A family-of-four are currently the envy of many as they are flying around the world in luxury for free, thanks to travel hacking. Husband-and-wife, Pedro Pla and Grace Cheng, managed to save a total of $54,000 on their round-the-world business class air tickets, and are now in the middle of a six-month trip with their sons, Ramses (4) and Ranefer (2).
Pedro, from Puerto Rico, and Grace, from Singapore, describe themselves as “credit card geeks” and travel hackers who are obsessed with collecting air miles for travel. They founded US credit card comparison website GET.com to help others optimise their credit card use to save money on their travel.
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The couple and their sons are currently travelling to five continents over six months, thanks to racking up over one million miles last year through travel hacking. “Travelling with kids is expensive, as you have to multiply air tickets by four and get a bigger accommodation in all the places you stay in,” Pedro and Grace told Lonely Planet. “We had planned for this epic trip a year in advance by setting a goal of earning one million miles through credit cards on our everyday spend. We reached our goal and redeemed the air miles for $54,000 worth of round-the-world business class air tickets for free for all four of us. If you are able to maximise the earning of your credit card points or miles, you can also pay less or almost nothing for your air tickets, like we did.”
The trip began for the family in January and they are currently in South America. “One of our favourite places so far has been the Masai Mara in Kenya,” say Pedro and Grace. “Getting up close to nature – we had lions literally brush against our jeep – and having our children see in person things that are usually only seen in documentaries was amazing. We also visited a local village and school where our children got to see how other children live and study, and they were fascinated with it.”
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Everyone knows that travelling with toddlers is more challenging as everything takes a lot more planning and things like toys and diapers have to be included. Pedro and Grace have the additional challenge of packing for both warm and cold climates on this trip across five continents. “Ramses and Ranefer have toddler-specific needs, such as needing rest-time and play-time,” they say. “As we are travelling on our own, we have the freedom to plan how and where we want to spend each day. They have napped everywhere, be it in a pool cabana, safari jeep, plane, taxi, museum, restaurant or national park.”
Pedro and Grace are both foodies, and say that Ramses and Ranefer have been exposed to international cuisines since they were young, which has made eating while travelling easier. “We try to strike a balance between setting aside time to let them run in the parks and also having time to check out art galleries and museums, which are of the faintest interest to kids their age,” they say. “They have become quite interested in many of the museums and galleries we took them to as we told them stories of what they were looking at – be it portraits of historical kings, Egyptian mummies or dinosaur fossils – which captured their imagination.”
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“We talk to them about the different cultures and landmarks of each place and they ask a lot of questions,” they add. “It’s a joy to listen to our children talk about the places we’ve been to, and watching their knowledge of the world grow and seeing their developing interest in different cultures, nature and geography. Most of all, the highlight of travelling with our toddlers is spending so much time with them and building our bond, while exploring the world together.”
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