How My Perception Of “Aspirational Travel” Is Shifting As I Get Older…

As I start to write this post, I’m not sure where exactly I’m trying to go with it. But here it goes anyway…

“Aspirational travel” is my goal with miles & points

I love aspirational travel, and for me that’s the beauty of miles & points. Everyone is looking for different experiences with miles & points, and in my cases I like to redeem them for experiences I couldn’t otherwise afford, like international first class tickets and very expensive hotels.

However, as I get older, I notice my impression of things is shifting a bit, and I think sometimes that’s interesting to reflect on. While I might not be “old” yet (I’m 26), I’ve been flying hundreds of thousands of miles per year for about a decade now, so I think I can at least justifiably say I’m more easily exhausted than I used to be when it comes to travel.

Don’t get me wrong, getting on a plane still makes me giddy. Watching a sunrise or sunset from a plane (whether I’m seated in the first or last row) is still one of my favorite experiences in the world.

Even my amazement at aspirational travel hasn’t faded much, like how I can shower on an Emirates plane

Emirates-Shower

Or how I can be driven to the plane in a Porsche when flying Lufthansa

lufthansa-first-class-transfer

Or how I can redeem miles for an “apartment” on Etihad

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 2

Or how I can redeem miles for a double bed on Singapore

Singapore-Suites-1

That stuff is amazing… but…

My perception of aspirational travel is changing

Here’s my point, which I’ll share in the context of my visit yesterday to the First Class Terminal. This is Lufthansa’s incredible first class lounge, which is disconnected from the rest of the terminal. This has always been one of my favorite first class lounges, though I hadn’t visited in about two years.

lufthansa-fct

I’ve flown Lufthansa first class a countless number of times, and so often I’d intentionally plan super long layovers so I could enjoy the lounge. However, prior to yesterday I hadn’t been for almost 2.5 years, and was surprised by how my impression changed.

Don’t get me wrong, the lounge is fantastic and gorgeous. We had a three hour layover, which in practice meant we had about two hours in the lounge, since it took about 30 minutes to get to the lounge, while we left the lounge about 40 minutes before departure.

Before our visit I was worried the connection was too short, though 10 minutes after arriving in the lounge I was sort of twiddling my thumbs, which is the first time I’ve ever felt that way.

lufthansa-first-class-terminal-1

In the past I would have ordered a cappuccino, then had a fresh pretzel and Fanta, then had a meal, then taken a bath with the cute First Class Terminal rubber ducky, then gotten in a nap room for about 15 minutes just for giggles, etc.

lufthansa-first-class-terminal-3

However, I’m trying to generally live a healthier life nowadays (recognizing that my lifestyle in general is extremely unhealthy), and part of that is not eating just for giggles. I had just gotten off a flight where I had a big meal, so I didn’t really need a cappuccino or pretzel or Fanta or another meal.

Instead I ordered a black coffee and a glass of water, and that’s all I had in the First Class Terminal. I took a quick shower, and spent the rest of my time there getting caught up on work. Rather than feeling like our connection was too short, I was starting to feel like it was too long.

lufthansa-first-class-terminal-2

Of course I loved being driven to the plane in a car on the taxiways. As an aviation geek that’s something that will never get old. At the same time, in practice we ended up walking an extra 20 minutes to the First Class Terminal for the privilege of that.

The real benefit of the First Class Terminal is the convenience of skipping the airport altogether if you’re originating in Frankfurt, which of course wasn’t the case for our journey.

What’s my point?

Over time peoples’ priorities change, so it was interesting for me to experience that firsthand in the context of one of my favorite lounges in the world. Again, I love flying just as much as before, and I’ve loved reviewing new airlines and have found that to be actively enjoyable, even when the airlines aren’t great.

But as what we’re looking for out of experiences changes, overall impressions of products change as well. While the First Class Terminal is incredible, I didn’t have that same childhood level of amazement I’ve had in the past, and part of that is because I’m trying to be healthier and more responsible.

For a lot of my travels, the journey is the destination, since I’m flying with the intent of reviewing new airlines. However, for travel where the destination is the actual destination, my priorities are slowly starting to shift.

Is Austrian business class nonstop to Vienna better than Lufthansa first class to Frankfurt, with a connection in intra-Europe business class to Vienna? In the past I would have said “absolutely no way,” while now I’m thinking “hmmm, maybe it is.”

Again, I’m not sure what exactly my point is, though I’m curious if others can relate to the overall sentiment.

