The adventure began Wednesday October 2nd. Nick, Stephen, and I met up in Washington DC to kick off the 40K to Far Away challenge. Our goal? Go as far as possible. Our budget? 40,000 points and $400. Who picked the winner? You did.
Each of us was assigned a transferable points currency. We were allowed to use up to 40,000 points, as follows:
- Greg the Frequent Miler (AKA me): 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- Nick: 40,000 Citi ThankYou Rewards points
- Stephen: 40,000 Amex Membership Rewards points
We purposely left the objective unclear. Readers were given the opportunity to debate who won and why; and a reader poll ultimately decided the winner.
And the winner is…
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
We each traveled at least this far (estimated distances shown here do not include around town travel):
19,619 miles16,061 miles before he went over-budget
- Greg: 18,037 miles
- Stephen: 13,394 miles
- Nick: Spent 39,500 points (500 under budget) and $670.90 ($270 over budget). Details here. Before going over budget he spent only 23,500 points and $398.70. Details here.
- Greg: Spent 40,000 points and $397.08 ($2.92 under budget). Details here.
- Stephen: Spent 40,000 points and $382.44 ($17.56 under budget). Details here.
Why did we do this?
We expect this to be fun! And it was a great opportunity to highlight sweet spot awards available through each of the transferable points currencies: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Amex Membership Rewards.
In fact, this contest led to some awesome discoveries such as the ability to book flights to Hawaii for only 7,500 Citi ThankYou points, the ability to book super-cheap fares with Chase points, and tricks for finding 5K United awards. More examples can be found below under the heading “What we’ve learned.”
The goal was to use the budget (40K points + $400) to go as far as possible. How do we measure success? We don’t know. We debated whether we should measure distance from origin to destination, but that didn’t seem right. After all, someone could potentially fly all the way around the world and end up 0 miles from the start. How about measuring the combined distance of each individual leg? Maybe, but should we really count it as going far if Stephen rides a merry-go-round 35,000 miles? Ultimately we decided that we’ll know success when we see it. And, if we don’t, it will still be fun debating it!
But we did need some rules, so here they are:
- Beginning with the first mode of transportation, we must account for all costs within the 40K + $400 budget. This means that we need to track payments for food, airport transfers (not counting the original transfer to get to the starting location), lodging, visas, etc.
- This is a one-way challenge. We do not need to return to the starting location.
- We cannot accept transit/lodging/food help from readers. In other words, we can accept help in terms of advice, but we can’t accept a ride to the airport, lodging, food, or other types of material assistance from readers. Note that accepting help from friends or relatives along the way is fine as long as it is the type of thing that would normally happen when traveling.
What we’ve learned
The challenge to come up with the best possible itinerary with 40K points has led us to many interesting discoveries. Some are brand new. Others were already known, but are relatively new to us. Here are some of the gems:
- 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):
Please contact us here: email@example.com.
All 40K to Far Away posts:
- 40K to Far Away Afterglow. Help us design the next #40KFarAway challenge. - 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… As you can see above, I […]
- Vote for your favorite 40K to Far Away trip! [Update: the votes are in] - Who won the 40K to Far Away challenge? You’ll find the results of the voting poll at the bottom of this post. Voting was open until Sunday October 20th at 10pm ET. Greg Nick Stephen Distance Traveled (click here for details) >18,000 miles ~16,061 miles ~13,394 miles Spend 40,000 points $397.08 Details here 23,500 points […]
- Days 11-14 Of Stephen’s 40k: Beating The Casino, D.C. Segway Tour, Art & All The Way Back Home - We left off day 10 of 40k To Far Away with me having to book a hostel-style Airbnb in Atlantic City. I’d planned to status match at Hard Rock Casino & Hotel to take advantage of getting two free nights with Rock Royalty status. What I hadn’t realized when planning my trip is that I’d […]
