Update On Hotel Living — I’m Moving To India!

Back in October I posed the question as to whether it could make sense to live in hotels full time. The premise was that I spend about two thirds of my time away from home anyway, and I’m paying the same for rent and driving (between leasing and insurance) as someone that were home “full time.” At that point it’s cheaper to just live in hotels full time, so why not give the nomadic lifestyle a shot?

Not surprisingly, responses were mixed, ranging from “that’s a great idea” to “you’re nuts and that sounds depressing.” And I agree, in a way the prospect of being homeless does sound depressing. So I’ll be honest, when I first threw out the idea it was somewhat of a flippant thought, and I didn’t think it’s something I would actually do.

However, after giving it some more thought I’ve decided it’s something I plan on moving forward with starting in April when my current lease is up. I’m going to approach this differently than I had originally intended, though.

So why am I doing this and what will I do to make sure I don’t go crazy?

  • I love Seattle, but I’d like a change of scenery for now. I’d prefer not to stay in Seattle for the time being, and I think being a bit nomadic will be a nice change of pace. Since I’m young and single I still have the opportunity to do that, so I figure I might as well take advantage of it while I can.
  • Rather than having a “home” hotel, I’d like to spend extended periods of time around the world. When I first came up with the idea to live in hotels, my intent was to have a “home” hotel I’d use as a “base,” so really the only difference in my life would be that instead of going to my apartment when I return from trips I’d instead go to the same hotel every time. After listening to lots of feedback from y’all and giving it some more thought, I’ve decided the beauty in this opportunity is really in being able to spend extended amounts of time around the world. So my plan is to live all around the world for a few weeks at a time. Maybe two weeks in specific cities in Germany, New Zealand, India, etc. Because I had to fit my travel in around my school schedule for so many years I’ve been in the habit of “quick” trips, and while there is something incredible about the idea of going to Hong Kong for the weekend, I’m excited to slow down a bit and explore some cities in more depth.
  • I’m fairly introverted and love observing people. The most vocal concern people have had, and perhaps the biggest reason not to do this would be because it seems really depressing to be “alone.” The truth is that the few people I consider to be “close” friends aren’t people I really see much in person in Seattle anyway, and if anything I’d likely see them more with this approach. Besides, I get really happy just observing people, and I think nothing would be more fascinating than being able to do that for weeks at a time all over the world.
  • I’m only doing this for a year, and then I’ll reevaluate. I don’t want to live in hotels forever. Hell, if I had a choice I’d get married and have a goldendoodle tomorrow, but clearly that ain’t in the books. But in order to avoid becoming complacent and having this be a permanent arrangement I’m setting a “hard” date in advance so I won’t do this for more than a year. If I happen to love the lifestyle and am super happy with it, then I might continue, but this isn’t an indefinite chapter of my life I’m opening.
  • What do I ultimately have to lose? I live life with a very simply philosophy — you’ll regret more what you don’t do than what you do in life, and I tend to think that if you have an idea you should go with it unless you have a compelling reason not to. Don’t get me wrong, I doubt this will be the happiest decision of my life or anything, but if nothing else I think it’ll make good blog content, and hopefully I’ll continue to have you guys keeping me company, so I can share my experiences.

One of the things that has kind of changed my perception of having a “home” hotel is what a great value some hotels abroad are. I looked at negotiating some long-term domestic rates, and there are certainly some values there, but for the most part the best “deals” to be found were at fairly mediocre properties. Gary’s recent trip to India where he stayed at the Park Hyatt Chennai is inspiring, as the hotel looks stunning and has rates of about $100USD per night. I absolutely loved my trip to India a few years back and would totally love to spend an extended amount of time there.

Park-Hyatt-Chennai

So with rates of ~$100USD per night, why not spend a few weeks there? Between all of the Diamond benefits you get (free internet, breakfast, etc.) and points you earn through promotions, it seems like it could be a lot of fun. Heck, even looking at the cost of food at the hotel, it’s cheaper than what I’d pay in the US.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting I’d live here permanently, but if you’re strategic about the hotels you stay at there’s a ton of value to be had.

The Park Hyatt Hyderabad is only a bit more expensive, at ~$120USD per night.

Park-Hyatt-Hyderabad

Again, not that I’d live at either of those places permanently, but being able to explore cities in depth for a couple of weeks at a time seems like a pretty great opportunity, and given that I’m already spending an average of 200 nights a year in hotels isn’t that much of a stretch.

How to diversify loyalty?

At this point the biggest question I have is how to diversify loyalty. If you’re doing 300+ hotel nights per year you can conceivably go for top tier status with all of the major hotel chains, though that seems like a bit of a chore. I also really love Hyatt and Starwood. The issue with Hyatt is that they don’t offer any marginal benefits above 50 nights, other than qualifying for Courtesy Card, their invitation-only status level. But at the same time does it make sense to credit 200+ more nights than needed to Hyatt for the chance of an invitation to Courtesy Card? If I understand it correctly, Courtesy Card nominations are made by individual hotels, so it’s easiest to get a nomination by being loyal to a specific hotel as opposed to the chain as a whole, though I could be wrong.

Meanwhile with Starwood at least there are some marginal benefits up to 100 nights, since that’s when Platinum Ambassador status kicks in, which in theory gets you a few extra benefits.

So at that point does it make sense to do 100+ nights with Starwood and 200+ nights with Hyatt? I can see value with InterContinental since PointBreaks rewards could be a great value if living in hotels, but at the same time I’m not sure I’d want to make 60+ revenue stays per year with them, and they also don’t technically honor elite benefits on award stays.