Comments

  1. I would have to agree. I think there comes a saturation point for all of this. I’ve traveled in most of the products reviewed on this blog – mostly thanks to the tips I’ve learned here. And while I still find it fun to fly in the front and experience the luxury of it all, I’m finding myself less and less excited about it. In the end, it’s still lots of butt-time in a plane on the way to somewhere. And long layovers are great but I, too, run out of work or personal business to attend to, and I can only drink so much champagne and eat so many meals before I’m overly-full and/or drunk. Then what to do? Agreed that this is an embarrassment of riches, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

  2. I try to keep my long hauls to 6 per year, 3 of which are family holidays so usually BA F/J.

    I feel if I do more I will lose the buzz and lose the ability to write an aspirational site. I hired someone this year to pick up some of the reviews and keep me fresh.

  3. Agreed. I decided this year to quit playing the points/miles game and just book the quickest flights. I’ve found that as long as the beds are flat, I really don’t care too much about the lounges and whatnot. Would I prefer CX or LH First instead of KL biz? Sure! Do I care enough to fool with an extra connection? Nope.

    The amount of times spent on trying to get the perfect flight on the perfect plane with the perfect mealtime just doesn’t justify the hassle.

  4. That’s normal because we are getting used to things. I can remember my first time in international business class, more than one year ago on American 777. I even dropped a tear of happiness and couldn’t take a seat, lol. Since then, I’ve travelled in business and first only (thanks for tips :)! ) and the first time I sat in Qatar new business class, I just sat. The only time I was over the moon again, was in the Apartment. This is the cruelty of getting used to. I’ll never experience the same thing, I think.

  5. Amen. We each have our own aspirations from this hobby and they change over time – glad to hear your perspective from 37000 feet somewhere between Dubai and India in EK business! 🙂

  6. Ben, I agree with Joe. I don’t fly as much as you do (very few do) but this year I flew close to 180K miles in a lot of the airlines/classes you do. In just one year, I felt exhausted by October and didn’t fly during November. Believe it or not, that one month gave me time to “recharge” and really miss being in an airplane or being in an airport lounge. Maybe take a few weeks off and see how you start to re-enjoy the same things as before?

  7. When I was about your age, and doing a lot of business travel, I had an epiphany. I had been very loyally flying American, connecting from my very easy access home airport (LGB) via DFW to anyplace I needed to go.

    Then one trip came along where the connections didn’t really work all that well and I was going to need to have a 4 hour layover in Dallas to arrive in Omaha at the same time as my colleagues flying out of SNA.

    So, I had a choice. I could do a long layover. I could fly out of SNA or LAX, which would reduce the layover, but up my travel time. Or, finally, I could fly nonstop on YX (Midwest Express).

    Since YX was all “first class style” seating and service, I decided to forego my AA miles and fly them nonstop.

    When I arrived in Omaha I couldn’t find my colleagues, who were supposed to have arrived 10 minutes before me. Turns out, they were stuck in Dallas, where ice storms had closed DFW. They didn’t get to Omaha until the following day.

    It’s then that I realized that no luxury or status beat the real luxury of actually getting where you were trying to go, when you wanted to get there, and in the least amount of time.

  8. One of my favorites singer/songwriters (in spanish), Joaquin Sabina, says something like this in one of his songs:
    ” Al lugar donde has sido feliz, no debieras tratar de volver” which translates into something like this:
    “To the place where you have been happy, you should not try to return”.
    I have confirmed this, many, many times. Seems you are too.

  9. You kinda lost me at “26” and “old”. It’s human nature to tire of experiences you already know. Perhaps travel less. Put some roots down in a town you love. I bet it’ll take all of a month and you’ll go right back out and realize how much you missed it. Well, maybe not a middle seat on United, but you know what I mean…

  10. Jaded at 26….possibly now you will find a world outside of the terminal and the hotel lobby. Thankfully you have a successful business and have made tons of cash with which to do so. By 26. So well done.

  11. I think Raffles point is a valid one. I read his site and yours. Yes you are at different stages of your lives (he has a young family etc) but I do fear sometimes you might burn out Ben.

    How many long haul flights have you done in the last two months? I appreciate you want to review as many carriers as possible but sometimes health is much more important than work.

    Why not take 3months out of all travel? As Geoff says it will reignite your passion and no doubt make the blog even better.

  12. No surprise there…

    When the “journey is the destination”, then variety — the spice is of life — is ultimately limited. There is only so much that can be said about seats or meals in the first-class cabins of various airlines before there is not much left to say.

    On the other hand, when you turn that on its head and the “destination is the journey”, then the possibilities are as unlimited as there are destinations around the world. I have been doing destinations in N and SE for ~4 weeks at the end of every year over the last 6 years, and I have barely begun to scratch the surface. I have enjoyed some destinations so much, I often make it a point the return to at least one of those before moving to new ones. But that’s just N and SE Asia. Where to next? West Africa? Easter Europe? South America? French Polynesia?