- 15 Reasons Stephen Should Win The #40kFaraway Challenge - So after 14 days of travel, my 40k To Far Away adventure finally came to an end last night. I might have technically traveled the shortest distance, but by a bunch of other metrics I feel like I traveled the “farthest”. Not convinced? Here are 15 reasons why you should vote for me as the […]
- 23.5K to Far Away: How Nick can steal your vote for #40KFaraway champ - Hear me out on this: Yesterday morning, I revealed the disappointing news that I’d gone way over budget for the 40K to Far Away challenge. How could I possibly still convince you to vote for me? Because I did more for less. No, I won’t ask you to consider me as a winner based on […]
- 10 reasons to vote for Greg for #40KFarAway - Now that the Frequent Miler team has completed the 40K to Far Away Challenge, we will soon publish a poll to let readers decide who won. With that poll, we’ll publish summary results: where did we go, what did we do, how much did we spend, etc. But lists and statistics only tell part of […]
- How Stephen Toured Europe & Made It “Home” Again For 40K points & $400 (#40kfaraway) - I’m still traveling for 40k To Far Away, but my journey is due to end in just a few hours. Greg and Nick have already shared how they used their points and cash, so it’s time for me to account for mine. Over the last two weeks I’ve visited 6 different countries (not including a […]
- Less than 40K points used: Nick’s numbers for #40KFaraway - As Greg did on Monday, today I’ll account for all of my costs in the 40K to Far Away challenge. Many readers have been curious about how we booked our travels and stayed within the parameters of the competition. Spoiler alert: while I only used 40,000 points for my trip, I share a common characteristic […]
- Days 7-10 Of Stephen’s 40k: Trolls, Lots Of Flying & A Risk That Didn’t Pay Off - To get a recap on what came before days 7-10 of my 40k To Far Away trip, check out the following posts: Days 1-4 Of Stephen’s 40k: Not Much Sleep, Lots Of Sights, Troll Hunting & More Days 5-6 Of Stephen’s 40k: Walking, More Trolls, Walking, Family, Walking & Sleeping Day 7 Day 6 saw […]
- 40K Far Away: Who went farthest? - While Stephen finishes up the last couple of days of his trip, we’re each working on wrapping up our 40K to Far Away posts. In addition to detailed trip reports, each of us will present an accounting: exactly how much did we spend in points and cash for everything (this includes food, tipping, subways, etc.)? […]
- How Greg toured Madrid & Africa for 40K points and $400 (#40kfaraway) - Success! With my meager 40K + $400 budget, I visited Washington DC; Madrid, Spain; Dakar Senegal; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Cape Town, South Africa. I finally ended my journey on the island of Mahé in the Seychelles (lodging in the Seychelles was not included in this budget since it occurred after I declared that I […]
- Days 5-6 Of Stephen’s 40k: Walking, Sightseeing, Walking, Family, Walking & Sleeping - My recap of days 1-4 of 40k To Far Away finished in Brussels, Belgium after a day of troll hunting in Boom. That wasn’t quite the end of day 4 though, as that evening I caught an overnight bus to Paris. Here’s what I got up to over the following couple of days. Day 5 […]
- How The 1st Flight Stephen Booked Affected The Rest Of His Trip - The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that in the video graphic produced for 40k To Far Away, it said my first flight from Newark-Toronto-Madrid only cost $115.45. Flights to Europe from the east coast to Europe are often cheap, but a sub-$120 one-way fare is pretty much unheard of other than the occasional Norwegian […]
- Greg’s South African adventures #40Kfaraway (featuring Johannesburg fun, train misadventures, Cape Town wine & penguins) - Wow. I had a great time on my 40K to Far Away adventures, but I’m beat! I’m now in the Seychelles for a brief recovery (I slept 10 hours last night!) before flying off to join my wife in London. I wrote previously about my trip leading up to South Africa: Greg’s first day of […]
- Nick’s (Mis)Adventures adding 30+ miles by bicycle - Earlier this morning, I posted the announcement that I had reached my end point in the 40K to Far Away challenge: Niue. However, en route to get here, I stopped in 3 cities in New Zealand with layovers of 8 hours or more (in addition to previous stops). With two of those long New Zealand […]
- Nick’s final new destination: Niue (#40KFaraway) - It’s official: I’ve come to the end of my 40K to Far Away road. I’ll soon be posting summaries of my stops along the way (and eventually a full cost report), but for now I wanted to at least show you the end of the road as this end point dictated the rest of the […]
