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U.S. Frequent Flyers: New Opportunity to Earn Mega-Miles

*Update: Looking for more recent travel hacking posts? They're over here. Last Tuesday night, I returned home from Australia, via Hong Kong and San Francisco. I was as jet lagged as ever, but I had an important travel hacking task to complete: the next day, I paid a trip to my local Office Depot, where I purchased $2,000 worth of gift cards that would eventually be deposited in a bank account. This purchase was an experiment. If all goes well, I'll be carefully making a number of additional purchases over the next few months, and perhaps even longer.

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Unnecessary Traffic Lights

Have you ever pulled up to a stoplight and waited ... and waited ... while there was no other traffic in sight?

Three minutes later, the light finally changes, and you pull away ... with no other traffic in sight?

A couple of years ago, this happened to me late at night while I was traveling in the midwest. I sat there and kept thinking: what a useless stoplight. What am I waiting for?

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10 Days to World Domination (The Sequel)

There are 1,000 gift bags taking up every available space in my garage—and also in the foyer, on the stairs, and in various other nooks and crannies around the house. The photo above is approximately 5% of them, and doesn't include countless other boxes, hammock stands, furniture, piles of wood (long story), and various items that will all become needed at the same time next weekend.

“If we do this again next year,” Jolie asked me recently, “Can we get a storage unit?”

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Conversations: Turning Pro, Bravery, and the Get-To World

This week I've been reading Turning Pro, a new call-to-arms by Steven Pressfield. Here's an interesting section on making a choice:

Sometimes, when we're terrified of embracing our true calling, we'll pursue a shadow calling instead. That shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career involves no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us. Are you pursuing a shadow career?

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The Feeling of the Entire Day Unfolding Around You

In JFK I got on the 16-hour Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. It was 3pm in the New York afternoon, and 3am in HKG—exactly halfway around the world. The Boeing 777 took off, I had lunch, and I took a short nap. I always set my watch to the destination time when boarding a flight, so it was now sunrise in Hong Kong ... with 13 hours to go. What's next?

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Race to the Airport

You thought you had plenty of time, but something went wrong. Having spent too much time thinking about what to pack, you spent even more time reevaluating at the last minute. You overslept, or you forgot about the time zone change. The bus came late, or the traffic jammed up. Whatever it was, as you head out the door, you run up against an uncomfortable fact—you're late. Not fashionably late, not pressed for time, just ... LATE. Thus begins the sense of apprehension. “Will I make it? What will happen if I don't?”

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On Revolutions

On my first overseas trip in several months, I made it to Libya, Afghanistan, and even (briefly) Kish Island, Iran. It was a tiring trip, as one might expect, but also a timely one. When I booked my flights, I didn't exactly plan on revolution breaking out across the region; apparently revolutions are not scheduled in advance.

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Dangerous Places

One of the questions I'm repeatedly asked in interviews is, “Aren't you afraid of all the dangerous countries?" It's usually followed by questions like "What's the worst thing that has happened to you?"

Despite 100 interviews over the past three months on book tour, I'm still not very good at the soundbyte. I have countries that try to deport me upon arrival and countries that write an official government response to my frustration at their bureaucracy. In a decade full of active traveling, I've also had a few more serious problems as well ...

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The $24,213 Thank-You Letter

Dear Friends,

I got up at 5am in Anchorage last Monday to publish this post, all about a business offer I was partnering with to donate my proceeds to our Ethiopia project.

At the moment I pressed the publish button, I knew it was a good promotion and I trusted Karol and Adam—but I wasn't entirely sure how readers would respond. We had no pre-launch to let people know this was coming, it was a busy time of the year, and I was just wrapping up our own only-once-a-year sale at UnconventionalGuides.com ...

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