Why I Travel The Way I Do

Every so often I think it makes sense to go back and explain the basic “mission” of the blog, as I see it. I’ve been writing OMAAT for over eight years, and traffic growth over the years has been (and continues to be) beyond my wildest dreams, with well over 100% growth year over year.

Google-Analytics

The site gets well over a million unique visitors per month, and that’s something I’m outrageously grateful for. Given the number of new readers, I therefore think it’s worth sometimes reminding people of what I do and why I do it.

In September 2014 I wrote a post entitled “What Is A Travel Blogger?” The point was to talk about what really constitutes a travel blogger, and whether being a travel blogger requires focusing on the destination. So if you haven’t read that post, perhaps go back and read it, as it’s a useful starting point.

Reader Jared left the following comment on a post I wrote a couple of days ago about the worst airline lounge I’ve ever been to:

You need to spend less time in lounges, airports and aircraft and actually see the world. I am not that much older than you, and I find your activity useful to many of us who are looking for a bargain upgrade or trip, but you are missing out on so much more that you could be gaining from actually traveling the world and experiencing the cultures around the world.

I have a thick skin, and I’m pretty sure “people telling you how to live your life” is part of the job description of being a blogger. I assume Jared’s intentions are good (I have no reason not to), and I appreciate what he’s saying. I think it’s also a good opportunity to address such comments once again remind people of what I do and why I do it.

All the time I get emails from readers asking for tips on becoming a travel blogger. There are thousands of travel blogs out there, all with different goals. Plenty of people have travel blogs solely for the purpose of keeping their family and friends updated on their travels, which is great. So to me success isn’t “measured” in numbers.

But for those looking to grow their readership, I think it ultimately comes down to having unique content and a unique viewpoint, being consistent/not getting discouraged, and blogging for the right reasons. It was years before I made a dime off the blog, and I’d certainly continue to write it even if I didn’t earn a dime through it ever again. It’s my “baby.”

But I think there’s something lost with the above perspective about spending “less time in lounges, airports, and aircraft.” The issue is that spending time in lounges, airports, and aircraft is my job. If someone else goes on a “business trip,” they’re not told “you need to spend less time working and more time seeing the world.” But I get why the standard is different for people like me, so I figured I’d address it.

It’s important to pick out a niche when you’re starting a blog, and for me that niche is the journey, and not the destination. And I’m not sheepish about admitting that.

Why? Well, for one, I’m passionate about airlines, airplanes, etc. I’m passionate about destinations as well, but I don’t feel like there’s as much value I can add there.

If you want to know what to do at a destination, there are a million and one amazing resources on the internet, many of which will contain much more insider’s knowledge than anyone visiting for the first (or fifth) time will have. Nowadays I rely on this blog to make a living as well, so while it’s my passion, it’s also my source of income. I could never compete in the destination “space” (not that I’d want to anyway). Because I truly don’t think you can be an expert on all (or even most… or even a useful number of) destinations.

Airlines are a different story, though. There are only so many products out there, and when you’ve tried enough you can form useful perspectives, which adds value for people (I think). And thanks to the wonders of Google, when you search for reviews of many first & business class products, you’ll find that sometimes my reviews come up towards the top, which is awesome (because it brings people to the site, and helps continued growth).

But here’s the thing — while I open up a lot about my life on the blog, my life isn’t exclusively what you see on the blog. I do sightsee when I’m traveling, it’s simply an aspect of my life I choose not to document too heavily. Why?

  • Since I live in hotels and on planes, I spend a good chunk of my life documenting everything I do. As much as it’s what I’m passionate about, travel isn’t really a “vacation” for me. By putting down my camera and my notepad when I’m sightseeing, I can actually unwind and relax.
  • I’m already behind on trip reports. I spend almost every waking hour where I’m not sightseeing working on the blog, and I realize it seems like I’m always behind on trip reports. I’d rather have my focus be getting out the posts in a timely manner where I feel I can add value, rather than focusing that time on destinations and getting even further behind.
  • While it would be nice to supplementally write about what I’m doing at the destination, the time I’d spend doing that would (ironically) take directly out of the time I have to actually see places. When I’m traveling I’m not spending all day sightseeing. I’m usually working most of the time, maybe walk around for an hour or two, and then have a local meal. But I’m also incredibly fortunate, because I get to do that on a consistent basis, while others get maybe two weeks per year of vacation. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Much of my time traveling is spent with this view…

Hotel-Wifi

…or when I’m lucky, this view. 😉

Wifi

Bottom line

Hopefully that provides some insight into why most of my writing revolves around the journey rather than the destination. For destinations and activities, TripAdvisor is awesome, as it gives you the perspective of hundreds of reviews. Beyond that, there are plenty of excellent travel guides out there, written by local experts. I’ll never be able to compete with them, so instead I choose to write in an area where I feel I can add a lot of value.

While my life isn’t sightseeing 24/7/365, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks to you guys for all the support over the years.

Comments

  1. At first I had they same thoughts about Ben and him not getting out to “explore”, but after reading his blog, understanding his passion for the journey, gaining much valuable insight from the blog, I fully understand and support what he is doing. While i am much more of a destination person myself, I value this blog as a great resource to make the journey part of my trip better.

  2. Your reviews of product, service and amenities are the best in class for international business travelers like me. Keep up the good work.

  3. I think the blog focus is just right, it’s more useful to US users in terms of points and mile collection, but that’s because it easier to collect miles in the US much more difficult in the UK to obtain larges balances without actual butt in seat miles.

    I’m primarily London based and my loyalty is split between BA and Emirates. I don’t really use airlines outside of those two. The exception being when I see a product you’ve reviewed and being a plane geek decide to give it a try myself.

    However, a suggestion, what about adding Jermyn from flyertalk as a guest trip reporter. I love reading his reports over at FT (plus he’s a bit hot so that’s always a bonus). Might be worth at look at a gopro he gets some great wide cabin / hotel room shots, those would be a good addition to your trip reports as well.

