Visiting five continents in three days


In about 90 minutes I’ll be boarding a flight from JFK to Doha, Qatar. It is the start of a 29,000 mile, 6 day adventure. I’ve got four nights on airplanes and two in hotels, 12+ hours stays in five different cities and the majority of it is in business class. I suppose I could call it a mileage run but the pricing isn’t really good enough for that to make sense. Yes, it is based on one of the RGN mistake fares so in that context it is a mileage run, but getting to RGN to start and back from Johannesburg at the end mean the straight CPM calculations aren’t very good. But I decided the stories would be, so here I go.

The most ridiculous part of the trip, however, I didn’t realize until I got in the shower this morning and started thinking about packing. It suddenly occurred to me that I’ll be visiting five continents in less than three days. As booked I leave Singapore (Asia) on Saturday morning and touch Australia (PER), Africa (JNB), Europe (IST) and be back home in North America by the end of the day on Monday. Even crazier is that if I take the ferry over to the Asia side of Istanbul – a very likely event – the total amount of time I’ll spend to touch those five continents is just under 60 hours. Had I thought about it a bit more I probably could have added a late night JFK-South America flight and touched the six with commercial service quite quickly.

This did get me thinking about just how quickly the trip could be made. My flights have reasonably long layovers and I’ll be mostly flying west-bound which is slower. Taking advantage of Istanbul’s position and a decent layover there can really make things go quickly. Had I done Istanbul to Houston and continued on to Bogota or Caracas I think I could make it even faster. I haven’t checked the timetables too closely yet, but I think it can be done.

Anyone else have an idea of quick itineraries for touching the six continents? How would you do it better?

Also, for those curious, this is a combination of three tickets. The first is one of the business class fares ex-RGN. That gets me RGN-SIN-PER-JNB. To get to RGN I have a United Airlines award booked mostly on Qatar Airways metal via Doha and Bangkok. And to get home I purchased a revenue ticket from JNB-IST-JFK on Turkish. Like I said above, the price point isn’t great, especially considering the award costs for positioning. But I’m really looking forward to the trip.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

26 Comments

  1. IST-GRU on Turkish then back to North America would make that map look even nicer.

    1. @Eugene: I had a couple award options home via South America but none got back to NYC before Tuesday morning and that was a deal breaker for me. Also, only available at a reasonable price via an award and I’m a bit low on points.

      @Pete: Definitely fewer flights but I’d have to look at the timetables to see how much time that trip takes versus other options. At first glance, however, the daytime MIA-SCL flight on LAN meets up with the SCL-SYD on LAN which meets up well with the Qantas SYD-JNB which meets the Turkish JNB-IST flight. You might be on to something. It flies west, which is generally slower, but it has the advantage of very short connection times.

  2. JFK-SCL
    SCL-SYD
    SYD-JNB
    JNB-IST (then take a bus over to Asia)
    IST-JFK

    There … 5 flights touching all 6 habitable continents

  3. i think JFK-SCL-SYD-BKK-CAI-LHR-JFK probably has less total travel time, but it’s 1 extra flight.

  4. The IST-IAH arrives around 6PM and either IAH-CCS or IAH-BOG leave around 11PM. Then AV244 BOG-JFK arriving at 10PM! Just a thought.

  5. hiw did you pack for this? what type of bag?
    i’m doing a big mileage run, for me at least, today, and had a tough time using an easy bag for running throught 5 airports in one day and yet still be able to hold a change of clothes for a bussiness meeting i scheduled in the middle

  6. How long are you spending in Doha? If you feel like a meetup with a reader in Doha, let me know. Just moved here a few weeks ago, but would love to grab dinner or something if you’re interested.

  7. Pretty pointless really unless you’re just after adding lines to your flightmemory or stamps to your passport. I enjoy a nice flight in business as much as the next man but ultimately it’s all about the destination for me…

    1. Maybe pointless for you, Caesar, but I like to fly. I like to visit the destinations, too, but I don’t always have tons of time to wander about when I get where I’m going. In this case the trip is wedged between a few other things and it was the only time I had available. Plus, I get to experience a few different – and new to me – in flight products along the way. I get value out of that.

      The JNB-IST-JFK fare was only $700 one way, Rami. Not a tremendous value on a straight CPM basis but that’s a 40,000 point award trip (plus $80-120 in taxes) and instead I’ll be earning a chunk of PQMs. I can stomach that reasonably well.

      My packing for this trip, Phill, was one 39L Jansport backpack. I can do a post about how I pack for this sort of thing at some point. Maybe during the trip if I’m having trouble sleeping one night, though I don’t think that will happen. If not, soon after.

  8. I’ve got 4 continents in four days later this year – LHR, SIN, SYD, DEN (and a half dozen airports in between). I thought that was impressive, but it does’t have anything on this (awesome) monstrosity.

  9. Welcome to Doha! I’m a reader based in this fine city. If you have a few hours on layover tonight, and can pry yourself away from the Premium Terminal, I’d be happy to take you for Shisha 🙂

    @mikus33, you too!

  10. I’m of the opinion that the inside of an airplane, as well as the view of the earth outside it, is pretty much the same from each continent. But, enjoy it nonetheless!

  11. If you count NZ as a continent, then I touched 6 continents within 2.5 days on a trip last year, just because I could.

    AKL-SIN-ICN-FRA-JNB-GRU-IAH

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