We went to 17 countries in 2022 and spent less than we did in 2018 by leveling up our travel hacking game.
We started with a QSuite flight from Boston to Sri Lanka and ended at the Waldorf Amsterdam. In between we went to the Maldives and the Gulf states of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. We rested a month on the Turkish coast, Aaron took a solo trip to Iraq, and we briefly visited Azerbaijan before spending the summer in Norway and Sweden. In the fall we headed to the Stans – Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. From there we headed to Gdansk, Poland, a city that’s long been on my bucket list, and en route home we spent two nights in the Waldorf Amsterdam.
We began redeeming airline miles in earnest this year. We’ve been hoarding them all these years, but we feel like devaluation is looming, so we finally burned some with 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).
Aside from a month-long stay at an Airbnb in Fetiye, Turkey, we’ve been staying in hotels more and more. With Hilton Diamond status, hotel deals like the Nordic Choice summer pass, and new properties in the Middle East and Asia, the options are just too good to pass up. In competition with Airbnb, our favorite hotels are now offering amenities like laundry machines for guest use, resolving our biggest pain point as long term travelers. All in all, we stayed 115 nights in hotels.
At a total cost of $26,000 for the year, we actually spent $2,800 less than we did in 2018 (beating inflation!), due to a strong dollar, lots of travel hacking, and going to 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 crowds.
Some of our (mis)adventures included:
- Accidentally eating horse meat in Central Asia
- Getting scammed by a car rental shop in Saudi Arabia
- Finding ourselves stranded in Tajikistan awaiting our Uzbek visa
- Catching Covid in Norway
- Riding an old train through Sri Lanka’s tea hills
- Staying at the Doubletree Weerawila in a bird sanctuary
- Swimming in crystal clear waters in the Maldives
- The World Expo in Dubai
- Mosques and markets of Bahrain and Kuwait
- Medina, Islam’s second holiest city
- Al Ula, an ancient city in Saudi Arabia
- Produce markets in Turkey (best in the world!)
- Being one of the only tourists in Northern Iraq
- Hiking, 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 in Poland’s old towns
- A luxurious stay at the Waldorf Astoria, Amsterdam
All in all another jam-packed year 🙂