- Days 1-4 Of Stephen’s 40k: Not Much Sleep, Lots Of Sights, Troll Hunting & More - We’re a week into 40k To Far Away but I’m only halfway through my trip. Even though I’ve not traveled as far as Greg and Nick so far, I’ve still managed to fit in a lot of stuff. Here’s a recap of how my first four days went. Day 1 I started off the day […]
- Greg’s visits to Madrid and Dakar #40Kfaraway - One of the hardest things about travelling the 40K to Far Away Challenge is finding time to write. Most of the time I’ve either been on the go or too tired to think. Or both. But now I’m on a 27 hour train journey to Cape Town, I’ve slept well, and so I’m ready to […]
- The mid-race tally. Who’s leading #40Kfaraway? - As of Sunday at 3pm ET, Nick is way ahead of the pack. That is, if we measure only the distance traveled and not the quality of the travel, then he’s way ahead. Here’s the Sunday afternoon tally (images and computed distances courtesy of Great Circle Mapper): Nick has traveled approximately 17,613 miles: Nick has […]
- Greg’s in Africa, Stephen isn’t out of the woods, and Nick explores Narita #40KFaraway - If you’ve been following along, you know that Greg, Stephen, and I are all on different continents at this point and adventuring our ways around. It’s interesting writing these summaries because I’m honestly not even sure what day number we’re on at this point: as I type this, it’s Saturday afternoon where I am. I […]
- Greg’s first day of #40K to Far Away adventures - Near the end of the first day of the 40K to Far Away adventure, I was mentally worn out by the time my Megabus ride arrived in Manhattan. Honestly, I was already wondering why I was doing this. Other than visiting the Library of Congress my trip so far hadn’t been fun. Not at all. […]
- #40KFaraway Day 2: Sleepless nights and long-haul flights - Day 2 of the 40K to Far Away challenge is in the books and I’m not going to lie: it feels good to be the mileage leader still despite only having used 7,500 points and $5.60. That said, “winner” is not a word I’d have used to describe myself last night. As Day 2 wraps […]
- Nick’s first destinations: Lanikai Beach and Uncle Clay’s House - Late last night (for most readers) I made it to Lanikai Beach on Oahu. In a move that likely shocks you as much as finding out that the southern-style smoked beef and pork sausage sandwich on United’s in-flight menu is really just a hot dog, I used 7,500 Citi Thank You points transferred to Turkish […]
- #40kFarAway Day 1: A Series Of Unfortunate (But Not Trip-Destroying) Events - Well, that’s a wrap for day one of 40k To Far Away. Sort of. It’s almost midnight as I write this, but travel hasn’t ended for all of us today. Greg is at JFK about to jet off somewhere. Nick’s in Hawaii on his way to do something that he’s been giving cryptic clues about. […]
- The United workout plan: gate-to-gate in 14 minutes or less #40KFaraway - WIth the 40K to Far Away challenge under way today, I had my alarm set for 5:40am and actually called the front desk for an old-fashioned wake-up call just to be sure I’d get up and pull myself together for the airport shuttle at 6:15am. The alarm and went off and phone rang and I […]
- #40KFaraway: Stretching the boundaries of possibility - “It’s amazing to me what seems reasonable when we don’t understand what’s possible.” On the eve of the launch of our 40K to Far Away challenge, I found myself most excited about the vast possibility that lay before us (and writing this post that I’m just now publishing from a plane). Over the next week […]
- Greg’s #40KFarAway Mystery Excursions - The 40K to Far Away Challenge got underway this morning. After a brief flight delay scare (just a little fog), I was on my way… all the way to West Virginia. When I arrived, I turned around and got back on the same jet to fly back to DC. This seeming inanity was all part […]
- 40K to Far Away… It’s On! - This is it… We’re off and away! This morning Nick, Stephen, and I set off on our 40K to Far Away adventures. Any guesses as to where we’ll end up? As I write this, all we know for certain, so far, is the first leg of each journey: Greg flies United Airlines this morning from […]
- What’s in Greg’s #40KFarAway Backpack? Version 2 (Guest starring a dog and a cat) - A couple of weeks ago I posted about my 40K to Far Away practice run. I was going to Denali National Park with Rapid Travel Chai and I used it to test out my packing plans. Can I take everything I need in a small backpack? That experiment was extremely helpful. For one, I decided […]
