This trip is bittersweet, since my mother's recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. She just started chemo this month, and I've been driving back to Southern California to visit her. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a lot of stress, but I'm choosing to trust her doctors' recommendations, and to be optimistic. The last few days have been especially hard. She's been in the ER and hospital on separate issues, which is the last thing she needs while she's trying to beat cancer.
I've been kicking around the idea of just cancelling the trip, and using my vacation time to be with my mom. That's what a good son would do, right? And it's Christmas. I really should be with family anyway.
But my mom gave her blessing and said it's fine to stick with our plans. There's no point in putting life on hold because of fear, because there's always something to be scared about if you look hard enough.
And I've been able to see her in person and let her know I love her and help in little ways, like getting her will in order. [Now that we've gone through the process and seen that it really is not as complicated as we thought, Mrs. Done by Forty and I will be setting our own up. More on that in a future post.]
We'll have photos and stories to share when we get back. But for now we can outline the basics of the trip and the modest travel hacking we did to keep costs down. I have a couple posts scheduled for while we're away, and I'll try to stop by your blogs and read when we have some downtime and wifi. But if I drop off the face of the digital world, it's nothing personal and we'll be back soon.
As usual, we leaned heavily on the expertise of Brad at Richmond Savers. I really cannot recommend him enough: if you want to travel more and spend less money doing it, Brad's your guy. He helped us focus on the best card for traveling to Asia this time of year, and even got us some inter-country flight deals, too.
- Roundtrip flight from Phoenix to Tokyo & back: 80,000 American Airlines miles and $102 for two tickets.
- One way flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong: 20,000 British Airways Avios and $71.
- One way flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok: 15,000 British Airways Avios and $33.
- Roundtrip from Bangkok to Siem Reap: $320
- One way flight from Bangkok to Tokyo: 25,000 British Airways Avios and $48
- Total dollars spent: $574
Since there are four of us, we're mostly staying in AirBnBs that have a couple beds, rather than each of us using points at hotels. I prefer AirBnBs to hotels most of the time. I like already being in a real, living neighborhood when we step outside, and prefer the quirky apartment with peccadillos to the nice-but-predictable decor of a chain hotel. Still, both are great and, you know, we'll take the latter when it's free.
- 5 nights in Tokyo AirBnBs: $156 for two nights at the first AirBnB, $249 for last three nights at the second.
- 4 nights in Hong Kong AirBnB: $335 at this place on Hong Kong Island
- 3 nights in Bangkok Hotels: Two Hilton weekend night certificates at the Millennium Hilton Bangkok, and 28,000 Club Carlson points for one night at the Park Plaza Bangkok Soi 18
- 4 nights in Siem Reap AirBnB: $155, for what I think will be the nicest place of the bunch.
- Grand Total in dollars spent (per couple): $895 ($55.94/night average)
- Total cost for accommodations and flights: $1,469
We'll obviously spend more on restaurants, gifts, subway tickets, cab rides, and all the random adventures we can squeeze in our too-short trip. I usually don't document all this sort of stuff in a budget but, if that's the thing you'd like to see, I can keep track as best I can.
So that's what we'll be doing for the holidays. Whatever your plans are, I hope you get a chance to see the people you love, and to exchange gifts, and to drink too much eggnog, and to do it all in Santa hats because everything is more fun in Santa hats. Remember to hug your friends and kiss your loved ones, and have a Merry Christmas, dear readers. We'll see you next year.
*Photo is from Manish Prabhune at Flickr Creative Commons.