2013 Annual Review: Travel Roundup


Hi, everyone—the 2013 Annual Review continues! All posts will be open for comments from readers.

In this post: where I went during the past year, and a few reflections on a new style of traveling.


For the first time since publishing AONC in 2008, this year’s travel roundup is quite different. Every other year, I’ve been to at least fifteen new countries (and many other countries I’d visited before).

This time, my list is greatly abridged. In fact, in last week’s post I said I’d been to just about twenty countries in 2013. Once I added them up, I realized I was wrong: I’ve only been to fifteen. Wow—a world record in reverse. I never thought it could be so few, but since realizing my mistake, I’ve updated the post.

By comparison, in 2010 I went to 31 total countries, 24 of which were new to me:

United States, Canada, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Maldives, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Germany, Ukraine, Cyprus, Cape Verde, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Morocco, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Thailand

That was 2010. This year I went to a total of TWO new countries: Tuvalu and Norway. That was all, because… they were all that remained on the quest to go everywhere. After eleven years of the quest, it finally came to an end!

One New Year’s day I flew to Fiji and then on to Tuvalu, a tiny country in the South Pacific. In a strange way, Tuvalu represented a big part of what the final third of the quest to go everywhere had become. The island nation has just 9,860 inhabitants. The airport code is FUN, which is fun… but otherwise, there’s not much fun to be found in Tuvalu.

In Tuvalu I enjoyed running on the airport runway just as I’d done with Nauru a year earlier. Aside from that, I enjoyed reflecting on the penultimate country visit, the near-completion of a journey that began more than ten years earlier.

Norway, on the other hand, was a lot of fun, and not just for an airport code. I went on a tour with a group of sixteen fun people that included family members, friends, and readers. We were then joined back in Oslo by about 180 additional fun people for an “End of the World” party.

Other interesting points in my “year of staying home a lot more” –

  • For the first year since 2002 (!) I didn’t visit Africa at all.
  • For the first year since 2006 I didn’t visit Canada either. What’s wrong with me? I love our friends up north and plan to get back there soon.
  • Thanks to a lot of paid work trips, I was able to re-qualify for Executive Platinum status with American Airlines, as well as Diamond status with Hyatt and Platinum status with Starwood. (I have a few other statuses as well, but those are the three that help me the most.)
  • After WDS 2013, I went to Malaysia for a few days by myself on an island. It felt like an all-new style of being on the road—I was just traveling, but I no longer had to connect in Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur strictly for the purposes of flying on to Pakistan or East Timor.
  • Last month I did much the same thing in Australia, visiting Sydney and Melbourne. I had a couple of work meetings in both places, and of course I continued to work on my projects every day, but I also made time to reflect and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
  • Both of the “reflect and enjoy” trips were paid for almost entirely through travel hacking, with miles and points redemptions for almost every flight and most of the hotel stays. As I say from time to time, I’m always grateful for the opportunity to see the world without spending a lot of money. I hope to continue traveling—and travel hacking—for years to come.

2013 Travels, Global Edition

U.K. (x2)
Hong Kong (x4)
Japan (x3)
Australia (x2)
Dominican Republic
United States (including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands this time)


2013 Travels, Homeland Security Edition

I did less domestic travel this year too. We held $100 Startup events in eight cities, but almost all were at the beginning of the year. I also spoke at various events and held meetings in a number of other cities. As best as I can remember, here’s where I went.

San Francisco (x3)
Santa Cruz
Santa Barbara
Miami (x2)
New York (x2)
Washington, DC (+ Virginia and Maryland sidetrip!)
Seattle (x2)
Los Angeles (x2)
San Juan

CreativeLIVE Travel Hacking Class (currently on sale!)

In October I worked with CreativeLIVE and my friend Stephanie Zito to produce an all-day session on travel hacking.

From a studio in San Francisco we spoke to 12,000+ aspiring hackers. It was exhausting but fun, and we’ve enjoyed hearing from many course attendees who have earned a lot of miles and points since the original broadcast.

If you missed the live version, the complete broadcast archive is still available and is now on sale for $20 off this week.

We also continue to serve a large community through the Travel Hacking Cartel, as well as updates on new credit card signup offers at

Looking Forward

As mentioned in the last annual review post, this year was a bit confusing and I experienced more sadness and s-l-o-w-ness (a new word… feel free to use it) than usual.