  4. Your’re right Ben, but I like that you are now focussing on new Airline products. You noticed that even tough EK, CX, LH Trip Reports are still cool, but don’t add much value to long-Time readers. You don’t Need to answer To my question as it’s your private live, but why You Never did one of Those Great Trips with Your whole Family? I Know that there aren’t 4-5 F seats Open at the Same Time, but Splitting Up in C/F wouldn’t be such a problem. Grüße aus Deutschland

  5. I think the reason this blog is so successful is because you are an expert in your field, and yes as a result your output has “value”. Stick with doing what you do. You are bang on about not diversifying into general “tourism”.

  6. Just love your blog. Have been following you fly around the world for a few years now and will continue to do so. Your life makes me jealous but I also aspire to it. I cannot leave my job but I do aspire to travel like you one day when I have some $$ and points saved! As you call it.. I am saving “one mile at a time” 🙂 Thanks to you I have made informed decisions on many of my recent trips.
    So thanks a lot Lucky and everyone who posts on this blog! Keep doing what you do n more 🙂

  7. I saw that comment from Jared, and I thought “he’s a newbie and doesn’t get it yet.” But having lots of newbies is good for you, right? Your blog is great at fulfilling the mission you set out to achieve. I always look to your advice on what product to book when there is a choice. Thanks!

  8. One of the most interesting blogs going. It has directly influenced my travelling for the better! I now utilise my miles way more effectively than before and spend more time in J and less at the back of the bus. Your trip reports are always an interesting read and I particularly appreciate your plans to try a wider variety of airlines this year. It’s the less well known airlines that have more interesting stories to tell.

  9. I really value this blogs focus, keep up the good work!

    Also as a long time reader (I started in 2010) I appreciate the fact that you continue to respond in a very thoughtful manner to the occasional complex award inquiry that I shoot your way despite the fact that you probably receive a huge number of questions every day

  10. Hey Ben,

    I’m new to your blog and think it’s great – I love reading it in my free time and learning about some of the amazing airline products out there, however, the one thing which I would like to see change about your blog is that you review more business class products. I love reading about many of the first class products you review but I think you need to vary this with a mix of other products, for example reviewing business class and maybe occasionally even premium economy. As an example I don’t think that you have ever reviewed Emirates A380 Business Class which is a huge and popular service. I am not trying to be critical but just saying that this might be appealing to some readers! Keep doing what your doing but just some constructive criticism!

  11. Catch up on the trip reports – they’re the most interesting and value add thing here.

    Tiff’s A380 BA clued me in to the tasting menu.

    I can get the rest of the ‘news’ from 10 other Boarding Area sources.

  12. Ben I have been reading the blog for a year now and I really enjoy it. I don’t fly very often now but I did as an Army officer for 21yrs. I have been all over the world on various airlines but those days are past. I use the blog for information about flying as I do travel to see my sons in Tx. I live near Seattle. I told my son the other day you realize Ben doesn’t have a place to hang his hat? I said it takes a special person to do that. I don’t criticize people based on what they do personally or professionally. You have given me a rare insight into the world of upgrades, first class, bus class etc. I like your reviews about the various carriers and I don’t care how many times you have reviewed them. I would remind those that love to harangue you that there are very view places on the internet where one can get this type and quality of information. Drive on Ben !

  13. As usual, your reasoning is sound. Purely from a voyeristic standpoint, I’d love to see at least a brief rehash of non-flight/hotel/lounge activities. Generally, I totally agree with your perspective, in that there are so many other resources for places like London, Dubai, Singapore, etc. On the other hand, some of your destinations, like your recent trip to Changsha, where coverage, especially from trusted sources, is very thin. For those locales, even a little bit of additional coverage would be welcomed. Just my 2¢…love what you do. Keep it up!

  14. Even if your points weren’t all valid (which they are) it’s important to remember how much your average traveler is afflicted with “YDIW syndrome.” Virtually every traveler (myself included) sometimes condescends to other travelers with some variation of You’re Doing It Wrong. I feel that way about All-Inclusive Resorts, until I tell myself that different people want different things and that’s okay, etc.

    So don’t listen. You’re a terrific blogger, and you do what you do better than virtually anyone. How many can say that?

  15. I agree with most of the other people here – I like the the specificity of your blog. It’s very easy to find other region specific bloggers or even cool sites like Atlas Obscura for out of the way things to see. I don’t expect OMAAT to be my one stop for all things travel related and not even points related. The web is awesome, my feedly feed is filled with world experts on every niche, from drones to econ to science and yes travel too. I love when experts talk about what they are best at and I’ll find other experts to fill in the gaps.

  16. Ben:

    I’m a new reader (just started last month!) – I found your blog because I’ve just booked my bucket list flight (first class to Australia), and wanted to read reviews of the first class experience. Now, I’m hooked, and want to start earning more miles, so that I can do more trips – I’ve discovered through reading your blog just in the past two weeks, that taking a first class trans-Pacific flight doesn’t have to be just a one time thing, and for that I thank you.

    Keep up the good work! I look forward to more trip reports.

  17. Given your PointsPro business, more posts on the redemption process would be great, especially when done by Tiffany because she has the time to do a deep dive on the topic.

  18. I love this article, and I identify with it so much as well! My passion and interest too has always been the journey, less so the destination. I’ve always had to travel in economy before, and for someone who used to pay $1,500 for economy flights home to India, you and your team have shown me how I can pay that amount (and maybe a bit more) to fly in business! Keep doing what you do; like others have said, your trip reports are unparalleled in quality and information. But more importantly, your tips and information have shown me that haters don’t need to hate! They can do exactly what you do if they wanted to! Congrats and enjoy your success!

  19. You are in an interesting position and one that is somewhat tough to categorize. This can leave people confused, jealous, frustrated, or angry. This is compounded by what you choose to share as well. Even people that have followed you for the life of the blog don’t know how you “really” travel. We only know what you choose to put out there, which honestly is only a small part of your life. I imagine you really do experience a lot more than you choose to post.

    You don’t fit into the two common most common categories, those being traveler or tourist.

