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This year is one for my personal record books; 2018 turned out to be the busiest travel year to date, at least considering the number of miles flown and trips taken (SEE: My 2018 Stats: 60 flights and 75,000 miles). Work sent me more places than I ever expected, and I made eight (nearly) coast-to-coast trips for various projects. My recent trip to China with two of our kids was also a special milestone, as it was the first time I’d visited any country in Asia.
Now I’m looking forward to what 2019 holds for us. And based on the current plans penciled in, it will be quite a lot. Here are 5 travel firsts I’m looking forward to in the coming year:
First trip to South America
“It’s like America. But south.” The quote from my favorite Pixar movie probably isn’t accurate. South America has always been rather exotic in my mind. There are a number of destinations I’m interested in visiting, most notably Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and Argentina, as well as Tierra del Fuego, even further south. Alongside that are Cusco and Macchu Picchu, the Galapagos, and Iguazu Falls.
This trip we are visiting none of those (LOL). It’s likely I could have put together a decent trip to Peru or the Galapagos, but to do the rest of it justice, we’d need weeks of time. And I don’t have weeks. Patagonia will have to wait.
Instead, I planned a trip to Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the capital cities of Argentina and Uruguay, respectively. I have some friends who have told me that Buenos Aires is one of their favorite cities in the world, and I’m very eager to visit!
First time qualifying for Hyatt Globalist
Ok, this isn’t exactly in the bag. I have my work cut out for me. But my plan at this point is to leverage my planned trips, my work travels, and the new World of Hyatt Visa card to qualify for top-tier Hyatt status for the first time. Previously, I simply did not have enough points or planned stays to even come close. But with a co-branded credit card that offers 2 elite nights for every $5,000 in spend, I think I can shave off a significant number of nights that way through reselling opportunities.
Globalist is probably the most coveted hotel status among hotel loyalists, as the benefits are reportedly excellent. I’ve had mediocre experiences with both Marriott and Hilton as a top-tier elite in their respective programs, so I hope Hyatt lives up to all the hype.
First time flying on a A350
Back in 2017 prior to flying on an Asiana A380, I was extremely excited about the prospect (SEE: Asiana business class review: Seoul to Sydney). The trip I’d planned had me flying three long-haul legs, twice on a 747-400 (first, then economy) and once on the A380 (business). It was a fantastic trip to Australia. Now I’m very much looking forward to flying the A350 for the first time this spring.
While I expected that I’d eventually fly the aircraft on a Delta flight to either Europe or Asia, my first leg will actually be part of an Air China itinerary. I wasn’t even aware that they were taking delivery of this aircraft. It will be on a domestic (to China) hop from Beijing to Shanghai, so my guess is that they will still be training crew and smoothing out the service wrinkles.
But I’m still excited.
First time visiting Idaho
I mean…it’s still a first, isn’t it? Sure, probably not exciting, but its one states closer to hitting all 50. I didn’t expect to pick up West Virginia this year, nor South Carolina. Thank you work for chipping in both of those.
Our trip to Idaho will be for just a couple nights, and only to Boise. I mainly tacked it on because, hey, an award from the Bay Area to Seattle is exactly the same cost as an award Boise…with a stop in Seattle. And we had some Alaska airlines vouchers from a mechanical delay incident earlier this year that hadn’t been spent (SEE: Turning 20,000 Amex points into 25,000 Alaska miles and $500).
I believe checking off Idaho will leave me with 14 states left to go: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Alaska, and Hawaii. At the rate I’m going, though, it’ll probably take me most of a decade to hit all 50.
First time flying first class (in over two years)
Ok, this one is not technically a true first. But is still feels like one. Three to four years ago I thought everyone was bonkers to shell out so many miles to sit in the pointy end of a plane. Sure, I’m sure its a nice ride. But you’re literally spending more than an economy round-trip (70,000 miles for a United partner in business vs. 30,000 miles to Europe was my comparison)! It didn’t compute. I hadn’t earned oodles of miles at that point (ha, I said point) yet, so burning all of them on a single flight didn’t pencil.
But at some point I finally amassed a significant stash of miles and decided to fly first and business class to Australia at the beginning of 2017. Now I understand all the hype (SEE: United Polaris First SFO to ICN Review). My kids and I recently flew Cathay Pacific business class back from Hong Kong, and I’m so glad we did.
While I won’t always shell out the miles to fly in a premium cabin, I’m going to try to make it happen now and then. First class is going to happen this spring, as I booked an Air China first class ticket to Shanghai via Beijing. It will be an awesome trip.
All of this will (amazingly) happen in the first half of 2019. Nothing is planned past May, so we’ll see if the rest of the year brings any other travel firsts.
How about you…will your 2019 hold any travel firsts?
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Boise is actually really fun. I went there for the first time in october there are some pretty cool things to do! I will also be flying my actual first first class flight and first business class flight this year as well.
2019 is going to be a great year for travel.
First time Texas (San Antonio and Austin). First time Bahamas. First time Hyatt Globalist too, thanks to the new credit card! First time traveling with Brother in Laws family (got him in to the points/miles hobby about a year ago) All 8 of us are flying and staying with an incredible points upgrade to a great shared suite at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort, $10,364.00 worth of hotel and flight for free! First time applying for Global Entry if the gov’t ever goes back to work. 🙂
Longtime San Antonio resident here. If you need any recommendations for places to eat and drink, hit me up.
Don’t want to burst your bubble, but have you looked into Air China first? I was also looking at flying first with Air China and from all the reviews I could find, it is actually first in name only. Based on what I have read, it is more like a middling business class and you were probably better off on your Cathay pacific business class than you will be in Air China first.
Take all this with a grain of salt because I haven’t flown it myself, it is all from others reviews
I have looked into Air China. Their 747-8 first class is supposed to be excellent. The United site only says they are flying a “747” to SFO. So it may be a crap shoot. If it is an old 747-400, bummer. If it is the new 747-8, great.
But I’m also one who flew United 747 first class (which many people said was worse than many business class products) and really enjoyed it.
That’s great that you have seen more positive reviews of the Air China first class. I was discouraged from booking by all of the blogger reviews I read. Not that anyone said it was bad, but I didn’t see anyone that said anything that would encourage me to spend more miles to get this first class over less miles for Cathay, EVA, Singapore, JAL, or ANA business class, unless I wanted a direct flight into Beijing.
Having said that, I generally would tend toward saving the miles and flying business class in most cases (unless they want to give me first class for $888, like Cathay Pacific did for this December). If I am going to splurge for 1st, I expect it to be pretty amazing, like Singapore, Emirates, or Cathay amazing, and EVA business, in particular, even gives Cathay first a challenge in my book.