15
Jan

2013 Year in Review: What Went Well, What Didn’t Go Well, and Goals for 2014

Posted By Trav

Thinking

This is the 3rd part of my look back at 2013.  Other posts include:

As one would expect from my first full year of being self-employed and running this site full-time, 2013 was a widely fascinating year.

Sometimes amazing, sometimes completely deflating, but never, ever dull.

I certainly didn’t come through unscathed, but I did come out the other end stronger, better, and more motivated than ever to make it on my own.

And while it didn’t always feel like it at the time, overall, that makes 2013 a huge success.

What Went Well

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Product Formation

After sitting on the idea of Frequent Flyer Bootcamp for a year, I finally put it all together and launched it in August.

And voila, Frequent Flyer Bootcamp has easily been the biggest success of any project I’ve launched, and I couldn’t be happier.

We’ve now run 3 different cohorts and it has been fantastic, both for the people who have gone through and given me amazing feedback, and for myself, who has enjoyed every single moment of it.

Moral of the story:  Have an idea you’ve put off forever?  Just go for it!  

It’ll probably be the best decision you make all year.

Connecting with People

At the beginning of 2013, I’d look at most of the blogs I read and they all seemed to be friends.

I wanted to be part of that.

To get advice from them, to bring my skills to the table to help them travel for cheap, and to ultimately, make meaningful connections with people doing what I was trying to do.

So I reached out to anyone I respected and admired.

And…WOW!

This year, I’ve been able to create amazing connections and relationships with tons of people, including (but not limited to): Jacob Sokol, Sean KeenerChris Guillebeau, Scott Dinsmore, Steve Kamb, Thomas Frank and James Clear.

It’s impossible to succeed in a vacuum, and I owe much of my success to the inspiration and insight I’ve gotten from these people over the past year.

But I also owe myself a pat on the back for taking the first step and reaching out to them in the first place.

Moral of the story:  People don’t bite, and everyone loves a genuine compliment.

Tell people you love what they do, help them in any way you can, and you’ll be amazed at the bonds you form.

The Extra Pack of Peanuts Podcast

There is an incredible lack of quality travel podcasts, despite how big of a market it is for people all over the world.

No one had created a travel podcast that was exactly what I wanted to listen to; travel interviews with inspiring people sharing great stories and excellent tips for cheap travel.

So I decided to create one.

I had no clue how to do it at first, but using Pat Flynn’s incredible tutorial and lots of trial and error, I quickly learned.

In just 9 months:

  • I’ve recorded and released 23 episodes
  • Had over 50,000 downloads and the Extra Pack of Peanuts Travel podcast
  • Become one of the top rated travel podcasts on iTunes (help us continue our climb by leaving your own rating).
  • Gotten to interview some of the world’s most unique and interesting travel personalities.

It’s been absolutely amazing, and I can’t tell who likes it more; me or the listeners!

Moral of the story:  If it doesn’t exist, create it, whether you know how to or not!

Travel

Once again, I was blessed to have some absolutely amazing travel experiences.

I scaled back on international travel to focus more on domestic trips.

This resulted in going to:

  • 3 different countries (Canada, Spain, and Portugal),
  • 5 new states (California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Louisiana)
  • Plenty of new cities (San Fran, Santiago de Compostela, Madrid, Lisbon, Porto, Denver, Portland, Edmonton, Vancouver, Seattle and a host of others)
  • 1 goofy little island stuck between two continents (Gibraltar)

But numbers definitely don’t tell the whole story, as some of these experiences are included in the best of my life.

Find out what my top 10 experiences of 2013 were as well as 32 cheap travel tips to help you do the same in this post.

Weight Loss/Health

I’ve been fat ever since the end of high school.

Yep, fat.

Not slightly overweight or a tad pudgy.

Fat.

I’ve tried over and over again to lose weight and keep it off.

But it’s never worked, and so starting in May, I told myself it was time to put up or shut up.

From August until the end of 2013, I was able to lose 40 pounds.

I now weigh less than I have since I was 16.

My weight has easily been the biggest struggle in my life since I was a kid, and I’m incredibly proud to say that I’m the healthiest and lightest I’ve been in the last 15 years.

It hasn’t been easy, but it’s the most rewarding, and important, thing I’ve ever done.

Moral of the story:  Stop making excuses.  Either do it or don’t.