    Like I said, the possibilities are endless so that the older I got and the cooler the destinations I have been to, the more I’ve wanted to see…that’s “aspirational travel” for me: destinations I travel to just for me and for my enjoyment (“Joie de Vivre”) only, which I have gotten more sophisticated at selecting and getting the most of out while spending as little as possible… 😉

  13. Travel is a means, not an end. Hopefully, you’ll eventually learn that life has meaning when it includes giving relationships, faith (in something) and charity.

  14. Miles and Points mean a lot to me, as they do to everyone reading this blog. But they mean different things and have different value for each of us. Flying a family of 6 to OGG last summer in UA Coach (crappy planes, old and worn interiors, coach…) was the BEST use of miles for us and something 4 kids will remember for a lifetime (and something they’re begging to do again). Are there more opulent ways to use the miles or more exotic places to visit? Sure! But those miles fit the bill for us. I’m glad you’re realizing that there is more to travel than just the getting there part…avoiding ~$4500 in airfare to Hawaii allowed us to do a lot more on an infrequent blowout family trip.

  15. Well most of time you travel solo because of the type of work that you do try to go with a couple of your friends to all-inclusive vacation not work vacation.

  16. I have the same opinion about points and miles as you. I rather take the money I would have spent on a vacation and use points to enhance it. I’ve always used miles to do things I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, ever pay for. I’ve only been really been traveling on points for 5-6 years but I’ve noticed the shine has started to wear off. I don’t really get too excited about first class seats or expensive hotels in big cities. Planning and researching all year upcoming trips have turned into “Oh s**t we’re leaving for Vietnam is a month we need to figure out what we’re doing!”.

    Things changed when I shifted my focus on taking family members with me (for various reasons they weren’t able to go on trips before). I decided to take my newly retired dad and his wife to Hawaii as a celebration. It was a great way to burn the Avios from the BA card and I could get in some diving. I booked the Fairmont Orchid and used some certs including the suite upgrade. Well there was a mixup and we ended up getting upgraded to an ocean view suite. I remember walking in and thinking, “Meh, this is nice but nothing amazing”. Then my dad and his wife came in. Their eyes lit up and they couldn’t speak. They were in a state of shock and just wandered around the room for 10 minutes. These were people who rarely traveled and when they did they were very frugal. This blew their mind and it made me realize the things I took for granted. Only later did I find out that my step mother had never been to Hawaii and it was always her dream to go. It was actually where they were suppose to go for their honeymoon over a decade ago but things came up and they couldn’t. On top of that shes been having health problems with her memory and we weren’t sure if this might be the last chance for her to do something like this. Even though I was vacation planner, chauffeur, bag boy, tour guide, ATM, and so on it still was an amazing trip and meant a lot to them. It was the first time in a long time that a trip really made an impression on me. So while I still go for those over the top trips when it makes sense I’m much more inclined to take family or friends to something closer but still fantastic.

  17. I totally understand you. I also think you’re both tired and getting used to it. It doesn’t happen to me often, but I remember the first time I flew business class on Iberia’s new configuration, I was ecstatic. The 2nd time was good, and by the 3rd I was still happy with it, but I sort of took it for granted in a way. I also think that traveling a lot makes you tired, adding on to just getting used to things. Or maybe being healthy just isn’t that easy to do 😉

  18. I’m reminded of a song my Mother used to listen to by Peggy Lee titled, “Is That All There Is?”
    I stayed in the Park Hyatt Milan a while back on a couple reward nights and it was great but I had to temper that with the realization that I would never pay €650 per night to stay there because frankly, i didn’t value the experience that highly. And I can’t imagine programming extra layovers around lounge access given that my shortest trip travel time is around 17 hours. And about the food in J or F, I have very low expectations probably because I dine in great French and Italian Restaurants once I arrive at my destination.

    I think perhaps you’ve had a rough year and it’s time to decompress.

  19. I realized this while on the 22 hour SQ Suites (Singapore-FRA-NewYork).

    I really would’ve rather had some direct flight than those suites if it meant being in a plane for 12 vs 22 hours, even if it was in economy (since I’m not tall or fat, and can just buy whatever food/enternatinment needed).

    Over time, once you have tried the premium products for the novelty of it, the true premium is time and time spent in the actual destination.

  20. Agee, I now usually look for the shortest flight or best connection. Only in exceptional cases where I somehow don’t trust the airline I spend time finding a better altrnative. I draw the line at angled flat for flights more than 5 hours day flight or completely for a night flight. Then I just pay up for soemthing better. I’m doing probably about 250k a year and it sometimes is no fun.

  21. A lot of it seems like a novelty. Even if you take great advantage of a high quality lounge, you’re getting what, $50 worth of stuff? The most important perk is a shower, and if you dont need one, you could do better elsewhere.

