A look back at 2017 – travel and predictions

This time of year its nice to do a little navel gazing and take a look back at 2017. 

A Look Back at 2017 Travel

For me, 2017 was a drastically different year of travel than any of the previous 5 years. Just take a look at my travel map (courtesy of gcmap.com):

A look back at 2017 travel, courtesy of gcmap.com

A look back at 2017 travel, courtesy of gcmap.com

By the numbers:

  • 110,953 miles flown — this is much less than 2016 or 2015!
  • 11 Countries visited (12 including the US)
  • 2 New Countries (Malaysia and Laos)
  • 21 Southwest Flights – That companion pass has been very valuable for us!
  • 2 JetBlue Mint flights (and newly minted Mosaic status)

While the map certainly tells the story of leveraging Southwest Flights, but doesn’t really speak to the “why.”

Largely this year’s focus for travel was on important people and events. Nearly every single personal trip I made was focused on seeing specific people, while some were even focused on people and events. In past years, my focus was more on a new country, or a new place to see, a new airline product to fly. This year my wife and I threw that out of the window–with the exception of our annual trip to Bali.

This year we also had the chance to attend Oktoberfest–with a big group of friends which made the trip so much better! Later this week we’ll be driving up to Sydney, to ring in the new year–a bucket list item.

We also got to see tons of friends, for which I was even willing to sacrifice comfort and fly Southwest to make it happen. 

A note on Southwest: I realize I’ve got a reputation for flying in premium cabins. Flying Southwest was certainly humbling compared. That said, the value of the companion pass is hard to counter. Nearly every flight my wife and I took, we compared it to American, where we have top tier status–and a decent chance of an upgrade–in every single case, Southwest was cheaper when you are only paying for 1 person plus the September 11th fee on the second. Its hard to argue with that math.

2017 Predictions

Like many, I made some predictions for the year ahead in the miles, points, travel, credit card and reselling worlds. 

Doctor of Credit did an assessment of his and others–and I’m appreciative that he included mine. He only covered a subset, and lets just say that I didn’t rate terribly well with only 2/4 rated. I guess I’ve got some work toward becoming the next Nostradamus! 

A couple of highlights:

Reselling – Amazon has found new ways to counter counterfeiters however they haven’t been rolling them out to all of us third party resellers just yet. We’ve seen varying ebbs and flows of category and brand restrictions, some popping up literally over night. Overall though, online and retail arbitragers dodged the bullet this year. Even better, I think the consensus is that the restrictions and some of the other things in the works are actually working to counter counterfeiters.

Loyalty – I think I was pretty much entirely wrong here. Alaska’s award chart is largely intact–I suspect because of the Virgin America merger. Marriott-SPG has made small announcements, but they haven’t yet figured out how to combine systems, so I think all parties are happy for the time being. There’s been no new level of award redemption, however American has continued to make us question whether they ever release award space… But there’s always the opportunity to redeem 10,000 Delta SkyMiles for a bottle of Krug!

Wrapping Up

Overall, 2017 has been a different year for me. I’ve seen parts of the US that I had long been neglecting. Some of those parts, I’ve returned back to multiple times this year because they are so awesome. This year is also perhaps the first year that I’ve seen more friends either in their home areas or my own, rather than running into them in airports or the other side of the world. 

For me, what 2017 boils down to, is that there are so many different ways to make travel work for you. There are so many different priorities that travel can help you to actualize. That’s the key. Fulfillment, not copious amounts of Krug served on EVA Air, or flying the Emirates A380 in First Class. Unless of course that is fulfillment (it was for me a few years ago!).

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