We are a little less than a month away from our summer break and just wanted to share the details and ask for any recommendations you can offer.  Here are our travel plans for our China trip.  This is the first time either of us have been to “real” China.  We have been to Hong Kong before, but never any place that requires an actual paid visa.  Please let us know if you think we are missing anything or have recommendations for “must see” things at the places we are going.  Thanks so much for your help and input.

Travel Plans

  • Days 1-3 – Explore and take in the beautiful landscapes of Guilin, China

    Guilin’s famous mountains along the Li river

  • Days 4-5 – Quick visit to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Army

Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an China

  • Days 6-8 – Spend the Rest of our time in Beijing seeing:
    • The Forbidden City
    • Great Wall
    • Tiananmen Square

The Great Wall Of China

Here is a map of our journey. Enjoy!

View China Trip Summer 2010 in a larger map

Travel Tip

We have been using Tripit.com for all of our travel recently and really love it.  If you have not checked the site out we highly recommend it.  You can forward any emails you get from your airline, hotel, hostel, tour company etc. and the site will put it all together into a very nice itinerary with all the information you may need “on the go.”  There is also an iPhone app that can sync the information for later use without internet, which we use constantly on our travels.

Travel Hacking Strategy

Our trip is a multi-destination, open jaw trip as we are flying into one destination – Guilin, staying a couple days, flying out to another destination – Xi’an and then taking our last flight from Beijing instead of Xi’an – (that’s the open jaw part.)  We will be taking an overnight train from Xi’an to Beijing.  We are doing this for a couple reasons.  The first one is to experience train travel in China.  Another reason is it saves a little on airfare and is better for the environment, which is a win-win for us.  The last reason is to confuse the airline and make the trip as complicated to book as possible.  OK, that’s not really a reason, but it felt like that’s what happened.

For many airlines this is not a problem and a common practice.  You can usually save lots of money or hassle or both by using open jaw tickets when:

  • You are planning to go overland for a portion of your jouney
  • It is more convenient and/or cheaper to leave from a different airport/location/state/country than the one you flew into
  • You have plenty of time and don’t mind taking buses/trains to save money between destinations
  • You don’t have plenty of time, but you can take overnight transport from one destination to another to save a little money on lodging/airfaire and experience a different form of travel
  • You can find cheaper flights with budget airlines in between two places you want to visit and it beats the cost of booking the whole trip with one carrier.
    • This is especially useful in countries with cheap budget airlines like Easy Jet and Ryan Air in Europe, or  Air Asia and Tiger Airways in Asia.  Booking connecting flights around the continent for about $100-$200 per connection will usually be much cheaper than booking a multi-destination trip with a major carrier.

If you want to learn more about travel hacking and even get a guaranteed free domestic flight in the States, check out this great resource by someone who will have traveled to every country in the world by 2013!

Frequent Flyer Master

Frequent Flyer Master is a full e-book, a 20-minute audio, and a 4-page Priceline specific guide on the art of hacking airline miles. Click for a full description.