40K to Far Away: Launch announcement (#40Kfaraway)

The adventure begins Wednesday October 2nd.  Nick, Stephen, and I will meetup 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 will pick the winner?  You will.

Each of us has been assigned a transferable points currency.  We are 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 will be given the opportunity to debate who won and why; and a reader poll will ultimately decide the winner.

Why?

We expect this to be fun!  And it should be 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 has already 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 so far.”

The Rules

The goal is 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 do 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.  When Nick declares success standing with a flag at the South Pole, he can then return home however he wants.
  • 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.

What’s next

Nick, Stephen, and I will continue to post things we’ve learned while honing our plans.

The excitement will crank up on October 2nd when the challenge officially begins.  We’ll each post regularly about each flight, bus, train, and camel ride we take.  We’ll post our successes and obstacles.  You can expect our posts to be a combination of social media posts and blog posts.  Make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

We’ll wrap up with summaries of how we each spent our 40K miles and how much travel (distance, quality, uniqueness, etc.) we completed.  Next, we’ll open up the floor to discussion to ask readers who they think won and why.  We’ll then post a summary of that debate and we’ll post a reader poll to determine the winner.

What we’ve learned so far

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:

Recent contest updates

  • July 29: Greg booked most of his flights!
  • July 22: Greg finally booked one leg of his journey
  • July 5: Nick revealed that he was able to book an award to Hawaii for only 7.5K Turkish miles (found here)!
  • July 3: Nick has his first and last flights booked and has “one in the middle on hold”.  I’ve heard bits and pieces of Nick’s scheming and it has me a bit worried.  I don’t know if he’ll beat me, but I know he’s going far.  Very far.
  • July 3: Greg still hasn’t booked anything.  I’ve worked out many scenarios, but haven’t yet picked the winning hand.
  • June 30: Stephen has booked his first flight!  Stephen was first in the group to book anything.  I’m looking forward to finding out where he’s going.  Has Stephen found a magical route that will beat Nick and me?

What about the environment?

Flying around the world for no reason other than to declare victory may be fun, but it’s arguably not so good for the environment.  To help mitigate this issue, Frequent Miler (the business) will purchase carbon offsets greater than the amount of damage estimated from our travels.

Media inquiries

Please contact us here: press@frequentmiler.net.

All 40K to Far Away posts:

Greg’s #40KFarAway practice: Driving Denali (9/15/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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.  Where will I sleep at this location?  What will I do at that location?  How can I save a few… (Click to continue reading)
Why Stephen should win #40KFaraway (8/22/2019) by Nick Reyes - 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 one to spend a week on Richard Branson's private island. And he's the only one to buy Sur La Table… (Click to continue reading)
Greg’s 40K to Far Away mistakes (yep, he’s already made a few) #40Kfaraway (7/31/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 win by visiting the most places?  Do we win by doing the most activities?  We don't know.  In the end,… (Click to continue reading)
Forget email, book Turkish awards over the phone (7.5K each way) (7/30/2019) by Nick Reyes - 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 in the US -- so you're not actually limited to Hawaii). The problem has been email award bookings: ever since… (Click to continue reading)
Marriott Protea Hotel Kruger Gate Marriott Rewards sweet spot Hunting down a free safari (7/29/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 to Far Away Challenge) until I read the limitations: You must be traveling from London on Kenya Airways flight 101… (Click to continue reading)
How to book the cheapest flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards (7/24/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 card may then want to book these flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  The reason?  The Sapphire Reserve card gives… (Click to continue reading)
Stephen On A Pirate Ship Stephen’s Top 13 Obstacles To Winning #40Kfaraway (7/17/2019) by Stephen Pepper - 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 loose way in which we (AKA you) will be judging the contest. The 40k To Far Away challenge has been… (Click to continue reading)
Finding United MileagePlus 5K Awards (7/12/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 you can fit it in-between those two flights, you can make your way to another country/region and fly for free… (Click to continue reading)
The best stopover deals worldwide (7/10/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 have missed some.  If you know of any great stopover deals that we missed, please comment below! Istanbul: Turkish Airline's… (Click to continue reading)
Greg’s weapons don’t scare me: why 1.5cpp is overrated (#40Kfaraway) (7/9/2019) by Nick Reyes - 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 Chase portal. Lest you make the same mistake he may be making, allow me to explain why being able to… (Click to continue reading)
My secret weapon #40Kfaraway (7/8/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 points.  Neither Stephen's Amex points, nor my Chase points are capable of transferring to Turkish. In response to Nick's post,… (Click to continue reading)
Book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via email. Here’s how. (7/5/2019) by Nick Reyes - 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 to 1) or from Marriott Bonvoy (60K to 25K).  Finding these great deals in Turkish's award chart is easy.  Booking… (Click to continue reading)
7.5K each way to Hawaii: The sweetest spot we’ve been missing (7/5/2019) by Nick Reyes - 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 can find it, business class is 12.5K each way. That's a pretty amazing sweet spot -- and yes, I've booked it… (Click to continue reading)
Around the world in 40K (7/1/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 have Chase Ultimate Rewards.  I've written before about why I think I have the easiest and best option (since I… (Click to continue reading)
Fly around Japan for 5K each way, and add a free Excursion [Sweet-spot spotlight] (6/28/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 for the 40K to Far Away Challenge, I found a better option for those with United miles or Chase points… (Click to continue reading)
United Excursionist Perk Maps. Visualize regions to optimize awards. (6/27/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 isn’t your region of origin. The intent of this feature is to allow you to visit multiple cities on one… (Click to continue reading)
Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort How I Won’t Be Winning The 40K To Far Away Challenge Either (6/26/2019) by Stephen Pepper - 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 world. As Greg noted when announcing the challenge, I'm the least experienced award booker of the three of us and… (Click to continue reading)
Greg’s Chase Ultimate Rewards battle plans (6/26/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 game are purposely unclear (see the original post for details), but I plan to win.  As Nick pointed out yesterday,… (Click to continue reading)
Cruising to a win #40Kfaraway (6/25/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 a repositioning cruise from the Mediterranean to the US for only $149!  Since it's possible to book cruises with Chase… (Click to continue reading)
How I’m not going to win the 40K challenge (6/25/2019) by Nick Reyes - 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 in school. Every spring, there was a team meeting on the first day of track season. Annually faced with the… (Click to continue reading)
Challenge! 40K to Far Away (6/24/2019) by Greg The Frequent Miler - 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 need to take to get there?  A big part of our vision is to be not only informative, but entertaining… (Click to continue reading)