Bottom line

I’m very excited about this next “chapter,” and appreciate all the emails and comments I’ve gotten from folks asking for a follow up on the idea. I’ll certainly post again when I further finalize the details.

Comments

  1. Seems questionable financially.. even at $100 a night you’re talking about spending enough to own a very nice home

  2. there are loads and loads of people who do this. Perhaps not on a park hyatt level but just google: location independant business and you will find tons of people

  3. Ben,

    This sounds awesome, and if I were in your position right now I would totally do it! Heck, this could even turn into another blogging adventure, where you create in depth reviews and travel guides.

    Wish you the best of luck!

  4. @ bmvaughn — Except as it stands I’m already gone two thirds of the time, so really the “additional” cost is only for a third of the nights.

  5. Note that Chennai is extremely hot for most of the year. Note also that Hyderabad is potentially a city riven by communal tensions being Muslim majority. I would have picked Prague or Odessa or Istanbul but than it’s your choice

    All the best

  6. When I was first starting my career 30 years ago, I had a couple friends that took jobs as “trade show specialists” at a Fortune-50. Sounds like a fun job but the kicker was that they would spend the entire year on the road, traveling between trade shows. So basically they put all their stuff in storage, had their mail and bills delivered to their company office, and stayed in hotels the entire year. It was sold to them as an opportunity to save a lot of money right out of school. I seem to remember that one of them survived, one didn’t. Could have been the job, or the “lifestyle” – not sure. My wife and I travel a lot on pleasure – just got back from 2 weeks in Peru in fact – and we’re thinking about spending a month in each location a few times a year. But I think I’d still like a real, owned, home base. Maybe I’m just old.

  7. Do it and do it now. A wife, kids and a goldendoodle may not pack as easily as the things you have right now. Heck, they may not even want to go.

    You have the time and money, you’re healthy and you don’t need to ask for anyone’s permission or approval. There are very few moments in life when that set of circumstances occurs.

    It sounds fabulous! Enjoy yourself Ben, can’t wait to virtually follow you around the world on your adventure!

  8. Good luck with the endeavor. If you can afford it and have the flexibility, I say DO it!

    I’ve been “homeless” since my lease ended last August. My job is based in Chicago, but the vast majority of the time I’m either traveling for work, traveling for fun, or visiting family. For the few days a month that I actually need to be in the city to go to work, I decided to just get hotel rooms.

    I don’t (unfortunately) have the budget that you appear to, but I’ve been able to pull it off with a combination of cheap rates, BRGs, and priceline reservations. If I can get a rate under $70/night, I pay out of pocket. Above that I usually burn points.

    January is the slow time of the year for work and I have some projects that I need to be in the office for so I’ll be spending 15 nights on my own dime in Chicago. I have 11 nights booked for $616 + taxes. I’m estimating my total expenditure for the 15 nights to be $886 in room rates + $225 in taxes for a grand total of $1,111.

    That wouldn’t even pay for the monthly rent on the studios I was looking at before deciding to go nomadic, let alone utilities.

    Will I get tired of this lifestyle? Maybe, maybe not. So far, I’m enjoying the perks of hotel living.

  9. So 100 nights a year at $100 a night or about $10,000 a year. That’s about a $850 a month apartment, seems to equal out financially

  10. You’ll probably have an official US address at your parents house? Because you still need your credit cards 🙂

  11. GO FOR IT!

    It sounds exciting and fun.

    Like you, I’m introverted and enjoy traveling alone. I can do what I want for as long as I want and then move on to something else.

    My dad always told me you can’t count other people’s money. I don’t know if it makes sense financially, but I also don’t know what that means for you – this is your job.

    And as long as you keep blogging about the places and experiences, I say it’s a perfect idea for a while.

  12. Shoot the Hyatt marketing folks a note. Tell them you’re considering living for six months of the year at Park Hyatts, and writing about it, and would they be interested? If so would they arrange Courtesy Card for you?

    I for one would love reports of Courtesy Card status, I have read only a handful of bits about it, and would love to see a more systematic treatment.

  13. Sounds great, best time to do it is now. Wouldn’t set a timeline to it cause you never know what the future has in store. Toughest part is planning location, probably first would be by weather, next by tourist season (to get best rates), then by whatever friends are doing. India good place on price, but Vietnam and Thailand good too. Have fun too.

  14. Awesome and I can’t wait to read about your adventures 🙂

    I’m curious if you’ve thought at all about how this will affect staying top tier with AA though, especially since they sadly don’t fly to India anymore. Have you thought about that at all? Will you just do the HKG route a few times to maintain, or are you considering another alliance?

  15. OK, you have thought this out and the numbers work as well has the adventure….2 things to do before u go!

    1. get an entertainment agent and they will get u a PR rep and a BOOK AGENT, maybe also think of making a daily seperate blog for us,

    Good Luck

  16. Did it for a year and it was the best year of my life. We got travel health insurance for the sketchier countries, but otherwise just kept our regular crappy insurance. Also consider short term apartment rentals like airbnb which can get your costs even lower (like $80 a day for an apartment with a view of the sucre coeur in Paris).

  17. @ TheBeerHunter — To be clear, I don’t actually plan on moving to India full time, but was instead saying I’d probably spend a few weeks there. Already have travel planned for next year to just about requalify for Executive Platinum with American, so I’m not worried in that regard. 🙂

  18. Ben, go for it! write a book or extensive blog about it so maybe one of us can do it as well.

    All da best!!

