greg’s trip so far…

Greg started with 94K American Express Membership Rewards (90K from the bonus and 4K from spend), 84K Citi ThankYou points (80K from the bonus and 4K from spend), and 5 Free Nights and 16K Marriott points (Free night certs from the bonus, 12K from spend, and another 2K tansferred from Amex). He boosted his $1,000 starting allowance by cashing out 32K Citi points for $320. His card fees totaled $440.

Day 1: Greg and his travel companion Maisie officially started their joint travels today, wasting no meal opportunities and grabbing some enviable pastries from Tartine in SFO before heading to the airport. So as not to make us jealous, Greg decided to share footage of the elegant United Polaris Lounge SFO instead of his tasty treats, but he’ll have to get over that by the time he reaches his next destination because we’re all curious about the culinary adventures Maisie’s got in store for him. We know that they’re headed to Tokyo, but it sounds like that’s not their ultimate destination. Where will that be and, more importantly…what will they eat once they’re there?

Day 2: Greg and his culinary concierge Maisie had an enviable foodventure even before they left the airport. Their food explorations started at the Haneda airport during their layover there and included incredible sushi, fresh from the Tokyo fish market. All this before touching down in Saigon where their Asian food explorations continued…and got a whole lot crazier. I was very jealous of the sushi…and not as jealous of the coconut worm shot. The description Maisie sent along, however, almost had me changing my mind.

Maisie explains, “Chef Peter Cuong Franklin of Anan restaurant in Saigon made us two cocktails off his special menu: the first was a coconut worm shot version 1 (less scary – his words, not ours) where they skewer the worm and cover it in cane sugar and then blow torch it to caramelize it before your eyes; and version 2, where you hold the writhing live worm by its head with tweezers and bite into it.”

Check out our instagram stories, reels, and highlights for more!

Day 3: Greg and his culinary concierge Maisie got an early start to check out the floating market on the Mekong Delta. Once again they’re going for exotic foods that might shock more than entice…depending on how you feel about durian fruit for example, or a scary-looking fried elephant fish! They’ve been staying at the Le Meridien Saigon for 16K Marriott points (complete with upgrade) but seem to be spending most of their time on local boats!

Day 4: Greg’s third and fourth days sort of blend together because he decided to turn his middle-of-the-night layover in Doha into an scavenger of sorts with two primary goals: 1) to find authentic Qatari food and 2) to learn how to properly pronounce “Qatar”. His first mission was much more successful than his second, thanks to culinary concierge Maisie Wilhelm, but he did make a boat-ful of local friends, so that counts for something.

But his day didn’t end there! He and Maisie then flew on to Sofia Bulgaria where they checked into Marriott’s Sense Hotel before checking out the local food scene.

Day 5: Greg and Maisie are the ones making my head spin now – seeing sites and sampling food in two different countries today: Sofia, Bulgaria and Istanbul. In Sofia, Maisie went to the local markets to make a uniquely Bulgarian picnic spread (including UNESCO bread that’s naturally leavened) before they flew off to Istanbul in Turkish Airlines business class. Despite a length of an hour or so, even the flight came with a nice spread of food.

Day 7: Greg and Maisie set to work showing up Nick’s Istanbul trip by following a local chef and food expert around town (via Edible Istanbul), tasting all his local favorites. They even did some fortune-telling with their Turkish coffees. Do we believe the all-wise coffee grounds when they guessed that Greg will win this competition? Hmmm.

Day 8: Greg and Maisie got an early start to their day so they could row along the Golden Horn in Istanbul in time to watch the sunrise. A great way to soak up Istanbul before taking off to their next destination: Stockholm! There they were treated to a caviar and vodka pairing from the owner of the hip/lux bar Punk Royale. The caviar came straight to them and they enjoyed their tasting right off the hood of the owner’s car!  They ended the evening with a fantastic meal at Matbaren: the famous Swedish chef’s casual dining restaurant.

Day 9: Greg and Maisie started their morning in Stockholm with a behind the scenes kitchen tour of Michelin starred restaurant Operakällaren then enjoyed an array if pastries at an iconic bakery. Next they flew off to Bergen where they rode a funicular and then sort of copied Stephen’s 40K to Far Away troll-hunt before ending the day with an incredible dinner at Michelin starred restaurant Lysverket.

