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Adventures in Envelope Stuffing Update: There’s Still Time to Earn 9 Free Hotel Nights

17202588426_41210e313f_z Last fall I mentioned a special travel hacking adventure available to pretty much everyone capable of handwriting their name and address over and over on an index card:

If your hand hasn't fallen off yet, there’s still time to do this. The deadline is February 15 and it will probably take some time to get organized, so if you’re up for it, don’t leave it until the last minute.

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Inspired by Strangers: How to Talk with People While Traveling

We all meet people on the road—it's part of the fun of traveling. But for Marc Smith, his meetings on the road are especially intertwined with the trip itself.

Every success and failure of the last 46 years has brought me to today.

Restless, in 2004 I quit my job and opened my own business as an event producer, with no clients and only enough financial backing for three months. Fast forward 200+ events to 2012 where I again felt stuck. I closed my company’s doors and started looking for the “next” thing.

While I looked, I decided to be a tourist in my own city for 30 days. And that project became my “next” thing. I currently travel, go on adventures, and blog full-time.

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Vampire Living in Jakarta

It’s a new day in Jakarta, Indonesia. The sun rises at 2pm—or rather, that’s when I manage to get out of bed. No, it wasn’t a crazy night drinking green tea at the local mosque. It’s just that I arrived at 4:30am this morning, after a 15-hour flight from New York to Hong Kong, followed by five more hours of flying further south.

Thankfully my hotel raised no concerns with the super-early check-in, and I was in bed an hour later. As I closed my eyes the sun was beginning to rise. Earlier today, at least according to the calendar, I watched it set as I landed in Hong Kong after that long transpacific flight. Each time I remembered thinking: is that the sunrise or sunset? Each time required a few seconds of thought before I had the answer.

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

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, 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.

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“I’d dreamed of a trip like this for over a decade”

"I’ve been fascinated with traveling since I took my first trip to Japan at age 19. Since then, individual trips have never satiated my desire to discover new places - they only increase my want to meet more people and have more experiences.

After working on location in Japan, I knew I wanted to be able to take longer trips while continuing to work. Last year, my wife and I did it: we traveled for nine months across 13 countries, spending at least a month in Germany, Thailand, Malaysia, France and Japan.

I’d dreamed of a trip like it for over a decade."
Tristan5

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One Free Ticket, 18 Hours on Amtrak, and Many Interesting Passengers

Amtrak1 Greetings from the Coast Starlight! I’ve been riding Amtrak 18 hours through Oregon and California, while traveling to San Francisco and eventually (by plane) to San Diego.

A few years ago I took a long train journey from Chicago to Portland, riding the Empire Builder just in time for the launch of the Empire Building Kit.

Aside from some short journeys, though, I haven’t been on “real” Amtrak for quite a while.

So why now? Well, to be honest I don’t think I was aware of how good the points redemption opportunities have been. Amtrak divides the country into zones and charges the same number of points for travel within any particular zone. In other words, there are some great values to be had when booking with points.

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How One Family of Four Created Enough Passive Income to Travel Forever

SharonChinatown

I’ve always wanted to travel and I’m not actually sure why. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Tasmania, which always felt like the edge of the Earth. It was a big deal just to get to the mainland of Australia!

As a teenager, I’d watch Australian travel shows and take notes on the destinations that appealed to me the most. After the dot-com crash, which came around my 21 birthday, I went straight to a travel agent and booked my first trip. Since then, I’ve been to over 80 countries!

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Former Stockbroker Travels through Europe on $10 a Day

TomKenya

My name is Tomislav Perko. I’m 30, from Croatia, and I’m just a regular, everyday, normal guy, that every now and then tries to do something irregular, unique and extraordinary.

Back in the day I was a stockbroker. Suit, tie, lots of money—that kind of lifestyle. Due to the financial crisis in 2008 I lost everything: money, career, reputation. Little by little, I started exploring alternatives to chasing my career and another promotion.

Then I realized that I should be gathering experiences and connections, not money and other tangible possessions. "Things" can vanish in no time.

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Would You Pay $60 to Sit in a Hot Tub? First Look at the First Class Al Safwa Lounge in Doha, Qatar

IMG_0001 Yesterday I had the opportunity to be one of the very first passengers in an exclusive airport lounge that finally opened after a year’s worth of delays. This was the Al Safwa lounge in Doha, Qatar, operated by Qatar Airways.