    When youre forced into a long layover, then sure, a lounge is nice. But planning around them seems silly because most of the time you can spend less time or money, and buy youself a better experience (a better meal at a restaurant for example)

  22. Lounges aren’t destinations….PERIOD! Maybe it was cool at first but why in gods name would I waste calories and time in an airport lounge when there is an awesome world to see out there! The lounges are simply amazing for when you MUST use them, but when used as a destination I would refer to them as depressing. I love planes, love travel, love great food and service but I want to be in my nice hotel room or in the center of a beautiful city, not sitting in a lounge.

  23. Mate – I love your posts and articles.

    May I suggest reviewing low cost airlines from the back of the bus for a few months. Times have changed and surprisingly, they are no worse than mainline full service economy “service”. In fact I was recently blown away with the excellent service i received from the rear of Tiger Airlines and Malindo Air. Combone that with Priority Pass membership – it’s a great way to travel (sometimes).

  24. @B,

    Your general point about premium cabins is valid, but the 22 hour flight from SIN-FRA-JFK is the most direct way to get from Singapore to NYC. Even when there was a nonstop flight between SIN-EWR (that was cancelled in the pre-A350/787 days due to poor economics), that flight still took 18 hours each way. I’m sure a lot of people would rather take a 12 hour flight between the two, but that’s just not possible without supersonic travel (which would likely cost way more than SQ Suites. If you were doing the flight just for the experience, I get your point, but if you were taking it because you actually had some other reason to travel between SIN and NYC, there wasn’t really much that you could do.

  25. Great post Lucky!

    B wrote: “Over time, once you have tried the premium products for the novelty of it, the true premium is time and time spent in the actual destination.”
    >>>Absolutely. These days getting to my destination as soon as possible is the ultimate luxury.
    I just came back from a round trip Business Class trip to London using AA miles:
    SFO-ORD-MAN-LHR. What a lousy and stressful experience this was. All flights were late. The AA ground staff were unfriendly. The AA lounges were a big disappointment and not worth it. To add insult to injury AA changed the planes and I ended up flying in old dirty airplanes with 1980″s technology. I told myself “Never Again”. I’d rather fly BA economy class SFO-London and not have to deal with multiple layovers, changing planes, rude ground staff, old and dirty planes. The savings in time and stress would be absolutely worth it. I would rather fly in economy class on a direct flight than have to endure AA Business Class with multiple stop overs again. As far as AA lounges are concerned they are not worth the trouble, I’d rather eat at one of the airport restaurants instead.

    Donna Wrote:
    “I stayed in the Park Hyatt Milan a while back on a couple reward nights and it was great but I had to temper that with the realization that I would never pay €650 per night to stay there because frankly, i didn’t value the experience that highly.”
    >>>I stayed at the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris on award nights then moved to an Airbnb and enjoyed staying at the Airbnb better. PHV is totally not worth $900 plus a night. The months ago I paid to stay at the Indigo Paris and liked it a lot better for less than half the cost of PHV.

    Andrew wrote:
    Planning and researching all year upcoming trips have turned into “Oh s**t we’re leaving for Vietnam is a month we need to figure out what we’re doing!”.
    >>>lol…I can relate to this. I go on a 2-3 week vacation every 4 months so all this planning is starting to get tiring.

    JJJ wrote:
    “Even if you take great advantage of a high quality lounge, you’re getting what, $50 worth of stuff?”
    At AA lounges you might get $10-20 worth of stuff. Even at a top lounge like the SQ Private Room unless you drink a lot of expensive drinks or are gorging yourself with food you probably won’t get $50 worth of stuff.

  26. I follow certain parts of your newsletter with interest and do relate to this particular article. However I really have to smile when I hear you say you’re become less starstruck by it all at 26. You’re sooo cute and young!

    I’ve traveled a lot in my lifetime and watched history evolve over five decades i.e., spent months in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia in 1967, watching Vietnamese flee the war zone. I was in Hong Kong during the cultural revolution and I’ve been to China seven times between the 80’s and last in 2011. Ever heard of Pingyao China? It’s on the UNESCO World Heritage list. That would be an interesting place to fly to but you won’t get there first class would be my bet.

    I had hoped to keep that little jewel called Luang Prabang a secret in the hopes of delaying the avalanche of tour buses but you’ve now advertised it, haven’t you?

    Ben, I truly appreciate your grasp of the myriad rules of points, redemptions, lounges etc., and your information is valuable; but at 26 my dear, you are very young still.

    Your idea of showering in a cramped little room on an airplane does not strike me is cool but rather as uncomfortable. I am far more focused on the destination rather than the “get there”, although flat seats are heaven.

    Not that you’re asking, but I would recommend you stay in these great cities that you travel to for more than a weekend plus a few nites. What’s the point of all of this if not to put your feet all over the world? We have the great opportunity at this time in world history- to not read about it, not look at it in a movie or in a book, but to actually be there.

