While my travel patterns have remained largely unchanged over the last three years and even the last decade, 2014 will usher in a substantial change in the way I travel and think about travel.
Reaching MillionMiler status on United gives me Star Alliance Gold Status for life—or at least until United decides to yank it. With United’s new $10,000 minimum spending requirement to qualify for 1K status—the effective end of mileage running—and a significant inflation to the award chart as well as the end of weekly commuting between Philadelphia and Los Angeles, I will no longer be seeking to re-qualify for 1K status. Indeed, United is well on its way to achieving its goal of squeezing out low-value customers who “steal” the upgrades and benefits of more deserving customers. I am proud to have been a member of that club–seeking value is a smart move, not anything to be ashamed of.
Still, I plan to rack up a huge number of points this year through business spending and credit card churning, so even with award chart inflation I hope to still take advantage of the increasingly fewer number of sweet spots on each carriers’ award chart.
My country count is at 107 and I do hope to grow that number this year, though it is becoming harder. I need to go to Africa—but Central and Southern Africa are daunting. I’ve been to South Africa, but would like to do Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Zambia all in one trip—perhaps Kenya and Tanzania as well with a stop in Ethiopia if I fly on Ethiopian Airlines. But I don’t think that trip will happen in 2014.
I am more interested in journeying to Arab Africa, which will include a revisit to Morocco and Egypt, as well as Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. I also want to finish the –stans this year, visiting Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
No details yet, but I am thinking about a trip whose name rhymes with money soon and I am contemplating a number of locations—Scotland, India, the Maldives, or Tahiti? Certainly just one of them for a more relaxed trip unlike the ones I am accustomed to. And will I be able to leave my computer and phone behind?
But for all my travel plans, this will not be a travel year. This year, the focus will be on catching up…I have so much to write about that has gone unreported. Cuba, Cambodia, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Burma, Australia, Singapore, Bolivia, Iceland, Moldova, Transnistria, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Cyprus, and many more destinations I have visited, had fascinating experiences, yet written almost nothing. I have dozens of hotel reviews to publish and a huge number of longhaul flights to write about. Although the travel bug refuses to dissipate, I will do my best to exhibit self-control until I am caught up. There is so much to write about and as the days turn into months, and months into years, my notes and memory grow foggier and the information falls out of date.
Time is such a fleeting thing and I already suffer from a time deficit that comes at the cost of my sleep and health. That must change immediately. Balancing that with Award Expert, Live and Let’s Fly, and the many other personal events demanding my time will be no easy feat, but I hope that in the year ahead I can provide a mix of helpful and unique content that helps you better understand how to effectively earn and burn points and how you can use those points to go beyond Paris, Rome, or Sydney to points off the beaten track: hazard zones and the unknown lands that show a very different, but still fascinating world.
Thank you for your continued support.