I didn’t go on a press junket or anything ridiculous—I just happened to be staying in Doha for a few days this week. When I heard that the lounge was actually opening (it’s been rumored for months, but with many false alarms), I changed my outbound travel plans a bit and was able to spend four hours hanging out before hopping over to Dubai.

Despite not being a real travel blogger, I thought I’d share a few impressions from the perspective of someone who flies more than 200,000 miles a year, typically 70% international, and who’s been to just about every premium airline lounge in the world.

In other words, this wasn’t my first time in a nice lounge, and I’m not easily impressed. Do keep that in mind, as well as the fact that I was there on literally the first day it was open. I’m sure some things will change and (hopefully) improve over time.

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A 13-Month Round-the-World Trip Booked Entirely On Miles

ms6 Matt Schwartz began travel hacking in 2011, and last year quit his job for a dream trip around the world. One of his best buys? An NYC to Bangkok flight for less than $45—in Business Class.

I’m a twenty-something taking a career break from Information Systems to travel the world. Traveling alone has been part of my life since 2010, and I decided to leave my job (for a bit - I plan to go return) in early 2014 with a one-way ticket to Bangkok. Since then I've traveled through over ten countries.

People I meet wonder how I was able to just quit my job and hit the road. I’d argue the fact that this question exists is systemic of a larger issue Americans have about vacation and work-life balance.

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“Being On the Road Changed Us Forever”: Around the World on Two Bikes in Two Years

Jane10 Avid travelers Jane and Stephen Mountain recently returned to North America after a two-year bicycling trip around the world. Here's what they learned... and what they're planning next.

I'm Jane, and my husband Stephen and I have fallen into a pattern of ditching all the responsibilities of a normal life. It started on our first trip together almost 20 years ago. We backpacked around Europe, fought the entire time, and finally broke up when we ran out of money and patience.

Stephen moved to Chamonix to work the ski season and I moved to Geneva to learn French (he ended up breaking his collarbone and my French is hopeless, as it turns out). We reunited in London, got back together, and got married.

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“Everyone Gets a Call to Adventure”: On the Road with Erin McElroy

ErinHorseHours Erin McElroy decided to take an extended trip to one of the passionate places she could think of: Argentina.

I believe the hero’s journey is possible for anyone; that we all get a "call to adventure,” and have the innate desire and responsibility to do something great.

I call myself a writer, adventurer, and change-maker. I work with people one-on-one and in workshops to help them find the “thing” that makes them feel most alive and happy because I believe the best thing we can do for ourselves, those around us, and the world is to be the most authentic version of ourselves at any time—and I want to contribute to this.

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“If We Never Booked the Tickets, We’d Never Go”: On the Road with Serena Star Leonard

Well into her third year of continuous travel, Serena Star Leonard and her husband John spend their days exploring the world and documenting stories of people who make a difference.

I’m Serena, a half-Kiwi, half-Malaysian born in Hong Kong. My husband is John, an Irishman. We were both living in Australia when we met, fell in love, and got married in the space of 16 weeks.

I’d worked in corporate environments for a number of years, but I wanted to change things up. My goal was to work for money one day a week and spend the rest of my time doing work I was passionate about but wouldn’t necessarily make a cent.

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The Best Place to Be Is Somewhere Else

14169021075_25892e09d7_z On the road is where a traveler feels most at home. Sure, you can take it slow for a while, staying in one place to save up funds or work on a project or do whatever you need to do.

But secretly you’re like a junkie, thinking ahead to the next hit. There’s always somewhere else to go and another way to get there.

You find yourself getting to the airport several hours early.

You go to the airport and look at the departure signs, reminiscing about previous trips and daydreaming of destinations you’ve never seen.

You can live in the moment, but that moment exists in another place. And you have to get there!

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Live a Life of Travel, Even with a Full-Time Job: On the Road with Ruby Escalona

As many of our readers know, having a full-time job doesn't mean you can't make travel a regular part of your life. Ruby Escalona tells us how she does it.

Hi! I'm Ruby. I grew up in the Philippines, but now live in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve always had ambitious dreams. When I was a child, I wanted to read all the books in the world.

Now, I’m passionate about traveling. My fiancé and I have desk jobs, and a motto: live a life of travel, even with a full time job. We’re seeing the world, one bit at a time. It’s a little slower than people who are location independent, but it works for us.
Ruby9

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