BMT 015: How to Book an RTW Ticket Using Airline Miles with Dave Danzeiser

(Last Updated On: December 23, 2020)
Dave Danzeiser

15 flights, 45,000 miles, 12 months, and 1 ticket for just $1,100.00. Dave Danzeiser shares with us how he was able to accomplish all of this by earning enough airline miles to purchase the ticket, without flying. He takes us step by step through the process of planning an RTW trip, figuring out how many miles it will take, earning the miles without flying, and then booking the ticket to make it all come to fruition. We cover a lot of information and tools in this episode and any links and resources are listed in the show notes below. Let Dave and his expertise introduce you to the world of airline mile hacking, so you can start collecting those miles today!

Dave Danzeiser is the creator of The Quest for Awesome, where his goal is to connect with people striving to pursue their own vision of excellence through whatever they are doing. In a last-ditch effort to get the motivation to finish his Master’s Thesis, he started planning an RTW trip that he’d pay for with airline miles accumulated by travel hacking.

The plan was a great success; he successfully defended the dreaded thesis, bought the 15-flight RTW ticket for $1,100, sold all of his possessions (except for three boxes of sentimental items), and left on a 12-month adventure to 23 different countries with only a 26-liter backpack.

Today, he is determined to become location independent to continue traveling. Along the way, he’d love to connect with like-minded people to learn from and help in any way he can. He is pictured here hiking in Drakensberg, South Africa, one of the many stops on his RTW trip.

Episode 15 Show Notes

  • Dave’s awesome website: TheQuestForAwesome.com
  • Dave’s specific blog post: How I booked a 15 flight, 45,000-mile, yearlong trip around the world for $1100 
  • Three steps to planning an RTW trip using frequent flier miles WITHOUT flying
  1. Plan your trip and figure out how many miles it will take
  2. Acquire those miles
  3. Book that flight 

Step 1: Plan your trip and figure out how many miles it will take

Book a RTW ticket with airline miles
Dave’s notes page for ticket planning
  • Alliance route maps (stick with one alliance- check out this post about choosing an airline alliance or frequent flier program)
  • Boots ‘n All – a resource for route ideas to inspire your planning (there is an “Around the World” tab with several articles, peruse until you find one that helps you)
  • Be aware of required visas and immunizations for ALL of the countries you plan to visit
  • Mileage Monkey – tells you how many miles between airports
  • Figure out your World Airport Codes here
  • Put total flight miles into rewards chart for the specific airline to find out how many specific airline frequent flier miles you will need – this will be dependent on which airline/alliance you use. For example, I Googled United Rewards Chart and got this: Interactive Travel Destinations Awards Chart

Step 2: Acquire those miles (without flying!)

  • Credit Card sign up bonuses (DISCLAIMER- If you are not financially responsible enough to be applying for multiple credit cards, do not do this part. This is advice for you to do your own research and make the decision responsibly.)
  • Citi AA credit card 
  • SPG credit card
  • BONUS note from Jackie- If you are loyal to United I recommend the MileagePlus Explorer
  • Buy gift cards to places you normally shop (like a grocery store) to meet your spending bonus, but use the cards in the future
  • Offer to buy dinner and have your friends pay you back in cash, earn those miles! (Mentioned app – Venmo)
  • Use reward networks through your alliance – Google shopping and dining rewards networks – Sign your credit cards up to earn miles while you’re doing your everyday shopping and dining
  • Watch for special email promotions
  • Be sure you are signed up for a frequent flier miles program in the first place!
  • Airline Mile Hacking Resources:

Step 3: Book your RTW flight

  • Must book flights (legs) that have award availability – use airline websites directly to find flight legs you want with award availability
  • Write down the date, flight number, arrival and departure times, and a few backups for each leg! (See photo above)
  • Call the airline – be sure you are speaking with someone who knows what they are doing! Book an RTW ticket with rewards points.
  • Doing your research ahead of time makes it much easier and faster
  • Watch out for British Airways which applies fuel surcharge fees

Rules that may or may not apply (but are worth mentioning!)

  • Move in one general direction around the globe (not backwards)
  • Limited segments within a continent
  • Can change dates and times of legs, but not destination (Can only book 330 days in advance, so here is the hack for planning way in advance: Book the flights to the right destinations within the last week or so of your trip, and then as the flights become available, call and change the dates to fit your itinerary)
  • Must complete flights within a limited time from booking (use and open-jaw to draw it out)

Contact Dave

Dave can be reached through The Quest For Awesome blog where you can subscribe for fun updates and resources, or you can connect with him on Facebook or email him at dave@thequestforawesome.com.

He is happy to answer any questions he can! He will also be popping in to read and answer the comments below, so feel free to carry on the discussion!