I have been in a bit of a funk recently. This goes double for travel. The recent loyalty devaluations (you are killing me AA), the inability to find award space and the same routes on my preferred carrier have lead me to question what I do.
These are the definition of first world problems of course. Woe is me to have to sit more in coach (since I paid for that class)! Woe is me to have to schlep to business class on awards! Oh woe is me to get two years in a row where tickets to Jakarta are a good deal! Why am I complaining…yet something has seemed off for sometime. Maybe it IS me!
This last year I visited:
New York City
If you were paying attention to the list I spent time on Six Continents (only Antarctica was left out). This is one of my long-term crazy travel goals, but oddly once I put myself to working on it, it came easily, perhaps too easily.
One of my favorite songs is one you don’t know, but hearing it, you will find it familiar. I have always felt connected to this song. Through good times and bad…Waiting.
You look for your dreams in heaven, but what the hell are you supposed to do when they come true?
So…what the hell AM I supposed to do?
One of the guys at work asked where I was going in 2016 and at the time I had NOTHING booked. I said that, and he asked, “How, then, am I supposed to travel vicariously through you?”
Since writing the first part of this, I got excited…of all things, the IHG Surprises Promo. I started filling out cards. It’s a silly thing really, but I am excited; there is that spark (and hand cramps)! Some outsizes benefit to inspire loyalty in a program. Something new (or old) but oddly fun! The GAME!
Just after, I saw some AA fare sales to Italy…I have been wanting to spend more time in Europe so…more excitement. I have some awards on hold. They are a long way out, but will be tons of fun! Maybe that is all that has been missing all along. Some new challenge, some puzzle to solve.
Get out there and discover something new…I hope to see you on the road!
In 2013 I flew just over 100,000 miles. In 2014 it was over 140,000! I found myself returning to the same places (not my intent) which is something I am working on for 2015. Somehow I seemed to go everywhere two or three times this year.
Milan – Twice (though one of them I took the train to Venice, and the actual Milan trip I spent a day on Lake Como)
Oahu – Three TIMES! (though one time was in route to Kauai)
The repeating destinations were often the result of my desire to plan WAY ahead for travel. The same places seemed to have good fares last years, but I think waiting would have found me more variety.
What is Your Favorite Destination?
Every place has its merit, but if I am being honest, Italy has stolen part of my heart as did and Tokyo two years ago and Paris…well perhaps a part of me has always belonged to Paris. Insides the United States the victory goes to Hawaii…I find it harder and harder to leave each time I visit. San Francisco is my domestic Paris…part of me is called to be there.
I am really working to get to more place I have never seen before. So far I am booked to Australia, Morocco and Singapore. I am headed back to Shanghai, but will be spending time in Hangzhou (Pamela’s Birthday Wish). Bali and The Maldives are high on my list as is Amsterdam and Istanbul. My birthday wish (both Pamela and I will be 40 this year…yikes) is to visit Machu Picchu.
Given those travels, I will hit one of my bucket list goals in 2015. I will set foot on 6 continents in one calendar year! I honestly have zero desire to go to Antarctica.
I Surprise Myself Sometimes
The thing I find most surprising is that I get it all in. It takes focus and planning (things I do NOT excel at), but it also takes creativity and a bit of mania which I seem to have in constant supply! Getting to a goal takes work, but anything is possible if you want it bad enough. Travel is like food for my soul and I can’t imagine what I did without it.
An interesting thing occurred to me. Prior to this year I fed into the idea that travel was a rare event. That it somehow could only happen when all the stars aligned and you were gifted huge amounts of cash. When we went to Paris in 2011, I recall a good number of people reciting from the script of life,
Oh, that’s a ONCE in a lifetime trip!
I first found myself confused by this sentiment. Why will I only go to Paris ONCE in my lifetime? The more I heard it, the more I found this notion not making sense at all to me and, if I am being honest, the more it started to make me angry. In 2011 I flew 12576 miles and visited Paris, France…Austin with Pamela and Chicago on my own. One new country and only the second time I had been outside the United States (the previous was Jamaica).
I considered this more in 2012 as Pamela and I went to Hawaii, back to Austin and to NYC. I took my first solo trip to Washington D.C. as a personal exploration. In total I flew 16625 miles that year and visited no new countries.
My New Year’s Resolution for 2013 (I rarely make these) was to start using my Passport AND make American Airlines Executive Platinum Status. It seemed a crazy idea, but often the seeming insurmountable task can be achieved with only a little planning. I took this task one step at a time…I charted everything and I succeeded!
Above you can see my flights for this year (yes 2013 only). This will seem huge to some of my friends, while to others I have made in the frequent flyer community it will be normal or even a light travel year. In total I flew 110,624 miles and visited 6 new countries (8 if you count airports which I generally do not).
For so long, I was afraid and I let that fear paralyzed me. The world was a scary place. I don’t speak the language. Planes are uncomfortable. How will I respond to the time changes? What if something happens? I don’t know anyone. I will be alone. There are a million other excuses, none of them valid. My eyes have been opened to a world that exists outside my own shell. I would be a fool to say I have no feat, but it’s so much less so than a year ago.
My biggest challenge this year has been time. It’s time that will be the undoing of us all. Most of my trips are short, generally lasting 5 days (one day traveling, three days in the destination, and one day traveling home). I generally do these over minor U.S. holidays as I want to be home with Pamela and my family on the major ones. There is never enough TIME and I have come to appreciate how finite this is…how special.
It’s this, that implores me to press on with my journeys. There is so much to see and so little previous time to see it.
Packing tips on the internet are usually less than helpful. With the notable exception of the awesome travel philosophy site OneBag.com these tips generally consist of the same, boring, recycled tips from days gone by.
This video (by Holiday Inn Express) on the other hand makes a generally useful set of ideas I have never seen before, or at least has a new spin.
It seems to me that if you keep running the same boring messages about flight safety at the begining of flights, people will tend to not pay attention (with the notable exception of my wife). If you, however, take the time to think about and creatively produce a Glee musical version of the flight safety video, well people watch it on t he internet!
We have been talking about books for next years book club and I recommended two. This first is perhaps the most important, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist (the second The Name of the Wind). I cant imagine a better book about believing in your heart, about the importance of the journey, about taking your dream and finding joy in the pain and the triumph that comes from accepting and following what you want out of life. Along those same lines I would like to share with you one of my favorite web videos called A Story for Tomorrow. I get emotional every time I see it. Enjoy!