David Friedeberg is an entrepreneur who figured out how to use the rewards miles he accumulated through travelling and credit card purchases to book an incredible trip — one that took him almost an entire year to complete.
Friedeberg travelled first class on airlines like Qatar Air, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas, filling in some route with business class offerings from Lufthansa, Lan, and others. His trip took him around the world: from Bangkok to Tokyo to Sydney to Cape Town to Dubai to Budapest to Paris to — well, you get the idea.
How did he do it?
On the booking side, Friedeberg took advantage of a “round the world” ticket through British Airways (which calls it a “multi-carrier award”). This allowed him to fly up to 50,000 miles in 16 segments, which he used for his long-haul flights. He filled in the shorter legs with individual flights.
Though recreating exactly what it would have cost him is difficult, Friedeberg estimates he would have had to shell out almost $30,000 for the whole trip — if he were paying cash.
Here are some anecdotes and photos from Friedeberg’s year-long odyssey of monasteries, animals, cars, food, and beautiful beaches.
After heading to Europe, Friedeberg flew first class on Thai Airways to Bangkok, Thailand, where he played with baby tigers...
In Siem Reap, Cambodia, he was able to bribe security guards to let him up to the top of Angkor Wat. He saw the sunrise by himself and then got lost in the Ta Prohm temple, where 'Tomb Raider' was filmed.
In Saigon, Friedeberg made a friend who lent him a motorcycle so he could experience the thrill of riding in a sea of other riders. And he sampled the local nightlife.
There he met a stranger at the top of the tallest hotel in the world, Ritz Hong Kong, and snuck through the stairs to go swimming in their pool on the 118th floor.
In Shanghai, Friedeberg had the pleasure of relaxing and swimming in a pool on the 93rd floor for a few days.
In Phuket, Thailand, he relaxed and then literally ran from a monsoon when he noticed it approaching in the ocean.
He went to a cat cafe, ordered Ramen from vending machines, and had his taste for sushi changed forever.
Visiting Koya -san, officially called Mount Kōya, he stayed at a Buddhist monastery at the top of the mountain and prayed with them at dawn.
In Udaipur, India, he stayed at the amazing Taj Lake Palace, a floating marble hotel in the middle of Lake Pichola.
Then he flew to Europe. There were only two people in his Qatar Air first class cabin during the flight from Doha to Paris.
In Budapest, Hungary, he attended the opera where he and a friend watched from a box that they had all to themselves.
Then he flew to South America. In Rio de Janeiro, Friedeberg went to the Carnaval festival, drank too many Caipirinhas, and built sandcastles on the beach.
He then headed back to Europe, where he drove the breathtaking Furka pass from Switzerland to Italy.
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