While the blog will enter Ecuador on this weekend, I physically entered Peru a week ago. On my last day in Ecuador I sat in front of the computer for hours running free flight searches (using frequent flier miles) on the two airlines I have miles with, and I finally came up with a plan for the coming months.
Finding Flights.. For Free
I couldn’t find free flights from the U.S. to Vietnam and this would drive when I leave Peru. I tried everything. Nothing worked. So I focused on finding flights to Singapore or Hong Kong as they are bigger targets and offer low-cost airline options to Vietnam.
I realized my British Airways miles would essentially be worthless. When flying from the east coast of the U.S. they’d route me via London and charge me a $450 fuel surcharge. Insane!
I couldn’t find any free tickets from Raleigh to Singapore, where I’ll be toward the end of my time at home, so I searched from nearby Washington D.C. I have family there that I could visit before leaving as well.
I was tempted to pick a Washington D.C.-New York-Singapore flight since that New York-Singapore flight is the same one I took September 28th, 2004 to get my whole adventure started.
But instead, I picked a Washington D.C.-London-Singapore flight on June 18th. There is a 12-hour layover in London and I can visit friends there. Then, the London-Singapore flight is an Airbus A380. I haven’t ridden in one of those before, so I’m looking forward to that experience – on Singapore Airlines no less.
I’ll be a total mess, leaving on a Sunday at 10pm and arriving in Singapore at 6pm on Tuesday. But to see family and friends in Washington D.C., friends in London, and get to Singapore for only 32,500 miles and $43.50… priceless.
I’ll spend a week in Singapore. I’ve never been there before, apart from the airport. I suspect a few of those days will just be catching up on the horrendous jet lag I’ll have. I have a friend there as well that I’m looking forward to seeing! I’ll fly from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on June 27th for $75 on Tiger Airways.
Knowing when I’d leave the U.S., I then picked my Lima-Cleveland flight. I searched on British Airways. Despite having LAN (the national airline of Peru) and Mexicana in their alliance, they said there was nothing available. United, on the other hand, had tons of options and I will fly Lima-New York-Cleveland on May 24th. I used 20,000 miles and paid $50.
In the end, I’ll fly among four continents (South America -> North America -> Europe -> Asia) a total of 15,150mi/24,380km for a total of $169 and 52,500 frequent flier miles. Not bad.
Below is a summary.
I could have rushed things a bit and left Peru in early May and left for Asia at the beginning of June. But for so long I’ve wanted to visit Peru and I just kind of asked myself what the rush was?
In Lima I have a lot of friends and I can’t wait to see them. In Spain, during my MBA, I lived with four Peruvians. They introduced and opened me up to their world and it’s sad it took 58 countries to finally reach this land of mystique, wonder, and beauty.
I have two volunteering assignments lined up on my way to Lima – teaching English in Casma, Peru and volunteering with a rural library project near Huaraz, Peru. Until now, I’ve avoided teaching English. But this will be the first time I’ll really pursue the sixth and final passion yet to be really pursued on the Happy Nomad Tour: teaching. I’ll teach a class of adults with no English knowledge and a class of kids with some English knowledge.
The rural library project is exciting because when I volunteered in El Salvador, the organization wanted to do a similar project but lacked expertise. I hope I can help the organization here in Peru somehow, and also learn enough to communicate back to Comencemos in El Salvador on how to get started.
In Lima I’ll speak at Centrum Business School, one of Peru’s stop business schools. I am really excited about the opportunity to challenge their MBA students to really think about what they want to do with their lives after they graduate. It’s easy for me to show them that a world of opportunity awaits them with their degree and convince them that a life of non-conformity might just be their path to a happy and fulfilling lives.
After Lima I might head to Arequipa, down into northern Chile, over to Lake Titicaca and then finish with Cusco. I will go to Machu Pichu. When I first started this trip I thought maybe I’d skip it. But too many people have told me it’s as amazing as it’s hyped up to be. No one has told me otherwise, so it’s clearly something I have to experience. Unfortunately, if you want to hike the Inca Trail, you have to reserve your spot months in advance. I didn’t know this, but even if I had it would have been impossible to know, months ago, when would be ideal to reserve. So I’ll take the train there.
I hope to volunteer in Cusco with the indigenous community, but let’s see what happens.
In the end, I am sure Peru will fill me with love, energy, and amazing experiences. And I’m looking forward to carrying that energy forward to my family as I spend a couple weeks with them and then on to Asia!