    Having a cursory glance at a city only to get on another plane to rate their dessert is somehow missing the point. I can see that for business travelers, lounges and their facilities are important. However, there must be a percentage of your readership that are travelers and want to maximize the benefits they can obtain.

    To know the great cities of the world, not from the airports or the lounges but from being there is fhe incredible gift of being alive at this point in history. For me, the joy of being an international person is to really know the great cities of the world. I know Paris, the different arrondissements, I know Berlin, Dehl, London, Rome, Warsaw, Moscow, the Scandanavians, Istanbul, Lhasa, Tokyo, Seoul, Buenos Aires, The first century Roman city Leptis Magna in Libya that dwarfs Pompeii and Petra, Jerusalem, Sydney, Shanghai, etc., and yes, even charming little Louang Prabang which I have worked hard to keep a secret, lest it turn into a tour bus ridden destination.

    So you can be an expert on your field but to think that you are well-traveled from spending a few days in the country or city?

  27. Anyone else here close to 50 smirking inside when anyone under 30 talks about themselves ‘getting older’?

  28. @andrew – I love it! Seeing the faces of those I travel with is what makes it all worth it. My wife is 6’2″ and all leg, typical 31″ seat pitch means her knees are immediately hitting the seat in front of her, if the person reclines it’s game over. I love giving her an experience better than that, she has a much better time when she flies comfortably and I love seeing her enjoy it. And I love choosing more flights in e+ than fewer in F

  29. As many have written — for me, the shortest travel duration is paramount, so I can enjoy my destinations sooner and longer. The less time spent in an airplane or airport, the better. So I can see why frequent travelers who make many connections would easily suffer burnout.

  30. Oh how we forget that you’re only 26 ;-). I could have sworn you said you were 28 or 29 before….anyway. It’s nice, no GREAT to see you growing! 🙂 …now you just have to take care of your health more.

    Chinese medicine will be your best friend one day.

    Priorities shift and jump….and it happens more rapidly in your 30s.

  31. It sounds like you’re a bit burned out. Why not take a few weeks off, your schedule has been crazy! Your passion for the little things about flying is what makes your blog worth reading, it would be a shame to jeopardise that.

  32. To each, their own. I’ve long preferred the best and most direct premium awards for airline travel. We flew Aeroflot J LAX-SVO 3 years ago using AF/Amex MR miles rather than flying Lufthansa F LAX-FRA-SVO. We are flying AA F LAX-SYD in May using AA miles, despite the availability of Qantas F DFW-SYD awards; I’d rather not connect and fly longer just to enjoy a marginally better flight. In the end, getting from point A to point B as comfortably and quickly as possible is my first priority.

    Others may disagree, and that’s fine.

    Of course, we are flying LAX-DXB-DEL in Emirates F in Jan for our India trip. If you gotta connect, you may as well connect in style…and with a shower onboard.

    For hotels, we go for the best hotel award redemption that can give us comparable luxury experience and value…such as staying most recently at the Gritti Palace in Venice on points rather than spending to stay at the even pricier Aman Grand Canal Venice. However, we are staying at Oberoi and Taj hotels in India rather than trying Awards at the many ITC luxury hotels; we’d rather spend the money on a trip like India rather than use award stays that aren’t always as luxurious.

  33. Common, very common.. I’ve just touched 30 but in my 20s, I spent 7 years flying SQ business class every other week, enjoying the beautiful lounges, food, service, knowing some of the crew on sight (and vice versa), at some point I just dreaded the next flight, and wanted to be home with my family.

    I really enjoy your blog so on a selfish level I hope you never stop; but honestly I’d say, a couple of months off would really do you some good!

  34. Hmmmm…

    Perhaps Ben should spice things up a bit, maybe give OMAAT a new focus. How about getting the adrenaline pumping by having a goal of visiting every country? Yes, I know it has been done before; but, I think Ben (and Tiffany!?!) would have a hilarious and unique take on trying to cross the land border between Chad and the Central African Republic.

  35. perhaps now it’s a bit different because you have a special someone in your life to share the destination with 🙂 I am referring to Tiffany. j/k, although I am sure she’s special, too.

  36. I flew about 45 long haul flights this year (mostly in J with a few in F and Y) and that’s been my travel pattern for the last 10+ months years. For 2017 I’ve decided to keep my flying to a bare minimum and give up all airline loyalty. I’ve also decided to take up a new hobby – train travel across the world.

  37. Ben needs to change it up again.

    Make 2017 your year of ZERO first or business class flights. Review economy seating.. Or if that sounds over the top, fly econony standby on friends’ buddy passes !!

    Scrap name brand hotels too!