The Growth of EPoP

As chronicled in my Thanksgiving post, financially, this year has been crazy (and hard).

But despite the financial turmoil, the constant has been that EPoP has been growing bigger and bigger each and every month.

We just surpassed 2,000 newsletter subscribers at the very end of 2013 (click here to join!) and our daily readership continues to climb, with over 55k people coming to EPoP each month.

Even with this growth, I’m proud to say that I still personally respond to every single email sent to me and every single comment posted on the site.

Some days, it seems like I’m buried under an avalanche, but I know that what sets my site apart from others is the personal touch in each post, email, or reply to a comment, and that will definitely continue.

Moral of the story:  If you’re doing something right, keep doing it.  

Booking Award Tickets

Although I’m unsure of the exact count, this year I’ve helped over 50 people book tickets through my Award Booking Service.

I’ve also gotten much quicker and more efficient with the process, and overall, am very happy with how much my skills have improved and how effective I’ve been at helping people plan their dream vacations.

Moral of the story:  If you’ve got a skill, use it to make money.  Doesn’t matter how much, get paid for doing something you love.

What Didn’t Go Well

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Consistency

Basically, there was none!

I toyed with different strategies for posting, from posting every Tuesday and Thursday, to (briefly) posting almost every day, to posting whenever I felt I had something good to say.

The end result was it screwed up you, the readers, because you never knew when to expect something.

The reason I moved to posting “whenever I felt I had something good to say” and away from a regular posting schedule was pure laziness.

Writing posts, believe it or not, are really hard and time consuming, especially for a perfectionist like me.

And so instead of writing posts, I’d do other things (usually answering emails was my default).

This year, my main goal is to get, and stick to, a posting schedule.  Whether it is 2x a week or 1x a week, consistency is the key, and I promise I’ll improve this year for you.

Delegation and Management

Once again, basically this was non-existent.

At this point, EPoP has grown so large that it’s impossible for me to stay on top of all working parts.

From posting to award booking to podcasts to answering emails, there’s just a lot to do.

And while I love doing it, in order to do what I do best the best, I need to bring on a team member or two and start delegating.

The reason I haven’t yet?

Probably fear.

Fear that it’ll take time to find the right people.

Fear that I’ll be a bad “boss”.

Fear of giving up part of “my baby”.

But in order for EPoP to really take off and help even more people, I’ll have to give up some control and let people help.

I’ll be releasing more details shortly, but if you are interested in possibly joining EPoP part-time, feel free to drop me a note to let me know.

Following Through on Big Projects

Outside of Frequent Flyer Bootcamp, my other two major projects that I started this year have stalled.

While it would be easy to blame external factors, the simple fact is that I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t know what my next step is…and I’ve just left it there.

This goes back to the “management/delegation” theme, and at this point, I need to make a decision of whether to pursue these or to forget about them.

Giving/Saving Money

Because 2013 was so up and down financially, it was very hard to save much money or donate money in any consistent manner.

The “donating money/helping others in need aspect” is something I’d like to make more of a tenet at EPoP, and am trying to figure out a way to start doing that as a community.

Meeting Readers

Every time I did meet readers (at WDS, at FTU, etc.) it was a blast!

And I absolutely love meeting people, especially awesome people that geek out about travel like me.

But this year, outside of those conferences, I only met one reader when I swung through their city (Hi Suzy from Vancouver).

In 2014, I’m changing that.  I want to hang out with you…if you’ll have me!

To that end, I’ll be posting my travel schedule on the site so that you can see where I am, and hopefully, we can meet up!

I’ll also be experimenting with putting together meet ups in various cities.

The Ultimate Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles

After building hype and launching it in October 2012, I basically haven’t done any marketing around it since.

Some of it was because after taking so much time writing it, I was burnt out.

The other reason was just that it’s always easier and more fun to move on to another project than to really market the one you have.

I know it’s the best book out there about frequent flyer miles, and people can still purchase it from my website, but I haven’t marketed it to outside audiences.

This year, one of my main focuses will be getting it in a format that can be sold on Amazon and trying to get some mainstream media press for it.

My Stress Level and Response To It

Having your own business has many perks.

No commute.

Working in your pajamas.

Traveling around the world when you want.

In fact, the perks far outweigh the negatives.

But stress is not one of the perks.