  19. I’m definetely not convinced. India for example has some of the worst airlines in the business and you should definetely consider the fact that a city could get boring sooner than smd thinks.

    additionally, i think a focus on just hyatt and starwood is a bit boring, why not for a change try some boutique hotels etc. which are mostly far nicer than chain hotels? Top tier status should not be a problem as you said anyway

  20. GOod for you to do it. I spend ~250 nights in hotels per year but do have a house in TX. I move around a ton so have SPG Plat w 50+ nights, Hyatt Diamond, Hilton Diamond and IHG Plat. This year tho, i’m backing off Hilton to max out Hyatt and SPG. I also make sure i take advantage of amazing small hotels where you feel more like a local – don’t forget to do that!

  21. sounds thrilling. as you said, you’re young, no attachment to a spouse, doggie, kids, mortgage YET, why not! i’ve been involved in real estate investments for 25+ years and this is one of the few times i’d say, go for it, travel, rent, enjoy the nomadic experience & living arrangements and when you’re ready to call one place home, i’ll arrange that.

  22. We sound very similar…

    I’ve been nomading around for the past 6 months, staying in hotels and airbnb apartments. I plan on doing it for another few months then finally finding a (cheap) home base somewhere with no state income tax. If you’re the introverted type who values personal freedom of movement, it’s a great thing to do while you are still young and single.

    You’re going to love this. It’s been a great experience for me so far. From one Ben to another, best of luck to you!

  23. First good luck, sounds like a very fun adventure.

    A few thoughts, although I am sure you have already considered them.
    –Does India still have the weird re-entry visa rules? Perhaps this isn’t a problem with your EU passport, but make sure you have a proper visa that lets you come in and out of the country with high frequency.

    –At work they always stress that if you are staying more than 3 nights/week at the same place for more than a few weeks you should have them separately negotiate an even lower rate. Not sure how much lower they can get but even a 10-25% squeeze would add up.

    –India’s internal flights for positioning are nothing special and often take up lots of time as you can’t easily connect from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. I know at BOM you have to leave and go into city traffic for 30-45 mins just to get around. Could be a consideration to position yourself in more of a hub city, although MAA isn’t so small and does have some direct options.

    –Don’t expect a suite upgrade every time. From what I hear of the real road warriors I am friendly with it is almost nil that they get a decent upgrade on a longer stay mid-week.

  24. I look forward to reading about your adventures, just as I have enjoyed reading about Drew and Caroline’s travel life on travelisfree.com.

  25. Wow Lucky, you’re living the dream! Thanks for sharing with us.

    Since you’re going from April to April, you’ll be building up loyalty for 2 Calendar years that will help with the loyalty diversify.

    As @Gary mentioned, “Shoot the Hyatt marketing folks a note.” I would take this a bit further and go to the TRAVEL CHANNEL.

    Get your Travel Health Insurance and make sure you understand the implications of living abroad from a Tax perspective. You might actually save money.

    And finally did you consider Brazil as a hub?

    InsaneTravel

  26. Make sure to talk to a good immigration and tax person while in your detailed planning. You will be ‘earning income’ and possibly ‘temporarily residing’ in all of these places, not a ‘visitor’. You will also no longer have a ‘home’ so you likely will no longer be on ‘business travel’.

  27. Seems like a great idea, Park Hyatt in chennai is in a great location. I went to college about 5 mins from there. Like some mentioned the heat could be a huge problem, especially after “living” in Seattle for a year. Otherwise it is a great city with plenty of culture.

    I’m staying in the Park for a few nights in a couple of week after reading Gary’s report, and have friends stayed there before too. The service I believe was great.

    So how are you going to do your MS? Or do you do MS normally?

  28. You could also “buy” a bunch of IHG points and wait til the point saver awards come out every few months and “live” in different locations for a couple weeks or so at a time for the equivalent of $35 a night or $245 a week. Save and splurge on more expensive Park Hyatts and other luxury hotels in other locations.

  29. Single and no kids I would go for it.

    But as one who has spend a many lengthy stints on the road, you will be longing for a home cooked meal. So make lots of local friends and have a few stays in rooms with a kitchenette as eating out gets old fast.

  30. Sounds exciting Lucky! While in India, i met a few travelers who were living the nomadic lifestyle staying in $5/night hostels. You’re living the dream!
    In addition to staying at the Park Hyatt, perhaps consider trying the other top Indian hotel chains like Taj, Leela, and Oberoi!
    You are still going to FTU Seattle, right?

  31. As for the getting married….

    Newsflash Lucky: Most dudes, myself included, imagine that it will never happen. And then it does. Life is funny like that.

    It’s the anticipation that kills us. I would have enjoyed my 20’s a lot more if I had known that I would marry the woman of my dreams at 31. So just take it on faith and go live your life. And it sounds like that’s exactly what you are doing!

    Can’t wait to read about it.

  32. I suggest you rack up some Club Carlson points and get the credit card or two of them and then go stay in Thailand on points for a month or so. It really doesnt take many points to stay in some decent hotels there.

