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Earlier in 2023, my son and I took somewhat of a whirlwind round the world (RTW) trip, mostly paid for with miles and points. There are a lot of reasons I love miles and points, but being able to take trips like this is definitely one big part of it. I’ve written quite a bit about this trip already here on the site, but now that I think I have finished writing everything up, I wanted to give a final trip report of the trip as a whole. There’s a lot to read here, as I’ve written probably close to 20,000 words of the various stages of planning, execution and recaps. Read however much you feel like – I’m not offended if you skip over the parts you’re not interested in 🙂

The Planning

I know some people may not be that interested in the planning of the trip, though personally, I find that to be one of the more enjoyable parts of reading others’ trip reports. My son has had Super Nintendo World on his bucket list for a few years ago. Originally it was only available in Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, though the opening was delayed due to COVID. It took us a few years to finally make this trip happen, and now (as of 2023) I believe there is also a Super Nintendo World at Universal Hollywood in California.

When I talked to him, I asked if he would rather spend more time in Japan / at Universal, or if he would rather spend a short amount of time in more places. There are pros and cons to “busy travel” vs. “relaxing travel”, but he decided he would rather see more places, which was fine with me! It took awhile to find all the award availability, but I eventually booked it for 177,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and about USD$145

  • Washington DC to Cairo, Egypt (EgyptAir, 10h30m, Business)
  • Cairo, Egypt to Abu Dhabi, UAE (EgyptAir, 3h15m, Regional Business – recliner seats)
  • Abu Dhabi, UAE to Tokyo, Japan (Etihad, 10h05m, Business)
  • Osaka, Japan to Seoul, South Korea (Asiana, 1h50m, Economy)
  • Seoul, South Korea to Abu Dhabi, UAE (Etihad, 9h50m, Business)
  • Abu Dhabi, UAE to Washington, DC (Etihad, 14h20m, Business)
  • Washington DC to Cincinnati (United, 1h40m, Economy)

A few months later, I got an email with a schedule change that threw my plans up into the air. I had to call Air Canada because they were trying to make me time travel.

We ended up making it happen by changing the return leg of the flight to go Osaka -> Tokyo -> Toronto -> Cincinnati.

Washington DC

Finally, the big day was here! We had booked a separate (economy) flight from Cincinnati to Washington, because the flight we needed was JUST over the 24 hour layover mark (I think it was 24:10). We landed in Washington at about 1pm and checked into the Hyatt Place Herndon/Dulles Airport-East. We then took the Silver Line from IAD to downtown Washington DC and visited the Washington Monument.

a tall white tower in a park

The next morning, we went early to the airport to check out the United Polaris Lounge IAD as well as the Turkish Airlines IAD Lounge.

Cairo, Egypt (One Day at the Pyramids)

It was then time for our EgyptAir Business Class 787-9 Dreamliner IAD-CAI flight. The flight was slightly delayed but ended up taking off about 2pm. With the time change, we landed at about 6 a.m. in Cairo. After an insane first hour on the ground where it took forever to find our driver, we had a great time with one day in Cairo Egypt

a man standing in a desert with a pyramids in the background

I was amazed at how cheap everything was in Egypt, which included our room at the Staybridge Suites Cairo – Citystars.

Transiting Abu Dhabi

The next morning we took an Uber to the airport and, after getting shook down by the police to enter the airport, we made our way to the EgyptAir Alioth Cairo / CAI Airport Lounge, which was pretty bad. We had a short EgyptAir Regional Business Class flight from CAI-AUH and then entered the United Arab Emirates at Abu Dhabi. Originally we were going to have nearly a full day in Abu Dhabi, but when I had to update our ticket, we ended up only getting about 6 hours. While we might have been able to see a few things, we decided to just stay at the AUH Etihad Business Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi before our Etihad Business Class Review AUH-NRT

two men sitting on a couch

Japan (Tokyo and Osaka)

Japan was great, although we were only there a few days and spent a lot of that time in the (not very Japanese) Universal Studios Japan. Our first night, we stayed at the Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kiyosumi Shirakawa before heading out to do one of my son’s other bucket list items – Tokyo Street Karting Review (Mario Kart Tokyo). We didn’t rent a car while we were there, and I have to say, I still don’t understand the Tokyo Subway system. We took the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Tokyo to Osaka before we started the second part of our journey.

a white train on the tracks

In Osaka, we stayed at the Osaka Hotel Universal Port Vita (Universal Studios Japan) hotel. The next day, we visited Universal Studios Japan / Super Nintendo World, and it was amazing. I highly recommend it if you or anyone in your family is a Mario / Nintendo fan

two men taking a selfie

A Wild Ride Home

It was a wild ride home, starting out with the fact that due to the time change it was literally the longest day of my life (37 hours!). We started out by waking up at about 4:30 a.m. in Osaka, taking the train to Kansai airport (KIX) and a short flight from Osaka to Tokyo. Then we had to navigate the subway system (again!) from Haneda to Narita airport, where we spent a few hours in the Tokyo Narita Terminal 1 ANA Lounge. Our flight was delayed a few hours due to a volcanic eruption in northern Russia (really!), but eventually we settled in for a Air Canada Business Class 787-9 Dreamliner flight from NRT-YYZ

a sign in a plastic bag

It was a great flight, though my seat controls were (partially) broken. I thought it was a minor inconvenience, though I couldn’t believe the outrageous Air Canada compensation I got!

The Bottom Line

It was a great trip and I definitely enjoyed the time I had with my son. It was definitely “fast” travel, where we hit the high points quickly and then moved on to the next trip. Definitely a whirlwind trip to Washington, Egypt, Abu Dhabi and Japan – maybe next time we’ll travel a bit slower.

Been on any good trips in 2023? Leave a note to any trip reports you have in the comments

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