Growing up in suburban Los Angeles, I was exposed to many different cultures and languages in my youth. I was always interested in going to the supermarkets “where I couldn’t read things” (apparently I said this to my mother), and at the age of 13 I was able to visit my first foreign country, Canada. Although Canada was great, and I truly loved the feel of multi-colored money, the postcard stamps for friends at home in weird denominations, and the bilingual boxes of cereal, I knew I wanted something more “different.” I got my first passport at the age of 17, was fortunate enough to spend a total of nearly 10 years in Japan, and now reside in Las Vegas. Until my lottery numbers hit, I’m trying to scrape enough together to travel overseas twice a year.
My travel style
I am, in many ways, an average traveler. I get a fair amount of vacation each year, which I try to strectch out as much as possible, but I’m not a business traveler nor do I get to visit anywhere long term. I stay in the same city for 3-5 days usually. I don’t stay in the fancy places and I don’t stay in hostels. I’m a 3 1/2 star hotel kind of guy, unless, of course, there’s a deal. My normal range for a hotel is usually between $70 and $120 a night.
I hunt around for good deals and sometimes let the deals themselves decide where I’m going. I think this has allowed me to take affordable vacations because instead of saying “I want to go to Ireland from May 9 to May 17” I say “let’s see if there’s any cheap airfare in the spring” and start looking from there. I “like” a few flight deal sites on Facebook and get popups when there are fare deals.
I’m not a big fan of tours, and usually arrange my plans myself. There’s a lot of great information on the internet, but I still love sitting down with a good travel book in a coffee shop and taking notes. When I plan my days in a city, I usually have a vague idea of 3 or 4 things I want to do per day, and move at my own pace. I can’t do “8:15 – 8:45” in one spot and then force myself to my next stop. I love to wander and usually end up liking the unplanned and the unexpected more.
In places with good public transportation, I’ll use subways and buses over taxis and rental cars every time. Otherwise I’ll rent a car and enjoy driving. I’ve driven in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, the UK, Ireland, Canada and Mexico. Driving overseas isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds!
I have some co-branded credit cards, but I don’t do any kind of “churning” to get extra points. I’m not an elite member on any airline anymore – since most have switched to revenue based instead of mile based, I no longer qualify, so I sit in economy, at 6’2″, with my knees hitting the seat in front of me. I’ve never experienced the showers on board Emirates, and I’ve never had a car meet me on the tarmac. When I have enough miles to fly in businness once or economy twice, I’ll take the economy tickets, please!