  38. I’d like to add that while I love to read the flight reports and the lounge reviews, the hotels reviews with the “I checked in to the St. Regis, had a bloody mary, did some work in the lobby, had a cappuccino and left early the next morning” don’t really give me a sense of how the hotel is.

    We stayed at the Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg for 3 nights and the joy of the stay was the staff knew who we were, gave us tips on how to maximize our stay and made it special. You might not realize how great the service is only staying for 16 hours.

    If I’m staying in a town for less than a day, I’m looking for something near the transport hub I’m leaving from. We always get to our departure airport early so a lounge there is helpful but I’m not going to spend an extra layover for a nice lounge.

    Everyone travels for their own reasons. I find it very self aware that you are realizing what is important to your travel is evolving. I’d agree that a break often brings back the love to your passion which has left you.

  39. You didn’t answer the most important question about your most recent FCT visit though: did you score another Lufthansa ducky? 🙂

    But seriously, some burnout is inevitable, and perhaps a combination of a break and more focus on your destination would help. (And perhaps some luxury train experiences?)

  40. @Lucky – I am by no means old, but have 6 years on you. I started in the game at about 18 and travelled 120k or so per year until I was 25 and was highly involved in FT. Strangely I hit a similar point of WTF and decided I want to enjoy family, good wine while on my couch, and game the system for experiences with the ones I love and enjoy. I enjoy your site because it lets me live that passion through you rather than beat myself up for it. My advice, not that you asked for it, but take the opportunity of reflection to figure out what’s important to you and drive for it… life’s too short to waste it away in economy 🙂

  41. I started reading this blog when I was 15 and would be saddened to see the blog, and especially the crazy trip reports (my favorite part and an influence for why I plan on being a hospitality major in college) come to a halt. However, I do believe there comes a point where a new passion is needed as the old can become repetitive and both physically and mentally unhealthy. Don’t let a great passion become just going through the motions. Though obviously it’s completely up to you, I would suggest taking a break from intense routings before you start to dread flying. Then one day, you can revisit aviation geekdom again and have the novelty of it all return.

    It may sound odd but you and your travels are (in a non-stalkerish way) an inspiration to this high school senior. But now you need to do what you think is best for you.

  42. Pretty hard to take you seriously. You are an expert in how to fly free in first class everywhere. Other than that your experience is fairly limited and you are still too young.

    So don’t stress out. Enjoy your life.

  43. I have to chuckle and feel a bit old at the 60ish year mark reading many of the comments on this thread.
    We that lived on the road during the eighties and nineties appreciated the benefits of the frequent traveler programs, but none of the things provided by any of the travel companies could take away the feeling that we were cheating the family out of a normal life with a father at home thru the week.
    That feeling was countered by the perceived security of good jobs and benefits while things were going good for your organization.
    Most of us wanted to come off the road and many of us finally did.
    At some point, the money was not the issue. Children kept growing.
    We just wanted off the treadmill and to be home.
    Home. The word itself takes on different meanings as you grow older.
    Be thankful you can work for yourself and make a honest buck while the sun shines.
    Everything old is new again.
    Be thankful they aren’t shooting at your transport while it leaves a country and remember as a salesman to pocket a few mini bottles for the rental ride into the city. That was a big benefit years ago. We actually caught rides in crew vans with the airline crews that flew us into certain cities and stayed at the same places.
    It was great to travel until it wasn’t great to travel.

  44. Thank you for that honest post, Lucky.

    I will mostly join what a lot of other people said here. All these luxury experiences became your daily life and the novelty and excitement have worn off. You probably take all these things for granted, which is normal – everybody in your shoes would. And the insane trips you’ve taken lately, the repeated posts about the consequences on your health, I mean most people would start to question this lifestyle and the whole point of it.

    I find your reviews super useful and am a daily reader of your blog, but your lifestyle is just insane – and no, I’m not judging you here. I will add to the other readers who said that it would be wonderful to see more reviews about the destinations. I never quite understood what forced you to spend so little time in nearly every place you go to. It’s not like you have an office you need to get back to. I would honestly love to read your take – or Tiffany’s because she’s hilarious! – on the places you go to. Remember, most people reading your blog travel mainly for the destination. It’s super useful to figure out the best way to get there, but at the end of the day for 99% of the people there’s more to it. And yes, I know this blog is about points and miles but still.

    You made an amazing job at such a young age building your brand, your audience in such a competitive area. It’s really remarkable. You also made a lot of money that can probably give you the luxury to slow down a little. And maybe time has come for you to do that. Maybe time to switch back from living full time in hotels to having a place to call home? I’m almost certain that the day you’ll do that, and finding yourself in your own couch (rather than in a filthy hotel one that’s never washed lol) , having a nice home made dinner with a bottle of wine and some friends and family, you’ll realize that this is what life is – and that it won’t take away any of your ability to travel the world and keep on reviewing airlines and hotels. It will probably even reignite the flame and the excitement actually :).