Day 10: Greg had a true “dream trip” moment today with an experience that’s been on his bucket list for a long time. He and Maisie continued their water sub-theme, (with the first two themes obviously being food and luxury travel) by taking a fjord cruise in Norway. The scenery was mind-blowing and we’re so happy that Greg got to use his 3 Cards, 3 Continents trip for some authentic dream-travel!

Day 11: While Nick walked to the airport and flew economy like a real budget traveler, Greg and Maisie lived it up in United Polaris Business Class. A lot of folks are making guesses as to exactly where he’s headed since he still has one more continent to get to if he wants to meet the challenge’s 3 continents criteria. Even if you think you may know where he’s going…any ideas what he’ll do there? (I’m betting it will relate to food, water, or luxury travel!)

Day 12 (Final Day!): Some may be surprised by Greg and Maisie’s final stop (and final continent), but it fit their multiple themes quite nicely. A visit to Niagara Falls was a perfect closure to their water-activity theme and a visit to Pearl Morissette was an excellent add-on for their food theme. Pearl Morissette is a Niagara-region winery and restaurant which sources much of its menu from its own farm. A true farm-to-table experience and an excellent way to wrap up this food-themed trip!

4.8 13 votes
Post Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

109 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cavedweller

Ms.Yoder
If u have the time just Keep it Simple. A line with just the Airports,Points,$$ on each flt of their 3 different trips.Then we can look into their individua Flts if their’s interests us.
Fine Job.
V Bernie

AlexL

I am curious why Greg keeps all those slippers from different hotels. Did Greg know the hotel in Toronto will not provide slippers? That is a fun video though.

Greg The Frequent Miler

I kept the slippers for a few reasons:
1. To do a video like this to showcase how many hotels we stayed in (but I thought I’d have another pair from the final hotel)
2. To subtly make it clear that (unlike my competitors) I wasn’t constrained by any low cost carriers to reduce the size of my carry-on to a single backpack. I traveled with my usual overhead bin sized suitcase.
3. I plan to give away the unused slippers at Chicago Seminars.

Cavedweller

I’m Cheaper then the 2 others send me a used pair I’ll wash them as in I have none..V Bernie

MFK

FYI – in Nick’s graphic, the text needs to be changed to indicate that he used all of his AA miles.

Alfred

I think Nick’s done the best to show what’s possible, travel-wise. But, but sleeping on the plane, that also feels a bit unrealistic for most, as he’s omitting a lot of the hotel expense.

As far as the trip I’d want to take, that would be Greg for sure. Having the help of a food concierge seems like an advantage, but I don’t blame him. She’s doing a great job, and it’s great cross promotion.

Stephen’s convinced me that I don’t want to hike on cold/windy isles to see old castles, lol. But hey, he came up with an interesting theme, and was able to make those short/long flights happen using the constraints.

I think Nick is the winner by a small margin, but I think showing what’s possible is the “spirit” of Frequent Miler.

Sam

I plan longer red eye flights in biz so I can sleep on the plane to save points or cash quite a bit. To me, that’s the attraction of lie flat seats. Why else would you need them if you don’t plan to sleep?

Sam

Greg is headed Mexico City on UA?

Last edited 10 days ago by Sam
LarryInNYC

I think Toronto is his last stop. Interesting food city, a lake for water, and a short trip back home.

Don’t see how he has the budget to add anything much further at this point.

Mantis

He needs a continent other than NA.

LarryInNYC

No, North America, outside the lower 48 states, qualifies by the terms of get competition.

Mantis

Ah I see…kind of a cop out. I didn’t like Nick’s frantic pace, would be a miserable trip to me, but I think he still wins.

Nikolay

I think Greg’s ANA RTW booking ultimately was this: SFO-HND-SGN//SOF-IST-ARN-BGO-EWR-YYZ. Clocks in just short of 14000 miles as he had been planning/just discussed on the podcast.

LarryInNYC

I don’t think that the contestants should be judged on how fast they traveled (I don’t think Greg and Masie had more than one night in any destination, either, and did a fair amount of plane-sleeping).

