Happy New Year to everyone except a few Hawaiians, who are almost there. I’m 35,000 feet up in a Global First bed en route from LAX to Sydney then onto Auckland for the start of three weeks in Australia and New Zealand.
This trip is the culmination of 16 months of planning. In late 2011, I got in on the 150,000 American Airlines miles bonanza for opening up a Citi AA Visa and Citi AA AMEX. My brother has been talking for years about going to the Australian Open, even running a blog annually during the fortnight. I told him this was our chance. Grab 150k AA miles each, and we could fly both ways in first class.
Eleven months out we used his miles to book him
Las Vegas to Honolulu (free oneway)
Honolulu to Sydney
Sydney to Cairns
Cairns to Melbourne
Melbourne to Honolulu
Honolulu to Los Angeles (free oneway)
Anatomy of an Award for his mega trip. All that was only 120k miles including business class on the return and second free oneway.
I booked United Global First to Sydney then Air New Zealand business on to Auckland to spend ten days in New Zealand before we meet in Sydney. I’m crossing the Tasman Sea in Emirates First. And I’m returning to Los Angeles from Melbourne on a direct flight in Qantas business, with a later free oneway to Tampa naturally. (Anatomy of an Award)
We’ve got tickets to three days of the Aussie Open, meaning I’ll have been to two of tennis’s majors in the last year (saw the French in May.) Seeing the Aussie will meet my 2012 New Year’s Resolution, and my brother’s 2005 resolution. What are my 2013 travel resolutions?
1) Move to Argentina. This is cheating perhaps since I booked the ticket in August. And this is more of a 2003 resolution, when I decided one day to live somewhere Spanish speaking.
2) Back to Africa. I’ve been to Morocco, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya. I’m going to South Africa in August. I’m not sure if I’ll do another safari. I really want to learn more about Apartheid and see its legacy while I’m there.
3) Seven Weeks in Europe. From South Africa, I’m heading to Munich. I’m leaving Munich seven weeks later. In the interim, I am plan-less. I want to see a mixture of old and new countries. Top return targets are Sweden and Poland. Top new targets are Hungary and the Baltic states. I also know I’ll catch the last few days of Oktoberfest.
4) Go to three or more UVA basketball games. I’m definitely going to two in February, so I have to challenge myself to get to one next season before 2013 ends.
4) Hawaii. I always want to go at least once a year. I’ve been to dozens of countries, but none has the beaches that we have in our own paradise. So it’s not a bad place to have to visit to see my family.
5) Explore the good old U, S, and A. I never think to travel here. I’m always quick to grab my passport. But I would like to explore a few American cities; Chicago, Denver, and Austin are on my radar. Avios will by my friend here.
Most of these trips are already booked, so I’ll give book-in-2013-for-2014 resolutions too.
1) Six months in Brazil? We’ll see how six months in Argentina goes first. But the opportunity to see Carnival, the World Cup, and learn a third language is tempting.
2) Southeast Asia. I’ve spent a few days in Asia, all in the eastern half of Istanbul. It’s time to rectify that. My top targets are probably Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, though I need to talk to more people for suggestions.
3) Europe. I think I want to spend a month every year in Europe. Eastern Europe is cheap and fun. Northern Europe is full of long days, bikes, and perfect English. The Mediterranean is stunning. How could I be anywhere else?
What about my award resolutions?
1) Singapore First. Out of Brazil, there are no surcharges and Singapore flies Sao Paulo to Barcelona (Hat Tip Amol). The trip is only 59k Singapore points oneway in First, which is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards.
2) An AXON stay at a top-tier Hilton. For only 145k Hilton points, you can stay four nights at a top-tier hotel. Any suggestions where I should book mine? You can get 2 Hilton points per Hawaiian Mile, Virgin Atlantic Mile, or Membership Reward. Or you can open several of their co-branded credit cards.
3) China Southern Business on an A380. As good a use of Delta miles as most uses despite the $330 approximate surcharges per roundtrip. See Delta Surcharge Info for All Partners.
4) Hoard points. Ordinarily bad advice, but I want to take more last minute trips in 2014 after having 2012 and 2013 set almost 11 months out. This will change if major changes happen to frequent flyer programs, such that I’d be better off burning.
1) Continue to be the best resource for award booking information. More Anatomies of an Award, more aggregating information like Delta surcharges and possible Avios awards, more screen-shotted how-tos on free oneways and other complex bookings.
2) Maintain the best and lowest-priced Award Booking Service. Tahsir and I love to help people book awards. Except when we get jealous of how fun the trip sounds.
3) Increase my content on earning miles. This is the other half of the equation, and I want to be a leading resource here too.
4) More hotel content. I don’t stay at a lot of hotels, so Bill is going to be a star here.
I hope you have a happy, healthy, and far-flung 2013.