I’m not usually one to get stressed out, but this year has been the most stressed I’ve been in my life.

It’s a fine line between being passionate about your website and letting it consume you, and it’s not always one I’ve fallen on the right side of.

This has lead me to have a much shorter temper with those around me (namely Heather) and also to not sit back and enjoy life as much as I should.

This year, I’ll be working on the work-fun balance and attempting to make sure I’m being a genuinely nice and fair person to those around me.

What I’m Working Towards (Goals for 2014)

Jaisamer-Desert-EPoP

Looking back on what worked and what didn’t work doesn’t mean anything if you don’t plan on changing things.

With all that in mind, here are the goals I’ve established for myself in 2014…

Goals for Extra Pack of Peanuts

Goal:  Establish a posting and podcast schedule and STICK TO IT!  

Consistency is key..and also one of the hardest things for me to do.

This needs to happen, so help hold me accountable.

When:  By the beginning of February, figure out my posting schedule and then use it going forward.

Goal:  Bring on at least one part-time person to help me with EPoP

This really is a win-win-win all around.

Having someone help me will allow EPoP to grow much larger than it could if I did everything myself.

It will free me up to do more creative and “big picture” projects.

It will be more fun to have a partner in crime.

And it will allow someone to have an awesome, creative, and fun job and move closer to a life of both location and financial freedom.

When:  Post the requirements and application process by February 1st.  Hire someone by March 1st.

Goal:  Have Extra Pack of Peanuts redesigned.

This is something that has already started a little bit behind the scenes.

I’ve hired a designer (the incredibly talented John Ellis from Podcast #20) and we’ve started discussing the design and what elements we want to incorporate.

Once finished, the site will be much cleaner, easier to navigate, faster, and will have more of my personal touch.

It will also make much more sense for new readers who come to the site in hopes that they join our “Free Travel Revolution” and become part of the community.

When:  Shooting to launch by March 1st.

Goal:  Hit 10,000 newsletter subscribers.

While the jump from 2,000 to 10,000 may seem like a big one, I believe that we are at the tipping point here at EPoP.

Things have gained momentum, our community is engaged and vibrant (as evidenced by all the comments you leave) and I’m figuring out how to delegate.

All this means that growth should skyrocket, and I can’t wait to have even more people join us in embracing the mantra of Travel More, Spend Less.

When:  By December 31st (but hopefully sooner)

Goals (Personal)

Goal:  Develop a much more rigid work/not work schedule

Shutting my brain off and stopping work for the day is hard to do, but a necessity if I want to make time in my life for the people closest to me.

To do this, I need to start waking up earlier, get to work sooner, and then get away from my computer when I’m done.

When:  Immediately

Goal:  Save 30% and give away 10% of all money I make, regardless of how much it is.

I don’t care about the actual amounts (although I’d love to have more savings!) but instead, the percentages.

Whether  it is $10 a month or $10k, I want to start saving and donating in a fiscally responsible manner.

When:  Immediately

Goal:  Hit my target weight of 175 pounds.

Currently, I’m at 198 pounds, so I’ve got a little ways to go.

But I’ve already dropped 40, so I’m over halfway!

When:  By July 1st

Goals (Travel)

Goal:  Live in another country for at least 1 month and work remotely

This is much different than a “vacation.”

I want to settle in somewhere for over a month, get an apartment, and work (while also enjoying the area that I’m in).

Currently, we’re looking at doing this during May, and probably somewhere in Eastern Europe. Croatia, maybe?

Any suggestions are welcome.

Goal:  Take Heather to Paris for the first time

Since we already have tickets to head there April 5th, and one night at the Park Hyatt Vendome booked, this should be easy to cross off the list.

I’m super excited, since this has been her #1 destination for years.

Goal:  Visit at least 1 really amazing monument for the first time

Right now, I’m thinking either Machu Picchu, Petra, or Moai on Easter Island.

Or heck, maybe all three!

Goal:  Plan a trip with no end date

I’ve done a lot of traveling, but I’ve yet to have a completely open-ended trip.  I’ve always had a return ticket back to somewhere.

This year, I want to take a trip where I’m not sure when I’m leaving, and just take it as it comes.

Special Note to Readers

If you’ve made it this far, I can’t thank you enough for reading.

None of the above could have happened without your support, and I’m the first person to realize that.