I’m still not sure how it all works—I went to far fewer random countries this year, and didn’t have a major book tour, but I still felt less productive than before. Why is that? I don’t know but I’ll continue to ponder it as I plan 2014.

No matter what, next year will be different in terms of travel: a Round-the-World trip right in the beginning of January, and a world tour that I expect to be at least 30 cities (and likely much bigger) once the new book comes out in the fall.


What about you—where did you go in 2013?

Feel free to share your own lessons or comments with other readers.

In years past I’ve offered a disclaimer: don’t feel inferior if you haven’t been to whatever you think of as a lot of countries. Especially as my travel slowed down this year, the same disclaimer applies—don’t worry about what others have done. What have you done—where did you go in 2013?


2013 Annual Review: Introduction & Invitation
2013 Annual Review: Looking Back

*We’ll be publishing a roundup post of reader blogs before the end of the year. Link to any of the 2013 Annual Review posts, and we’ll share a selection at the end.

*Pioneer Nation, our new event, has only 60 early bird tickets left. I hope to see you on the trail!


Image: Steve

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    • Amanda says:

      In 2013 I had a great trip to Amsterdam and Brugge, Belgium. Also visited Ottawa & Montreal, Quebec, New York City, Siesta Key, Florida, and Outerbanks, NC. Visiting LA and San Diego next April and hoping to take a course in either France or Scotland next year. Really enjoy reading your blog.

    • Yael Grauer says:

      This year I went to Boston (for a health journalism conference), Kansas (to cover some events), Chicago (for a writing conference…was on a panel), Madison, Milwaukee (road trips!), Duluth (another road trip), Seattle (to see my brother and for a Noah Kagan event), San Francisco (travel hacking CreativeLive! and visiting friends) and Costa Rica (to see my family).

      Most exciting in 2014 will be a honeymoon in Alaska. 🙂

    • Anita Chase says:

      This year was a good year to travel for music and art. I played shows in Akron, and Ohio, Texas, and Kansas. I helped my boyfriend with art shows/opportunities in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Kansas. I also went to WDS2013 in Portland and spent a few days driving around the state of Oregon. Next year, I want to make it to some states I have never visited before, including going to Georgia for a progressive metal festival. Rock!

    • Karli Mosey says:

      On October 9th of this year, my new husband and I departed for a year long road trip throughout the United States. We purchased a vintage RV without any previous experience or desire for RV living and jumped into this journey- 2 months in, we’ve learned more about ourselves and each other than we ever have in our 7 year relationship. So far we’ve driven from our home state of Wisconsin to Iowa, Indiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia and we are currently parked in Florida. We also never realized how much regional culture and history exists in our own country.

    • Mary Tracy says:

      I’ve been to 4 countries this year! Austria, Portugal, Spain and Argentina.

      I am unbelievably proud of myself because it has taken every ounce of courage I have to… well, to find out just how much I want to travel, since it felt like an impossible thing to do.

      I am hoping I can travel a lot more in 2014, even if things are as hard as they were in 2013.

    • sebastian says:

      Oslo is really a nice place if you`re balling. Otherwise it will destroy you. The city is so ridiculously expensive…haha

    • Christine DeCamp says:

      Besides a few small trips to conferences in the Bay area…my only “real” trip was to Portland for WDS! Which was the highlight of my year. (And a great road trip as well) I am not a big fan of flying, and since I live in one of the most gorgeous places on earth (Point Reyes, Ca), it is not a problem.However, I totally enjoy vicarious travel through reading about other people’s trips. 🙂

    • Edward says:

      THANK YOU 2013, you had all the hits for me:
      Portugal (x2)
      France (x2)
      Germany (x3)

      GREETINGS, 2014!
      The Philippines
      South Korea
      USA: OR/CA
      Connect with me if you [will] overlap!

    • Gi says:

      I’ve been to 4 countries this year! Peru, Spain, Italy and France 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Jassen says:

      I didn’t get to as many countries this year as I would have liked, but it was still a good year. I made it to Sweden, Finland, Estonia (where I stayed for a full month), Germany, and UK. Since my summer in Europe, I’ve been living in Washington state, less than 30 miles by water from Canada, and I haven’t bothered to take the ferry over, which is kind of weird.