    You aren’t a traveler because you don’t really experience/write about local cultures, food, and experiences unique and authentic to the places you visit. Your blog is about reviewing higher end products, which by their nature, isolate you from the cultures and places you are visiting.

    You aren’t really a tourist, although you lean toward that category, because your trips aren’t about the isolated relaxation as much as they are reviewing products. But you lean that way as your experiences never seem to include a taste of the soul of a place.

    This is all a very pretentious argument though, and one I am guilty of. Travelers, right or wrong, have always viewed themselves as superior to the tourist. There is certainly more street cred and hip-ness to travelers and a stigma surrounding the luxury/cruise/inclusive traveler. The two sides will likely never come to an agreement.

    So in the end are you a journalist, an airline aficionado, or a 4 star+ hotel reviewer? Is it a job or a hobby?

    I find your flight info very valuable as I enjoy comfortable flights but find the hotel info of far less useful. While I occasionally find myself exasperated that you isolate yourself from the indigenous cultures, foods, and experiences, I just remind myself your blog isn’t about those things and you could very well be experiencing more than you share. I do appreciate the time you spend to plan and write the posts and find the info on airlines valuable.

  20. Lucky, agree that when u started out, u need to find a niche, n u have found it n done very well.

    Adding guest bloggers was another brilliant idea, though u have to be selective. Tiffany is an excellent guest blogger, or maybe i can even say a very good no.2 blogger here, now that u hv expanded due to high viewership.

    Ideas on adding destination write-ups on ur blog r not bad ideas, if u can find suitable guest bloggers. Agree that for yourself, u shld not be writing these.

    Tiffany does write interesting things on destinations that is truly appreciated.

    Hopefully u can find someone to add the destinations dimension on a regular basis as well.

  21. The blog is called “One Mile at a Time” — not “One Attraction at a Time.” So I don’t understand how people get so confused about why there isn’t sightseeing content.

    I also think it’s a testament to your and your staff’s writing and production skills. People want more posts about sightseeing, attractions and whatever — but want them in the OMAAT style because it’s so good.

    But, yeah, keep fighting the good fight, Ben and OMAAT crew. For people who need reviews and and ideas of things other than hotels, lounges and airlines, there is a fantastic site called “Google.com.” Type in what you want to read and press “search.” Check it out!

  22. @Elteetrav

    Actually, you may find that Jared (that’s not his real name) (a person I am familiar with professionally and personally) is anything but a “newbie” and most of the readers here actually come across his work daily (i.e. he is a regular photographer and writer for a well known magazine with a yellow frame around its cover-page, a combustion expert & consultant for a large turbo-fan company in his spare time, & runs his own luxury aviation charter company in his spare spare time). Considering that he is not that much older than Ben, it’s quite an achievement, especially when his travels take him well over 900000 miles a year – and I would not be scared of saying that he has probably one of the most well-traveled individuals around here with accomplishments such as ascent of Everest.

    I kinda see his point – there’s just too many such travel and points blogs around the internet now a days that it’s becoming saturated – I just follow all of them since it helps my business and I do not have a particular favorite over the other; I think the other miles&luxury travel blogs are equally comparable to this one. I do believe that all businesses need to evolve and diversify, so adding some details on the actual experience in a location may help significantly to raise further interest in this blog, since ppl are always curious to learn of a destination from another point of view, which was his point I am sure. However @Jared man, you need to be less blunt like you are in real life (I know you have no time to waste in your life and as such you are directly to the point, but man, be a little more diplomatic and less an ass…).

    Oh, and I forgot, god damn call me!!!! I need an aircraft next week with real caviar.

  23. Ben, you’re obviously doing something (actually, a major ton) right in focusing on “the journey” part of traveling. (Wife and) I booked first class tickets to Australia later this year, which would have been difficult or impossible without the valuable award travel tips/insights from this site. I’m sure lots of folks are envious of all the first class flying you do, yet I know that it’s also a job you have to shoot/record/blog on a diligent basis. And the various time zones you pass through with such frequency can take their toll, so is best left to young pros like yourself. You’re an ace, keep it going and happy contrails.

  24. Great post Ben. After following you for a couple years, I’m now brainwashed into thinking about the trip door to door, and looking forward to a 15 Hr flight in F! Everyone complains about not having enough hours in the day. You just have a unique situation that’s hard for the rest of us to get our heads around. Get out and enjoy a bit of every day.

  25. Congrats on the success of your blog! I’ve been reading for a few years now and have learned a lot thanks to you and your team. I never thought of boardingarea as a travel blogger site, but rather, more a miles/points blogger site. Yours is more specific to premium cabin redemptions though, especially with oneworld since you’re a self-confessed AA fanboy. 😉 One thing I appreciate about your blog versus others on here or TPG is that you actually respond back or answer readers’ questions in the comments section or in the Ask Lucky area. Thank you for that.
    As for new airlines this year, good luck and enjoy!

  26. Paying the bills has to be the number one priority Lucky.

    I for one am massively grateful for what you and other bloggers do. Never in a million years did I think I would fly anything other than economy but this year my girlfriend and I are flying to Vegas in business class for my 30th birthday. This is all thanks to being informed of the advantages of collecting miles.

    Obviously it’s still all about the destination but it’s nice to start the journey with a glass of champagne and a fully flat bed : )

  27. I really only read OMAAT for entertainment and have no other expectations . I enjoy the ‘Lucky ‘ perspective even though I do not want to do most of these things myself . Lucky is a very likable guy and I enjoy his reflections .
    Keep doing it your way Lucky!

  28. The fact that you focus on the flights is exactly why I come to this blog. I have often read your trip report, then gone elsewhere to read up on what to see and do at the destination.

    I think you have it right Ben – focus on the niche offered by your blog.

  29. Yeah but why should we read your blog over the “points guy”? He got to review the EY residence at least! What makes your blog any better than his of this “niche”?