  33. May I suggest some other city to live in India? I wouldn’t say Chennai is the most interesting city ( though Pondicherry is close by ). Maybe you could stay in Bangalore( Bengaluru) which is much more interesting ( sort of silicon valley of India) and has very nice hotels too. The Hyatt there is definitely cheaper than the one in Chennai ( Most in India will be since the 20% depreciation of Rupee against USD in the past 6 months). I strongly think you should stay in Bengaluru ( If not Goa !!). And yes, its never Hot in Bengaluru unlike Chennai which is very very humid, even for us Indians.

  34. This sounds like a great idea. If you haven’t already done so, I strongly recommend that you read olafman’s trip report on FlyerTalk, the one where he and his family spent a year travelling the world. Best of luck.

  35. And Bangalore’s got a pretty reliable public transport system.. I couldn’t recommend it enough against Chennai.

  36. Glad to see you finally took the advice I gave you in the Comments section of your post 15 months ago on your original decision to move away from Florida:
    ——————————-
    gregorygrady said:
    “Why don’t you use all those airline miles and hotel pts of yours and move around to a different place every couple weeks for a year? You could try ~25 different places, both in the USA and internationally. If you really like a certain place, stay there longer, get an apartment for a month, etc. If I had your job and nothing holding me back, I would love to do something like that. You could even go to Hawaii and stretch your hotel pts twice as far by getting a room every odd night and then every even night you can sleep in the hammocks outside on the grounds.”
    ———————-

  37. You should be able to call the hotels directly and negotiate a much better deal than the $100 per night I would think. Also the point of a loyalty program is to earn the status so you can enjoy the benefits. If you stay at one chain, earn the elite status, and then move to the next chain you didn’t get as much value in some ways.

  38. Have you spent time in India? It’s an interesting, excitingly place but also can be exhausting and difficult. And is really not a place for people who like luxury, like yourself. Though I suppose if you don’t like it, you can just check out and go somewhere else!

    In any case, I applaud the instinct to try something new and different.

  39. Shame you’re a US citizen …. you would be free of income tax if you were citizen of pretty much any other country!

  40. I would recommend Kuala Lumpur in that regard, because of more food options, safety, sightseening, +90 beaches, and very cheap, alternating Hyatt and Westin?

    Plenty of flight options; When I lived there I always remembered that I could be in a heartbeat in my homecountry at any time due to the connections. You never know when you will get that terrible call!

    It is 12 hr difference with US so you are covered by sleeping when your parents are up an viceversa.

  41. What will you use as your official address, for your driver’s license, credit cards, (and most importantly!) Global Entry?

  42. Ben, I think this is a wonderful next step in the evolution of your travel and yourself in general.

    As for the money, spend it. Some may say your spending to much but everything is relative.

    Also some seem to be saying you’ll get lonely but I disagree. Not only will you be traveling while your staying in these locales but people I’m sure will be transiting them as well allowing you to always meet up if you felt like it. More importantly, having read your blog for a while now I know as long as you talk to your parents consistently your not really worried about much anyway.

    In the end regardless of age, young or old, I’d say do it most of all because your healthy. There is no value anyone can really put on that.

  43. Good luck, sounds great. I like the idea of pitching it to a media outlet. If you are able to negotiate better deals directly I would find that interesting. Of course the larger goal is not the deals but the experience. I would add one thing to the insurance, get Global Rescue, either the medivac only or the combo medivac/security package.

    Let the adventure begin (Make sure you bring your dad and mom along sometimes. Love those reports!)

  44. Lucky,

    This is absolutely the best post I’ve read in a long time!!! I am so excited to see where you go with this! At some points I hope that our paths might cross as I’d love to hear about it personally!

  45. India? That means you’ll be dry for several months, save for the occasional expat. I wouldn’t be able to handle that.

  46. Go Ben! Park Hyatt in Chennai is couple miles from my home in Chennai. Summer in Chennai will be quite hot & humid. Winter will be better.

  47. You can’t do it! You’re insane! It’s impossible! Stop!

    That’s just the reaction from all the normal, married, apathetic, unhappy, stable, conservatives.

    Philosophically I think this is a brilliant idea. Practically, it guarantees I’ll be reading your blog even more frequently in the next year.

  48. Ben-Ideas like this are one of the reasons that you are the coolest travel blogger on the ‘Net. I know that my biggest regret from college (MANY years ago) was that I didn’t study abroad. This idea is kind of your post-graduate course in the world and I strongly encourage you to do it! Your philosophy is correct; we mostly regret what we DON’T do, not what we did. I’ll look forward to reading about your adventures!

  49. Ironically, you might end up traveling LESS than you do now! But you’ll be able to augment your trip reports with more information on the local life. Good luck!

    I did a similar thing while in college 40 years ago when a company paid me to travel throughout Europe to install software at different locations. It was a lot of fun, and cemented my love of travel, which I’ve never lost. In the last few years, I’ve taken advantage of your insider information several times, and I’m very appreciative of the time and energy you put into your blog.

  50. Hyderabad is much nicer than Chennai in terms of weather (less humid) and the area in hyderabad where the Park Hyatt is situated is really a politically stable zone and really considered to be a posh neighborhood (Jublee Hills). I personally prefer the Westin Mindspace, but that is just because im a big SPG fan. Have you evaluated Bangalore? The Sheraton Bangalore is also equally amazing and has great rates. And bangalore is easily a better place to live than HYD or Chennai. Message me if you have any more questions about Hyderabad – I travel there quite frequently.

  51. You will never regret it and it will be something you always look back on for the rest of your life with fond memories. I’ve done similar things in the “before miles & points era”. I lived in Morocco for 6 months in the mid 80’s, backpacked around Africa in 1992 for 6 months and done lots of long term traveling where I lived with my parents, worked, saved, then took off for as long as possible.

