I’m not necessarily a dare-taker, but I am drawn to opportunities to do something interesting, or even a little exotic. Add in a crazy cheap price, and the attraction grows. And then one day, the buzz: there were mistake fares from New York to Tokyo for under $300 one way. I wasn’t going to do it, I swear. But, then the deal didn’t go away quickly, and it kept buzzing around in my head, and before I knew it, I booked this crazy trip.
Specifically, for $271, I booked flights via Priceline, on SkyTeam carriers to Tokyo via Milan/Prague/Amsterdam.
Tuesday, January 13 – AMS – Narita International Airport NRT Tokyo (KLM)
The catch – I was to arrive in Milan Friday morning and then leave out of Prague on Monday afternoon for Tokyo, via Amsterdam. So, the question was (a) what would I do for the weekend, and (b) how would I get to Prague? I originally wanted to spend the weekend in Budapest, but the logistics got too complicated, so I decided on Prague (I wrote about it here).
I booked a flight on Czech Airlines, also a SkyTeam airline, leaving Milan at 7:30 pm for a little over $100.
Economy Class? Yikes?
I am Platinum Medallion on Delta – this status will end in a month, but since I was flying SkyTeam partners, I knew I would still receive SkyPriority benefits – priority boarding, economy comfort seating, and lounge access. I find these benefits to be more rewarding on international flights. I viewed this trip as my last hurrah of sorts with Delta and SkyTeam (sniff, sniff).
While of course Business class is more comfortable than Economy, I’m usually more about the destination than the flight (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).
Final Leg – Tokyo-New York – Business Class
For my return flight from Tokyo, I used 50,000 American Airline miles, to fly business class on Japan Airlines non-stop NRT-JFK. (Well, uh.. yeahhhhh)
3 nights in Prague, at the Radisson Blu Alcron (2 nights – club room level 60,000 points, 3rd night – points plus approximately $80 cash). (Review, coming soon).
2 nights in Tokyo, at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo (2 nights – points plus cash). (Review, coming soon).
The primary costs were travel to and from airports and meals. I did not spend extravagantly, but nor did I scrimp.
Techie and Logistics Stuff:
Before leaving the US, I installed various travel apps for the cities I would be visiting and also made sure that the communication apps I planned to use were up to date and that I knew the passwords. Most important:
(1) Magic Jack app: With all of the recent airline crashes as well as terrorism (including the atrocities in Paris right before and during my trip), my parents have grown increasingly fearful of my travel. Though it is impossible to fully appease this fear, I made sure to phone them frequently using the Magic Jack app on my iPhone. Another option, though I didn’t do it for this trip, would have been to register with the Department of State (see, Staying Out of Harm’s Way); (2) What’sApp (similar to Viber) the free text app of choice of my friend in Amsterdam whom I would be visiting; (3) Skype App: to communicate free internationally with friends who use Skype (i.e., Mr. Won’t Run); (3) VPN: I’ve been hacked previously on international trips so I’m very cautious now when using public wi-fi. I use Tunnel Bear – it is free for 1,500 MB per month, which is generally sufficient. For this trip, however, I purchased 3 months of unlimited VPN for $7.99. I like Tunnel Bear, but it’s annoying that the VPN has to be turned on each time I close and reopen my iPhone.
Yes, I admit the trip sounded somewhat insane. But, since I work full-time, each part of the trip had to be condensed into 8 days, when it should easily have been double or triple that. I have been to all of the cities before, so, while I would not get any new notches on my belt buckles (ha!), I did not have the same trepidation one has when visiting a place for the first time. Once I had flights and hotels booked, the main thought was packing light, something that never seems easy when packing running gear. Anyway, everyone thought I was nuts, but I was excited about this trip!