  30. Exactly what I was saying, reflecting Carl above. Diversification and evolution are keys to a growing business; Lucky may have increased readership, but that does not necessarily capture his true potential. I am not sure that this is a niche site, especially compared to some interesting perspectives out there from TPG, UPGRD, theluxurytravelexpert (my favorite) and many more. Just type in luxury travel airline reports or something of the sort, and you will obtain hundreds of links. So once again, although I think Jared was blunt, his comments should be considered since he is a fairly successful businessman and professional himself.

  31. @ Ben

    Just do what you like – it’s your profession. While I actually agree with Jared’s pov in that it may add more value to your site as a complete door-to-door package to some interesting destinations around the world, how you grow your business is your choice.

    Personally, OMAAT is only a source of entertainment for me, and not really a source for information since my family and I have the luxury of owning our own jet. My wife and I travel for leisure for 6 months of every year and reading travel magazines or blogs (such as yours) helps pass the time when I am waiting for her. I enjoy the less structured and casual style of your blogs, compared to some established edited publications. Just keep thinking of the future and where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, etc.

  32. Carl — because Lucky writes 5 articles per day, not 5 per week? The Points Guy blog is really two separate blogs:

    A) A lifestyle blog about the glam doings of Brian Kelly and
    B) A second-rate points blog that generates filler content and reposts information others have written on earlier.

  33. @AlexRG
    You need to modify your WP site’s source code and put in an analytic code in order to track visitors

  34. Here’s the part you are missing, and it’s a big one. People are not just coming to your blog to read your reviews. They are coming to read YOU. You lead a fascinating life that most people can only dream of. As we read of your adventures week after week, we feel like we get to know you, and we are naturally curious about what you do when you’re not aboard an airplane or inside an airport. I would argue that a big part of your success is not just as Lucky the reviewer, but as Lucky the celebrity. No one expects you to “compete” with the other professional travel writers of the world on destination content. Clearly, that ground is covered. But there is only one Lucky, with your unique perspective, and I for one enjoy hearing about those experiences you do get to have when you’re able to step out of the hotel for a bit. So maybe consider skipping another in-flight review if you found it to be largely more of the same as past reviews, and instead devote a little time to writing about a few of your more interesting experiences on the ground. It may not end up at the top of the search results, but I think it will further cement the loyalty of those who follow your every post.

  35. Truth be told, as a reader I’m glad that you put out as many posts and as often as you do. But as a blogger, I’d rather set myself a post limit and don’t get so stressed out. That’s what’s good about being your own boss, I think.
    But to each his own and your success proves you right.

  36. Lucky I read your blog religiously multiple times every day. A tip I would have for you to catch up on trip reports is not to do these ‘my initial thoughts of xxx’ posts that then say ‘a full trip report is to come’. They both waste your time duplicating what will be in the trip report and I’ve observed you never actually get to do the full trip report anyway?

  37. Helpful post, especially for your new readers. For those of us who have been around for a while, I would take what might appear to be criticism as a compliment as it in fact validates the connection you have established between yourself and the reader. So, sometimes the harshest of criticisms is in fact a valentine.

    The fact is that, while your most loyal readers are motivated by the blogs concrete practicality as a useful guide, few people either share or can even begin to understand the fact that – in addition to creating a successful (measured in revenue) business – you actually enjoy doing what you do and living the life of a nomad. Since you, yourself, have written many times that at some point your personal goal is to settle down with a family and a dog, it is natural for your readers to wonder if in terms of achieving that goal, you haven’t created a monster, which is so financially remunerative, you are trapped and can’t give it up.

  38. @ Pavlov – If you really believe all “miles and luxury travel blogs” are equal, see James K.’s comment. As far as TPG is concerned, James K. hit the nail right on its head. As for reader Jared, his credentials may be impressive, but saying that we should all listen to him because he climbed Mt. Everest just makes Jared’s travel experiences appear even less relevant to the average reader.

  39. I’ve only just started reading your blog but I enjoy seeing a different perspective on traveling as well as the useful pointer or hundred. Clearly you put a lot of thought and effort in to all the unique content. Keep up the good work and keep enjoying the journey!

  40. I read all the major travel blogs daily, and yours is unequivocally the most useful and the most entertaining in my opinion. The way you travel weekly I can only manage once, maybe twice a year if I’m lucky (no pun intended). To make sure my trips are as memorable as possible I scour over your past reviews and guidance, so I hope you know that the hard work you put in is greatly appreciated.

    You also expose a personal side of yourself in your entries which really makes shine among your competitors which seem to be more concerned with slinging CSPs rather than offering a quality product.

    Keep up the great work!

  41. @james K – I thought your 2 point summation of TPG was spot on. And it made me realize why I no longer visit that blog on a daily basis, and instead gravitate to this one. Ben has stayed true to his mission, and the readership proves that out. Many businesses (including blogs) start to falter when they forget their roots.

  42. Der Weg ist das Ziel! 🙂

    I’m reading your blog for 3-4 years now, everyday, hitting your site maybe 10 times, and it’s the way you travel why I like it so much. I just can identify with your love to airplanes and airports and I think most or many readers feel the same way. We enjoy flying 12h to Tokyo, stay for 1-2 nights and fly back home 😉
    I remember, when I started reading your blog, you were answering to EVERY comment or question on the site, no matter what it was. It is a little bit sad that this not possible anymore, but I totally get it with the growth here.
    Anyway, keep up your good work!

  43. How is it not obvious that this is your business? I have a blog and it’s a lot of work and it’s a zero in terms of revenue. It’s not miles and points focused since I don’t need to reinvent the wheel and could never compete with you guys. I have been a reader for a few years though and I recently read your Rolling Stones article and found it quite fascinating.

  44. @chancer

    I am sorry to say that as far as novelty is concerned, there is not much to set these blogs apart. All of these blogs have some positives, some negatives and stylistic differences, but objectively, the content and conclusions on trip reports are often the same (that includes other blogs like the “The Luxury Travel Expert.”). Other than that, 90% of the offerings on all of these blogs are basically taken from airline websites, adverts, credit card company news, etc – much like a RSS feed. I guess, at best, they provide a convenient collection of travel offerings in one location.