    If I were younger and single, I would definitely make Kerala my long term stay in India and I would be staying near the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. I blogged about my visit in 2011. But I don’t think eco-tourism is your thing so if you want a city-based stay, I think you would enjoy Bangalore. It has a lively nightlife scene and I think you could make friends with Indians and expats.

  52. Be very careful checking the visa rules for each country you intend to stay in as it sounds like you plan to continue running your business from wherever you are to finance your stays. In some cases, that may not technically be allowed on a standard tourist visa.

  53. Great book by Paul Carr called The Upgrade.. He decided to give up his apartment and live in hotels for a year. Well worth a read! More around the practical side than the loyalty program aspect!

  54. Two suggestions: 1) Many luxury hotels in developing countries, including those run by the well-known brands, have long-term stay rates. These are targeted at Western companies who may have people staying several weeks or months at a time working with local outsourcers. The rates may or may not be published, you should inquire directly with the hotel. Shangri-La hotels are a good example – I remember staying on a long-term rate that included breakfast, unlimited laundry (quite awesome!!!) and a 25% discount on food/beverages in their restaurants/bars. It might have even included lounge access, I don’t remember. Shangri-La has most of their locations in Asia but have started to build locations in Europe and America. They are typically very posh, five star or better with all the amenities and amazing service (I swear every staff member in the building knew my first name and I felt like royalty as I was greeted while walking they the building). Their loyalty program is Golden Circle and their points transfer 1:1 to most of the large programs. 2) check out the Philippines. They speak American English, you can stay in luxury hotels, eat out, and travel around in taxis very cheaply. People are super friendly and willing to help you out. Within the country, they have some great beach destinations like Boracay, Palawan, etc. and you can find local hotels with rooms over the water for under $100/night. The Philippines is served by all of the alliances and you may be able to find revenue tickets to be very cheap if your journey starts in Manila (PH has a large population of workers who work overseas and send back money to their families). Bonus suggestion: Turkey. The culture and food are great, people are friendly, and the exchange rate vs. USD is extremely favorable right now. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in the world.

  55. Having lived in Mid-East, spending a summer in Southeast Asia and interacting regularly with the locals, the experiences gave me a unique perspective towards different cultures, religions and people of the world. Traveling will not enrich your global knowledge as much as living& working abroad & mingling with the locals. Knowing how meticulous the Germans are,it’ll be a challenge for you to set up a temporary residency in the third world country, when you have to deal with government agencies, ways of life and doing things there. The weather is unbearably humid in the summer in that part of the world. Good medical coverage is a must. Taxes are not a concern since you won’t receive foreign incomes or compensations. The caste system, the barbaric culture towards women, and unpleasant experiences dealing with people from India subcontinent countries — all contributing factors of my prejudiced perception toward them.I’d love to have an opportunity to live in Isreal someday, even for a short time. Go for it when you’re young, single, healthy, able, ready and willing to seize the opportunity when it comes along.It’ll be very difficult for you to adjust to family life later when you think back about the fond memory of exotic experiences you had prior to marriage and family. Hope you will focus more on cultural experiences when you write trip reports.

  56. Two things:

    1. Renting an apartment for a week or two, or picking off a timeshare week from somebody here and there will often be cheaper even when adjusting for program benefits.

    2. Don’t forget to change your official residence to a place with 0% state income tax.

  57. Hi ben,

    I think I like the idea of slow travel. I am originally from India, so only thing I will suggest is that staying at Hyatt or SPG will not give you a real flavor of the local life. one possibility will be to rent a sort of efficiency and do the local shopping and cooking and interact with the natives, the way they live. I retired 3 year ago, and daughter is about ready to go to college. After that I plan to do slow travel staying one place at a time by renting a small apt in new cities.

    Anyway just a different thought. GOOD LUCK.

    Niraj

  58. I think its an idea worth trying, but you have picked the wrong country to start in.
    You will soon get very frustrated by the difference in infrastructure in India, plus
    there are food and health issues to consider.

  59. DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT

    If you stay within India and China or southern Asia it’ll be more then worth it.

    I WANNA DO IT TOOO..

  60. I m not bad mouthing India but I m not sure if you can stay there long term. its different if you visit for a few days and bear any inconvienent or unsightly, but knowning yourself that anything other than 5 star service, you ll turn upside down. Understand you ll be in the midse of the most densely populated, third world, down right slum condition in the world. Its not every part of India but mostly everywhere in India, I dont appologise for the that remark.

  61. Quite an interesting turn of things. I’m still not sure whether you’re being brilliant or naïve 🙂

    As much as I enjoy reading your blog, in all due respect you’ve never struck me as someone who travels–you are, imho, merely someone who flies. You’re smart and savvy for sure, but you’re not worldly in my book. You’re super smart at playing games, a gifted writer, self-made, all great attributes… but you’re not someone who, as far as I can tell, really experiences the world outside airports and the comfort of 5 star hotels. Yup, you’re running a business and your product is reviews of luxury products so it all makes sense, but it doesn’t mean you’re equipped to handle India or even life abroad for a sustained amount of time.

    On the one hand I applaud your initiative, and look forward to reading the tales of your adventures, while on the other hand, I would encourage you to consider whether you fully appreciate what it means to live in India. There’s plenty of comments above that already touch on the topic and shed light on the challenges. India is pretty hardcore.

