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Travel Roundup

2015 Annual Review: 240,000 Miles of Travel (But to Only 11 Countries!)

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And… the Annual Review continues! Today’s post is a travel roundup: everywhere I went in 2015, along with a few lessons and comments.

Previous Posts

Here’s where I went in 2015 (preview: zzzz).

Hong Kong (x3), South Korea, South Africa, Qatar (x3), France, UK (x2), Australia (YESSSS x2), United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Germany, Canada, and … it looks like that’s it

You guys, now that I’m retired from going to every country, I think I’m going to stop writing a travel roundup every December. This list is boring. No big tour, no new countries, and mostly I went to the same places over and over.

I did some U.S. travel, too—but not so much. As best as I can remember, I went to:

Tampa, Dallas, New York City (x3), Seattle, Ft. Lauderdale, Washington (x5), Las Vegas, Los Angeles (x2), San Francisco (x3), San Diego (x2), Huntsville, and… probably some other places. But not many!

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A Few Interesting Trips

-I went on a super-long daytime flight from Dallas to Hong Kong. At 14 hours long, I think that’s the longest flight I’ve ever taken that’s left before noon. I was able to watch several of my favorite movies … and then I watched them all over again.

-I went on a Dream Trip! I’ve always wanted to travel on the Emirates A380, which features an onboard bar and an in-flight shower for passengers in First Class. I redeemed Alaska Airlines miles for this flight, which is a great value.

-I traveled on Amtrak (using points, natch) for an overnight journey to San Francisco. It was an interesting experience. I’m not sure I’ll be lining up to take the train every week, but I’m glad I did it.

-Since I didn’t have a major tour this year that allowed for a lot of U.S. travel, I started exploring a bit and planning more spontaneous trips to places I’ve visited before.

Favorite Domestic Airport of 2015

TPA.

I really like Tampa, Florida! At some point in the summer I was feeling sad and decided not to go on a long-haul trip to Hong Kong that I’d planned. I was in Washington, DC and instead of connecting on to the 13-hour Cathay Pacific flight across the ocean, I canceled that ticket and booked a last-minute JetBlue flight to Tampa.

I spent two or three nights at the Méridien, a former courthouse that was converted into a Starwood hotel. I was surprised how relaxed I felt there, so it’s now on my list of “places to hop off to for a couple days every now and then.”

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Least Favorite Airport

JFK.

I went in and out of JFK several times this year, most of the time from Terminal 7 (AA) but also from two or three others. What can you say about JFK? Well, it’s the gateway to New York, so that’s great. But the Airtrain takes a long time, the dining options are extremely limited, and there’s no good airport hotel.

(Of course, I realize I could be flying in and out of Newark… so yes, things can always be worse.)

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Lessons and Observations

Probably the most important note is the same as what I mentioned last year:

These days, my travel supports my life and work, not the other way around. For a whole decade, and in particular five hectic years from 2007-2011, I constructed much of my life and work around the imperative to visit at least twenty new countries a year. This took a lot of time and planning, especially after I’d been to the first 100 or so countries. I didn’t take trips just for the sake of taking trips; there was always a new country (or two, or three, or five…) to get to. Some aspects of this lifestyle were thrilling, and all were rewarding, but some were certainly exhausting as well.

Now that the quest is complete, I’ve started to take steps to make travel something that supports my other goals. In my old age of 36, I tend to make choices more suited to health and productivity. For example, whenever possible I don’t take short red-eyes anymore. A long-haul night flight of eight hours or more is fine, because I can usually have a nice meal and still get at least six hours of sleep. But a typical transcontinental red-eye of four or five hours is terrible. I arrive worn out, with no hotel to check into early in the morning, and usually with something to do right away on the other side. So these days I’ll skip that whole process, even if it means traveling to my destination a day ahead of schedule. I can work on flights, especially those with WiFi, and having an extra night somewhere isn’t as much of an issue as when I was on a super-tight schedule due to so many international connections.

If you’re just starting out or you don’t travel very often, you may not have to make choices like that. But for me, they’ve been a lot like the $10 rule—how you should always spend small amounts of money to improve your life when on the road. As I continue to travel for approximately half the year, I try to do whatever I can to ensure I can appreciate the process and not be exhausted every day.

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This year was fairly unconventional in the travel department, and perhaps that’s how it will be for a while. I still love being on the road, I still appreciate different kinds of travel, and I try to be grateful for all of it.

Oh, and I’m definitely looking forward to the big tour next year. It will be great to be out talking with readers every night before hopping another plane the next day. This cycle energizes me and brings me greater focus.

Now I just need to make sure I get a lot more than 11 countries in 12 months. I don’t want to let down those of you who’ve been reading for a while.

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Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

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