    If we want to talk about relevance, consider the fact that there is a growing young population who are interested in a package deal of “luxury travel”, miles and points accrual, and traveling to unique and adventurous destinations and would love to hear about it from the perspective of a young person their age. There is a reason why the readership for some established culture and adventure blogs exceed 10 million per month (10 x the readership reported here) – this is exactly why I think sites on travels to unique locations and cultures are doing especially well in the current climate where young ppl are looking for a budget-conscious, yet comfortable journey to an adventurous travel destination.

    As far as I am concerned, these luxury travel blogs provide me with the news on various airlines, which I can research further for deciding on share trading. Diversifying the business is never a bad idea, even if it disrupts the habits of old clientele but can encourage many new customers.

  45. @ Pavlov – Lucky, Tiffany, et al. already have a niche — extremely detailed, firsthand reviews of flights, hotels, and resorts that can be had for points and miles. While I understand there is an urgent rush for businesses to appeal to millennials, what’s great about OMAAT is that Lucky’s age is irrelevant to readers. Anyone can appreciate honest reviews that are illustrated by so many photos that it’s a bandwidth killer. The day this blog puts on its hipster creds to embrace all the millennials out there, I will happily return to frying my brain on TPG’s regurgitated 10 things to do in wherever posts.

  46. Agree, though in leveling with his readers, it would be more transparent for Ben to explain that he is banned from flying on United Airlines so the lack of his reviews of their products are a major deficiency.

  47. I’ve been following you for about five years now and have learned so much that I can’t thank you enough!
    So many trips that would never have been possible without first having read your blog. Growth is great, but please don’t lose your focus. The renewed emphasis on testing “new” products this year has been great. Keep doing what you are best at!

  48. A great mission statement and exactly the reason I read your blog.

    Thank you for continuing great posts / reports.

  49. Love your blog Ben. Keeps the joy of flying of flying alive even though I usually end up in 28E on a AS 737-800 with a screaming kid in 29, D,E and F.

    Salute!

  50. +1 Stephen and Barry. The minute this blog starts reviewing destinations, I’m done. This is my favorite blog, but that’s because I KNOW how to get info on destinations, but this is the best site for first class travel and hotels one can get with points. THAT’S what I care about. (And Jared and the Millennials can have Everest, locals, and cultural immersion. I’ll be in my suite enjoying my champagne and caviar. To each his own.)
    Unfortunately, I don’t guess I’ll ever know what Lucky sees in Hong Kong. (But GETTING there was a blast, and my hotel suite was amazing.)

  51. Keep on doing what you do and how you do it, it’s all good…… if I didn’t like or didn’t ‘get’ it or wouldn’t be able to make use of it for my own travels I sure wouldn’t follow your blog!! As far as I’m concerned you earn and deserve every click.

  52. I when I first started reading you a few years ago, I wondered what type of job you had that would take you to all these different places on such a tight schedule. And then of course, after a few weeks I realized what the real “job” was! Don’t change anything – keep doing what you do. You’re the best!

  53. @ Stephan, Barry: thumbs up!

    However, I must disclose that I am pretty sure I have met “Jared” before and he is a wonderful, informative and talented young man in his late 20s.

    @mbh, “Jared” prolly enjoys caviar, champagne, and first class treatment on more flight than any of us (I met him in Geneva in the Swiss First Lounge where he was handling two suitcases full of – I kid you not – camera gear and notebooks, when his personal pilot came to inform him that his flight was ready for departure and he gave me a “lift” on board something called a SJ30 since my flight Chicago was delayed by four hours – a very kind gesture on his part since I was traveling with my young boy, who was not well and also because he had only overheard the lounge concierge come and inform me of the delay and ask how my son was). And yes, this was just one of his fleet of business jets that he runs. Little did I know that there were only five ppl on this flight with my son and I being the fourth and fifth passengers respectively; the pilot, “Jared” as the co-pilot, and a FA… Actually, a blog by him on luxury travel would be spectacular…just so that we can swoon over what the upper 1% can experience daily… which, let’s face it, many of us do through Ben’s travels too! 🙂

    All I remember was that he was very distant, not in a snobbish way, but clearly used to being out there in the world… and very absorbed in his work… kinda religiously so – he was completing an article and compiling images for a magazine… but very kind and even offered his personal room for my son and myself to rest in even though he had just finished a two week expedition from Mont Blanc and I could tell he was dead tired…

    So…I would definitely not classify him as a classic “millennial,” who thinks that they are self-entitled to everything….

  54. @Samantha

    Lol – That was definitely “Jared.” Sounds just like him with cameras, notebooks, pencils and all; Just like Lucky here, he loves working. Unlike Lucky, he does love traveling to the remotest parts of the world so that he can share his findings with others and so that others don’t have to go there and destroy the natural habitat. The engineering and the biz jet biz are just “side” business for him – which are absurd considering he is thirty years younger than me and in competition with me in the luxury chartered airline biz…

    He is quiet but direct when he opens his mouth, probably because he spends most of his time away from ppl or with indigenous tribes. We call him Sean O’Connell (from the Secret Life of Walter Mitty). Ironically, Lucky and he are not so different; they spend their lives away from home and are always on the prowl for the next best thing trying ways to connect ppl in comfort. In addition,both have a thick skin so rarely do criticisms get to them; I don’t think he would have even responded if he was in a similar position to Lucky here – partially because of no time and partially cause criticism in the media industry is part of the game.

    @Lucky: Come to think of it, you could have a very valuable and definitely an unique blogger in your team with his addition; a guy who goes to the ends of the world that less than 0.00001% of ppl experience, yet someone who experiences and provides luxury travel (when not in the middle of some god forsaken desert or wasteland) that many of us only dream of. And yes, much to all our liking, he serves real Sturgeon caviar from environmentally conscious sources and vintage champagnes on his flights (I know you love both) to his customers.

