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The Latest in Travel Hacking: November 2011 Edition

Last Thursday afternoon, I approached the registration desk at a Radisson hotel near the airport in Portland, Oregon.

“Checking in, sir?” the clerk asked.

“Yes,” I said. “And checking out.”

I was there to take advantage of a new miles-and-points adventure: in this case, staying for one night (or at least checking in) in order to receive another night free. Why do that? Because my paid night cost $74, and I'll use the free night for a property that runs $300 or more.

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173 Down, 20 To Go: The Plan for the Final 20 Countries

I started AONC in 2008 when I had been to only 65 countries. Thanks to consistent effort, dedicated travel hacking, and significant amounts of coffee, I've now been to 173.

In fact, we're now down to the final twenty countries. Only twenty!

Of course, twenty countries is no small endeavor, especially when there are no more backup plans: I simply have to make it to these particular stops, one way or another. Some of these places aren't easy, and I could still run into difficulty with an especially obstinate country.

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How To Put Off Making Decisions About Your Life

Everyone hates making decisions, especially ones that are important and determine the course of their future.

Thankfully, there's often no need to make such decisions.

Instead, you can simply put them off, often indefinitely. By shifting your life to autopilot, you'll be in good company, since many people prefer to let things come their way instead of making things happen.

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Strange Places

I went to Ethiopia and was driven around on an afternoon city tour. “The streets are so bad here,” my guide said. “And the traffic in Addis is terrible!”

I looked out the window. Sure, it wasn't Scandinavia, but I'd seen far worse. “You should visit Liberia,” I said. “This looks pretty good to me.”

Over two weeks of travel, I flew a series of random airlines: Royal Air Maroc, Ethiopian, and Aeroflot. It was my first time on Aeroflot, and I'd heard plenty of horror stories. “You're flying Aeroflop?” someone asked. “The safety card in the seat pocket has a warning about not bringing goats on board.”

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(Never) Save It for Later

Here's a simple, powerful tip for blogging, creating, storytelling, or whatever your art form may be: Always share the best work you currently have. Never save it for later. Earlier this year at SXSW I told a story about driving home late at night ten years ago and coming across a set of train tracks. It was a good story that I could have used for a few different purposes, and I wanted to save it for another talk happening two months later. I couldn't think of a better one that would work as well ... so I told the story. Then I had the problem of needing a different story for the other talk, but that was a future problem—plenty of time to figure it out.

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The Quest

At first, you weren't sure you had it in you. Fear, doubt, naysayers, and what-ifs threatened to hold you back. You left anyway, determined to see it out. The people around you talked about consequences and the risk of uncertainty. Wouldn't it be safer not to go? Wouldn't you be better off homebound, shut off from the world in the comfortable setting you knew so well? You smiled and went anyway, knowing the real truth: consequences can just as well be positive. Unexpected surprises can be good. But if you don't go, you'll never know for sure.

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Twenty-Three Year-Old Nate Damm Walks Across America

When I met the young and ambitious Nate Damm in Portland, Maine (AKA "East Coast Portland") in September 2010, he told me about his plan to walk across America.

Wow. Really? The whole country?

It sounded incredible ... so incredible that I couldn't really get my head around it. At the time, I was just beginning my own cross-country journey, visiting all 50 states during the Unconventional Book Tour. I thought that trip was an adventurous one, but at least I didn't have to WALK everywhere.

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The Sense of Loss in a Big Adventure

An unexpected thing happened on the streets of Seoul, Korea. I’ve been to Seoul several times, and don’t really feel anything special about it. It’s not a bad place in any way, and perhaps I’d like it more if I spent more time there. I just don’t think of Seoul in a special way, as…

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Detour to Australia

It was all going so well. I had made it to three island countries in the Pacific: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau. All of them were interesting in their own way, if a bit small. OK, small isn’t the word: they were tiny. There is literally one road in Majuru, the capital of the Marshall…

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“Do You Travel for Work?”

Coming back on my final flight from the South Pacific last night, I sat next to a business traveler. In between Blackberrying and reading legal files, she gave me her brief attention.

She asked: "Do you travel for work?"

I said: "Not really. I travel for life."

"That's interesting," she said as she returned to her files.

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