      2014 is all about Georgia for me (the country, not the state). I leave in 27 days, and I’ll be visiting the US for WDS, but other than that, I’m planning on making Georgia my new home. It’s going to be an excellent travel base for exploring more of Europe, Central Asia, and northern Africa.

    • Lik says:

      Well, in 2013 I have been to…
      Germany (Bremen, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Hannover, Berlin, Essen, Köln, Bonn, Karsruhe, Hockenheim, Bielefeld, Herford)
      Russia (Novosibirsk)
      The United States (Portland OR, and Sacramento, San Francisco, Old Palo Alto, Stanford, Berkeley in CA)
      The Netherlands (Amsterdam, Haarlem, Zandvoort)

      In some of the places I haven’t seen that much (though some people may say that in many of them there is not much to see anyway)… I think to see a town one needs at least one full day, to learn a big city may need weeks… I don’t want to count Osnabrück in Germany where I haven’t been farther than the square in front of the train station, or Philadelphia PA or Istanbul where I have only been connecting in the airports.

      Still keep thinking about the trip to München (Munich). Keep promising it to myself and finding reasons to delay it over and over again…

    • Benny says:

      I definitely didn’t travel to as many places as I would have liked. I did make it to Portland for WDS. Thank you again for the great conference!

      My wife and I did get to go back to Taipei, and visit Sydney, and Hong Kong this year. The highlights weren’t mainly the cities we got to see, but the hotels we stayed in and flights we took. The highlight was flying in Singapore’s first class and business cabins thanks to United points. A+ service and food.

      We got even more lucky when the plane used for Singapore to Tokyo was replaced by the A380. Since we were booked in first class originally, it meant we’d be in the suites! A dream come true. The cabin was just us and an older Japanese guy. No we three didn’t share a suite. Sadly it was only a 6 hour flight, but still a great experience.

      In Sydney we stayed three nights at the Park Hyatt in a Opera House view suite. All free thanks to travel hacking. In Hong Kong, we stayed at the Conrad Hilton and had access to the lounge for free breakfast and afternoon tea with views overlooking the harbor.

      So even though I didn’t get to travel as much, very thankful for the places we did get to go, stay, and experience.

    • Michelle C says:

      It’s fun to see where everyone has traveled in just one year. 2013 was a slow year for travel for us as well. We stayed put in Jamaica for most of the year (serving in Peace Corps) with our one vacation to beautiful Quebec. (Peace Corps also flew us to DC for winning their Blog It Home contest which was an exciting surprise for us.)
      But we are really itching to do more traveling in 2014, once our PC assignment is up. We’re looking to try our hands at travel hacking and do a few North American road trips, work in France for at least a month, visit family in Hawaii at least twice, and hopefully pop over to see my cousin in Australia- if the frequent flyer miles all work out. AONC has been an excellent resource in getting us on track to make all this happen, so thank you!

    • Drew says:

      I’m not as fanciful as many of the other cartel, but I managed to get around to my favorite beachy stomping grounds: San Diego, LA, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco. I’ve also visited a bunch of other cities that I have never visited or have only stopped to pee, but I don’t think they are as interesting to you as they were to me.

      Rounding out 2013 and beginning 2014, I plan to visit: Germany, Denmark, Amsterdam, France, and Great Britain or whatever moniker they’re using to describe themselves these days. I hope to add onto that list once the ground thaws and the Gods shines happiness upon those states in undesirable latitudes.

      I’m thankful your site is chugging full steam ahead to make the world a smaller place. May our travel segments cross paths.

    • Megan Cain says:

      I spent the months of December and January in Ghana volunteering for an organization that works with women and fair trade. A new continent for me. Then I mostly spent the rest of the year visiting family in the eastern U.S. and hanging out where I live in the midwest. But, our year will end spending a few day in New Orleans and then flying to Chile for the month of January (for $500 thanks to travel hacking)!

    • brooklynchick says:

      I only got to two countries – Singapore and Thailand. BUT, that was only my second trip to Asia (first was India in 2007). AND, more importantly, I realized it was the first time I left the US since 2009!!! Wow. The recession led to a lower-paying job, and added to health problems, I haven’t traveled anywhere more exotic than Utah for four years. So, 2013, I am VERY grateful to you.

      And Emirates Airlines, I love you passionately for taking me on very long flights in *coach* in comfort and ease for a very reasonable price. You rule.

