2013 Review: My Year in Points, Miles and Travel

by on December 31, 2013 · 12 comments

in General TPG Business

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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).

Favorite experiences:

Emirates first class was top of my list.

Emirates first class was top of my list.

Emirates First Class – Yes, it lives up to the hype!

I liked stretching out on EVA.

I liked stretching out on EVA.

EVA Royal Laurel – A great way to get to Asia, especially thanks to the Dom Perignon.

Alitalia's Business class that i will be flying from Madrid to Rome also has lie-flat seats.

Alitalia’s new Magnifica Class was a great experience.

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


Enjoying the scenery from the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town.

Enjoying the scenery from the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town.

South Africa – I found so many reasons to love this country- I even went twice in 2013!

The Golden Waterfall.

The Golden Waterfall in Iceland.

Iceland – Unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been.

One of my favorite places in Madrid, Retiro Park.

One of my favorite places in Madrid, Retiro Park.

Spain – One of my all-time favorites.

I can't wait to get back to the Maldives.

I can’t wait to get back to the Maldives.

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.


The bedroom was decorated in soothing blues and turquoises.

The bedroom of my villa at the Conrad Maldives.

Conrad Maldives – Overwater bungalows, an underwater restaurant and tons of activities made my stay amazing.


Stay tuned for my review of the gorgeously restored Prince de Galles.

I loved checking out the Prince de Galles on my last trip to Paris.

The newly reopened Prince de Galles in Paris – one of Starwood’s Luxury Collection hotels.

The Park Hyatt Milan made my visit to the fashion city even better.

The Park Hyatt Milan made my visit to the fashion city even better.

Park Hyatt Milan – What a fashionable place in a fashionable city.

I loved the tents at Savannah Lodge in South Africa.

I loved the tents at Savannah Lodge in South Africa.

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?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Ruthlessly Absurd

    I’d love a write-up of your experiences with VRBO at some point if possible

  • Robertplafker

    Dubai isn’t a country. Don’t you mean the UAE?

  • Brian

    Given you burned ~1M miles and only earned about 25% of that flying, what were your strategies to generate 750K points? Just credit cards?

  • Jim

    I second that!! HA! Since we travel primarily with 3 kids in tow, it’s hard to stuff us into a hotel – and it’s costly. VRBO has been a great benefit for us!

  • Jim

    Brian, was part of the 1,000,000 miles used the charity giveaway? Just curious.

  • paula hamblen

    Anxious to hear your opinion of the Andaz since I was just online debtaing whether to book it.

  • Lively

    Thanks for the year summary. It’s amazing!

  • Guest

    Bummed to hear you didnt like Hotel Holt. I’m a new reader, so I probably missed the post on it, but my wife and I had a nice stay there on our Europe-wandering honeymoon. Room amenities were definitely “European” in feel, but no more so than most non-US chain hotels over there, IMO. They had amazing raw salmon at the hotel bar, too. Just gotta stick up for them!

    Anyway, love the site, looking forward to seeing what you come up with for 2014!

    Also, second the comment asking for a rundown on how you generated the other 750k miles. Held over from last year? $50,000 purchase at eBags through the Dividend Miles portal? Do tell!

  • Goat Rodeo

    … advertising revenue from various credit card application referrals?

  • Mike Arbucci

    Brian, the new mobile theme is awesome. Nice work–keep it coming!

  • steve

    Chase ink bold is 5x telecommunications, not 2x like your post says

  • TPG Geography Professor

    You reviewed the 4 Seasons in Toronto yet Canada isn’t a country? #Geographyfail

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