    At the end of the day, both of you operate in very different niche areas (i can’t think of anyone else who is a competitor to him with the combination of his travels and work for Nat Geo, luxury an airline business and acting as an engineering consultant for the big three engine mfgs..), although there are several competitors to your site, regardless of which the public prefers. But, the two of you undeniably share similar passions for aviation (he can identify aircraft from their jet-stream noise….total nerd)… so I find it funny that of all the criticisms you must get about your blog, it is his that you picked to highlight an article on 😉 If anything, you are giving him free publicity since he does go by the name of “Jared” outside of his personal world.

  55. Except, in terms of insight and perspective one reads The New York Times while the other prefers The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

  56. +1 to Daniel Palangio

    My husband and I also travel on our jet and don’t find this blog especially helpful, but it is fun to read the “less” structured and “casual” articles here – well, at least for me; my husband is a hardcore fan of Elite Traveler.

    @Ben: As long as you are enjoying and have enough cash in the bank to support your lifestyle, go on and just do it.

    @Jared: Would love it if you started a blog of your own – I understand you write for NatGeo, but would be nice if we could connect with you.I would definitely be an immediate fan and it would help us to plan our travels since going to the usual places are becoming old….just like us.

  57. @ Samantha Stuart @ Timothy Dalton_Tokyo (and @Pavlov) – Thanks for giving us everything on Jared short of posting his actual resume. BTW you all sound like the same person, unless the three of you love writing “ppl” all the time.

  58. “to me success isn’t ‘measured’ in numbers”…

    Says the blogger who begins the post with a description of exactly what he thinks his growth in numbers is (complete with a carefully constructed chart – skewed axis notwithstanding) and why we should then read on.

    Lucky, your blog is interesting, but accept your ego for your own sake – I believe your writing will improve

  59. @Stuart

    ROFL – next time I am gonna ask Jared if he has heard of the real housewives…

    You are right, he is the NYT type and his favorite magazine (aside from NG) is Times.

    I am pretty sure he doesn’t own a TV in his house (albeit he only spends like 2-3 weeks in total there during a year). He is much more the reading, listening to music, and cooking type, on his week-to-month long expeditions as well as during his “free” time. He owns a satellite phone for business purposes during his remote travels and in case of emergencies, but that’s pretty much the extent of his electronic gadgets, aside from a laptop that he has for typing up all his notes after his journeys and his biz jets.

    It would be a nice & different perspective, don’t you think? I mean many of us come to read this blog to be awed. I think it would be a killer team.

  60. @chancer,

    haha – that’s the best comment i have read on this blog yet. however, just a little paranoid my friend; i think most “ppl” use the term “ppl” now a days on blogs and chat sites – i know i always abbreviate people as ppl. so hmm…idk…take a chill pill?

    I am intrigued by Jared…

    @ Lucky: next time, just don’t mention the name of the poster so the blog doesn’t become about him… you are probably giving him more publicity unknowingly…

  61. Personally, I am curious to see what Jared has to say. I am a blogger and I don’t think criticism is to be taken so seriously – it’s just criticism and when you put yourself out there, you are bound to receive some.

    I find it funnier to see all the die hard supporters here convening for Lucky’s defense…when the guy whose comment instigated all of this isn’t even around….

    @chancer: you sound a bit too invested in this. Same goes for all you Jared supporters. If he doesn’t reveal his name, he probably doesn’t want to reveal his life either – he is not Lucky!

  62. Ben, I think your focus is correct. There are many great travel blogs that focus on the destination. Your blog is #1 when it comes to the journey. The reason is original writing by you (rather than outsourcing stories – see TPG). Why change that?

  63. Don’t know what the big deal is – so someone doesn’t like the blog. I find Lucky’s blog to be a waste of time and quite irrelevant to me, but I like Tiff’s posts and that’s why I come here. That’s my opinion since I have never had any difficulty managing the miles/points game. Lucky, I don’t understand why you had to use a comment from one of your blog readers to start off with the article. Your point could have just been easily made without mentioning this Jared character. He appears to provide good information of aviation technology and travels based on some posts that I have read in other articles. There is also little merit in defending this Jared, who clearly couldn’t care less.

    @chancer, you remind me of my neighbor who is a former soldier and the poor soul is always under the impression that someone is out there to get him.

  64. Lucky, since you are not interested in the destinations, per se, then invite someone who has such immense experiences both in popular and remote destinations to compliment your blog. Don’t overlook or rule it out. There are so many airplanes that you can cover. But there are countless different, if not opposite, cultures of the world to learn and familiarize with. People in their 20s tend to indulge themselves in the know-it all mentality. I cannot find any travel blogger on or outside this forum truly demonstrates proficient knowledge of different cultures, people and religions of the world. But I like reading comments from your overseas readers who share their knowledge and input and that is what captivates me the most. It seems that you somewhat flaunts what you have, which creates jealousy and envy from others, be sure to have long term plans for a soft landing once this passion/opportunity is no longer at its climax.

  65. @globetrotter

    Best comment I have read so far.

    @ Lucky: Why not get someone with a slightly different passion to complement your blog? It would be a very interesting website and successful business model. No one expects you to deviate from what you do, but you can incorporate someone else to fill a gap, which is clearly visible here (hence you feel compelled to remind us of your model every now and then). This Jared guy seems very intriguing, but considering the fact that he comments once in a while only (and considering his already loaded life based on his loyal supporters), his availability probably isn’t well-suited to your posting frequency. You shouldn’t have any difficulty connecting to other bloggers out there who travel to remote places or to exotique destinations.

  66. ooohhh…almost as exciting as the AI blog. where is LOZ?????

    Lucky, your blog is fine – but I think it’s the guest bloggers who are more interesting to me. It’s not difficult to find blogs with airline reviews and topics on miles and points. I actually prefer some of the video trip reports that others provide more than the written reports that you make.

    Personally, you should feel proud that a guy from NatGeo even bothers visiting your blog…

    I support globetrotter’s and John’s comments above.