I’m incredibly grateful to each and every one of you, and over the next year, I’ll be working harder than ever to make EPoP the best it possibly can.

As the best readers in the world, you deserve it.

Chime In!

This site isn’t just about me…it’s about all of us!

What were your big wins from this year?  What things could you have done better?  And what are your big goals for 2014?

Let me know in the comments below, and let’s crush 2014 together!

(thumbs up photo courtesy of .reid, thumbs down courtesy of striatic) 

51 comments

  1. Charlie says:

    Great write-up, Trav! Sounds good and I wish you all the best in 2014. If you decide to stay in Northern Greece for that month and I am still here, let me know and we can hook up!
    Also, you are in for a real treat while in Paris – the Paris Marathon is April 6th and should be a blast to watch! Have fun! :)

    1. Trav says:

      @Charlie- I’ll definitely let you know if we venture to Northern Greece. We’ll certainly be setting up shop somewhere near that area! How long have you been there!

  2. Eric says:

    Have you read “4 Hour Work Week”? It sounds like you’re already living some of the principles. If you haven’t you should definitely pick it up, it will inspire you. And, will give you some good ideas for delegation and working remotely to free up your time for more travel.

    1. Trav says:

      @Eric- Yep, that is the book that started it all for me (at least in thinking about how I could change my life) about 5 years back. You’re right, I should go back and read the management/delegation part. Hardest thing is I know WHAT to do, it’s just actually doing it.

      Thanks though, sometimes you just need a reminder, and that book is a great one!

  3. Just read the section about wanting to publish your book. I can give you a couple time saving tips to get through the amazon self publish option. I wrote a short book last year. I’ve read your blog quite a bit and have taken away a lot of good info. Email me if I can help.

  4. Irene says:

    Great post!
    My big travel-related win of 2013 was finally making the decision to travel! ha ha. It doesn’t sound very ground-breaking, but it was a big step for me. At first it seemed impossible to save up enough money to meet my travel goals, but then somehow, I started learning about rewards cards and suddenly it all clicked.
    When I found EPoP, it was like flipping the switches on turbo boosters; your site has helpe me put my travel goal within reach and I am energized to go for it!

    1. Trav says:

      @Irene- Your comment says it all! This is EXACTLY what I’m trying to do at EPoP…inspire people to travel, and then show them how. I could haven’t written a better testimonial myself. Thank you thank you thank you for taking the time to let me know it’s changing your life!

      So the big question is…where are you headed?

      1. Irene says:

        My gf and I are headed to London, Edinburgh and Paris in September – thanks to your site, I know I can try to book an open jaw ticket. (I was such a newb as of a few months ago, I didn’t know what that was… ) Currently the goal is to start racking up points as soon as my new cards arrive.

        Also, I’m looking forward to hearing more about what kind of part-time help you’re looking for around EPoP!

        1. Trav says:

          @Irene- I’m using some of this time in Italy to really flesh out what I will need done at EPoP and how it can be an awesome experience for both the person working for me and myself…and how we can grow EPoP together. I’ll post details at the end of January, and looking forward to hearing from you!

  5. Bill says:

    Great stuff. And congrats on the weight loss. I did what you did and decided that I didn’t want to be fat anymore. Jan. 1 2013 is when I started. I’ve lost 80 lbs and I’m in the best shape of my life.

    I also want to thank you for being so approachable in your style. I read a lot of travel blogs and sometimes feel intimidated. You seem like an “everyday” kind of guy and I really appreciate that. I don’t feel way out of my league.

    I’m new to this whole thing since last October. I have two goals: My son (who is 19) is attending school in Thailand. I have already been able to fly him home for $5! Thank you United Explorer Card! I would like to visit him or bring him home again soon.

    Most importantly my wife and I celebrate 25 years in fall 2015. We want to get to western Europe (France and England for her and Germany/Switzerland/etc. for me). We will have 3 weeks! She’s a teacher and has a break then and I’m a pastor. We are going with carry-on only! Woo Hoo! Maybe developing a strategic plan for earning points with a specific goal in mind could be a podcast topic? I’ve just downloaded the podcast today, so maybe you have covered it already.

    Lastly…how amazing is it to hear a travel blogger talk about giving away 10% (a tithe). And also saving 30%. Good for you. I appreciate it.