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

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[…] at any time. I paused mine just yesterday — but then I’ll turn it on again for the #40Kfaraway […]

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[…] 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 […]

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[…] 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 […]

trackback

[…] loved to show you how to go to Japan and back with a stopover in Hawaii for 40k miles total (See this neat challenge on Frequent Miler blog) I wish! It actually cost me a bit more than 90k miles all-in per person in economy. Yup, I was […]

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[…] not excited about our 40K to Far Away Challenge.  “Excited” is too mild a word.  “Obsessed” is more accurate.  Nick, […]

AJS
Guest
AJS

How about a DC send off party?

Parts Unknown
Guest
Parts Unknown

If Stephen rode a merry go round for 35,000 miles I would vote for him.
Will you guys be live blogging or tweeting the adventure? I’d say make a rules exception for WiFi costs & data roaming fees or whatever.

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

Can’t wait!

Greg
Guest
Greg

Is there an end date too? Or is it just however long it takes?

Blue
Guest
Blue

I predict using the one way rule will be key to winning this challenge–and I would suggest at the very least providing the cost in getting back home as part of the voting information.

Tom Mackay
Guest
Tom Mackay

So would you allow – or even encourage your fans to follow/accompany you on this adventure? I imagine some of us might think it fun to bounce around the globe with you (without the spending restrictions) I promise not to break the rules, I won’t send any treats back to you from the front of the plane.

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[…] awesome. I’m not sure whether or not Stephen Pepper has all of his flights booked for the #40KFaraway challenge, but if not I’d suggest that he hold off a few more days. I actually have some unrelated […]

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[…] show the discounted pricing already. I’ve actually been using the tool a lot in my #40KFaraway planning. I’m not sure any of this month’s promo awards will come into play for me, but […]

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[…] It figures that I spent much of the summer in the northeast and was always near a Stop & Shop; now these digital coupons come out and I’m in Virginia which doesn’t have any Giant, Martin’s or Stop & Shop stores nearby. I’ll just have to hope that Kroger comes out with something similar, although knowing my luck they’d launch coupons that would only be valid while I’m away for 40k To Faraway! […]

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[…] lightweight operating system where basically everything runs in the Chrome browser.  For the 40K to Far Away Challenge, I wanted something super light and with good battery life since I plan to carry everything in a […]

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[…] payment option for my PayPal account. That included a few transactions when booking travel for 40k To Faraway to have a little extra cashback to spend on the trip, although my flights were all booked using the […]

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[…] I wasn’t particularly hungry at lunch time anyway. Add in the fact that I was training for #40KFaraway and I knew this was an opportunity to try something […]

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[…] 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 […]

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[…] travel. Indeed, when Greg, Stephen, and I go our separate ways to hop around the globe on our #40KFaraway challenge in a little over a week, Google Fi will probably be the main means of staying in touch and live […]