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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:

stone buildings on a hillside with Machu Picchu in the background

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.

a seat in a plane

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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