Extended travel questions

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Jan 23rd, 2000, 01:45 PM
  #1
Susan
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Extended travel questions

I plan to do a trip to Asia and Africa in a few years that will last 4-5 months. I plan to use as many United frequent flier miles as I can. Has anyone done this? I would appreciate any hints on how to organize a trip that long using miles. Also, once there, is it better to go on tours or travel independently? What countries do you think I should not miss? I know this is pretty far in advance, but planning is half the fun.
Thanks.
 
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Jan 28th, 2000, 05:21 AM
  #2
mm
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I would say start first with the countries that really interest you and then check to see if United or their frequent flier partners fly to these countries so that you can be assured that you can use your frequent flier miles. From there check if you can get connecting flights from one country to another. Check also for flight schedules. There might not be daily flights and you will have to factor this in. We used tours when my husband first started to go to international destinations. For the past four years, we have been planning our trips on our own using travel books and internet resources like Fodors to plan our trips to Tanzania, England, Philippines, Chile. I think you are doing the right thing by doing your research now. For our trip to Tanzania, I started researching about five months prior to our desired travel dates. I finalized our plans about a month and a half before departure and did everything except purchase the airline tickets over the internet. Now, since there were two of us travelling, we felt okay by exploring on our own (this way, you can be as relaxed or rushed as you need to be). If you're on your own you might feel a little better travelling with others. Good Luck.
 
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Jan 28th, 2000, 08:32 AM
  #3
John
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Hi, Susan,
I think it's wise (and I know it's fun) to plan way ahead for such a big adventure. We did a similar length multi-hemisphere trip a year ago and found out a couple of things:

MM's advice is good - check to see where your United miles will take you and how many miles you burn in the process. In our experience, for example, we found it was easier on the miles to do a couple of back-to-back round trips from the US rather than the point-to-point thing over there. And frankly, the chance to check up on family and bills (and drug stores, etc.) when passing through made for a nice break. You might also think about using miles for hotels instead of airfares - we did a calculation of "dollars per frequent flier mile" since some plans seem to charge a lot more miles against your account for flights where you can usually get good dollar deals (USA-Australia/NZ in our experience, for example).

Also be aware that if you're planning for a few years ahead, some of the partner plans and destinations might well change, the mileage requirements might go up, and I think I recall United certificates have a finite shelf life, so you can't lock in lower mileage exchanges now for travel in a couple of years. You should check on this.

As for the tour vs. independent thing, I think you should make that a focus of your planning - some countries might be better for organized touring while others really are better suited for indies. Mixing and matching, or doing a quick tour in some country then going indie after that, might be best, but it depends on your own comfort level.

Happy planning!
 
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