Rather, I think the question is how fast they had to travel based on their itinerary. I think, for Greg, every stop he made (including the airport sushi in Tokyo) could have been turned into a true stopover. Stephen actually did stay everywhere he visited (except for London, which I think was a lay-over on the way to Cairo).

Nick got in some stays (Cebu, Dubai, Budapest, Finland) and could have gotten one of Cairo, Istanbul, Bangkok, or Singapore for 5k extra points. I think people who are bothered by his six-stops-in-five-days itinerary would feel better about it if he had broken it in Istanbul or Bangkok for a day or two — and, in Bangkok it’s easy to stay for $20 a night at the moment.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Just FYI, we stayed 2 nights in both Istanbul and in Bergen. 8 hotel nights altogether. By design only 2 nights were sleeping on planes.

Mantis

I’m guessing if Greg is on United Polaris, he’s connecting in EWR onward to Lima, Peru…a well known foodie destination.

TimR

Carrie wins for graphics and diagrams 🙂

Cavedweller

Yoder
Regardless I think ur horse will win for total posts. TELL the CEO no voting for 24 hrs after the last horse posts to keep it Fair..V Bernie

Last edited 10 days ago by Cavedweller
THEsocalledfan

When Nick went to Santa’s workshop, someone should have given him a football to spike. That was the equivalent of going up by 3 scores with 4 min to go in the 4th quarter.

Sam

If this challenge is to display what you’re able to do with 3 sign up bonuses & card perks, I know where my vote is going. If this challenge is to display a trip that “I”, myself would want to take, that will yield completely different voter results. Either way, it has certainly shown the versatility of all of these selected cards when one is patient, flexible on dates & adaptable to time & locations. Well done guys!

Cavedweller

1000% correct happy travels ..

Cavedweller

Fine job u need a raise $$..

MFK

If Greg manages to have dinner at Noma, I may have to give him my vote. Looks like he could fly SAS from Bergen to Copenhagen in evening, then Copenhagen to Toronto the following afternoon, which would give him plenty of time for a nice dinner and even morning water activity, while also picking up his third continent (N. America outside the lower 48) per the contest rules.

Last edited 11 days ago by MFK
LarryInNYC

If Greg manages to have dinner at Noma he’d probably prefer your wallet to your vote.

MFK

I’m sure he’s got a pocket full of Staples VGCs, so he’d be fine, but it looks like he has other plans in mind. United Polaris has me thrown. Bergen to Newark to… Detroit and a cab to Windsor? 🙂

TimR

I am puzzled to depending on how he got from IST-ARN. Great circle mapper seems to indicate SFO-HND, HND-BKK, SOF-IST, IST-ARN, ARN-BER, BER-EWR would be over the 14K limit for 90K points

Greg The Frequent Miler

Replace BKK with SGN, and Bergen is BGO not BER

TimR

Enough left for either YYZ or YUL…hmmm

AlexL

Arctic circle from Nick! That is a fun and surprising stop in Nick’s itinerary. Most Nick’s stops pair with one fun and memorable activity-Pyramids, yacht trip, swim with whale sharks and sea turtles, “sardine run,” and now arctic circle. First class lounge with biz ticket and stay in at least two luxury hotels. Even though Nick’s itinerary is super fast paced, it is full of “wow” elements, which is great in competition. And Nick planned much better this time around compared to 40K to far away. Only one activity in Philippines did not happen, but it was cancelled at the last minute. Other than that, everything went according to his plan. Good job, Nick.

I hope Greg has something left up his sleeve.

Cavedweller

I don’t think so he will take 3rd pace he’s the CEO.ALOHA

Sco

Nick was easily winning for me, but now I’m just mad at him for trying to pass off the Arctic Circle as the North Pole. So it looks like Greg might be pulling ahead

Cavedweller

I Looked but how far North to claim u been there ?? Maybe he should’ve said I was above the Arctic Circle and been Done with It..I would’ve Done that but I did join his Yacht Club..Lot’s of Back Wash for an opinion..
CHEERs

carl

Svalbard

Derek

Nick made it to the arctic circle and met Santa! Continent #4. He wins hands down!!!

TimR

Nick’s got this wrapped up for me unless he goes over budget again. Arctic Circle!