    If you’re going to go and just “work remotely” from the Park Hyatt, however, then you’re not really going to India… you’re just staying at another hotel that does an excellent job at masking the surrounding reality. That would be pretty sad.

    I won’t comment on the legal/visa/financial aspects as plenty of other folks have already shared their insights. Things may not be as trivial as they sound but you’ll figure them out.

    In any case, I think this is a very exciting move… and whether you love it or hate it you’ll probably learn quite a few things in the process.

  62. A relative did just this, left and headed for Hong Kong, though on arrival he stayed in a relative’s apartment for a while then found his own though much further out in the new territories. He kept his “official” address as his parents so this could be an option for you as you’ll need a base to establish/maintain credit, drivers license, etc. He also used a US based bank for credit/debit cards, so consider that too including access to ATM’s and a real bank to deposit money if needed. I second the other comments on travel insurance too just in case. I too would grow weary of even a Park Hyatt after about a week and you may tire of hotel food or even eating out constantly and want a home cooked meal. If it were me I’d search out an apartment to rent where you could cook and have friends over for gatherings. Plus a Park Hyatt, really anywhere but especially in India, is going to be such a sheltered and sterile experience not giving you a true local experience.. Though I don’t know what your goal would be.

    This may get a bit personal and you don’t need to address publically if you prefer though figured i’d give some food for thought. Reading your blog for several years now from the UA days, to AA, and so many international First Class trips, why? I know the love of travel, but so little on your write ups is said about the places you visit (with the exception of your parents trips recently). I get the impression it’s a wild chase of points, status, and first class experiences in airlines and hotels with not a lot of regard for the places you’ve seen. Perhaps it’s just the focus of the blog (the journey not the destination per set). From the original post you state that it seems like a waste to pay for a Bellevue apartment when you’re not there most of the time, and I see your point, though I don’t think the answer is a 5 star hotel in a foreign country.

    If it were me in your shoes I would still go for it, though would seek out apartments, negotiate better rates for longer stays, skip around the world a bit more (maybe one country each for a month or two?), and keep a connection in the us with your parents for banking and other matters.

  63. Interesting comments.

    You will DIE outside the hotel from April to August in Chennai.
    Take it from me. I visited last May when the temp was 108 on a cool day with 99% humidity. Vastly different from Gary blogging about the weather today when it is mild.
    Also do not forget the taxes and fees – they add to 35% or so; the Hyatt is now 140$ a day

    Other places
    Egypt just had a crisis. Having been to Sheraton Luxor, great place by itself, great food, but remote location. Le Meridien Giza is near the riots.

    You can’t stay more than 6 months in India anyway as a tourist.
    You can spend a few weeks at a time there, keeping MAA or BLR as a base and visiting places in between, but I think that will be soon over for you in about 3 months max. After that I would take off and do several countries one at a time for a month or so and then visit the US in between .

  64. People do this all the time, it’s called backpacking/traveling around the world, except that you are taking the easy way out and staying at nice hotels along the way. If you have the money, then great but you are spending more than you need just so you can have more status and more hotel points. After a while, it gets tiring, whether “it” is flying all the time or staying in places far away from your family. It’s much easier now with Skype etc to stay in touch with family, but I doubt you are going to make local friends blogging from a hotel room in a foreign city, and without local friends you will always be a bit clueless about where yuo are (and this takes a lot of time). You need to find some roots at some point, and challenge yourself beyond acknowledging that you are introverted, so I wouldn’t do it. Also, you are not seeing the real India if you are going to hang out at a Park Hyatt in Chennai. If you must do this, go somewhere where you might want to learn the language for example. I would recommend China but then you would not be able to access many Internet sites freely unless you knew how.

  65. Being an Indian, I would strongly suggest to stay away from Chennai unless you want to know how a lobster feels like when its cooked slowly. Bangalore would be a much better choice in terms of weather.I don’t know if you have been to Rajasthan but that place is beautiful albeit expensive. You can also visit Kolkata, almost as hot as Chennai but has a lot of history.

  66. Very interesting move. You should definitely do it.

    But there’s a ring of truth to comments like this one, from Pat+: “If you’re going to go and just ‘work remotely’ from the Park Hyatt, however, then you’re not really going to India… you’re just staying at another hotel that does an excellent job at masking the surrounding reality.”

    On the other hand, if you try, you will have plenty of opportunities to experience life as it’s lived by Indians. Take public transit, go to markets, talk to people in public places, make friends, maybe even get invited to their homes. Life for the average Indian is very different than it is for the average American, and if you try, you will learn a lot about India and Indians. Just treat the hotel as a place to sleep and to get some work done, and spend as much time as you can out of it. If you expose yourself to India, the experience will be worth it. But if instead you hide in your room, it will be a pointless exercise in… earning points.

    That’s my 2 rupees.

  67. I also have to differ with what WorldWingedExplorer said: “just get a girlfriend/boyfriend first and then do this. Its spontaneous and admirable however you will be lonely at times and it will suck.”

    Um, why get a Significant Other first? You might find one in India! (Or wherever your travels take you.)

  68. @ Lucky – I concur with many of the above replies by fellow Indians. Chennai, at the best of times, is very hot and humid even for Indians except the native Tamils. Bangalore has much much better weather throughout the season going for it. You can always visit Chennai for a stay, its a great city nonetheless. Also, you do not need to be reminded of this; but BLR is served by one of the better First products Lufthansa has (747-8) and only DEL has the other, no A380 in India as of yet. That is quite a big deal to you. 😉

  69. I am very much looking forward to reading about this next adventure. Very glad that you will be taking more time to experience other parts of the world outside of airports. Good luck!

