The Journey

Part of what I like about adventures is the challenge for the sake of the challenge. I like the logistics. I like trying to figure out flight schedules to Papua New Guinea. I don't always like getting stuck in random places, but I like finding my way out. Those of you out there with big goals of your own—think about the journey. If you know you can enjoy it for what it is, without any other reward, you know you're on the right track.

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Extreme Gratitude, Austin Edition

Greetings from the capital of the Internet this week, also known as Austin, Texas. It's a fun place with fun people. In case you're not familiar with this annual event, once a year everyone on the Internet moves down to Austin for an annual pilgrimage. Big companies give away free drinks at various parties. People talk on stages and bands play in what appears to be an unlimited number of bars ...

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Thoughts on Risk and 808,185 Frequent Flyer Miles

Last fall I wrote about a special promotion where you could earn an enormous Frequent Flyer bonus by buying a large quantity of useless stickers.

True story, as odd as it sounds. It was one of the best travel hacking opportunities I've been a part of yet.

As I result of the promotion, I woke up yesterday to an influx of new miles in my US Air account. How many? Well, I had already earned about 280,000 a few months ago ... but this morning the new deposit read: 808,185 miles.

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Site Update: March 2010

Greetings from home base in the great Portland, Oregon. I've just returned from my first trip to Asia of 2010. The February trip was quite intense. First, I went to two faraway island groups: Papua New Guinea and the Maldives. I'm glad I made it, because they are both fairly time-consuming to get to. However, it's also true that flying to islands can sometimes present challenges ...

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8-Hour Flight Delay, Good vs. Great Work, etc.

Greetings again from Bangkok, where I'm approaching the end of my latest trip around various parts of the Asia-Pacific side of the world. Coming out of the Maldives the other night, I got stuck for eight hours. Eight hours! Here's the lesson from that experience: no eight-hour airport delay is ever announced as being eight hours. It's always two hours, then one hour, then another hour, and so on—giving you false hope while sitting on hard metal chairs all through the night ...

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Tips for Stress-Free Travel


The title of this post is somewhat of a misnomer: I almost never experience travel that is truly stress-free. For starters, not all travel can or should be predictable. Sometimes the unexpected is better than the planned.

Secondly, not all stress is bad, because some of the most challenging times in our lives are the most stressful. No risk, no glory—that kind of thing.

Yet, when heading out into the world, it helps to control as many variables as you can. I'd rather experience travel stress related to something fun than something preventable that was my own fault. With that in mind, here's a primer on low-stress travel—and your contributions are welcome too.

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Annual Review: 2009 Travel Roundup

As part of my annual review series, I’m looking back at everywhere I went in 2009. It’s a long list! Let’s kick it off with an observation that’s either interesting, awesome, or troubling (I can’t decide which): when I started writing this post, I had trouble remembering all the places I went this year. I had to go back to old calendars, itineraries, boarding passes, and even my much-loved passport to figure it out.

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How to Spend $2,000 on Stickers and Get 280,000 Frequent Flyer Miles

Greetings from vacation-land, where I've just arrived. I'm looking forward to sharing my 2009 Annual Review with you. But first, some big news in the travel hacking world has come up –-

Yesterday I spent a little over $2,000 on stickers I don't expect to use. On March 1, 2010, I expect to receive at least 280,000 new Star Alliance Frequent Flyer Miles in one of my mileage accounts as a result of the purchase. This is a case study in travel hacking, and in this example, something I call mileage arbitrage.

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Follow-Up on FOIA Request for Travel History

A while back I completed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any governmental records related to my travel history. You can read the original post, including all the info you need to make your own request if you carry a U.S. passport, over here. As mentioned at the time, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I was curious to see exactly what kind of records the Department of Homeland Security keeps on an active traveler.

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Frequent Flyer Master Reviews and a Note from Armenia

Greetings from the Caucasus, where I’m wrapping up my two weeks of travel in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and now Armenia. I’ll post more on the trip at some point, but this afternoon I’m getting ready to begin the long journey home (EVN-VIE-FRA-DEN-PDX). My first flight departs Yerevan at the lovely hour of 5:45 a.m. tomorrow, but I decided not to sleep on the floor of the airport the night before. (I know, I’m probably getting soft … but remember I took the 15-hour Russian train last week.)

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