    • Maia A. says:

      Chris, maybe your sadness as to do with finishing a 10 year quest? I always feel emptiness after a big project I’d done.

    • scott says:

      I have not traveled in 3 yrs. I gave up my travels and my own business in vegas to move here to the 3rd snowiest town in the us [hancock ,mi] to care for my ailing mom. would do it all over again if i could. she passed Oct 3rd. shes in a better place. now is my time to focus on travels . I have to dig myself out of a little debt i incurred living on nothing. used my savings. i need some ideas and motivation. im leaning on getting to the south pole. ive been on the north. i want to help the seniors?, write?, not sure. open to suggestions. hope to keep you informed of my future plans.
      god bless,
      merry christmasand happy new year


    • Cindi says:

      I took the plunge and lived the full year in Sedona after 32 years in Tx (Actually January to April of 2014 is the time frame). It’s been a great experience – of course the beauty, but above all : solitary goals of mental/physical rejuvenation are being realized. My business is shifting focus from large corp services to small business/solopreneurs and 2104 will be a new start in many ways including a more mobile nomad living status.

      Thanks for this space Chris

    • Nate says:

      Argentina for 6 weeks. Haiti for one. Both incredible life changing experiences. Thanks so much for the encouragement through your work!

    • Kola says:

      I went to Canada to see my sister 🙂

    • Fraser says:

      This year I visited more countries than in any previous year, what’s more, I reached them all by bicycle (save a couple of ferry crossings; England to France and the West side of Istanbul to the east side). In order they were; England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey where I’m hauled up until February 2014… The journey then continues through Iran, Dubai, India and beyond

    • NicMaybe says:

      2013 was a pretty good year in travelling for me. I had 2 longer overseas vacations in Canada (Montreal/Quebec) and the US (road trip around Lake Michigan) and lots of smaller trips which were mostly concert/music festival related (London, Nice, Berlin, Nuremberg among others). I’m dying to go back to Japan on a 2-3 weeks trip. I’ve lived there for about a year in 2009/2010, but with a move and the related costs coming up I think I’ll have to postpone this trip to 2015. So I think I’ll focus on travelling in Europe next year, maybe a road trip in France in the summer. I also want to travel locally more. There are a lot of things to discover in the area of Germany I’m living in, but I usually focus on travelling abroad. So I want to be more of a local tourist in 2014.

    • Michelle says:

      I went to Antwerp, Amsterdam, Zurich, and Queenstown/Auckland, N.Z.! All thanks to work. 2014 will be a mini-grand tour of Europe plus wherever they may send me for my job (hopefully somewhere awesome).

    • Maya says:

      Went to Morocco and will be heading to India before the end of 2013. Will probably be going back to Hong Kong and Malaysia over the summer.


    • ED says:

      I went to Nepal/India and then Guatemala this year. I loved it! I have not traveled much outside of the US until this year. What’s next for 14? Open to ideas.

    • kabamba says:

      In 2013 I traveled to Kigali, Rwanda and Capetown for the first time since the creation of the world. Since 2010 when i started reading ANC, I have traveled to at least 1 NEW country every year (Average stands at 2 :-)) and I am happy with that (and looking for more). Thank you for your inspiration.

    • Marilynn says:

      In 2013 I went from Russia to Spain. I started in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Baltic capitals. A 9 day cruise included Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland and Sweden. Not into cruising, it did get me some interesting places tho. Than back to Germany, and on to Austria, France, Italy and Spain. Oh and I live part of the year in Mexico, where I am currently until spring.
      I just can’t decide where to go next.

    • Chris Porto says:

      This past year I traveled to England, Greece and Turkey with my wife! It was an epic trip (at least to the second two countries). I hope to go to a lot more places in 2014 including Guatemala. I’ve got my travel hacking strategy set in place thanks to your course with CreativeLive.

    • Chris Reynolds says:

      Chris, thanks for the annual review posts. They are great! I am getting ready to start mine. I traveled to Spain for the first time spending 5 months over there. I hiked the CAMINO DE SANTIAGO!!!! One of the BEST EXPERIENCES of my life. I loved it so much I am going back next year. I then spent a few weeks in Madrid, a few weeks in Marbella on the southern coast, a few days in crazy Morocco and a month in Seville. What a great life of traveling. Thanks for setting the bar Chris!!!

      Saludos from somewhere in the world!

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