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My TED Talk: We're Living in the Golden Age of Travel

Dec. 20, 2016
4 min read
My TED Talk: We're Living in the Golden Age of Travel
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For the last several years, I've been attending the TED conference in Vancouver. It's a week-long "bootcamp for the brain," where some of the world's most innovative minds in Technology Entertainment and Design (get it?) come and speak about their work. Being asked to give a TED talk on the main stage is a major recognition of your impact on the world, and I can only hope to one day have made enough of an impact in a certain area to have that opportunity.

In the meantime, TED has TED University, which are five-minute quick talks that are simply about interesting things conference attendees are doing. You apply and, if chosen, you work with the TEDU staff and do several Skype rehearsals and then present during the TED conference, albeit on a smaller side stage. TEDU is open to all attendees of TED, and even though they're much shorter than a normal TED talk, some of the most interesting talks have come from TEDU.

I figured I'd apply to give a TEDU talk on something mileage related, however, five minutes isn't enough time to give even the quickest primer on how to maximize miles and points. I wanted to put it in the context that the TED participants could relate to, since most of them travel the world for their demanding professional lives. I decided I would make the claim that the golden age of travel is NOW, and that ordinary people would travel in luxury if they knew how to maximize their miles and points. I wanted to be able to use some data to prove my point, which is why I wanted to make it a broader travel topic and then narrow in at the end on miles and points enough to pique people's interest in the topic.

Even though I'm highly critical of myself and, in hindsight, I would have changed my talk, I'm happy that I pushed myself to do this. I was the first to go out of our class of about 15 speakers, and I have to admit my adrenaline was rushing as I took the stage. There are no teleprompters with TED talks, and it's highly discouraged to look at note cards, so the pressure is on to deliver an effortlessly engaging talk. Even though I barely touched the tip of the iceberg of miles and points, I had a ton of people come up to me after the talk and throughout the conference asking for help with their miles/points/strategy, which made it a success to me. When you have some of the world's best minds — neurosurgeons even! — coming up to you and asking for your professional opinion, it feels pretty darn good!

Anyway, here's the talk. If anything, it should make you realize that we are living in an unprecedented time to travel — even if you're in economy. Travel nowadays is safer and faster than ever before, and I firmly believe a more connected globe is a better one for humanity.

Do you agree that we're living in the golden age of travel?

Featured image by Ryan Lash/TED