Hi, everyone—the 2013 Annual Review continues! All posts will be open for comments from readers.
In this post: where I went during the past year, and a few reflections on a new style of traveling.
For the first time since publishing AONC in 2008, this year’s travel roundup is quite different. Every other year, I’ve been to at least fifteen new countries (and many other countries I’d visited before).
This time, my list is greatly abridged. In fact, in last week’s post I said I’d been to just about twenty countries in 2013. Once I added them up, I realized I was wrong: I’ve only been to fifteen. Wow—a world record in reverse. I never thought it could be so few, but since realizing my mistake, I’ve updated the post.
By comparison, in 2010 I went to 31 total countries, 24 of which were new to me:
United States, Canada, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Maldives, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Germany, Ukraine, Cyprus, Cape Verde, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Morocco, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Thailand
That was 2010. This year I went to a total of TWO new countries: Tuvalu and Norway. That was all, because… they were all that remained on the quest to go everywhere. After eleven years of the quest, it finally came to an end!
One New Year’s day I flew to Fiji and then on to Tuvalu, a tiny country in the South Pacific. In a strange way, Tuvalu represented a big part of what the final third of the quest to go everywhere had become. The island nation has just 9,860 inhabitants. The airport code is FUN, which is fun… but otherwise, there’s not much fun to be found in Tuvalu.
In Tuvalu I enjoyed running on the airport runway just as I’d done with Nauru a year earlier. Aside from that, I enjoyed reflecting on the penultimate country visit, the near-completion of a journey that began more than ten years earlier.
Norway, on the other hand, was a lot of fun, and not just for an airport code. I went on a tour with a group of sixteen fun people that included family members, friends, and readers. We were then joined back in Oslo by about 180 additional fun people for an “End of the World” party.
Other interesting points in my “year of staying home a lot more” –
- For the first year since 2002 (!) I didn’t visit Africa at all.
- For the first year since 2006 I didn’t visit Canada either. What’s wrong with me? I love our friends up north and plan to get back there soon.
- Thanks to a lot of paid work trips, I was able to re-qualify for Executive Platinum status with American Airlines, as well as Diamond status with Hyatt and Platinum status with Starwood. (I have a few other statuses as well, but those are the three that help me the most.)
- After WDS 2013, I went to Malaysia for a few days by myself on an island. It felt like an all-new style of being on the road—I was just traveling, but I no longer had to connect in Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur strictly for the purposes of flying on to Pakistan or East Timor.
- Last month I did much the same thing in Australia, visiting Sydney and Melbourne. I had a couple of work meetings in both places, and of course I continued to work on my projects every day, but I also made time to reflect and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
- Both of the “reflect and enjoy” trips were paid for almost entirely through travel hacking, with miles and points redemptions for almost every flight and most of the hotel stays. As I say from time to time, I’m always grateful for the opportunity to see the world without spending a lot of money. I hope to continue traveling—and travel hacking—for years to come.
2013 Travels, Global Edition
Hong Kong (x4)
United States (including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands this time)
2013 Travels, Homeland Security Edition
I did less domestic travel this year too. We held $100 Startup events in eight cities, but almost all were at the beginning of the year. I also spoke at various events and held meetings in a number of other cities. As best as I can remember, here’s where I went.
San Francisco (x3)
New York (x2)
Washington, DC (+ Virginia and Maryland sidetrip!)
Los Angeles (x2)
CreativeLIVE Travel Hacking Class (currently on sale!)
In October I worked with CreativeLIVE and my friend Stephanie Zito to produce an all-day session on travel hacking.
From a studio in San Francisco we spoke to 12,000+ aspiring hackers. It was exhausting but fun, and we’ve enjoyed hearing from many course attendees who have earned a lot of miles and points since the original broadcast.
If you missed the live version, the complete broadcast archive is still available and is now on sale for $20 off this week.
As mentioned in the last annual review post, this year was a bit confusing and I experienced more sadness and s-l-o-w-ness (a new word… feel free to use it) than usual.
I’m still not sure how it all works—I went to far fewer random countries this year, and didn’t have a major book tour, but I still felt less productive than before. Why is that? I don’t know but I’ll continue to ponder it as I plan 2014.
No matter what, next year will be different in terms of travel: a Round-the-World trip right in the beginning of January, and a world tour that I expect to be at least 30 cities (and likely much bigger) once the new book comes out in the fall.
What about you—where did you go in 2013?
Feel free to share your own lessons or comments with other readers.
In years past I’ve offered a disclaimer: don’t feel inferior if you haven’t been to whatever you think of as a lot of countries. Especially as my travel slowed down this year, the same disclaimer applies—don’t worry about what others have done. What have you done—where did you go in 2013?
*We’ll be publishing a roundup post of reader blogs before the end of the year. Link to any of the 2013 Annual Review posts, and we’ll share a selection at the end.
*Pioneer Nation, our new event, has only 60 early bird tickets left. I hope to see you on the trail!