2022 was the year we:
- Went to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Norway, Sweden, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Poland, and the Netherlands. Of these 13 were new to one of us at least. We’ve now been to every Gulf state, and with this trip, Aaron has made it to every country in Europe except for Belarus. He also went to Erbil, Iraq on his own; I stayed in Turkey and wished him luck 🙂
- Redeemed airline miles in earnest. We took 3 long haul business class flights – from the US to Sri Lanka in a Qatar QSuite (amazing), Azerbaijan to Boston on Turkish (so-so), and Kazakhstan to Sweden in Qatar’s regular business class (still great).
- Accelerated our transition from Airbnbs to hotels. Aside from a month-long stay at an Airbnb in Fetiye, Turkey, we mainly stayed in hotels. With Hilton Diamond status, the perks are too good to pass up. Holiday Inn is building beautiful new properties in the Middle East and Asia. And we discovered a Scandinavian hotel group called Nordic Choice Hotels that ran an incredible summer promotion. Newer hotels even have laundry machines for guest use, resolving our biggest pain point as long term travelers. All in all, we stayed over 115 nights in hotels!
- Beat inflation. At a total cost of $26,000 for the year, we actually spent $2,800 less than we did in 2018. This can be credited to a strong dollar, lots of travel hacking, and simply good timing. We kept looking for places that were just beginning to reopen. Invariably prices would go up soon after we went, but we managed to stay just one step ahead of the masses (for the most part).
Some of our adventures included:
- Accidentally eating horse meat in Central Asia
- Scammed by a car rental shop in Saudi Arabia
- Stranded in Tajikistan awaiting our Uzbek visa
- Catching Covid in Norway 🙁
- Riding the train through Sri Lanka’s tea hills and staying at the Doubletree Weerawila in a bird sanctuary
- Crystal clear waters of the Maldives
- Dubai Expo. We went twice!
- Mosques and markets of Bahrain and Kuwait
- Medina and Al Ula in Saudi Arabia
- Produce markets in Turkey (still the best in the world!)
- Being one of the only tourists in Northern Iraq
- Hikes, cute towns, and sauna culture in Norway and Sweden
- Seeing polar bears and beluga whales in Svalbard, the northernmost city in the world
- Silk road cities of Uzbekistan
- The unusual architecture of Astana, Kazakhstan
- Raisins, walnuts and grapes of Tajikistan
- Cobblestone streets of Polish old towns
- The Waldorf Astoria, Amsterdam
All in all another jam-packed year. I’m ready for a nap 😉