Trip Report Index

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How do I take these trips?

All of my travel, unless explicitly otherwise stated, is self funded.Yes, I’ve taken some sponsored trips. For example, last year I participated in the “Amex Stars” program, whereby I got access to some awesome events courtesy of Starwood, with corresponding stays at Starwood properties. I clearly disclosed my relationship with Starwood with each post, and I think most would agree my hotel reviews were fair and balanced (I didn’t leave out the empty box of condoms I found in my room at W Union Square or my frustration with the valet at the St. Regis Bal Harbour, for example).

And one of the main reasons I took part in the program is because there was something in it for you guys. With each trip I took I could give away enough Starpoints for a similar hotel stay, so I was able to give away around 200,000 Starpoints. I figured that’s a win-win, and frankly I’m not sure I would have participated without that, as I’ve turned down plenty of comp trips when there was nothing in it for you guys and I didn’t think you guys would find the content interesting.

Beyond that, I disclose how my trips were paid for even when they’re self funded. In the introduction post to each trip report I provide an exact breakdown of how many miles each award ticket costs.

So where do I earn all my miles?

Much like most savvy mileage nuts, through a combination of credit card churning, flying, strategically purchasing miles, and taking advantage of every promotion out there.I earn well over a million miles a year, which I don’t think is really unattainable for most.

I probably fly about 200,000 miles per year on American, and as an Executive Platinum member I get a 100% bonus on miles, so that’s 400,000 miles right there.

I earn another 500,000 or so miles per year (at a minimum) from credit cards.

And then I try to maximize miles on everyday spend, which can add up to another couple of hundred thousand miles per year if done properly.

Lastly, I strategically purchase miles when it’s a good value.

But more than anything else I look at these trips as an investment in what I do.

The two things I do for a living are blogging and travel consulting. My goal is to review as many products as possible so that I can dish out the most useful/educated advice.I’m incredibly fortunate to have the flexibility to not be limited in the amount of time I can spend traveling, so my hope is that by sampling as many different products as possible, I can help those of you with limited vacation time make the most of your trips.

And while many may not like my writing style, I hope the fact that I compare so many airlines is useful to you guys. One of my struggles with online reviews is that you usually don’t know enough about the person making them to know whether they’re credible or not.

For example, you can read a review of a Four Seasons that gets five stars because everything was amazing, while the next review gives it one star because they were angry the hotel charged for wifi and parking, and that it should be free at such an expensive hotel. Hopefully the fact that I review dozens of airlines and hotels in a similar fashion makes it easier to actually get something out of my reviews, since you can judge them based on what you value most.

Trip Report Series

2017

A Brief Aloha
LAX-ORD-JFK-LAX
PDX Priority Pass Awesomeness
One “Stan” At A Time
A Weekend In Mongolia
Italy, With A Refueling Stop In The Azores
Montreal To New York, With A Stop In Italy
A Quick Jaunt On Saudia, Jet, And Tunisair
Pulling Off A Very Special Surprise Trip
The Flight Of A Lifetime
A Journey To One Of The Four Corners Of The Earth
A VERY Quick Trip To Hong Kong
Journey To Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, And Kuwait
A Month Around The World
Oslo In Winter
Flying With Royalty (Or Not)
Road-Trip Through Jordan

2016

Christmas Markets With A Touch Of Garuda
A Rare First Class Opportunity
Transatlantic Insanity
Flying China’s Other 5-Star Airline
Journey To Kazakhstan
A Journey To The Most Expensive Place I’ve Ever Been
A Very Short Trip To Fiji
An Insane Week In The Sky
An Arctic Summer
Flying Halfway Around The World For Half A Day
New Years In The Maldives, Summer In New Zealand
Mexico City, Really?
Star Alliance To South Africa
The Long Way To Spain
Captivating Colombia
Mileage Run To Beijing
Chinese New Year In Taiwan
O-man, IB Crazy AF
5-Star China On The Cheap
To The Middle East… The Very Long Way
A Week Of Rest And Relaxation In Cabo
The Long Way Between LA And London
Off The Beaten Track In Thailand

2015

AAround The World Using AAdvantage Miles
Thanksgiving In London
Gin & Churros For The Weekend
An MQM Run To Tokyo
One Direction In London
New York, New York
A Different Kind Of Trip Report
Taking Mom On An Airplane Ride
Amsterdam Via Britain And Indonesia (Sort Of)
You Get What You Pay For On American
To Madrid And Back On SkyTeam
Relaxation In The Maldives
20,000+ Miles In 72 Hours
The Long Way From Abu Dhabi To Doha

2014

Best Trip Ever
A Suite Ride To Frankfurt
A380 Addiction
Mileage Running To Hong Kong
One Stroopwafel At A Time
Flying Brussels Airlines to Tomorrowland

Last US Airways Star Alliance 90K
To Abu Dhabi For An Etihad Inaugural
A Week In Sicily
Battle For South America
Rounding Out The A380s
How I Ended Up On A Gulfstream IV
New Years in Europe

2013

Brazil Madness
Air France vs. British Airways A380
Around The World In 80 Hours
To the Vaterland with my Vater
Mom’s Bali Birthday Bonanza
The Rimowa Quest
Another round the world for 90K
Going to HEL with American
To Sicily for the Weekend

Buenos Aires for the Weekend
A Royal (dis)HHonor
The “New” American to Europe

OneWorld Welcome
Vienna to Istanbul via Tokyo
A380 Extravaganza

2012

Bling it on
Chasing the Sun
Bali and Berchtesgaden
Lucky Charms Ireland

Lost in Translation
BAArcelonAA
Singapore for the Weekend
The Last Aeroplan Hurrah
Week in the Clouds
Chasing the A380

