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Traveler 1, Jet Lag 0 (For Once)

You, traveler, know very well what jet lag is like. For a period of several years, you were essentially jet-lagged two weeks every month. “Jet lag is my favorite drug,” you said, repeating the great line by Jacques Cousteau.

But you knew then, just as all travelers come to know, that real jet lag is a bitch. Contrary to the suggestions of well-meaning people who took a trip once and thus claim to know all about the world, jet lag is unpredictable. When it arrives, there’s no magic bullet to stop it from claiming your days and nights for as long as it wants.

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Why I Keep Returning to My Least Favorite Hotel in London

Many years back, I checked into the Sheraton Heathrow after winning a bid on Priceline. It was incredibly cheap—something like $30-40 for the night, as I recall.

At the time I was still new to the world of branded hotels. A few times a year, I might stay in a Starwood or Hilton property. I spent the rest of the nights in hostels, guesthouses, or on the couches of kind hosts. Arriving at the Sheraton Heathrow for the first time, I remember thinking, huh, this hotel is a little weird—but hey, it’s a hotel!

Everything about it was dismal, from the carpeting in the public guest floor areas to the tiny, unclean rooms, right on down to the attitude of the staff, who didn’t seem particularly pleased to be working there.

As I traveled more and more, I returned to the Sheraton Heathrow a couple times a year. Each time I had more experience in staying at other hotels, and finally I came to the realization: it's not me—this place is just really bad.

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Achievement Unlocked: 2 Million American Airlines Miles

For 17 hours on my recent Round-the-World trip, I flew on the longest currently operating American Airlines flight, from Dallas to Hong Kong. It’s 8,000 or so flight miles, and I ended the flight a millionaire.

Well, sort of—this flight helped me achieve a longstanding goal of earning 2 million AA flight miles.

Until a couple of years ago, you could obtain “Million Miler” status with American through any kind of miles added to your account, including miles from credit card signups, bank deposits, dining bonuses, online shopping bonuses, and pretty much anywhere under the sun.

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Memories of Johannesburg Airport, 2006 to 2015

Yesterday I walked off the jetway into the transit area of Johannesburg’s international airport and had a flashback. I’d been here so many times... yet I always remember coming here years ago, way back in 2006 for the first time.

Back then I was beginning a new way of life. I had ended my four-year stint on a hospital ship in West Africa. I was going to a new home in Seattle—eventually. But first I had a side trip: I had to pick up a new country!

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Limited Time: Use Southwest Airlines Points to Fly a Companion Free (For a Whole Year)

Link: 50,000 Rapid Rewards Points (Limited Time)

Confession: I almost never fly Southwest. When flying in the U.S., I much prefer American Airlines (and sometimes Delta). However, Southwest has millions of loyal fans who love their point-to-point service, unassigned seating, and general friendliness.

For those fans—or anyone who appreciates free travel—you may want to take a look at the improved signup offer for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card. Instead of just 25,000 points (the usual offer), for a limited time you can earn 50,000 points after completing a $2,000 minimum spend in the first three months.

In addition to the improved signup bonus, the card also offers the following benefits:

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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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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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Off to See the World, Once Again

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…

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2014 Annual Review: Travel Roundup

And… the Annual Review continues! Today’s post is a travel roundup: everywhere I went in 2014, along with a few lessons and comments. You’re welcome to share your itineraries or lessons. Next week, our cats and biased judges will award a $100 gift card from Powell’s for the best overall comment throughout the series. Previous…

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