Off To Asia, Again.

If you are connected to me at all on social media you know that I am currently in Asia (first stop Bali) for a month long excursion. The more I travel, the more I want to travel. I thought that a 7.5 week trip (last nov-dec) would help subdue my travel bug, but alas, it has not. This trip all came together when a buddy of mine invited me to join a group of his friends in Bali for 10 days. I looked up some flight options, checked my points balances over on AwardWallet.com and the next day made my commitment. Ill try to give a brief explanation here about the flights I took with the costs. There are a LOT of flights this month and a lot of moving parts.

The Trip

If you’ve read any of this blog you know I am a miles and points junky and never pass up a good opportunity for a big win. So, now I am in Bali. How did I get here, you might ask. How much did it cost? Did I fly with miles or pay out of pocket?

The plan is to stay with my buddy and his friends here in Bali (Seminyak, Ubud, Sanur) for about 9-10 nights and then travel on with my new friend, Marina (who I met through this trips facebook group), to Cambodia for 3 days then Vietnam for about 8 nights and then spend 6 nights in Thailand. When I threw it out to the group to see if anyone wanted to continue traveling beyond the bali portion, Marina jumped right on board. She is traveling for more than 6 months after quitting her job and getting rid of her house. I was more than happy to have a travel buddy as I tend to travel alone a lot and was looking forward to having someone to share my experiences with. We met when I moved to san diego and realized very quickly that we would mesh well as travel companions.

The round trip flight cost me exactly…. wait for it…. $45. Total Freaking Score. I was able to book the flight with the help of Trav over at extrapackofpeanuts.com. I would normally book this myself, but it was a complicated routing (explained below) so I thought I would secure the help of a real award flight booking pro.

Routing:

My routing for this roundtrip ticket (purchased through my Delta Sky Miles but flying on Virgin Australia ‘metal’) was as follows:

LAX –> Brisbane –> Denpasar (bali) –> Melbourne –> LAX –> JFK (later in the year)
[there are lots of flights through the other countries, but this was the main booking that had to be taken care of before anything else. ]

I live in san diego now and had to get up to LAX for my flight (at 11:50pm, May 21st, Wednesday). I was exploring all different options to get up there between taking the train, driving my own car and parking at a friends or at the airport, etc. I’ll save you the details of all the back and forth, but at the last minute a friend recommended that I rent a car from San Diego and do a drop off at LAX. Many states have a big fee (potentialyl 150-200$$) for dropping your car at a different location. Apparently this is not the case in California so the transportation up to LAX cost me a grand total of $35 with Dollar Rental Car. Perfect.

Note about Delta’s stopover rules.

The beauty of flying this trip with Delta is that they let you have a stopover. If you want more information on this I can give it to you privately or you can google it. But, essentially, you can do your round trip but also use a spot as an “extended layover”. So, I am flying round trip to bali… easy enough. But the way I routed it is I am flying lax to bali and then bali to ny, while using LAX as a ‘layover’ for a couple of months (I need to go back to ny in august for a wedding). This is excellent because doing this can save you a ton of money. If you want to fly from NY to Australia, for example, you could stop in LA or Hawaii [FOR UP TO A YEAR] and then continue on to your destination. If you can wrap your brain around that, you will quickly realize that this can be very powerful and potentially save you a LOT of money.

Airport and Lounge Experience

Once I got to LA I spent some time hanging around town with my buddy until my flight that night. I had a bit of maneuvering to take care of with my seats (see below) and after that headed to security. It was a relatively smooth run through that as it was already 930 or so. I was able to get into the one of the airport lounges thanks to my Priority Pass Membership (a MUST for frequent travelers). Free booze, food, comfy seats, and available wifi and power are a no brainer and make time spent in airports more productive (and cheaper).

lounge 5 lounge 6 lounge 4' lounge 3 lounge 2 lounge 1

Virgin Australia. 

My flight out of LAX was a bit delayed but no worries there. We boarded the plane and I took my usual bulkhead (first row in a given cabin, offering significantly more legroom and no seat in front of you where someone can put there seat back into your lap. On this particular flight I actually had nothing for about 10 feet in front of me. Usually you will have a wall or divider but VA only has those for the window and middle seat. So I literally had as much leg room as I needed. It was AWESOME.

I thought I might get away with having the middle seat open too, but a women was waiting on standbye with her 5 month old (oyy) so they dropped her next to me. Obviously I wasnt thrilled, but that is a risk you run in the bulkhead. We had a 14 hour or so flight ahead of us and i wasnt looking forward to the prospect of a crying baby the whole way. I was pleasantly surprised though that the baby was really well behaved and didn’t bother me at all. The mom was fun and we chatted for a couple of hours which was great. She was australian and since I am thinking I might be in Australia this year or next, I gave her my info and hopefully she will contact me.

seats

Overall the flight was pretty solid. The flight crew was attentive and helpful and I really can’t say anything negative there. We got a meal a couple of hours into the flight (and then a breakfast about 2 hours before we arrived into Brisbane). The entertainment options were solid and I was even able to convince the women sitting in business class ahead of me to let me pull some power from her outlet (only first/business had outlets). I was able to get a little bit of sleep, although not as much as I wold have liked.

The rest of the flight went off pretty much without a hitch. We arrived on time into Brisbane and I deplaned and got ready for my next flight on to Bali.

There was, unfortunately, no lounge in the Brisbane airport. Seeing as my layover was only about 2 hours it wasn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t have minded some access there. I was able to arrange for an emergency row seat for my 6 hour flight to Bali (the bulkhead which I would have preferred  was occupied already). The extra leg room is ALWAYS appreciated.

It’s amazing that the 6 hour trip to Bali felt longer then the 14 hours to Brisbane. By the time I arrived in Bali I had been on a plane for about 20+ hours and traveling for about a day and a half. I also arrived into bali on my birthday, which was a nice treat. I deplaned in DPS (denpassar), got my self through security and found the driver who was already waiting for me.

We made a stop to pick up some sim cards for my unlocked iphone and MIFI and arrived to the villa around 400pm.

So, all in all it was a hell of a trip out here. It is CERTAINLY not something that I would want to do again if I wasn’t committing at least 3-4 weeks to the trip. It’s just too much travel to only spend a week or so somewhere.

More details and posts to come. Lots of great stuff happening here so I will try to keep you all updated on what comes next.

 

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