Beth B

I’m so confused on Greg’s itinerary. Where is he picking up his next continent? Iceland…because it has the European and American Continental Divide on it?

LarryInNYC

He’s presumably coming back via North Africa, probably Cairo, since he still had the remainder of his ANA RTW flight.

Beth B

That wouldn’t be considered backtracking from Bergen?

LarryInNYC

I don’t know, seems more lateral to me. ANA agents have a fair amount of leeway in routing these trips. But the distance is to long for the low number of miles he had left to travel.

What I (now) think is that he’s using Canada as the third continent. I looked back at the rules and you can use North America if it’s outside the lower 48.

I think he staged to Bergen in order to take advantage of the shorter flying distance closer to the poles.

TimR

My thoughts as well. He did squeeze in a Choice hotel redemption which earns some bonus points which may offset using Canada as the 3rd continent for me

Beth B

He’s in Stockholm now…and will be for the next couple of days…so he’d have to stop in Canada before coming home.

David

My money is on Casablanca

LarryInNYC

If he thinks that will continue his water theme, he’s been misinformed.

I don’t think he’s got the miles left on his 14k ANA for that north/south flying

Ryan del Mundo

Nick, I did a USA-CAI (22 hr layover) – IST (12 hr layover) – BKK (“stopover”) five years ago. Those long layovers, which included a full night of sleep in Cairo as well as an awesome Pyramids visit, left me totally exhausted. No idea how you did all that you did in such a short time. Very impressive!

Stephen and Greg: Congrats on great journeys.

I feel bad for all of you – these could have been epic 2-3 month trips that you’re squeezing into a bit over a week. Maybe next time, you guys can do all the planning and let some young Millennials do the dashing around the planet for you while you all sit on a beach in Thailand and do the job of managing and documenting it. 🙂

Nick Reyes

Don’t feel bad! It’s been an epic week! For me, part of the beauty is that I can always go back to the places that intrigue me more. Truth be told, I’ve felt pretty good almost the whole way. I was exhausted after the canyoneering more from the physical aspect – and then I slept for 12 hours! I generally (and very often in normal daily life) function well on 4-5 hours of sleep. For me, the chance to go to Egypt, Turkey, Oman, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Dubai, and Budapest (so far! I’m not not done!) in just over a week *is* an epic dream trip. I’ve gotten what I wanted out of every stop so far (with the possible exception of Cebu – a local friend was scheduled to show me around and had to cancel at the last minute, which left me scrambling a bit there). I don’t at all regret it. I’d never get to live like a jet setter with my wife or kids (who would never tolerate it). When else in life will I get to fly so many different airlines in premium cabins and enjoy their signature lounges over the course of a week? I’m loving it and wouldn’t trade it away. I miss my kids very much and can’t wait to see them, but apart from that I don’t think I’d change anything.

The only somewhat difficult part, as you alluded to, is that in addition to doing stuff it’s the documenting of doing stuff that takes more time than most people realize. That’s*not at all* a complaint, just the recognition that there are times when I would have done more if not for the fact that I had to document what I’ve done for the purpose of sharing it (which is the entire reason I’m doing it here, so, again, not a problem, just a time commitment).

Dr. McFrugal

Nick– I’m not only impressed that you guys are able to do what you do and documented it while on an epic dream trip. But you guys also make yourself available for Ask Us Anything sessions and continuing to churn out posts (top cash back, simon gift cards, deals, etc.) on the blog. How do you guys do it???

Stephen Pepper

Tim’s been really helpful in taking care of Quick Deals while we’ve been away. Some of those have been posts that have been republished (e.g. Simon gift cards, IHG/TopCashback) that we’d written in the past, so it makes us look better than we are seeing as we weren’t the ones who updated them 😉

Cavedweller

Yes of course and he has vines to take care of too. Carrie is the stand out in this contest !!
V Bernie

M Khan

ENOUGH! How do I vote for this guy already!!

TimR

My initial thoughts: Stephen has disappointed me, based on the original card line-up I thought he would win. Looks like he is heading home tomorrow SQ SIN-JFK flight. Seems like his trip is one any average award booker can plan and hasn’t shown anything special/unique about the different programs. Nick on the other hand has pushed the envelope on what is possible but the constant movement will be a turn-off for some. Greg might have found the right balance but given that one of his chosen cards was the Marriott 5 night 50K certificates he hasn’t given any indication of what the chosen hotels for using those certs are special….

