2016 has been a great year, but relatively quieter for me in the travel department. I only flew 106,505 butt-in-seat miles, and I’ve stopped chasing status on airlines. While Alaska maintains an interesting loyalty program, many of the ways I (ab)used the other frequent flyer programs are no longer that accessible, which drastically changes the value proposition of status and loyalty. Business class is still attainable via miles, but international first class is further out of reach, and I feel less of a desire to fly first class given how much I’ve already flown.
Courtesy of Great Circle Mapper
That being said, I did get to sample two fancy new products this year: Qatar’s A380 in first class and Etihad’s A380 in first class. I also had the chance to visit Qatar’s and Etihad’s first class lounges at their hubs, which were both great in different ways. The travel highlight of the year, though, was spending a couple of days on a durian farm in Penang, where I ate durian nonstop.
I don’t currently have much travel planned for 2017, but looking at the map, I’d love to explore the continents that I didn’t touch this past year: Africa, South America, and Australasia (Antarctica will likely have to wait until I’m much wealthier). Looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings!
2015 was a year of big changes for me: I quit my job, moved across the country, and started the next chapter of my life.
Because of these changes, my travel patterns changed pretty drastically, but I still had the opportunity to travel quite a bit. I flew 137,179 miles this year, although over 80% of those miles came in the first half of the year! I also spent 101 nights away from my bed, with 71 of those nights being for international trips. While my new line of work does require a small amount of travel (my previous job did not), it will essentially all be domestic travel. It’s also simultaneously much more restrictive and lax in terms of my leisure travel, so I don’t know if I’ll be taking any crazy trips to nowhere any more.
Photo courtesy of Great Circle Mapper
I did not requalify for AA Executive Platinum status for 2016. I ended up with about 64k EQMs on American and a smattering of miles in other programs. Given my work changes and the impending changes to AA’s loyalty program, I felt that it didn’t make sense for me to pursue top-tier status. I did status match to Alaska MVP Gold 75k, and I’m curious to see how that works out for my travel patterns and how much longer before Alaska devalues their program as well.
My credit card strategy has become much more boring as well. Given that I’ve built up pretty healthy mileage balances for my travel patterns, I didn’t apply for many new credit cards since I didn’t have specific uses for the miles. The main card that I added to my wallet was the Citi Prestige card, which I imagine I’ll keep for the foreseeable future. It’s a pretty decent card on its own right (particularly if you can get it with a $350 annual fee) given the airline credit and Priority Pass membership, but what makes it a keeper in my mind is that it makes Thank You points worth up to 1.6 cents. Combined with my Citi Forward which gets 5x back at restaurants and bookstores (including Amazon), the Citi Prestige allows me to get 8% back on two of my most common purchasing categories. Unfortunately, the Citi Forward card is no longer available to new applicants.
I’m super grateful for all of the experiences and opportunities that this hobby has afforded me, and 2016 looks to be a great year as well. Onward!
I know this is a couple of weeks late, but better late than never, right?
2014 was my heaviest year for travel yet. I flew 189,524 miles in 2014, almost all of which were for leisure (5,739 miles were for work).
Map courtesy of gcmap.com
Most of my miles came from flying to Asia. I started off 2014 in Tokyo, and I would return to Asia 7 more times throughout the year.
I requalified for American Airlines Executive Platinum status this year by flying nearly 110,000 revenue miles at an average cost per mile of just over 6 cents. I didn’t miss flying United at all.
Here are some highlights:
Best flight: Singapore Suites from NRT to LAX (still to be written up)
Best lounge: JAL First Class Lounge Narita (I know many will disagree considering that I also visited lounges like the Thai Royal First Lounge in Bangkok and the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney, but the JAL lounge has a sushi bar in the lounge! With actual sushi chefs!)
Best hotel: Conrad Koh Samui
Favorite food: all of Thailand; all of Singapore; Ester in Sydney; Maido in Lima
Favorite travel experiences: visiting a maid cafe in Tokyo; Patara Elephant Farm; relaxing on Koh Samui; cruising on Halong Bay; participating in early morning exercises with locals in Hanoi; eating until I couldn’t move in Singapore; getting “befriended” by two old Chinese ladies on the Great Wall of China who proceeded to fleece me; a four-hour long brunch at Temple Restaurant in Beijing; eating at a temple in Kuala Lumpur
This year, I’m probably going to try to fly fewer miles, but spend more time abroad. There were multiple times during the year where I would be gone 4+ weekends in a row, which made it hard to be a good friend to my friends in San Francisco. Of course, as I write this, I already have over 40k miles planned before the end of February…
Warning: This post is entirely self-indulgent.
2013 was a great year for many reasons, and January 1, 2013 was the inception of this blog. In 2012, I flew around 75k miles (all but 192 for leisure), and in 2013, I just about doubled that to 145k miles (all for leisure).
2013 Flight Map
My travel was definitely heavier during the end of the year as I flew over 80k miles in the last quarter of the year. A little over 30k of that at the end of the year was to qualify for American Executive Platinum status. For 2014, I already have over 60k miles booked (albeit mostly award tickets), including my first trip to South America, and two major trips where I’ll fly Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Asiana, and Thai in first class. I’d love to plan a trip to Australia and/or New Zealand as well, and I definitely want to return to Africa at some point, but I just need to figure out how to balance all of this desired travel with my full-time job, as I think most of my teammates think I don’t do anything but travel…
Here’s a smattering of my favorite travel moments from 2013, in random order.
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Taking a shower onboard an Emirates A380
The entire Emirates First Class Terminal in Dubai
Using a jacuzzi in the Qatar Premium Terminal for about 3 minutes
Being the only passenger in first class on a Lufthansa A380
L’arpege in Paris
Breakfast at Gartine in Amsterdam
Eleven Madison Park in New York
Manresa in Los Gatos
Yang’s Fry Dumplings in Shanghai
Ushigoro in Tokyo
And of course, Mission Chinese approximately every other week
Dropping my heart at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul
Getting scrubbed by a gruff Turkish man in a hamam in Istanbul
Having a man in a cafe in Amsterdam try to buy me and my traveling companion a piece of cake because he thought we were too poor to afford more than one thing
Badminton in front of a Starbucks in Shanghai
A burlesque show followed by a late night run to Voodoo Donuts in Portland
Dialogue in the Dark in Hong Kong
Sunrise yoga on the 47th floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo gym
Staying at a capsule hotel in Tokyo