    1. Trav says:

      @Bill- 80 pounds! Way to go buddy, how’d you do it?

      Really glad you love the blog, and you are right on. I am a “everyday” kind of guy and that’s what I want everyone to know. I do this, and so can anyone else. I’m not special, just someone who is blessed to be able to share with others the great gift of travel!

      Where is your son studying in Thailand. To this day, still my favorite country. You most certainly have to visit him!

      As for a Europe trip in a carryon, it certainly can be done. I’m doing it right now, and we are in Italy during the winter, so warm weather is needed.

      I definitely advocate getting points with a specific goal in mind. If you want to shoot me an email (trav (at) extrapackofpeanuts (dot) com) I can certainly help you figure out which will work best for going to Europe, based on what you already have.

      And the tithing and savings are just things that I really feel I need to make more of a concerted effort to do. Sometimes, with all the hustle of having your own business, and trying to claw and figure out how to get by, we forget about some important fiscal responsibilities. Luckily, my parents have always been amazing role models, and now it’s time for me to start doing the same.

  6. Who is the statue and what city?

    1. Trav says:

      @Steve Gempler- The statue is in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain, where my sister lives. Believe it or not, I don’t know who it is sitting there, and there wasn’t a plaque commemorating either. Whoever it is, he’s one skinny dude!

  7. Ken says:

    For your 1 month live-abroad, have you considered Prague? What will Heather do for work abroad?

    1. Trav says:

      @Ken- Kind of considered Prague, although we are leaning towards being closer to the water. Not sure why other than the water in May may be warm enough to swim, and I love being near a beach. Have you done Prague for an extended period of time? If so, I’m wide open to advice, as the Croatia thing is still just a starting point.

      Heather has started her own website about fashion and a side business around it, so she’ll be working on really getting that in to full gear! Two bloggers in one household…that could be trouble!

      1. jos Bults says:

        Trav, Try Shekou in China. Next to Macao, Hong Kong, GREAT weather, CHEAP traveling around, and the right mix of expats, travelers and locals, not too expensive: less than 200$ a month would get you a simple apartment. IMHO: one of the best places to live. Visa’s are easy to get as well. But don’t tell anybody I told you – we local foreigners like to keep it to ourselves.

        1. Trav says:

          @Jos Bults- Shekou, eh? Never heard of it, and unfortunately, probably won’t get to check it out while I’m actually in China next month because we are pretty booked already.

          How’s it compare to SE Asia? We are looking to do 1-3 months there this coming winter. Do you currently live in Shekou?

          1. jos Bults says:

            Hi Trav,
            Shekou is a part of Shenzhen, one of the biggest cities in China – 16 million people. Shekou is the area with the highest percentage of foreigners for several years now, and subsequently has all the facilities you could crave for. It is next to Hong Kong. I’m now living in Shekou,. after having lived in Beijing and Shanghai, and having traveled most of the right side of the country, and there’s no better place to live. At this moment, I’m sitting in a T-shirt and shorts (it’s almost noon). Next month will be a little cooler, but from March to June, and from September to February temperatures are great. And due to the constant sea wind, Shekou has so much less polution than all of the other big cities. Nice parks, a great music scene – with incredible musicians flocking together. And plenty of interaction with locals as well, the percentage of English speaking locals is rather high.

            Imagine: 2 huge airports within 50 km (Hong Kong and Shenzhen) and 2 more within 120 km (Guangzhou, Macao). Train connections by high speed bullet trains to everywhere in China from 3 stations, and a ferry where you can check in for the airport at literally 2 minutes by taxi from the main square.

            Friends of mine would suggest Phillipines or Thailand, and they may have a point with regards to climate, but yet they spend half their time here :) For good reason I would say.

          2. Trav says:

            @Jos Bults- Hmmm…interesting. I’ll definitely have to check it out, sounds pretty sweet! What work do you do?

          3. jos Bults says:

            Hi Trav, I’m in design and trading – BTW Shenzhen is the design capital of China. And Shekou is one of the design hot spots – currently there is a international biennale on architecture and design on here.

  8. Roser says:

    Very interesting post, Travis, I wish you the best!
    My goal is to keep working on my own business while still working full time, as in 2015 I’m going to travel around the world with my partner, until as long as we feel like!