  67. @ Vikas @ DT – If everyone took a “chill pill” and just played lurker, there would be no comments section on this blog worth reading. Believe whatever you wish. I find it amusing that being a little suspcious about comments anonymously posted on the internet means that someone is “too invested.” Three long posts, written in a similar style, all with a hard sell to either hire this guy or change the blog completely? As I said, believe whatever you wish.

  68. Ben – I find the value of yours and Gary’s blog is getting hot tips, such as when there is a good airfare deal (BA’s J sale in Oct) or release of premium rewards (like AA J/F recently or Etihad releasing 6 F seats per flight). I am likely not going to stay at most of the hotels that you do nor travel on most of the foreign airlines that you do – so those reviews are of less interest.

    If you don’t have time to follow all the threads on FlyerTalk and InsiderFlyer (formerly MilePoint) your blog provides a quick summary of those hot deals. That is why I follow the blog.

    You and Gary established yourselves at MilePoint’s FTUs and subsequently gained notoriety with USAToday articles and later magazine articles. It is ironic that MIlePoint / InsideFlyer started BoardingArea Blogs – but the bloggers pretty much put MilePoint out of business and InsiderFlyer status is TBD.

    I like being about to post on the blog – so there is a few days of discussion on the topic that then ends. Much easier to follow than 100 page threads in a forum.

    You and Gary are much more knowledgeable than the so called professional travel advisers out there – like Peter Greenberg. You should migrate to that type of job – a travel adviser with the major TV networks.

  69. @chancer – hmmm…from what I see, the guys know each other and are customers of this Jared guy – and they seem to be conversing with each other (maybe they know each other). However, I doubt they are trying to :sell him” – why would a guy who is clearly more affluent and probably from a well-off family background care to join this blog????? I don’t see your logic. Seems like they are just fans of his and are defending his credentials much like you are as Ben’s knight.

    Similarly, why would Ben care what three ppl have to say?? He probably has ideas on what he wants to do with his blog and his own business. I doubt Ben needs your advise on what to do.

    Anyways, by your logic, the fifty posts before theirs are written by the same ppl in the same style – in the sense that they are short and highly supportive of Ben… oh who knows..may be that Ben’s writing all of them!!!????

  70. you do what you do Ben. There’s no right and wrong way of travelling. I keep coming back to your blog because its a refreshing read amidst the pool of the usual “if I can travel the world (and leave my job) so can you!” kind of gushing. There will always be people who will have something negative to say about what you do. I had someone do a Dr. Phil on my life and send me a long-winded email to say that there must be something missing in my personal life / relationships because I keep on travelling. The number one requirement in being a blogger: Thick skin.

  71. @ DonaldDuck – I’m sure a lot of people would love the kind of viral publicity the Rolling Stone article provided. When readers discuss their own businesses here, who Lucky should hire, and even mention airline equities in their posts, those are comments with a commercial agenda behind them.

    As for being Ben’s knight, seems like anyone who likes the blog the way it is automatically gets labeled a fanboy/girl. In truth, Lucky’s nonstop, jetset routine is as physically grueling as it is seemingly glamorous. Bottom line, it’s an unhealthy lifestyle that no one in their right mind should follow. So much for being Ben’s knight.

  72. Ben it’s always good to restate your mission statement. Yours is a niche blog and a niche product. So it makes sense not all new readers get it. Please keep on doing what you love.

  73. I will admit to just recently finding this blog and being one of the recent readers who help “grow” the hit numbers. I will also admit the places on this fine planet I would like to visit and the planes I would like to fly on vastly and hopelessly outstrip the assets available to fund such expeditions, let alone able to justify even one J or F ticket anywhere at any point in my lifetime. Hell, I have never even touched a B777 or a B737-800 or 900ER.

    So as much as I find air travel to be an astounding technological marvel of comfort and convenience, I am equally astounded to the number of people who take it for granted, as well as the number of people who waste their own time and energy complaining and arguing on subjects they either disagree with or have no interest in – can’t one simply just move on already? Is that so difficult?

    So do I vicariously live through this blog? Absolutely! Do I find this blog of tremendous service and entertainment? Equally absolutely! You lead a lifestyle I can only dream about, and I am grateful you take the time and energy to so eloquently share it with all of us. Thank you.

    In summary, by TL;DR message to you is this:

    YOU. DO. YOU.

    My only wish is that the xenophobic/racist hate comments are pruned out. Their presence only brings down the value of the other commenters who have reasonable and constructive words to contribute.

    Sidenote: I just caught you on Smithsonian’s X-Ray Mega Airport! Nice job there too!

  74. Useful blog, esp for u.s. Based people with all the credit card promotions etc, i found Tiffiny’s post on her extended family trip useful, esp as it caters for family travel which most people look for – that once in a lifetime trip to Asia etc . So going forward, these kind of detailed trip reports would offer more value. With airlines releasing less and less mileage seats and fewer new plans being developed and most of the airlines having similar seat designs, the upside looks limited, even when Emirates announce their new seating plan and seats, how many more reviews are we going to get about Emirates. But hey, its your passion and business so i’m not going to tske that away from you, you have found your calling unless you are interested in a job at IATA – let me know.

  75. It’s just a blog. It has opinions, some advise, and rehash of stuff we are all too lazy to research. It has a nice little following – kudos to the owner for building his business. Most of us cannot afford a private jet, as some of the readers here, so we strive for the next best alternative. It is ideal to keep it small anyways otherwise everyone here will suddenly struggle to find premium seats. It’s a cool site but not exactly significant and what exactly is someone expecting here? I like the entertaining comments and care less for the actual content since they are too repetitive and boring. Don’t see what all the hubhub is about. So all in all, is a blog that strives on readership and that’s all that matters. It’s not really significant based on the readership and should stay that way. I just hope this is not his only source of revenue.

