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As we countdown to the end of the year, I decided to take a look back at my own year in travel, and it’s been a great one! I know you’ve read the trip reports and hotel reviews, so I won’t get into the details of each and every trip, but here’s a look at the raw numbers and a couple of my favorites from this past year – it only makes me look forward to traveling even more in 2014!
Total flights taken: 109
Total miles flown: 196,993
Base miles earned: 100,897
Bonus miles earned: 138,998
Miles used: 1,037,500
Airlines flown: 14
Airline elite status: American Executive Platinum, Delta Platinum
Top credit cards used and for what: Chase Sapphire Preferred (2.14x on travel and dining), Chase Ink Bold & Plus (5x office supplies, 2x gas and telecommunications), Chase Freedom (5x rotating categories and 10% bonus on all points), American Express Premier Rewards Gold (3x on airfare, 2x gas and grocery), American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (for non-bonus category expenses since the points are extremely valuable).
Emirates First Class – Yes, it lives up to the hype!
EVA Royal Laurel – A great way to get to Asia, especially thanks to the Dom Perignon.
Alitalia New Magnifica Business Class – Experiencing the new product got my trip to Milan and Florence off to a great start.
Countries visited: 16 – South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Italy, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Maldives, India, UAE, France, UK, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Costa Rica
South Africa – I found so many reasons to love this country- I even went twice in 2013!
Iceland – Unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been.
Spain – One of my all-time favorites.
Maldives – Sun, sea, scuba – what’s not to love?
Starwood: 39 stays, 80 nights – 75-Night Platinum status
Hyatt: 8 qualifying stays and 10 qualifying nights.
Hilton: 4 stays, 16 nights.
Carlson: 4 stays, 5 nights.
VRBO/Non-chain hotels: 25 nights
Last year (2012) was my hotel-stay bonanza with nearly 200 nights in hotels, but this year I scaled back a bit as well as trying out some home rental services. Mostly I was concerned about making SPG 75-night Platinum again since the only extra perk you get at 100 nights is a Starwood Ambassador whose services I found less than effective.
I’ve been Hyatt Diamond for a few years now and while I like the perks like points bonuses and suite upgrades, I reevaluated my strategy and where I was traveling and I decided to concentrate more of my efforts on other chains not only to try out my Hilton Diamond status (more below), but also because Hyatt just didn’t have properties in many of the places I traveled, so I’m going to take a look at my plans at the start of 2014 and see if Hyatt might match my needs more closely again this coming year and I might readjust my elite status strategy again.
With Hilton, I didn’t bother calculating my stays since I had achieved elite status through credit card spend on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, and I thought the benefits were lackluster, so I concentrated most of my Hilton activity toward redeeming points pre-devaluation for my recent stay at the Conrad Maldives, and I’ll probably let Hilton slide for a while now.
That said, I still spent well over 100 nights in hotels this past year – both chains and non-chains – and had some fantastic experiences.
Conrad Maldives – Overwater bungalows, an underwater restaurant and tons of activities made my stay amazing.
The newly reopened Prince de Galles in Paris – one of Starwood’s Luxury Collection hotels.
Park Hyatt Milan – What a fashionable place in a fashionable city.
Savannah Lodge in the Sabi Sand Private Reserve – I mentioned I love South Africa, and my safari experience at this beautiful lodge was a big part of why.
Not so favorite hotels: Hilton Papagayo (I am currently here now and I am leaving a day early to head over to the brand new Andaz Papagayo- stay tuned for details on this stay) and Hotel Holt in Reykjavik (the bed was about 5.5 feet long!).
All in all, it was another amazing year with wonderful travel experiences that have only left me excited for even more trips in 2014. What were some of your favorite experiences this year and what do you hope to do in 2014? Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.