Rosie

Everyone’s vision of a “dream trip” is different. For me, the fast paced trip that Nick is taking is my idea of a dream trip — lots of exotic (to me) destinations, interesting and unique activities in every place, still getting some luxury hotel stays and aspirational flights — I think he has it all. I don’t think it is fair for people to make assumptions about what the “average” traveler would want from a dream trip — some people like to lounge in luxury, others like to be constantly on the move, all is valid. And I certainly don’t think that whether or not an “average” traveler could (or would) replicate the trip in its entirely matters — I think that the competition is supposed to showcase the potential to be found in points and miles, and the creativity of the Frequent Milers in figuring out these itineraries and ways to use points and miles to the max.
I confess that I’m finding Stephen’s trip a bit puzzling — for example, staying 2 nights in Cairo but not really doing anything there? Even if he was able to walk on that bridge, it seems very underwhelming for a traveler, not really a “world record” experience for the traveler (does the width of the bridge really matter to a pedestrian?). And Greg’s food based trip is a little too one note for me — plus I can’t help but feel that bringing along a full time “concierge” is a little bit of a cheat, for example when he slept in while she went out tracking down all the food? Yes, cost of activities are not included in the competition budget itself (I think Greg justified the “concierge” as analogous to going on a food tour, which is where I think he met her) but the cost of bringing along an “assistant” when the assistant is also flying business/first and staying luxury hotels far exceeds the costs of anyone else’s activity budget. Seems like this is skewing the competition to someone with the deepest pockets, and not really showing what you can do with just “3 cards”. I might have felt differently if he had signed up for food tours in the different locations.
But all in all, I’m loving hearing about everyone’s trips – competitions like these are why FM is one of my very favorite blogs.

Stephen Pepper

Yep, Cairo didn’t work out as I’d hoped unfortunately. I don’t know if you saw my update earlier today, but my wife and I had visited Cairo last year and so we saw the Pyramids, Egyptian Museum, Old Cairo, etc. then.

When planning this trip, I’d wanted to visit the brand new Grand Egyptian Museum as that wasn’t open yet when we visited last summer. I’d thought it was due to open late 2021 and so when planning this 3 Cards, 3 Continents trip I’d assumed it would certainly be open. Unfortunately it’s scheduled to open in November 2022 and so I wasn’t able to visit that.

Despite visiting the Pyramids last year, I also wanted to return for the Sound & Light Show in the evening, but I tried booking a ticket too late for that.

My time in Cairo was therefore mostly relaxation even though it wasn’t actually meant to be completely that way.

Rosie

Yes, I think we all have those trip days when the stars are just not aligned, which can be super frustrating — I’m glad you were able to make the best of it and enjoy the beautiful hotel and some r and r, even if your plans didn’t quite go as intended. BTW, I am a big fan of No Home Just Roam (in addition to Frequent Miler), it’s been very helpful in planning our own cross country trip.

Stephen Pepper

Thanks!

C.W.

I get that they’re trying to generate content for the blog and Instagram, but Nick’s already out of the running for me. No one other than a blogger has a “dream trip” that involves sampling the local transport to and from the airport and the airport immigration and security queues everyday for a week straight as part of a “dream trip”. He seems hung up on getting as many premium flight segments as possible while jumping out of the airport to post his “visit” there. Only one day in the actual destination for the Aeroplan ticket (Philippines)? Weak. Also, unless he makes it back to Africa (or a 4th continent), a short layover in Cairo is pretty weak for actually “visiting” a continent. I’m also surprisingly disappointed in the pace of Greg’s trip as well…leaving the 3rd stop on day 5 already? Sad. Here’s hoping he makes it somewhere beyond Cairo (assuming he’s also going to visit Africa). Need more updates from Stephen still, but he’s gotta be in the lead for me so far.

