A couple weeks ago, my friend challenged me to come up with a list of crazy things I could do with miles and points, or more specifically, a list of aspirational travel ideas with the restriction that they couldn’t have anything to do with luxury (which is what motivates many to begin travel hacking in the first place).
I tried for a while, but evidently I’m not creative enough to come up with a list without some other kind of inspiration (where’s my muse when I need one?). Instead, I decided to compile a list of all the (travel-related) adventures I’ve had this past year:
- Traveled past the North Pole on my way to India.
- Visited my grandparents for the first time in 8 years.
- Flew to another city (Chicago) only to turn around the next day and take a 56-hour train ride home.
- Bought a plane ticket to Colombia for a trip the following weekend.
- Flew to another country (Singapore) for the sake of visiting the airport (to be fair I did get into town as well!).
- Booked a ticket for my mother to meet me in New Orleans seconds after she expressed her desire to join me for my short jaunt over MLK weekend.
- Randomly visited Indonesia.
- Flew to another city (Los Angeles) to go to a concert/music festival for a day.
In isolation, these things are ludicrous. Actually, together, they’re ludicrous as well.
And yet, often I take these adventures for granted. I take for granted that I’ve been raised in a household where a sense of wonder and adventure is prized above all but a few other values (among them, empathy) and grown up in a culture that offers me freedom of means and freedom of movement. I forget that not everyone is fortunate enough to have friends who will support them (and join them) in everything they do and that my race, ethnicity, and sex afford me a level of safety and comfort many spend their whole lives trying to attain.
Many would say I’m privileged.
It’s hard to disagree. Maybe I am disconnected. But the best way I know how to deal with it is to keep exploring, keep searching, and keep having adventures. Travel(hack)ing has taught me to embrace spontaneity and serendipity, to afford myself the time to walk, to wonder, and to breathe. For the new year, I wish you the same.