    1. Trav says:

      @Roser- Wow, until as long as you feel like? Sounds like you’ll never stop! What business are you currently working on, and will you be able to do it while traveling? Can I help in any way?

  9. Gail says:

    Wow you’ve had a quite a year. I just started to get serious about traveling using miles and points this last year and 2014 is going to be awesome.. You are so smart to start young. I am 57 and just starting to travel. Thanks for all your great advise. I have 3 trips planned for this year and all flights are using miles, including one to Seattle for a bluegrass festival, one with my boyfriend to Phoenix, which is the starting point for a 10 day road trip to Lake Powell, Monument Valley, The Grand Canyon and Sedona, where I used miles for both of us (I am also using the Barclay Arrival card bonus to offset some of my expenses) and finally a business class ticket to Europe including 4 nights at the Hyatt Madeleine with 3 nights free and one for $150 using miles and points (Park Hyatt Vendome was all booked but Paris has always been my dream, too) and I plan to book 3 nights in Brussells using Hilton points (is that a wise use of points at 40K/nt? I’m not sure). I hope to continue and repeat the process. I am saving miles for 60th birthday trip to Bora bora in 2016.

    1. Trav says:

      @Gail- Well, you may have started later, but you’re sure making up for lost time! Those sound like some amazing uses of points, and you’re going to have a blast!

      We will be doing Bora Bora or the Maldives at some point, maybe 2015? That’s going to take a lot of work to get to, and be expensive (even with comped hotels and flights), so I’ll have to figure out how to fit it in!

      Congrats on deciding to pursue a life full of travel. Doesn’t matter when you start, as long as you don’t stop!

  10. rom says:

    Sounds like a great year Travis, hope you do well in 2014. Heard your podcast with Chris Guillebeau, good job. Didn’t know you were a full time blogger, I’m just part-time. Consistentcy is hard, but I push through it most of the times.

    1. Trav says:

      @Rom- Thanks, it was! I took the leap about 1.5 years ago, and while it’s been rocky, it’s been eye-opening, wonderful, and an incredible learning experience, all rolled in to one!

      Glad you liked the podcast with Chris. He was a great guest. We’ve got plenty of other awesome ones as well…check them out!

  11. Jason says:

    Keep up the great work Trav, FF Bootcamp was stellar (let me know if you’d like a testimonial, happy to help) and your blog has been a great resource to helping me achieve some of my travel goals. Thanks for a great 2013! Look forward to more good stuff in 14.

    1. Trav says:

      @Jason- Thanks buddy, we still have 1 more Q&A (at the end of January we’ll do it) and then I’ll certainly accept testimonials! What types of travel you looking at in 2014?

      1. Jason says:

        Back to Norway, a stopover in Scotland for a hitch hiking race is on the agenda..honeymoon. open to everything at this point!

        1. Trav says:

          @Jason- A hitch hiking race? Do tell…

  12. jennifernice says:

    Fantastic! This post made me smile for lots of reasons: I can identify with many of your successes and struggles, I love your transparency and sincerity, I’m proud of you, and I’m so glad to be a part of the EPOP community.

    Your previous post (2013 travel review) has been sitting in my inbox and I’ve read it twice and want to read it again -it’s jammed with helpful tips. I’ve put off writing my comments until I do.

    As a fellow blogger and writer, don’t beat yourself up too much about an inconsistent publishing schedule. Yes, having a content calendar is the ideal, but in reality it’s verrry challenging. The bottom line: because you offer so much value in each post (and they’re FUN to read) readers like me don’t really care if they’re published on a Tuesday or Thursday. We make time to read them because they’re good stuff! Looking forward to all the goodies in store for 2014!

    1. Trav says:

      @jennifernice- Wow, well…that was about one of the nicest things someone could say. I’m blown away by your compliments, and I’m really, really happy that I’ve created something at EPoP that resonates with you and that you can really enjoy.

      Thanks again…really, I’m speechless (and that doesn’t happen often)!

  13. Really nice and inspiring too.. Keep it up man..

    1. Trav says:

      @Sameer Agarwal- Thanks, appreciate it!

  14. sabina says:

    Great post, Travis … as usual. You are an inspiration to me – and I am sure – to others. Nice going.

    1. Trav says:

      @sabina- Thanks, and really glad I can help inspire you. What are your goals for 2014?