2011

Five Star Virgin
To Mendoza for the Masters of Food & Wine
Four Continents and 37,000 Miles in Two Weeks
Weekend in Paris
Beaches and Mountains
Etihad Airways to the UAE

2010

Asia on a Whim
Around the World in a Week
Christmas in Germany

2009

Continental to New York
Northwest to Seattle
OneWorld Asian Adventure
Quest to Istanbul and Hong Kong

London Quickly

2008

OpenSkies to Paris
ANA To Asia

Malta For A Song

Comments

  1. Will you be updating this page with your 2011 trips anytime soon? I’m looking forward to that! 🙂

  2. one quick suggestion – could you flip these upside down so the more recent ones show at the top? reports from 2008 are now a little dated etc. great page though you do great trip reports

  3. It would be helpful to also list information by the airplane equipment in the initial list, not just the routing or class of service and airline company. Thank you.

  4. @ Jenny — A blog redesign is coming soon, and as part of that I plan on making the trip report index much easier to search. Thanks for the feedback!

  5. Thank you for all these wonderful trip reports. They helped me a lot in deciding who I want to fly with on my trips. One question though – are all your trips done using award miles/points? If so, how do you earn so many?

  6. @ Hunter – Thanks for reading! In the introduction to each post I list whether I paid or used miles for the trip, though the bulk are done with miles.

    I earn a good chunk of miles from flying, about 500k a year from credit cards, and purchase others strategically when it makes sense to do so.

  7. Silly question, but do airlines typically give out pajamas for long haul daytime flights when traveling in first?

  8. I agree with others that recent posts at the top would be helpful. Generally, I think I’d want to see lounges by destination. “What’s the best lounge at LHR?” is a question I can easily answer if the LHR reviews are grouped together. Maybe under the airport, put lounge name and date. So under FRA you’d have Lufthansa FCT (2011) or whatever. I’d alphabetize by city name, so LGA, JFK, and EWR (New York / Newark) would all be together. Maybe your audience knows airport codes, and if you think that’s the case, would make more sense.

    Hotels should also be by city. What are great hotels in Tokyo is a question I’ll be more likely to ask, I think. But maybe this audience wants all the HHonors properties together if the more common question is “What’s a great place I can go with my points?” However, I suspect mostly people will want to know where to stay in Paris, etc.

    Airlines, I’d say organize by carrier, class, equipment type, and route with year at the end. Lufthansa First Class A380, FRA-IAH (2013). When I’m trying to decide between equipment types for an award ticket, that would help. If I’m comparing LH vs. BA for a redemption, this scheme would also make it easy to see what I’m going to get on the routes in question.

    Thanks for all you do. This is my first comment, but my travel life has been greatly enhanced here. Thanks to you, we went round the world (for 140,000 miles each) on NH, TG, and LH not long ago.

  9. Singapore Airlines might be a very good airline, but be aware of their subsidiary low cost airline SCOOT AIR.I recently flew from COOLANGATTA to Bangkok via Singapore. Payed extra for them to onward route my baggage as had to change flights at Singapore. My Baggage was lost for 4 days, found in Singapore, i collected it 5 days later. After getting the “run around” for nearly a month, SCOOT told me that they did not have to pay compensation as they are a “LOW COST” airline. So beware of SCOOT.

  10. Any chance you post the full trip reports of your India trip? Would love to hear what you thought about Indian airports.

  11. Is there someplace where your trip reports are listed by region (ie. Europe, Asia, etc.)? Seems like I saw this once upon a time, but can’t find it again. I’m specifically trying to find other ways to get to Europe from the US (besides BA) using AA miles and/or SPG points. Thanks!

  12. When are we going to see 2015 trip reports. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to seeing the new ones.

  13. The link to a week in Sicily doesn’t work. Can you fix it? I’m dying to see how you enjoyed it. Thanks

  14. @ Deborah — Thanks for the interest! Both of the Sicily links are working for me. Which one are you having issues with?

  15. Thanks, I checked the Sicily link and it’s working. I have no idea how I couldn’t get it to work yesterday.

    Deborah

  16. Ben

    Great blog can you please provide more advice for points earners here in Europe.

    Best regards

    Paul ( in malta a tiny island in the med )

  17. Curious – do you help travelers find flights – for a fee?

    I am trying like hell to thread the needle on a trip to Europe the end of September – Biz class – and I can’t seem to find any good deals.

    Frank

  18. I just read an article about how this guy Simon Huang got £40,000 of flights for £190. Attributed it to a glitch in alaska air miles or somesuch. Were you aware of this and have you pulled of anything similar?

  19. Hey Lucky. I read your blog for a long time now and it’s good to see, that there are more such crazy guys out there :-). I flew already a lot as well – and after my last meeting in Germany (I’m from Switzerland), I tried to find another way back to my home. So I flew back over Aruba this week… For the first time I catured my trip on video – have a look if you like under https://youtu.be/mMVe2Jxx9yc – just for fun :-). Perhaps we can meet on one of our trips 🙂

  20. I’ve been working my way through your trip reviews, and find them interesting and informative. The only thing I’d like to ask/wish/suggest is that if it is possible in the future to add the “to top of page” a couple of times per each new review. Your reviews are long (lots of good info, though), and not all devices used to read your blogs have an easy way to scroll back up.
    Keep up the great work, and I will regardless keep reading your blogs!

  21. Also, looking at the world map, Svalbard appears to be defined as its own region, not as part of Norway. In either case, I believe it should be blue after your visit…

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