  70. I am currently in Chennai–I spent the last 8 days at the Taj Coromandel and also spent some time over at the Taj Club House. I can’t say that I found either property to be all that great.

    I moved to the ITC Grand Chola yesterday, and can’t recommend it highly enough! It is a wonderful property and SPG Plat gets you moved up to the ITC One room level for starters. My ambassador was able to get my personal room prebooked as a suite which is fantastic given that I know about 20 people currently in the hotel.

  71. Also as a side note on the Taj properties, I actually found a lot of the service staff to be borderline rude. ITC is a welcome relief!

  72. I think its a great idea -will be interesting to see you travel slow- I’m a bit jealous!
    Call the sales manager of each property to discuss an agreement for long term stay -some places/cities/countries discount the taxes or provide tax back when you leave and others will add perks. I do this for our business travelers to London and within the US. It would be interesting to see you meet up with readers along the way and maybe even try non western properties and local options once you hit elite targets.

  73. Huge amounts of comments. i also think it is a cool idea. Would ne interested tohear how you’re ideas on optimizing costs change theough the year, and how it impacts taxes etc. something to consider if longer term – buy a house and rent it out. Might as well have an asset growing while you travel.

  74. @Erik

    You can see from the screenshot that there is indeed a long stay rate that includes 20% F&B, Wifi etc.

  75. This sounds like a great opportunity.

    For the naysayers out there, the one nice thing is if he doesn’t like it, he can always get a ticket and just come home at any time. While a year is the plan, due to the flexible nature of this, it is easily shortened if that is what is best.

    Good call on reading Olaf’s report. I was very enlightening.

    Re taxes, yes, I’m sure you will re-domicile to Florida to avoid Washington issues. Since you presumably pay for all of your travel with “pre tax dollars” due to your line of business, I suspect this will be a push, or perhaps even a savings, compared to living in an apartment with a car in WA.

    I look forward to reading about the journey.

  76. Look into using corporate or association rates as we’ll. I stayed at the hotel Trident in Udaipur India for US$40 per night using a friends corporate rate. The hotel was incredible and adjoins the Oberoi (sp?) which is 5+ stars.

  77. Sounds like a fun adventure. I guess you are wealthy enough to be able to do it. That $100 per night rate does not include taxes. How much do they add? If you plan to stay at luxury hotel around the world they won’t all be $100 per night either.

    I’m not sure India would be my first choice either. I’d personally probably base myself in SE Asia somewhere. And I’d also most likely pick a serviced apartment rather than a regular hotel. But that’s me.

    If it doesn’t work out it’s not like you have to keep doing it, so why not?

  78. I was born and brought up in Chennai (but left for the US 27 years ago). I find Chennai to be very hot and humid from March until October. Think of Chennai as Miami + 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and about the same humidity. Bangalore is much better weather-wise.

    However, if you interested in ancient temples, your best bet is the state of Tamil Nadu — of which Chennai is the capital. You will find many temples that are more than 1,000 or 2,000 years old, including some within 50 miles of Chennai. Remember, the farther south you go in India, the less likely the really ancient temples were destroyed by the invading Islamic armies through the centuries.

    But Chennai has become stunningly more dirty and dusty since I left, and I find it a lot more unpleasant now. You need to have a strong tolerance for adventure.

    If you want to stay in South India:, BLR has 747 service from LH, and direct flights from Paris on AF (LH to MAA is only 343). Only BA provides similar service from both MAA and BLR (to LHR). Both MAA and BLR have good service to Singapore and Hong Kong.

  79. Ben, I’ve lived and worked in India in a similar capacity to what you’re thinking, and FYI you’ll want to make sure you have a MULTI-ENTRY tourist visa and that you go using your EU passport. There’s currently a diplomatic spat between the US and India, and they’ll likely hassle you a bit more than normal – especially if you enter and exit the country frequently. Also, TOURIST VISA is best. Do not (unless you absolutely plan to do business there) try for a business visa, as it’ll be an extra world of bureaucratic nonsense.

    Lastly, in the past, they had some odd rules (security-related supposedly) such as requiring a month between departing India and re-entering India. Knowing how much you travel, I think it’s worth double-checking if this is still the case.

    https://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com/homepage

    All that said, maybe you already have a multi-entry tourist visa on your EU passport, in which case you’ll be fine. Happy travels!

  80. Congratulations on coming to a decision & good for you for giving it a shot!

    As a fellow introvert I think it helps to remember:

    “You will never be lonely if you are happy with the person you are alone with”

    so get those thoughts of “it will be depressing” out of your mind.

    Looking forward to finding out how this works out for you as I am seriously considering doing the same.

  81. You are going to work US hours? I was in Bangalore for 2 months in ’08, worked US hours, and nearly went mad.

    I would be surprised if you left the Park Hyatt at all the entire time you’re there.

    I’m calling bullshit on your decision / post 😉

  82. I agree with @simon. This reminds me of your post when you were wondering about living in the First class terminal in Frankfurt?
    Good hypothetical point though…unless you were really serious….?

  83. Lucky,

    You just made my day. It seems that I’ve been waiting forever for you to really travel…to really get down and dirty and get to know the places and people of the world.

