By Sarah Francis
An adventurous family are jetting around the world for FREE after discovering a travel hack that saved tens of thousands of dollars.
Pedro Pla, 35, and his wife Grace Cheng, 36, will visit FIVE continents over six months with their sons Ramses, 4, and Ranefer, 2.
The co-founders of credit card comparison site GET. com set off in January, having racked up a million air miles in just one year.
Their fun-packed itinerary includes dog sledding in Lapland, seeing Macaws in Brazil, swimming in the Caribbean, as well as Disneyland in Tokyo.
Envy-inducing photos of the family have been shared on their Instagram: @roundtheworldfamily to nearly 20,000 fans.
Pedro, who lives with his family in Singapore, said: “As credit card geeks, we had been using our credit card points and miles to redeem for cash back and for shorter trips, but we thought there must be some way to “hack the system” and allow us to go around the world on free round-the-world tickets.
“The trip has just started, but so far it has been better than expected.
“Our kids have adjusted well to long travels and have enjoyed seeing the beautiful nature places we went to along Cape Town.
“The Masai Mara in Kenya is absolutely amazing and the kids love being so close to so many animals.
“So far the Masai Mara in Kenya has definitely been one of the highlights, being able to drive close to herds of zebras, elephants and getting up close to lions is an incredible experience.”
Having toured the world in 2007 for a year, the adventurous couple had a taste of travelling and decided to do the epic trip again, but this time using air mile points.
Pedro added: “It was one of the best things we had done in our twenties and we wanted to experience it again.
“Grace and I had this conversation about 2017 marking the 10 years since our first round the world trip.
“When I suggested to her we should travel around the world again, but this time with our two little boys in tow, she thought at first I must be joking.”
The thrifty couple set to work acquiring daily air-mile points on their credit cards.
Pedro added: “We aren’t super frequent flyers, so the main hack to collect miles was to earn them as credit card points or miles, through a combination of signing bonuses and on-the-ground spending.”
They reached their million mile goal in September 2016 and redeemed four business class round-the-world tickets, saving US$54,000.
Pedro said: “When we travelled with our kids previously, the longest trip was one month to the Maldives.
“Although it was a bit intimidating to think about how we would cope with traveling with our two boys for so long, we somehow convinced ourselves we could do it, after all, we are both quite adventurous and unconventional by nature.
“Preparation for the trip was a mammoth task. We had to get all the proper vaccinations required and do visa applications.
“It took military precision to plan and execute this million mile goal.”
So far, the family have visited South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Spain and the UK.
Pedro added: “Another one of the highlights was the lie-flat beds on the new Singapore Airlines A350.
“Our kids could sleep on them as if they were in their own bed. And on an eleven hour flight, that makes a lot of difference to us as parents.”
Having launched US credit card comparison site GET.com (www.get.com) in 2014, the couple are credit card experts but they claim “traveling hacking is for everyone.”
Pedro said: “You don’t need to aim for a million miles.
“It really all depends on what your travel goal is, and your individual spending habits. You can aim for a short or long haul award flight, or a free upgrade to premium cabins – that’s up to you.
“Different airlines have different amount of miles need for award redemption.”
For more thrifty travel tips check out Get.com and follow the families journey via @roundtheworldfamily (https://www.instagram.com/roundtheworldfamily/).
GET.COM TOP TIPS FOR SAVING MILES
1. Apply for credit cards with attractive signing bonuses
Many credit cards in the US offer signing bonuses for new sign-ups. While there are some credit cards which give you free bonus points or miles when using your card for the first time, most require you to spend a certain amount within a certain period of time after you get your card. Because of this, it’s important to time your card application carefully so that you can make sure you will be able to meet that minimum spend and get the signing bonus.
2. Use the right credit card to earn more than 1 mile per $1 spent
If you’re getting 1 mile for every dollar you spend, you will need to spend the massive amount of $1 million to get a million miles purely through spending, excluding signing bonuses. If you’re earning 2 miles per dollar, that goes down by half to $500,000 of spending, and if you can get 3 miles per dollar, that goes down to $333,000 worth of spending. Of course, when you factor in signing bonuses, the amount you need to spend to earn the rest of the points and miles will go down. You get the gist.
The trick to earning more than 1 mile per $1 spent is to use the card that rewards you the most miles per dollar for each type of spend. While this sounds like perfect common sense, not everyone takes the time and effort to get acquainted with the different earnings rate of their cards. And when you don’t do that, you can’t maximise the earning of your credit card points.
3. Shop through sites that give points or miles
There are quite a few shopping and travel booking sites that reward you with miles or points transferable to your preferred loyalty program.
Doing so will allow you to earn additional miles to what you will be earning through your credit card for the purchase. That means you will earn twice – once through your credit card and once through these sites.
4. Pay for everything using a credit card
When you use cash, you lose cash. It’s the same for a debit card. Cash and debit cards don’t give you any additional savings or rewards when you pay using them. I try to use a credit card to pay for everything, ranging from everyday spending to big-ticket purchases. As I pay my credit card bills in full and on time each month, I don’t incur any interest charges and I get to earn points and save more.
If you have a big-ticket expense coming up, such as renovating your house, buying electronic equipment such as a computer or signing up for a gym or spa package, consider timing it with the signing up of a new credit card, or using a card that gives the most miles per dollar for that type of expense. It’s very important that if you do this, you either pay your credit card bill in full by the due date, or put it on a 0% intro APR card to avoid hefty interest fees. When used wisely, credit cards are just a mode of payment which rewards you on your spending.
5. Putting business expenses on high earning cards
Whether you are a sole proprietor or small business owner, you can try applying for business credit cards, in addition to consumer credit cards. Some business credit cards in the US have pretty attractive signing bonus offers which you can take advantage of.
ROUND THE WORLD ITINERARY
South Africa in Jan
Kenya in Jan
Europe (Spain, UK, Finland, Switzerland) in Feb
South America (Brazil, Colombia) in March
Caribbean in April
North America in April
Asia (South Korea, Japan) in July.