Cavedweller

CW
Your missing the Point it’s a Contest. I have done a lot of Recon stop overs to see IF I like the place then go back. Went to Maui for 30 hrs and Loved it. Then I found a great Hotel and I just went back 5 times. I not interested in staying anywhere IF I don’t like it..Did the same with London first trip 3 nites .
CHEERs

Shae Pepper

While I’m a little biased, I have to agree. I saw this as a dream trip… And yes show what you can do with the cards… But I don’t think your average person, especially new to the travel hacking world is gonna have the confidence to book and do the hops, it the interest in the short stays that Nick is doing.

While I think Greg’s idea was creative, it’s also not one that the average person is likely to do, I think, and I’m sad that we aren’t seeing more of the places they are in, just the food.

While I might’ve picked different activities from Stephen if I were booking his trip I think he’s put together the right mix of fun flights, lounges, hotels and experiences to win this one!

LarryInNYC

While I think your comment is too harsh, I agree (in part) with some of the ideas.

Although the idea of the competition, as I understand it, is to demonstrate the possibility of a “dream trip” to three continents I don’t really expect the contestants to execute a dream trip. Someone flying these itineraries for a once-in-lifetime (or once-in-a-decade) trip would probably spend four weeks or more on the trip and it’s not necessarily realistic for these guys to spend that amount of time on the competition.

So I’m interested in seeing trips in which someone demonstrates how a four or six week trip could be constructed without necessarily spending the full four or six weeks traveling. Both Greg and Stephen’s itineraries would allow them to stop in each destination for pretty much as long as they want (obviously, Greg’s trip must take less than a year), so it’s easy to adapt their super-fast-paced trips to a more leisurely trip-of-a-lifetime. I grant you it’s harder for Nick, but even with his itinerary he could have added one stop-over on the outbound for only 5K points. If you imagine his outbound with three weeks spent in Cairo, Istanbul, or Bangkok (stopover) and three in the Philippines (destination) it really does begin to look like a fabulous trip.

Plus, on Nick’s ledger, the next time I go to India or Thailand I would totally consider a redemption like his.

Rebecca Meredith

Agree 100% – personal preference, but those activities, flights and experiences that make up Nick’s trip have me the most inspired. Addicted to Instagram for the first time in my life, because I can’t wait to see what the heck he’s doing next!

AlexL

The redemption you mean is to India or Thailand using Aeroplan with a stopover for 120K?

LarryInNYC

Aeroplan, with their extensive partner list and optional 5k stopover is a great option but you could do something similar with other programs as well.

TimR

Who books Norse Airlines for a dream trip?

Rebecca Meredith

I will say that his Norse Airlines flight had me researching their availability, flight routes etc… Could come in handy one day?

LuAnne

Nice sale going on at Norse for the next couple days.

Shae Pepper

He chose it because it’s a new airline with relatively no reviews and info about the experience. He built this trip with FM readers who particularly are flight enthusiasts in mind. New airline, shortest and longest flights in one trip.

TimR

To Stephen’s benefit, I do think his trip is what most “normal” people would book and will undoubtedly get votes from some people for that.

Liam

I have the exact opposite scoring. Nick has this wrapped up already, Greg is clearly in second. Not sure what Stephen is doing at all, same with 40 to far away, but he has to get to the Papua New Guinea at this point to make up for how boring his trip has been, not Papa Westray.

Shae Pepper

Hey Liam, I know it’s just your opinion but you know the guys read these right?

Stephen had a specific strategy in both challenges. Just bc they maybe haven’t played out as well with some readers I watched him plan and agonize over this itinerary for weeks. Some of his early, flashier ideas, like the Singapore Grand Prix didn’t work out.

Cavedweller

I think ur husband can take care of himself. I’ll leave it at that

CHEERs

DeLynn

I actually agree-I’m exhausted just reading Nick’s content, Greg’s RTW food trip leaves me disgusted on a bad day and completely indifferent on a good day so that leaves Stephen with the default win, unless something drastically changes.

Dr. McFrugal

I get what you’re saying, but let’s not forget that a “dream trip” is highly subjective. Your idea of a dream trip may be totally different from what Nick, Greg, or Stephen has in mind.

