The Jules Verne classic “Around The World In Eighty Days” has inspired many epic adventures since it was first published in 1873. Perhaps most famous of all would be Michael Palin’s faithful retracing of Phileas Fogg’s footsteps in the widely acclaimed BBC series.
Taking our own inspiration, in March of 2014 we set ourselves the challenge to see if it was possible to circumnavigate the globe using a membership of 80,000 points and limiting ourselves to just 3 RCI “Late Deals” or Extra Holidays.
To put this into perspective, 80,000 points is approximately the amount required to book 7 nights in the peak season in a 3 bedroom apartment. So, we would effectively be taking one week of holiday and stretching it out over 12 weeks.
As we’re writing this on Friday the 30th May 2014 we are on day 84 and have successfully completed what we set out to achieve.
Despite a compelling case from our resident travel writer to be given 12 weeks out of the office on an all expenses paid trip to physically document each destination, since the objective was to demonstrate the flexibility of eXpectations, the journey would be a virtual one documented week-by-week on our blog.
In much the same vein as the original novel, whilst the journey was a work of fiction it didn’t prevent us from ensuring that it was based entirely on fact. So, using real-time availability from RCI we documented each booking taking
Before setting off we set ourselves a few simple rules;
- 1. We had to complete the task in no less than 80 days
- 2. We could use no more than 80,000 points
- 3. We could make use of up to 3 RCI “Late Deals” or “Extra Holidays”
In order to accomplish the task we would need to average approximately 8,000 points for every booking we made. This would require us to make use of smaller sized accommodation and the generous 50% points discount applied to any bookings made 14 days or less before check-in. Heading off in March, the season would play to our advantage too although we still have 2 school holiday periods to consider; Easter and the May half-term.
Whilst still offering high standards of accommodation, the smaller sized units available via RCI Points can often be overlooked in preference for larger units. This means that these can often be the units which are last to go. To put the potential point savings into focus, on week two of our journey we opted for a studio apartment at the cost of 6,750 points. Had we booked the same holiday in a 1 bedroom unit a few months in advance instead of waiting 14 days before check in, the points cost would have been 16,000 points.
From the outset it was not our plan to retrace the original footsteps of Fogg. Whilst we would be heading east our route would be partially dictated by the best late availability on any given week although destinations would take preference over the individual quality of any one offer.
Another factor which would dictate our route and choice of accommodation would be the change-over day of each resort. As things transpired we set off on a Saturday and then changed to a Friday on our 2nd week in India. However, during the task we did see some fantastic deals which we simply couldn’t take up since it may have effected the later stages of the journey.
Quality and Value
To provide some indication as to the overall quality of the resorts feature, we tallied up all the TripAdvisor ratings for each resort which showed that 73% of people gave the resorts gave either an “Excellent” or “Very Good” rating.
As for value for money, there are two aspects to consider here. Firstly, an eXpectations Holidays membership of 80,000 has an initial, one-off price tage of only £3,799. We say “only” because that would entitle the member to use 80,000 points every year for as long as they wish to remain a member. Also, 80,000 points is, for many people, quite an extensive membership. Couples without children normally opt for a membership around the 40,000 points mark.
Once you’re an eXpectations member there are a few annual costs to cover the management of the holiday properties which underpin the points you own and for your membership etc. To highlight the ongoing savings you can make on your holiday accommodation as an eXpectations member, we added up all the annual costs and booking fees that would have been incurred during the journey which equated to less than £12 per person per night! That’s based on two people sharing.