The first half of 2017 has been a busy one professionally for both Mallory and me. Mallory finished up her second year of her Doctor in Occupational Therapy program, and I took over managing the office at my job here in Tampa. Those things added up to not much travel, but that is about to change! This Friday we are departing on the trip of a lifetime including four stops, four countries, and a South African safari!
I’ve been fascinated by South Africa since my cousin packed his bags and moved there immediately after he graduated from high school. The pictures of the landscapes and abundance of wildlife is always a plus when convincing Mallory we need to go somewhere! Now we get our chance and we are getting there and doing it in style!
Whenever someone posts about the top airlines, or top premium cabin products, there are two airlines that are always mentioned: Emirates and Etihad. Last year when I visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi with Thad I was able to fly the Etihad first class apartment back to New York. This year we are flying from Orlando to Dubai then on to Cape Town after a two-day stopover in Emirates First Class. These flights would normally cost more than $14,000 per person cost us just $34.00 per person in taxes and fees after redeeming 135,000 Japan Airlines miles each. I was able to transfer SPG (and Marriott) points to JAL to complete this redemption.
When I was in the initial stages of planning this trip, I was looking at the luxury tour company Abercrombie & Kent because their itineraries in South Africa and around the world are great and customizable, but also because room and board are included in the price. When our desired dates were either full or unavailable I started researching the hotels on the itinerary and found that I could book all but one of the hotels and save almost 50%, so that’s what I did!
Our itinerary includes 2 days in Dubai, 5 days in Cape Town, 4 Days in Kruger National park at a beautiful South African Safari camp, and 2 days in Livingstone, Zambia at Victoria Falls. I’m really excited to take in the beauty of South Africa and share it with you!
Our trip wouldn’t be complete without another trip on Etihad’s first class apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York, so Mallory can experience the onboard shower at 40,000 ft! We will also be checking out the brand new first class lounge in Abu Dhabi that I just missed opening when I was there last year. I was able to redeem 120,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles each for our flights from Johannesburg to New York.
There is going to be a lot of content coming from this trip, so make sure you’re following me on Instagram @passports2life, and keep checking the blog for new posts!
Is there a destination that you dream about visiting? Let me know in the comments!