In defense of Nick… sure, his fast paced travel with multiple short stays isn’t your idea of a dream trip (and likely not a dream trip for a majority of folks too). But given the time frame and the circumstances, he put together a trip that was a “dream” for him. He had the freedom to plan whatever trip he wanted without the constraints of considering others (his wife and kids). So with what limited time he had, he wanted to do adventurous activities and see a short glimpse of as many destinations as possible and as fast as he can. As a working professional and a father of two (just like Nick), I can’t travel like that anymore and sometimes I day dream about what it would be like. Nick’s travels and his posting on Instagram allows me to live vicariously through him and I love it. So yeah, I really do think he planned his “dream trip” and is living his best life right now.

Cavedweller

Great Job u should win !!!

Cindy

Do I have to join the Facebook group to see Ask Us Anything? It used to be on YouTube. Thanks.

TimR

Interesting twist from Nick. Looks like he will go back to US via Atlantic (recent update flying QR from Asia) and not JL over Pacific with the AA miles

AlexL

I wish Greg can explore Asia a little bit more. It felt like Greg is out of Asia so quickly. Is it because the Amex points limitation of the draft choice? I like the activity in Vietnam and to explore the local culture and cuisine.
Nick’s trip is very fast-paced. It is good to follow on the side line.
Stephen’s trip does not feel rushed. I guess it is because he chose to stay in a room to rest at night so far. I am intrigued by his world record theme and eager to find out what he will do in Cairo.

Last edited 16 days ago by AlexL
LarryInNYC

Each of the three contestants is trying to generate as much material in a concentrated time as possible, which is the goal of the competition. I’m interested in the question “What would this trip look like if it were re-imagined as a once-in-a-lifetime trip for a new-ish traveler”.

In that regard, I think Stephen and Greg are in the lead. Yes, Nick has the most amazingly creative and boundary-pushing redemption I think we will ever see but, because it’s all a single ticket, there’s no way he could stretch out the stops into a more realistic “lifetime trip” itinerary. He has to move on from each stop within 24 hours. Both Stephen and Greg, while moving fast, aren’t bound by the same limitation that Nick has (at least, on his outward bound itinerary) and could have stayed a week or two in each place.

Ethan

Eh, obviously Nick can stretch the stops, just 5000 miles each stopover for Aeroplan.

LarryInNYC

True, but only one stopover allowed.

LarryInNYC

A few years ago I was in Bulgaria on business and our “hosts” took us to a restaurant specializing in Bulgarian cuisine — prominently featuring dishes like the lymph nodes of a horse in cream sauce. Enjoy, Greg & Masie!

Tim Steinke

I bet the cream sauce really highlights the quality of the, uh, lymph nodes.

Christian

Lol. That reminds me of a trip I took many years ago where I was part of a travel agent group visiting Tunisia. On the final night at our nice hotel there was an elegant dinner with fish couscous and the fish tasted to me like it had gone bad. I would have tried to find something else to eat but there were no other options and I was seated between the hotel GM and the national minister of tourism so I just ate as much as I could manage. Hopefully, Masie will run interference for Greg if they hit a similar situation.

MFK

As a big fan of fish and chips, I would have to go Stephen’s meal choice, but as a foodie, Greg’s trip holds the most intrigue for me, despite Nick doing some really cool activities that I have tried or would try on my travels.

C J

NICK …..is killing it …..way ahead in my vote

TimR

It seems all 3 will have Europe, Africa and Asia as their 3 continents. If one of them somehow squeezes in a 4th they will be the automatic winner for me. Greg is unlikely given the mileage distance limitation on his RTW ANA booking

LarryInNYC

For my own personal vote, I’m not sure whether I’m going to count Nick’s layover, non-overnight stay in Cairo as Africa.

Dr. McFrugal

I think if he set foot out of the airport and did something meaningful (I.e. seeing the pyramids) then it should absolutely count as Africa.

If he didn’t leave the airport (like last time when he was stuck in BKK because he got the wrong type of ticket in #40kFarAway), then yeah I agree that kind of layover should not count.

Nick is still ahead in my vote!!!

Christian

I guess a lot depends on how you count country visits. Some people count visiting a country as transiting in an airport. Personally, I just say that you actually have to leave the airport but different strokes.

