Sleeping in Hong Kong on My 100th Visit

I’m not actually sure I’ve been to Hong Kong 100 times, but that’s probably a close guess. HKG is my most frequently visited international airport, and more often than not I’ve stayed over for at least a day or two.

People say you can’t learn about a city in a short period of time. But what if you stay in a city for a short period of time over and over and over? In all of the visits, I’ve stayed in just about every possible range of accommodation.

On my very first visit, when I first made the decision to travel to every country in the world, I stayed at the Star Guest House. Fun place! As I recall, it cost about $30 a night. I arrived late at night but was—per usual—wide awake due to flying from Seattle via Seoul.

I took the airport bus and walked onto Cameron Road in wide-eyed wonder. Here I was! Hong Kong!


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An Honest Conversation About Debt in America

"Debt is publicly enforced and highly stigmatized, but is almost always privately experienced."

After filing for bankruptcy herself, photographer Brittany M. Powell is traveling across America to interview other people struggling with unexpected debt. I love this multifaceted, non-judgmental project (originally on Kickstarter -- now closed after a successful end).

Debt Portrait #28, Detroit, MI 2014 88a282cf5ab0f7c6-DebtRamon-4578 Through the camera, Powell is starting a conversation about debt—something many people experience alone but never talk about because of the shame and stigma that can be attached to it. How does debt effect us and our daily lives? Are people as alone in this struggle as much as they feel?

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The Beauty of Traveling Solo: On the Road with Megan Van Groll

This is a travel hacking case study. (Read others or nominate yourself.)

Not everyone feels comfortable traveling alone, which is one of the reasons why Megan Van Groll's tales intrigued me. She's an advocate for exploring the world by yourself, going so far as to spend all of her time outside of a full-time job encouraging people to do just that.

Megan5 Tell us about yourself.

By day, I’m a social media strategist at a large creative advertising agency. My education and background is actually in studio art, so I keep a studio in my home and paint—both for myself, and on commission. Lately I've been doing a lot of freelance writing and blogging about travel and career design.

Above all else, I’m a travel addict and advocate for independent travel. I also believe strongly that everyone should take a solo trip at some point in their life.

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A Night at the Airport

A Night At the Airport

After being home for three whole weeks, I'd almost forgotten how to travel.

Fortunately, unlocking travel master status is a lot like riding a bicycle. You go through the motions, packing your bag and choosing your seat on the plane. By the time you take the train to the airport in the morning and amble through the security line, you're back in the game.

As I began a big trip last week, I flew to Dallas and stayed for the night. In a hotel. Not on the floor.

In my early days of world travel, I slept on the floor of the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport more than once. As airport sleeping goes, it was solidly mid-range. I didn't get evicted or hassled, and no one tried to steal my bag.

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6 Discoveries from Near and Far: Volume XXVII


Things I found on long walks in foreign cities, or perhaps when someone posted them on Twitter.

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What Does It Mean to Be Rich?


When you’re a kid, you don’t have much concept of what true wealth is—so you tend to relate it to experiences, or at least I did. In my case, I understood wealth in the context of fast-food restaurants. I used to eat at my favorite restaurants, McDonald’s and Burger King, as often as I could.

I’m writing from the W Hong Kong, where I just arrived after beginning my latest Round-the-World trip. The W here has one of the best hotel breakfast buffets in all of Asia, which for all practical purposes means all of the world.

My breakfast is comped, thanks to my elite status with Starwood. As best I can tell, it costs approximately 10x what a meal at McDonald’s would. But if it wasn’t comped, I’d gladly pay. It’s so good! And I’m having so much fun waking up early, drinking unlimited macchiatos, and thinking about the world.

The lesson? Well, I’m jet-lagged, so you might have to wade through the muddle. But aside from not eating fast food, I think the lesson is to figure out what makes you feel rich—and it’s best if such a thing is somewhat obtainable.

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Round-the-World Tickets Revisited: How a Single Ticket Can Take You to 16 Cities + Earn 40,000 Qualifying Miles


Long ago I wrote a post on Round-the-World tickets that continues to be one of the most trafficked posts on the whole site. It’s still mostly accurate, at least in terms of the broader principles.

I also still book and travel on at least one to two RTW tickets a year with itineraries similar to the one below:


RTW tickets can be split. For example, I did the first half of that trip (South Africa, Qatar, etc.), returned, and then did the second half (Australia!) one month later. There are two reasons why I especially like these kinds of tickets:

1. Flexibility

These tickets are highly flexible. I can change flight times whenever I want, for no cost or penalty, even on the same day. Changes are always subject to availability, but these tickets are booked in higher fare classes that don’t have the same restrictions as award tickets—meaning that availability is usually very good.

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Annual Review 2014: A Big Batch of Reader Reports Is In!