    This plan is the right first step. Hopefully you’ll “graduate” away from the international chain hotels and choose to reside in some of the small inns or even apartments that make the great cities of the world great :).

    Get rid of the junk that’s holding all of us back and get ready for the ride of your life…hands up…let go…

    @ Wandering Aramean, I just deleted your blog feed from my reader. What an idiotic comment. The idea that any measure of FF status or benefits could possibly outweigh the life changing effect of nomadic world travel is laughable.

    Lucky…grab it and go…Good Luck. It won’t always be easy but you will never regret your amazing choice.

    Best,

    Joan

  84. Nice to see all the xenophobic comments from American white guys. Especially the ridiculous one about Ben having to be dry in India. Have you even left the country, idiot?

  85. Ben,
    It sure will be an adventure to live and travel in India. I’m from BLR and have lived in MAA,HYD,SEA for few years and like others have recommended,strongly suggest to look at BLR. One of the most cosmo city in India, with higher number of English speaking population and weather is just like Miami.Bad traffic/pollution/chaos are to be expected. Good luck and fun travels!

  86. I was in Delhi for two months (during monsoon season) for work and even with staying at the Le Meridien and the Taj Palace (I called it the five star bubble)two months was enough for me. Personally the poverty, the children begging, the crazy traffic, and the humidity ground me down. I will always say the trip was worth it but it would not be where I would want to stay long term.

    I would also suggest finding some Taj properties to stay at. I stayed at the Taj Palace Delhi and the Taj Palace Mumbai. I found the service to be excellent especially in the club lounge at the Palace in Delhi. My workplace was able to negotiate free laundry, club rooms, and dinner every night though I did not use that option that much.

  87. Everybody is getting hung up on India. I am taking that as more of an example of one place you may stay for a while, and nothing more.

    At the very least it should make for interesting reading. Take along the book “Don’t Stop the Carnival”, by Herman Wouk, as some intesting, and possibly related reading along the way.

  88. Joan — I think that WanderingAramean’s comment about points and status was meant to be sarcastic.

  89. Well, I think you are a just a little crazy, but I just want to say good luck! 😉 It’s not for everyone and it’s certainly not for me, but obviously, if it makes sense and you worked it out, then have fun! Given how often you are away from “home”, it wouldn’t be too big of an adjustment.

    I LOVE traveling, but I have to admit that I really get tired of hotels and traveling when it’s more than 2 weeks stretch at a time (except when staying at Conrad HK :P) I like to go home for a bit, work a bit (got to pay bills!), recharge and have something to look forward to for the next trip (which is half the fun) and I get sick of hotels even though I don’t usually even spend much time in the hotels when I travel.

    Hotels just isn’t the same — sometimes, you want to mess up your room (not that i want to, I’m a pretty neat kind of gal, but just making a point), come and go as you please without hotel service, etc. But if you thought it through and worked it out, then I wish you lots of luck, fun and a grand adventure!

    P.S I can’t say much about Chennai except for a really good friend/colleague who traveled there, and he was uber miserable there and hated the humidity. I have heard more positive things about Bangalore, though.

  90. Lucky,

    The best advice I can give you, from experience, is to find a way to keep your car insurance active. After I was away for a couple of years, I was treated as a new driver, and 3 years later, my car insurance rates aren’t much better than that of a 16 year old, even though my driving record is impeccable.

    The other challenges I found from living abroad and traveling full-time are related to time zone offsets, reliable internet, and hotel living.

    For time-zone offsets, if you try to maintain a US schedule, it is difficult from halfway around the world. Your body will naturally want to be awake during the day. For example, when I was in Thailand and Cambodia for 6 weeks, I was working from 10pm – 6am local time, and I always needed a nap or two in the middle of the night. Most of the interesting stuff in Thailand occurred during the day, so I found myself not sleeping very much. If you know there’s a month when you’ll have a lot of work that requires overlap with the US, perhaps that’s a month to spend in South America, etc.

    While internet connectivity seems reliable, Skype and other services can be somewhat hit or miss, even from the best hotels, and unfortunately sometimes at just the moment you need it most. This is particularly bad during US business hours, meaning there’s far more traffic across the ocean during hours when people in Asia are using these services to communicate with Americans. Sometimes the mobile networks are better than hotels, so I would usually have a few backup plans ready as well.

    Finally, I much preferred my stays in apartments or guest houses over large chain hotels. This allowed me to stay in more interesting neighborhoods, meet more locals, etc. Also, staying in hotels all the time made me feel like everything I needed to do was going to cost me Western hotel rates (laundry, meals, internet, etc.). While I’m sure you’ll find great deals and earn plenty of points, I would recommend mixing it up a bit with something from Airbnb or comparable services, to get some variety.

    Enjoy your journey… my travels were for about 2.5 years, after my first marriage ended, and when I returned as a much different and refreshed person, and met my amazing wife a few months later.

  91. Park Hyatt Chennai is a nice cozy property with just about 200 rooms compared to the Hyatt Regency which is much bigger and busier! Whenever you decide to come for a stay at Park Hyatt Chennai drop me a line would love to catch up with you as I am resident of Chennai. 🙂

  92. Based on the benefits we got during award stays on our travels, I suggest you spend some money with Hilton Hotels, even though their redemptions are expensive.

    My wife and I really enjoyed the room upgrades and amazing free breakfasts we received at the Doubletree in Kuala Lumpur (for only 10k/night) and the Conrad Cotai in Macau.

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