LarryInNYC

After being a little slow out of the gate (probably because at first only Nick was traveling) the Instagram feed has become a torrent of great video clips and throwdown challenges. All three trips are developing into something special.

THEsocalledfan

I got to say, Stephen and Greg are WAY behind at this point……..although Greg’s suite in Saigon certainly helped him catch up a little.

Nick Reyes

Well now, I didn’t show my suite at the Grand Hyatt Muscat! I won’t let him catch up too close!

Shae

Hmmm… I mean I know I’m biased but while Nick’s trip is cool, as someone who’s just moved almost every day (with only 1 stop of 4 whole days) for 2 months his trip sounds exhausting, really cool stuff, but exhausting. And I love travel, not just vacations, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy the stress of all the moving.

LarryInNYC

I don’t mean to stick my oar in, but you have an extra “A” in “Orkney”.

Andy

I think the reverse chronological order started with a suggestion from me during the last contest. It can help when posts are updated and you get the latest update up top instead of having to scroll past more and more already-read content every update. Obviously, it being my preference, I still like it.

I’m saying this with hindsight, but it might make sense to have each update grouped all together. So a single Day 1-3 update rather than three updates for each unofficial day.

And for future updates, a soft link to jump to the next traveler will be good to help with scrolling.

Anyway, just formatting ideas. I’m not going to worry too much about whether people like them or if they’re even adopted, so if there’s any debate going on after this post, I probably won’t be back for any rebuttals 🙂

Geoff

Not to nitpick, but these posts are in forward chron order, not reverse. Which I actually prefer so I can just skip over the ones I’ve read but also stop to refresh my memory on a few. To each his/her own…

Aleks

Thanks Carrie,
I like the format this “contest” is put in: individual stories from the travelers + the summary from you. Graphics are nice, but I would keep the chronological order for the days (1,2,3…) – easier to follow.
So far all 3 travelers having fun on their trips. Everyone of them keeps a bit of mystery and suspense that adds to the story.
Keep it up guys!

Kent

I’m very curious as to why reverse chronological order is being used for the daily summaries. I don’t see the benefit, and definitely find it strange having to scroll up to follow the story.

Dr. McFrugal

I’ve been following FM and Nick on Insta. Wow… It’s amazing he was able to visit 6 flight on 5 different airline partners all in one ONE WAY TICKET!

Nick Reyes

There actually sorta ended up being a 7th. Haven’t had a chance to explain yet, but my last segment had a scheduled stop on the way that I didn’t realize it had until day of departure. But just got off the plane and had to sit in a designated area, so not exciting.

drew

how did nick end up with 88k c1 points? 75k bonus, 4k spend at 2x is 8k for 83k. Where’d the other 2.5k spend come from?

AlexL

Because one of the rules is that every contestant can spend $15k in order to earn those three credit card bonuses, any left over spend can be put on any of the three cards. 15k-4k(Cap1)-6k(Amex)-2.5k(AA)=2.5k and Nick decided to put the left over spend on Cap1.

Nick Reyes

Alex has got it. Leftover spend could be distributed as we wanted – and I needed just a few extra AA miles and the rest went on Capital One.

Dave Waz

How did Nick leave from DC when he lives near Albany NY, that’s a 6-7 hour drive? Does his gas and parking fees get counted into the totals ? FYI, I only care as I also live near Albany and am always looking for hacks to get out of here on the cheap 🙂

LarryInNYC

Positioning doesn’t count — the trip starts at any US airport (lower 48) and ends at any US airport, doesn’t have to be the same one.

Nick Reyes

Larry is correct.

I usually just drive to NYC to depart and would have this time, but the Egyptair flight was better from DC: better equipment (787 vs 777) and better timing (scheduled 4:30am arrival meant being able to arrive when stuff opened vs the NY flight arriving at 9:45am, meaning stuff might have been crowded by the time I arrived.

I just flew United from ALB-IAD. I have a bunch of bump voucher money left over from 2019 and then UA Travel bank, so I was fine with a cash ticket for positioning.

AlexL

Nice summary and easy to follow. Good job Carrie.

Alex

Love the graphics

MFK

Agreed. Very helpful for keeping track.

Kathy

Came here to say this! Great job on the graphics, Carrie!

Cavedweller

Yes she ties it together ..