    My 2 cents as a reader :). Take care!

  45. Is this why you hired Daniel? Because you’re getting bored and just need someone to write some reviews, no matter how bad they are and regardless of how your readers react unanimously against it?

  46. I totally agree.
    When I started my current job -my first one with heavy taveling- I was filled with “aspiration”. The first time in business class, first visit in the lounges, the first status etc.
    Now that I have been on 44 trips in the last year, almost all of this has faded. In the end of the day, I have come to the conclusion that traveling this much is always a strain – flying business, having a status and being able to use the lounges just lessens that strain by a certain extent (especially the stress level). Even more so in the F segment of course.

    Just like Lucky mentioned, I still have those sparse feelings of wonder here and there that bring back the childhood memories (like the sunrise/set). But I would say that 90% of my travel is just “business as usual” – pun intended.

  47. Ben, we’ve had this discussion before in the past. Travel stops being fun when it is something you have to do rather than something you want to do. And what you want to do changes as your priorities in life gradually change. Let yourself evolve and let the blog evolve with you. The main appeal of your blog has been your writing style and the way you draw the reader in with your genuine enthusiasm for what you are writing about. Don’t lose that.

    I remember the days when I’d be the first person to volunteer for any trips at work. I’d fly redeyes every night for a week and spend full days in the office immediately between them. Today, I grumble when I have to make a straightforward 3-day work trip or catch a flight that departs before 7am. Yet, I took a vacation last month that saw me visit 10 different cities in 2 weeks and I enjoyed every moment of it. Priorities changed. 🙂

  48. Yep, Burn-out 101. I noticed the tone of the blog has changed towards the end of the year, the length of time to “churn” out trip reports and lack of interesting content when the reports arrived. Face it … you are bored with it all. Time to Re-boot , Re-Invent ! .. Good luck to you , as it’s always a pleasent Read , keep up the good work anyways

  49. Winter blues maybe? Or what the French call “blasé”. You’ve seen and done it all, got the pyjamas to prove it 🙂

    Could it be that you’re running out of new things to try, or that you haven’t planned enough ahead for your future adventures? What’s the next trip that you’re really looking forward to?

  50. Time change, people change, circumstances change. Obviously you are in a different state of mind and a different emotional state when you started out. I think it’s quite normal. One study show people with more financial mean later in life tend to spend money on ‘experiences’ and not on material goods. Physical luxury is not fulfilling in the long term, psychological enrichment will bring you more self fulfillment. Perhaps time to evaluate where you want to see yourself in the next 5-10 years. Time fly by really fast, don’t take your youth for granted.

  51. I’m surprised you’re 26, this kind of traveling isn’t doing much good for you! You should consider taking a break, doing exercise, having a healthy diet and lifestyle.

  52. Lucky, theres a few ways to look at this, IMO. 1. Youre jaded. Its bound to happen over time. Maybe when SQ new FC launches, you might get excited. 2. 9 years back there was a sense of excitement as all these new and wondermous FC & Business products were getting launched. Apart from a few new Business Class, theres really nothing new FC wise. 3. Youre getting older, and as you get older your priorities are bound to change. Eg, I needed to get blotto every Saturday night when i was 22. Nowadays, i would rather enjoy 2 glasses of a nice whisky.
    Welcome to old age my friend!

  53. I know at least one pilot who after his last flight never stepped into an aircraft again. He said he loves watching the night sky from right where he lived.

    At some point you realize home is where the heart is

  54. What you need are way longer layovers, pick cities you haven’t really visited and take a day or two before returning to an airport, hungry of course who would skip those prezels and all the goodies from the first class lounge.

  55. A cappuccino, Fanta and pretzel diet… I am so glad to hear want off of that! The food on airplanes and in lounges is the worst, it doesn’t matter what class of service you are in. (Though I do have a weakness for the SQ chicken satay and garlic bread haha). I was a United 100,000 mile flyer from the ages of 25-40 and AA 50,000 mile flyer for 10 years of that. At first i just gorged down on everything and anything they put in front of me. Then at 35 I started to bring my own home cooked meals on to each and every flight. Since I mostly flew between the US and Asia, on the way home I would plan a connection in Narita so I could eat at the sushi place in the Star Alliance terminal then get an extra take away pack. These days the airlines can keep their champagne, red wine, diet coke and hot fudge sundaes. All I desire is my home cooked meal and a 180 degree flat bed with direct aisle access :))

  56. Pre-andropause. Damn, I am double your age and this month alone I have flown NRT-HEL-VIE-HEL-NRT,
    HND-DOH,BUD-DOH-HND,
    NRT-ORD-BUF-ORD-NRT
    HEL-BUD-HEL
    CAI-DOH-HND
    HND-DOH-CAI
    and some others I can’t remember – jet lag 😉
    BE thankful! Just your testosterone levels. Spend a week at a blah 9-5 job in some cubicle waiting for those 2 weeks off a year and you will be surprised how quickly you get aroused in 1A again !