  76. @chancer

    No, only you since you will respond to any and all comments. Don’t get your point – the entire blog is commercial and certainly there is no mention here of companies, etc. I also don’t think the person who made Ben to reiterate his mission cares about the Rolling Stones mag considering his credentials – for all you know he may have an article on himself or herself there too since in recent years they are searching for subjects with going to the end of the world habits. Every time a person comments on a trip report, they are essentially endorsing or preventing others from usage of that product so there is always commercial interests vested in the posts. I actually do want to meet this guy or know who it is since I’m a huge NG fan!!!!! The unexpected things that come out if Ben’s blog are what I live for. If I just wanted travel advise, I can find that anywhere.

  77. I appreciate your personal style of writing Ben, have little interest for miles or deals, the comments on your posts are half the fun and relevant content. Happy travels.

    Africa?

  78. Ha-ha comments are the best. Especially when they cause some turmoil and bring ppl out of their skins.

    @Viktor

    Flying to Namibia next week. Any particular places of interest you recommend?

  79. there’s something absolutely creepy about the two people describing “jared” and the comments have almost taken onto a story of itself.

    anyways, i appreciate your consistency and niche, as i definitely get it. is it useful to me most of the time? no (for example your goal to review as many products as possible), simply because i will never use all of them, but what you do write about is a lot more real than other ‘life style bloggers’.

    you actually have motivated me enough to start my own travel blog, like the world needs another one 🙂

  80. Hey Ben,

    I have been following you for about 5 years now. While I get what you do, I think there needs to be a clearer differentiation and a “x-factor” to your blog. It’s too much of the same old and is starting to feel stale. I was (pleasantly) surprised to learn that you decided to expand your flying experiences this year – probably the only major change in your blog over the years that I have been following your work, which benefited your work and increase in readership.

    I am not saying that your blog isn’t entertaining, but very little persuades me to recommend it to others over the last few years. This is reflected in the frequency that I actually visit your site over the last two years. If this is a hobby which pays, then go ahead; if it’s a business, then consider the future direction.

    I don’t think you have a “niche” as everyone keeps saying here, anymore. I am also not suggesting that you blog on adventure lifestyles, cultural pieces, or ultra luxury travel – there are well known blogs with high readership for those topics already and frankly, I don’t think you can compete with the well established and well funded bloggers on those topics. I also don’t want to plant any ideas, but I do hope that you think about the future – if you want this to continue in the future.

    On the plus side, I am glad to say that your writing has matured tremendously since you first began writing.

    Just another blogger, commenting on your blog. Criticisms are part of the game.

  81. @tara

    Provide some valuable feedback in your comments if you are going to post; I am surprised Ben allows such useless posts to show up. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and Ben should be glad that lots of his readers/followers are providing their insight on his work (positive or negative) because they want him to be around for years to come. Some of us love him and some of us don’t. As a business woman, I cannot only please my fans. I also need to understand how to improve my enterprise and that means reaching out to the critics – often the harshest critics.

    Your comment makes you appear as the only troll here…

  82. @Ben – I started following your blog in early 2015, when I stopped travelling for business. what got my attention was when you said that ‘one could easily collect a million miles per year’ and I was intrigued.
    I voraciously started reading and I realized that it was could get close to 600k miles but to get to 1MM it would definitely require some butt in the seat travel which I would not be able to do..
    Following your blog .. I managed to collect close to my target of 600K .. and thru your advise based on what to do and not do with AA upcoming devaluation , got myself and the family a whole bunch of trips booked in 2016, include two tickets on the A380 JFK-AUH-BOM, return business class in late August (which I cannot wait to experience).
    Waiting to see what I can now build up for 2017 as the points well has dried up 🙂
    Thanks Ben for so generously sharing your advise, and your passion !

  83. Glad you have posted this. I have found myself thinking at times “Sheesh, I love the first class cabins and luxury hotels and want to experience these. But, c’mon, experience the destination and don’t just travel to travel!” However, I can see your perspective and you are certainly free to travel in whatever way that pleases you and that you enjoy! Personally, given my perspective, I always put “hobby” re: miles and points in quotes because chasing the points is something I enjoy but I would not call it my hobby. It’s a means to an end, a way to enable my true hobby/passion for travel. Granted, the travel experience itself is a very important of my trips, but if I had to choose between economy and a great destination or enhanced cabins and fast turnarounds with little time to experience the destination, I would take the former with no hesitation. But again…people have different priorities and my blog is not my job. I suppose that is truly a hobby as well! 🙂

  84. I agree with Jared’s comment from a business growth pov (I know this is a hobby and passion for Ben, which is different and not something to argue about) – therefore, I also only visit this blog once or twice a year when I am bored to see if there is anything relevant, new or interesting (for me) that I haven’t experienced or known already. Course, my full-time preoccupation for the last 25 years has been flying to new destinations solely for the purpose of travel and exploration because I am lucky that I don’t need to work in the common sense. Ben never claimed to be an expert source on tourism, but only to provide some insight on how to fly premium classes at the lowest expense for those who need help in that area. So, if you like to travel and see destinations, there are much better websites and blogs – go visit those! If you need help figuring out how to use miles, accrue miles or compare airline products, then come here or its counterparts such as TPG, etc. Other than that, kapish!

  85. I read quite a few travel websites (I’m a fast reader) – and always pick up some pointers here and there. Like finding out (on another website) that when we flew to Singapore a while back FC on UA (on points) – that we could use the ANA FC lounge at Narita (much better than the UA lounge).

    The most important pointer I got here recently was about turning off the “pay for points” option on Amazon to avoid problems with fraudulent purchases. Turns out I had disabled this option on my Amazon account – but my husband hadn’t disabled the option on his account. So this was a good “heads up”.

    As a loyal Costco customer – I am hoping to see an article or two about my best credit card options when Costco goes from AMEX to Visa in a couple of months. And decide whether I should get a new credit card (or 2).

    IOW – you can learn more on these websites than strictly travel-related stuff.

    FWIW – our travel agent recommended this website to me. Robyn

  86. I genuinely did not see any negative intention by the original commentor’s question. I read it as a well wisher advising to stop and enjoy the locations. I did not read any ill will in his tone. I enjoyed reading this post to learn a little more about our travel however, there was no reason to feel offended or defensive about his very neutral comment.

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