- DC Area Meetup: #40KFarAway Send Off (Oct 1, 8:30PM, near IAD) - For those who happen to be in the DC area on October 1, come join us for an informal gathering to send us off on our 40K to Far Away adventures. The adventures begin the next morning, Wednesday October 2nd. Our goal? Go as far as possible. Our budget? 40,000 points and $400. Who will […]
- Stephen’s #40kFaraway: Everything That’s In His Bag (& A Few Things That Aren’t) - Ever since we decided to do the 40k To Far Away challenge, I’ve been keeping a list of everything I need to remember to bring. What I hadn’t done was make sure that I could actually fit all that stuff into my backpack. I’ve now tested it out and thankfully everything does fit – just […]
- Ultimate Rewards: How to book with points despite online limitations - This is a story of courage and bravery, love and loss, tragedy and excitement… Just kidding. It’s not any of those things… But it is a story about seemingly unattainable goals and persistence in the face of repeated obstacles. Will the hero in this story win out? Thanks to the 40K to Far Away Challenge […]
- Nick’s #40KFaraway bag is packed. Here’s what’s not inside (and what is) - The path to the #40KFaraway challenge has been fun. When we hatched the idea for this challenge, I think we expected it to be entertaining for readers. There’s no doubt that we knew we’d enjoy it, too. But I’m going to go out on a limb and speak for Greg an Stephen in saying that I […]
- Stephen’s #40KFarAway Research: Priority Pass Lounges With Showers - After a long flight, there’s not much better than a refreshing shower. Even more so when you’re doing the 40k To Faraway challenge and won’t necessarily have overnight accommodation for days at a time. My #40kFaraway strategy has changed over the last few months. One of my original strategies had me trying to fly as […]
- Greg’s #40KFarAway practice: Driving Denali - The 40K to Far Away Challenge is coming up soon! Just over two weeks from now (October 2), Nick, Stephen and I will take off in separate directions from Washington DC to go as far as we can with 40,000 points and $400. I’m still trying to nail down the final pieces of my plan. […]
- Why Stephen should win #40KFaraway - Greg is the Frequent Miler. When we first announced the #40KFaraway challenge, I think it would have been fair for the average reader to assume that Greg would win. After all, out of the three of us, he’s the only one who has earned a million miles and points in a month. And he’s the only […]
- Greg’s 40K to Far Away mistakes (yep, he’s already made a few) #40Kfaraway - I’m not excited about our 40K to Far Away Challenge. “Excited” is too mild a word. “Obsessed” is more accurate. Nick, Stephen, and I each have 40,000 points and $400 and a goal: go as far as possible. For this challenge, we didn’t define “far”. Do we win by traversing the most miles? Do we […]
- Forget email, book Turkish awards over the phone (7.5K each way) - Yesterday, Greg posted about how you can buy enough Citi ThankYou points to fly from basically anywhere in the US to Hawaii for $386 round trip. The trick of course is using Turkish Miles & Smiles, a Citi ThankYou transfer partner that charges only 7,500 miles + $5.60 each way in economy class (to anywhere […]
- Hunting down a free safari - When researching my post “The best stopover deals worldwide,” I came across a very interesting deal. According to a couple of articles, Kenya Airways offered free safaris for those stopping over in Nairobi. Here’s an example article: How to Get a Free Kenyan Safari I was pretty excited about this idea (especially for the 40K […]
- How to book the cheapest flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards - Google Flights makes it easy to find super cheap airfare deals like the one pictured above. Within Google Flights, simply enter your origin city and departure date and then enter a region as a destination (“Europe,” for example) and then you’ll be presented with a map showing low fares. Those with the Chase Sapphire Reserve […]
- Stephen’s Top 13 Obstacles To Winning #40Kfaraway - Planning a long trip overseas can be hard. Planning for our 40k To Far Away challenge is even harder. Just when I think I’ve found a great routing, I’ve noticed something which makes it less of a good option. Even coming up with a strategy in the first place is hard due to the fairly […]
- Finding United MileagePlus 5K Awards - I recently posted the fact that almost all award flights within Japan cost only 5K United miles one-way. That’s cool both because 5K is a cheap price to pay and because it’s a cheap way to initiate a United Excursionist Perk. That means that you can fly round-trip within Japan for 10K miles and, if […]