Hey everyone! Thanks as always to all who read the blog and all who participate in some fashion. The December 2014 Annual Review was a long one. I spent 6,000+ words compiling a ton of lessons from the year, as well as plans for 2015. You can catch up on some of the posts here:

Reader Reviews: What Did You Have to Say?

We've gathered together a collection of awesome annual reviews from our community. First up, check out this email I received from a high school student, Evan Twarog:

Hi Chris, At the start of 2014, I did a review, and because of it, it was by far the most successful year of my life. Writing it as a junior in high school, I knew that 2014 was the year for me to create a foundation for my future success. Some of the highlights of the year include:

  • *Traveling to El Salvador for a service project through Interact
  • *Winning the Rotary Global Essay Competition and traveling to India for a week
  • *Interning as a high school student at CHA Consulting, a civil engineering firm
  • *Racing on the Elm City Velo Cycling Racing team as its only junior racer
  • *Receiving an appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy
I love this report. Well done, Evan!

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Traveling the World on $50 a Day: On the Road with Matt Kepnes


This is a traveler case study. (Read others or nominate yourself.)

Popular traveler "Nomadic Matt" is no stranger to most of our community. For the past nine years, he's been traveling the world, reporting on budget strategies from dozens of countries. This week he has a new book out, and I thought we'd check in to see how he got started.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Matt and I’ve been traveling the world since 2006. I wasn't a big traveler growing up—I never even took an overseas trip until after college. My life was very regimented before that first trip to Costa Rica: commute, work, gym, TV, sleep, repeat.

Costa Rica was the exact opposite of that life. Everyday was different. I was trying new things, meeting new people, and exposed to lifestyles I had never encountered before. And I was free. Before I started traveling, I was undecided: I went to school to be a teacher, ended up in working in health care, went on to earn an MBA. After a trip to Thailand, it became clear that the cubicle life was not for me. I was suddenly quite decisive, and I hit the road.

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Off to See the World, Once Again

Portland Morning

In the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning, I set out on a journey. The streets were wet as I rolled my carry-on and walked a few blocks to a smartcar, which I drove to the MAX train station. The train took me to PDX International Airport. With only a few non-U.S. flights, I’m not sure what’s truly international about my beloved small town airport, but at least security’s quick and everyone is friendly most of the time.

Before I leave on a big trip, I’m always anxious. Once I get going, I’m always excited. After hundreds of trips and millions of miles flying around the world, I know this routine well.

Last fall was a 40-city book tour, which was fun in a different way. Sometimes people would ask if I got tired of being in a different city every day, which no chance to do much except prepare for the evening event. The honest answer is “Not really”—I honestly enjoy the process of hustling my way around the U.S. and Canada, meeting with a different group of readers every night and doing whatever I can to inch a new book forward in a crowded marketplace.

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Amazing Collage of Snapshot-Created City Maps by Japanese Artist

File under: ultimate collage art.

I recently stumbled on these amazing maps by Japanese artist Sohei Nishino. For each of them, he uses up to 4,000 photographs, culling and cutting them into the finished product.

I’m a sucker for great maps, and I always love seeing when someone devotes years of their life to producing a specific craft. Put those things together, and you’ve got my attention.


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6 Discoveries From Near and Far: Volume XXVI

Vakil mosque panorama

Things I found on long walks in foreign cities, or perhaps when someone posted them on Twitter.

Checking Your Bank Accounts Will Not Make More Money


Seems obvious, right? We wouldn’t expect that driving past the gym will make us any healthier.

But when it comes to money, those of us who are self-employed tend to spend a lot of time on activities that do nothing to help the bottom line, either directly or indirectly.

I don’t just mean “administrative work,” because some administrative work has to be done even if it’s not particularly exciting. You still need to do customer service, update outdated info, and so on.

No, I mean the tendency we have to log-in just to see something. I’ll just check one more time... says the addict.

So here’s an idea: the next time you feel like checking website stats or bank account numbers, hold off a moment. First, do something that matters. Do something that will actually increase or improve whatever metrics you’re tracking. Then, go ahead and check them—because that’s human nature. But make yourself work for it first. Make yourself earn it.

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A World Record to Ski 4,161,823 Vertical Feet : Steph Jagger’s Quest

This is a quest case study. (Read others or nominate yourself.)

One time I went skiing for an hour, and then I went for hot chocolate in the lodge. Steph Jagger, whom I met at a book event in San Diego, went skiing and didn't stop until she'd gone more than four million vertical feet.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Steph Jagger and I currently live in California where I run an executive & life coaching practice. From July 2010 to May 2011, I circumnavigated the globe in search of snow.

While traveling I skied 4,161,823 vertical feet, breaking the world record for most vertical feet skied in a single year. My original goal was 4,000,000 feet—but when I found out about the record (approximately 8 months into my trip) I tacked on a few extra feet!


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