New feature! Suggested listening for this post: Counting Stars, by Onerepublic
I don’t really need a huge or massive reason to plan a trip. Earlier this year, I flew around the world to celebrate my 30th birthday as well as a blogger I follow’s successful completion of a goal to visit every country in the world by his 35th birthday. Later, I went to New Zealand mostly on a whim simply because I found First Class availability on Qantas from Sydney-Los Angeles and built a trip around it. There was one common theme on these trips, though: I went alone.
I’m used to traveling alone, although I don’t like it. I can play the part of an outgoing guy, but deep down inside I’m pretty shy so it’s hard for me to meet people. I like to say that my trips are really just me “scouting the world” for places to take my wife someday, but truth be told I get tired of traveling alone. There’s a certain rhythm that people fall into when they’re alone, and that extends to when they travel alone. A certain inertia, if you will. Breaking that inertia is tough. More on that later.
Where to go?
For those of you who don’t know me, I do CrossFit. For those of you who don’t know CrossFit, it’s a high-intensity, constantly-varied exercise program that mixes in all modalities of fitness: running, lifting, gymnastics, (for me) being tired, taking water breaks, panting, and so forth. There are a series of competitions held internationally every year, among them: the CrossFit Games in Carson, CA, and, more recently, the CrossFit Invitational, held in London in 2012, and they recently announced the 2013 edition would be held in Berlin. The best athletes from the USA would take on a team of the best athletes from around the world in a 75-minute, winner-take-all competition, to be broadcast on the Eurosport network around the continent.
The competition would be held October 26, which gave me plenty of time to plan a trip. Originally, I wanted to make it related to Top Gear, as are a bunch of my trip ideas, which would’ve sent me to Romania, to travel the Transfagarasan Highway. Plus it’s Romania, it’d be weird enough to be intriguing, I thought. So I had tentatively planned on booking Lufthansa First Class to Frankfurt, spend some time at the First Class Terminal, then onward to Bucharest for a couple of days.
Well, it’s cold in Romania in October, and the roads aren’t in fantastic condition around the Transfagarasan area, and I eventually found out that the road would be mostly closed when I went, so that was kind of a bummer.
But then I remembered…
A few months ago I started a new service called MilesCoach.com. It’s a combination of an award booking service and a personal consultation service for people who want to get started in the miles game. It’s started a bit slowly, and that’s fine, I like focusing on 1-2 clients at a time after all (this is what you’re supposed to say when a new venture is starting off slowly, btw). Two good friends of mine contacted me and asked me to help them plan a trip to Spain in October 2013. They ended up using miles on American to fly into Barcelona and back home from Madrid.
Well, it turns out they were going to be in Barcelona when I’d be flying into Europe, so I decided on the following:
- Leave Wednesday, using United miles (from Chase Ultimate Reward points) to book on Lufthansa First Class
- Thursday morning, arrive in Frankfurt and the First Class Terminal, then onward to Barcelona
- Friday, fly to Munich on a one-way Vueling flight, to enjoy the bier and…well, that was it
- Saturday, drive on zie autobahnen to Berlin (I’ll never go to Germany and not drive on zie autobahnen)
- Sunday, fly home from Berlin using only 20,000 AAdvantage miles to fly home in coach on Airberlin
Now, I’ve flown Lufthansa in First Class before, but that was their old First configuration. They currently have 4 configurations, and I wanted to try the most unique one, aboard the 747-400 on the upper deck, for three reasons: 1) I’ve never flown on the upper deck of a 747, 2) Lufthansa 747-400 is one of the few (if not the only) 747s that has First Class upstairs, and 3) well…you’ll have to wait until the next post to find out!