Total cost for 57 hours of business class flights for two and 18 nights in hotels: $1250 CAD.
Our original honeymoon plan was to do, contrary to our norm, a classic two-week trip in Italy and France. But Michelle, now the seasoned traveller, decided we needed to be more adventurous, so we set out to choose a destination that would satisfy our exotic explorer needs while fulfilling our desire for a challenge (a challenge can be fun!). We considered our options and eventually settled on three countries over three weeks: Seychelles, India, and Bali (Indonesia). Since this involves 57 hours of flying (over 26,000 miles), plus layovers, we definitely wanted to be in business class. It was a perfect combination for an Aeroplan award: we could fly to Bali in business class for only 155k points each (it’s easy for Canadians or Americans to accumulate lots of Aeroplan miles), and Aeroplan lets you add two stopovers for free. In our case, these stopovers “on the way” to Bali are Seychelles and India. In reality these are not very on the way, but since Bali is so far Aeroplan gives you a lot of leeway in your routing.
The most trying step was finding flights to the Seychelles. Since there are only two Star Alliance flights to the Seychelles, it can be challenging to find points options. Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul 3 times weekly, and Ethiopian Airlines flies from Addis Ababa 5 times weekly. Fortunately, they both have relatively strong availability, especially if you book in advance and your dates are flexible. If Seychelles is your “destination” – the furthest of your three stops – then you have four options to get to/from there:
The problem is if Seychelles is a “stopover” on the way to your further-away destination. In my case, Seychelles was a stopover on the way to Bali. Aeroplan won’t let you connect twice in the same city on your way to the destination. So origin-IST-SEZ-IST-destination is NOT legal, since you’re connecting twice in IST on the way to your destination. This leaves you with only two options:
So you better be flexible with your dates, since you have very few flights to choose from! We booked flights on the incomparable Turkish Airlines from JFK to Istanbul (where we’ll get to spend time in their incredible lounge) to Seychelles, and the very mediocre Ethiopian Airlines from Seychelles to Addis Ababa.
For us ADD was just a necessary connection on the way to Bali, so we had one more stopover. We chose Delhi, which is relatively easy to get to. We’re flying Ethiopian Airlines from ADD to Delhi, and then Singapore Airlines from Delhi to Bali (with an hour-long connection in Singapore).
Our way home is much simpler: we’ll be flying EVA Airlines, a Taiwanese airline with a great business class. We chose a 21-hour overnight layover at their hub in Taipei, giving us a free taste of Taiwan since Aeroplan allows unlimited <24 hour layovers at no extra cost.
Since we purposefully flew only airlines which do not charge fuel surchages/carrier surcharges/scam charges, the taxes came out to just under $200 each, mostly consisting of departure taxes for Seychelles and India.
Hotels & Other Logistics
Since we’re budget travellers, we’ll be staying at inexpensive hotels or guesthouses most of the time, with the exception of a few luxury hotels that we’re getting for free with SPG points.
The Seychelles are usually thought of as an extremely expensive destination – most hotels are $500/night and up. It’s a popular honeymoon spot for the European 0.01%. However, there are many self-catering guesthouses available for 50-100 euros/night, so it’s possible to stay and eat inexpensively. We’re spending 8 nights in the Seychelles, and the costs will be:
– Six nights in guesthouses: $490
– One night at a guesthouse, paid for using a hotels.com free night award (1 night free for every 10 paid nights): $4 (taxes)
– One night at Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove:
$556 12,000 SPG points + $0.
– Transportation is expensive, so you should take that into account:
– Roundtrip 27-mile flights between Mahe Island and Praslin Island, on a little Twin Otter: $129 USD each. At $2.39/mile, it’s quite expensive on a per-mile basis!
– Roundtrip ferry between Praslin Island and La Digue Island: $32 each
– 6 days of car rentals on Mahe and Praslin: $292 (very expensive – there’s also a decent bus system if you’re very cheap)
– 2 days of bicycle rentals on La Digue (no cars on this small island!): $23
– Exploring hundreds of incredible beaches and tropical jungles: free!
India is much easier to do on a budget. We’re flying in and out of Delhi, driving to Agra for one night/two days to see the Taj Mahal, and then three nights/two days in Delhi. We’re getting a private driver for two days to go to Agra (only $78 for 6+ hours of driving, a driver for two days, gas, tolls, taxes, and his food and accommodation). In Agra we’re staying at the ITC Mughal for 4,000 SPG points, and in Delhi we’re staying at the Le Meridien for 7,000 SPG points/night.
And Bali is, of course, easiest of all! We’re staying three nights in Ubud at a beautiful luxurious Airbnb surrounded by rice fields for only $25/night! We have two more nights to book, but they’ll either be somewhere ridiculously luxurious on points or somewhere very luxurious for still pretty cheap.
After one night in Taipei ($57), our total cost for 18 nights in hotels will be around $620, or an average of $34/night. That’s a total cost of under $1000 USD ($500 per person) for 57 hours of business class flights and 18 nights of hotels.
September 1, 2017 at 8:51 pm
Well done for the travel/points planning, and congratulations on your marriage. And so agree on the fuel surcharges.
September 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm
Thanks Paul! They are a huge scam, but fortunately Aeroplan has so many partners (especially to Asia) which don’t have fuel surcharges.
September 6, 2017 at 10:42 pm
And this is why we love Aeroplan (and well of course… Amex) ! Congrats to you both 🙂