  15. Teresa says:

    Please, post ALL about your Venice trip, headed there/Lisbon/Greece in September. Already taking some of your advice on your Lisbon trip!! Thanks for all the great info you provide!

    1. Trav says:

      @Teresa- I certainly will. You’re going to love Lisbon…the Pena Palace in Sintra is one of my favorite monuments in the world.

  16. Jerry Mandel says:

    I hope you are not disappointed. One travel writer wrote that the lighting in rooms and corridors in Paris Park Hyatt Vendome is dim and the rooms are shabby.

    1. Trav says:

      @Jerry Mandel- Really? I’d love to see that article if you can find it. And no matter what, I’ll most likely never complain about a free room!

  17. Mara says:

    One of my biggest wins of 2013 was stumbling upon your website via google search!
    I loved your video of making the most of United Miles! I have now booked a summer 2014 trip to the Arctic Circle and Longyearbyen – the northernmost city on the planet which includes a layover night in Tromso and Oslo, an open jaw from Zurich to Paris ….(inserted a Viking Cruise from Paris to Normandy) …and home again! We went to the Southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia, Argentina and Antarctica in 2011. My husband can hardly believe it! Prior to finding your website, I had planned ahead for “someday free hotel nights” .. and yes, we are staying on hotel points all the way!!!
    Thank you, Trav…..and best wishes for your continued SUCCESS and a profitable 2014!!!

    1. Trav says:

      @Mara- Well I really appreciate the kind words, and super glad I could help! That’s pretty cool…the southermost point city and the northernmost. I wish I could get you to write an article about the two! I’ve never been to either…did you use miles to get to both?

      Seems like you have some epic trips planned…Keep it up!

      1. Mara says:

        Several years ago, I received an email from Smarter Travel with the banner “The Most Lucrative Credit Card Ever”. I jumped on that quickly. After asking my husband if he was interested, I went back to sign him up, but the offer had been pulled. A few days/weeks later, it was back….and I jumped fast in his name! With 2 British Airways at 100K each, we were set. The spend was no problem since we were doing a remodel and our daughter was getting married! We have had to amazing trips to Europe on the miles w/ free companion pass because of meeting the yearly spend 2 years in a row! The other miles were used for extra trips like trips to South America, etc.

        Yes, we flew to Buenos Aires and boarded a Celebrity Cruise to Antarctica. That flight was $5 in taxes! However, we could have flown all the way to Ushuaia – the southernmost city. (Go for it, Trav!) This summer, we will be flying to Longyearbyen, Norway….on United Award Miles…into the Arctic.

        I have learned so much from Million Miles Secrets and EPoP!!!
        Your websites are truly a wealth of information!!!

        My goal is to see as much of our world as God allows!
        We are semi-retired…..and love to travel together….and sometimes with our children and grandchildren…..and friends.

        1. Trav says:

          @Mara- A true inspiration. I’m with you…I want to see as much of the world as possible. No time to waste!

  18. robin says:

    Aloha Travis, cool to see your good and bad….time to make my list
    you keep on keeping on, thanks for all your input into travel for the rest of us…see you when you make it through Honolulu

    1. Trav says:

      @robin- Thanks, and glad I could inspire you to take stock of your 2013! I’m still planning on getting out to Hawaii and taking you up on your offer…don’t think I’ve forgotten! Soon, soon!

  19. Alan says:

    Travis, just found your website last night and am hooked. This is a great post and wish you all the best in 2014. Your post on Italy is gold for me. My wife and I are planning a trip there this year. Quick question…. we also want to visit Toronto and possibly on the front end of our trip across the pond. I’ve found that flights out of Canada to Europe are considerably cheaper than leaving from the US…especially if the trip falls on a US Holiday (we are planning around Memorial Day).

    Do you have any experience with routing through Canada or another in North American before going overseas?

    Thanks and keep it up!

    – Alan

    1. Trav says:

      @Alan- Super pumped to have you on board, and glad you’re hooked! Once you start down the rabbit hole of frequent flyer miles and cheap travel, there’s no turning back!

      As far as routing through Canada first, no, I don’t have any real experience doing that. But if tickets are substantially cheaper coming out of Canada to Europe, that sounds like a great plan. You’ll get to see another place (Toronto) AND pay less. What could be better than that? Well done my friend, and good find!

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