What a ride! The 40K to Far Away challenge is done, the votes have been counted, and the Frequent Miler team is slowly settling back in to business as usual blogging. Today, though, I’ll take a quick look back at the challenge and a look forward to what’s next…
Who do you think won the 40K to Far Away challenge?
- Greg (51%, 567 Votes)
- Stephen (31%, 345 Votes)
- Nick (19%, 210 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,122
As you can see above, I earned the most votes for this challenge (thank you!), so I’m technically the winner. A number of people have said, though, that they voted for me, but would have voted for Nick if he hadn’t gone so far over budget. Maybe that means that Nick would have won had his gift card plan worked. It’s also possible that we would have each had roughly a third of the votes. And I think that would have been fitting. Each trip earned bragging rights for different reasons…
Nick traveled to the most remote location, joined a yacht club, and uncovered the most valuable new information (how to book flights to Hawaii for only 7,500 points!).
You can read more about Nick’s trip in these posts:
- Less than 40K points used: Nick’s numbers for #40KFaraway
- 23.5K to Far Away: How Nick can steal your vote for #40KFaraway champ
- #40KFaraway: Stretching the boundaries of possibility
- #40kFarAway Day 1: A Series Of Unfortunate (But Not Trip-Destroying) Events
- #40KFaraway Day 2: Sleepless nights and long-haul flights
- Nick’s first destinations: Lanikai Beach and Uncle Clay’s House
- Nick’s (Mis)Adventures adding 30+ miles by bicycle
- Nick’s final new destination: Niue (#40KFaraway)
- Nick’s #40KFaraway bag is packed. Here’s what’s not inside (and what is)
While Nick and I traveled for 7 and 8 days, Stephen stretched his budget out to travel for a whopping 14 days. He cashed in his points at 1.25 cents each and proved that sometimes cash goes further than points. Of the three of us, Stephen visited the most countries, took the most modes of transportation, ate the most local foods, and spotted the most giant trolls.
You can read more about Stephen’s trip in these posts:
- How Stephen Toured Europe & Made It “Home” Again For 40K points & $400 (#40kfaraway)
- 15 Reasons Stephen Should Win The #40kFaraway Challenge
- How The 1st Flight Stephen Booked Affected The Rest Of His Trip
- Days 1-4 Of Stephen’s 40k: Not Much Sleep, Lots Of Sights, Troll Hunting & More(10
- Days 5-6 Of Stephen’s 40k: Walking, Sightseeing, Walking, Family, Walking & Sleeping
- Days 7-10 Of Stephen’s 40k: Trolls, Lots Of Flying & A Risk That Didn’t Pay Off
- Days 11-14 Of Stephen’s 40k: Beating The Casino, D.C. Segway Tour, Art & All The Way Back Home
- Stephen’s #40kFaraway: Everything That’s In His Bag (& A Few Things That Aren’t)
My trip was amazing in many ways, but ultimately what set my trip apart was the interpersonal connections. At every stop, I made a new friend. As a result, I had a great time. Oh, and I think my use of the United Excursionist Perk was really cool too (see this post for details).
You can read more about my trip in these posts:
- How Greg toured Madrid & Africa for 40K points and $400 (#40kfaraway)
- 10 reasons to vote for Greg for #40KFarAway
- Greg’s first day of #40K to Far Away adventures
- Greg’s visits to Madrid and Dakar #40Kfaraway
- Greg’s South African adventures #40Kfaraway (featuring Johannesburg fun, train misadventures, Cape Town wine & penguins)
- What’s in Greg’s #40KFarAway Backpack? Version 2 (Guest starring a dog and a cat)
Rating the Challenge
While a few readers didn’t seem to like the 40K to Far Away challenge, most were overwhelmingly positive about it. I believe it was a smash success in multiple ways: it was fun for almost everyone (most readers and all three authors), and it led us to uncover or highlight many, many useful things:
- General Travel
- Chase Ultimate Rewards:
- Etihad Guest (transferable from Amex, Citi, and Capital One)
- Turkish Miles & Smiles (transferable from Citi ThankYou Rewards):
- Book US to Hawaii for only 7.5K miles!
- Turkish partner awards can be booked via email (otherwise it’s necessary to go to a Turkish Airlines ticket office).
- Forget email, book Turkish awards over the phone (7.5K each way)
- United MileagePlus:
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (transferable from Amex, Chase, and Citi):
People have asked us if we’ll do this again. Yes! There’s no question. We don’t yet know when or how often, but we’ll absolutely make this a regular feature.
Readers have offered many great suggestions for changes to future challenges. For example, quite a few people have suggested that we should have a separate budget for food and lodging. I like that idea! Others have proposed doing a luxury travel competition. That sounds good!
How about making things more difficult by traveling with multiple people (with our wives, perhaps?) or during peak travel dates? It can be done. Remember my post showing that it was possible to book a business class award trip to New Zealand for a family of four during winter break? You can find it here: How to piece together an impossible award.
We’re also open to completely new formats. Should we build trips for each other? I’m imagining a format similar to the show “An Idiot Abroad”. For example, maybe Nick and Stephen would get together to decide where to send me and I’d go out into the world with no idea where I’d end up.
Or maybe we should have more discrete and objective sub-challenges. For example, maybe we would all meet someone and readers would decide our next destination. Our goal would be to see who could get there first, or in the most luxury, or with the most modes of transport. Each sub-challenge could have a different goal.
Maybe we should pair up with readers. I could imagine some kind of lottery where selected readers each pair up with one of us and they go on crazy around the world trips while we document those trips from home. Or maybe we travel with them.
Tell us your ideas
What should our next challenge look like? Above I presented a number of ideas that we (and readers) have kicked around, but we’re open to almost anything. Ultimately we want to do something that ticks these boxes:
- The challenge must be possible and practical. We won’t challenge to see who can circumnavigate the world with 5K points – that’s not possible. And we’re not going to race to the South Pole. It’s not practical. And it’s cold. I live in Michigan. I’ve had enough of cold.
- The challenge should be entertaining.
- The challenge should lead to innovation. A reader recently posted: “The necessity to work within the confines of something, are often the friction that sparks ingenuity”. I believe that. The fact that Nick was constrained to using Citi points was the reason that he looked so deeply into the Turkish Miles & Smiles program. The fact that I was constrained to Chase points led me to push the boundaries of what could possibly be booked at 1.5 cents with the Sapphire Reserve card.
What ideas do you have for our next challenge? Please comment below.