- The best stopover deals worldwide - A number of airlines and airports offer free tours and free lodging for those transiting through the airport on their way to somewhere else. This can be a great way to turn an otherwise painfully long layover into a mini vacation of its own. We’ve scoured the web for the best deals, but we may […]
- Greg’s weapons don’t scare me: why 1.5cpp is overrated (#40Kfaraway) - Greg thinks that the ability to book travel through Chase at 1.5c per point is a huge advantage in our 40K To Far Away Challenge. I’m not buying it. I think Greg is either intentionally trying to throw us off his scent or he’s grossly overestimating the advantage of being able to book travel through the […]
- My secret weapon #40Kfaraway - Last week, Nick became the presumed favorite in the 40K to Far Away challenge when he revealed the greatest sweet spot award ever: 7.5K miles each way to Hawaii. That deal requires Turkish Miles & Smiles miles. And, of the three of us, only Nick can easily get those miles by transferring from Citi ThankYou […]
- Book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via email. Here’s how. - Turkish Miles & Smiles has an incredibly generous award chart which includes deals such as 7.5K one-way from anywhere in the US to Hawaii (or 15K in business class), 45K one-way business class to Europe, 52.5K one-way business class to central Asia, etc. And you can transfer points to Turkish from Citi ThankYou Rewards (1 […]
- 7.5K each way to Hawaii: The sweetest spot we’ve been missing - Our #40Kfaraway challenge has led me to more closely study the award charts of all of the Citi Transfer Partners. I recently stumbled on a gem that I shared over the weekend at FM to Go Minneapolis: you can fly from the mainland US to/from Hawaii for 7.5K each way in economy class. If you […]
- Around the world in 40K - I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been obsessed with the 40K to Far Away Challenge. Nick, Stephen, and I each have a budget of 40,000 points and $400 to try to get as far away as possible (details here). Nick is working with Citi ThankYou points, Stephen has Amex Membership Rewards, and I […]
- Fly around Japan for 5K each way, and add a free Excursion [Sweet-spot spotlight] - Nick previously published a similar post: Fly around Japan for 4.5K each way with British Airways Avios [Sweet-spot spotlight]. But then the BA devaluation happened (see: BA devaluation not so bad after all). Now, it costs 6,000 Avios each way to fly around Japan. Don’t worry though: all is not lost! Thanks to my research […]
- United Excursionist Perk Maps. Visualize regions to optimize awards. - In my opinion, the United Excursionist Perk is one of the best aspects of United’s MileagePlus program. What is the Excursionist Perk? When you book an award trip using United miles, and your travel begins and ends in the same region, you can get a free one-way within a single region of the world that […]
- How I Won’t Be Winning The 40K To Far Away Challenge Either - Maybe I should take Mr Quinney’s advice and not underestimate myself. Having come up with the idea for the 40K To Far Away challenge, I questioned the wisdom of suggesting it to Greg and Nick. After all, my strength lies in maximizing our points for living in hotels, not maximizing miles for flying around the […]
- Greg’s Chase Ultimate Rewards battle plans - The 40K to Far Away challenge is on! Nick, Stephen, and I each have a budget of 40K points and $400 to go as far away as we can. Nick is working with Citi ThankYou points, Stephen is working with Amex Membership Rewards points, and I have Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The rules of this […]
- Cruising to a win #40Kfaraway - When the 40K to Far Away idea first came up (see: Challenge! 40K to Far Away), and when I learned that I would be assigned Chase Ultimate Rewards points, I had a great idea. I remembered the Travel is Free post about how to find cheap repositioning cruises. In that post, Drew mentioned having found […]
- How I’m not going to win the 40K challenge - In my younger years, I ran track for a legendary coach named Mr. Quinney. My high school’s girls’ track & field team went more than a decade undefeated in our league and nearly two decades as league champions; the boys team went something like 5 years without a league loss around the time I was […]
- Challenge! 40K to Far Away - About a month ago, I hosted an annual Frequent Miler business meeting. The idea was to take a step back from the day to day blog writing in order to look at the big picture. We know that our priority is to make our website great. What does great look like? What steps do we […]