  57. Ben,

    You know, it’s funny. F travel just doesn’t do it for me. (I’m a big guy, so I do travel J. I won’t do long haul Y if at all possible to avoid.) I’ve done QF F on the 380, SQ F Suites on the 380, and CX F. And none of it (including the suites) have made me think that I HAVE to go out of my way to do it again. It’s to the point where I actually get more excited about being able to book the seat (availability and all) than the actual travel itself.

    For me, the destination is always number one, although if I can take a great product to a place I’ve never been before, that can influence my choice.

    What I have learned in all of my travels is that I don’t sleep on planes and I don’t do jet lag well. If I had to do regular travel (even in paid F) to far way places for a few days worth of meetings and come right home? I wouldn’t take the job. I swear. I do travel for several weeks at a time, and when I get home, I really don’t feel like setting foot on another long haul flight for at least three months.

  58. Ben

    Go back to Longyearbyen. Stay somewhere other than the Radisson. Experience a hot tub in the middle of the night under the stars.

    The journey is not all there is. Living on chocolate would be nice for an afternoon but not a month.

    Maybe go to Warsaw, there’s some crazy crazy things go on in the Pawilone!

  59. Lucky, with the experience you’ve gained in your travels and in writing this blog, how about spending some of the time writing about the “people” part of your journey and not exclusively the “product” part. Anecdotes and other stories directly from the mouths of FAs, pilots, passengers et al. would add some interesting additions to your blog. I am a relatively new reader here and do enjoy reading your daily postings. Thank you for the insight and entertainment.

  60. Travel, even at the luxury end, is intrinsically stressful on the body and mind. I’m an aviation geek and frequent leisure traveler, but I am increasingly finding myself just as happy (perhaps even happier) to spend downtime at home, just relaxing. The very notion if not traveling at any possible time was abhorrent to me only six months ago.

  61. Fantastic post. This post hits home with me.

    I have many similar feelings as yourself. I was starting to question why I just don’t get as excited about flying LH F, or even EK F anymore. In fact, for an upcoming trip, I decided to book EK J, and was wondering why. Even valuing Alaska points at a penny a point, I am not sure I want to spend 300K for F. Is that because EK J on the 380 is pretty good anyhow???

    I think partly it is the excitement of the new products that were announce over the past 10 years or so. At first it was flat beds, then it was lounges with fine champagne, then it was Porsche car service, then it was showers, then it was apartments. But now that I have done that I enjoy it, but personally I just don’t get so excited as I used to.

    So now when I look at how much I am spending to go somewhere, and with the increased award charts, I am choosing to fly J and just get on board and sleep so that I can wake up and explore the destination with more energy and enjoyment.

    I enjoy the other perks of first class amenities, but for the added expense they just don’t do it for me anymore.

  62. I am 41. I have been traveling a metric crapton for work for 15+ years. This year, I will put in 200k+ BIS miles for work and another gazillion for taking my family on vacations. I got into the miles game in the mid 90s in highschool.

    I have gone through what you are going throug and there are some factors that plag into it IMO….

    First, if you have flown a bunch of airlines in J or F, the thrill for future trips is less because the newness has worn off.

    Second, when one is a broke kid, getting treated like a grown up baller is fun because it validates the desire to be your own man and succeed. But as you get older and succeed in real life, such as in your job, and especially when you start making real money (like you do now), the adulation from airline service personnel feels hollower than it used to and you don’t need that stimulous to groom your ego anymore.

    Third, as you get older and you add significant others and especially kids, flying takes on a different role. For me, it is merely the way to get somewhere, not the experience itself. I have flown with my kids in J to Europe, Asia and within North America and the kids don’t care what class of service they are flying…but if we have a dozen stopovers and they are tired…I will feel that far more than sitting upright for 12 hours.

    Fourth, your body simply doesn’t do as well at 41 as it did at 26. I am fit and trim and active, but getting up at 3am every week to catch a flight gets harder every year no matter how much sleep I had the night before.

    What you are going through is normal and I would expect it to get worse with time. Enjoy tbe new things life brings and don’t bemoan the ones you lose too much.

  63. Let me help you be solutions oriented. To put it all back in to perspective, you should do some flights in economy. Doing quite a few economy flights, then splurging for a first class ticket is the best feeling ever – it never fades because you feel like you earned it. Like I said, it is all perspective thinking…”ahh, isn’t this first class lounge and free meal and booze nice? I could be in the economy right now instead.”

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