For the last three years that I’ve been a digital nomad, I’ve traveled from one exciting location to another on miles and points. I started the year off well: I spent New Year's in Koh Tao, Thailand, and flew Japan Airlines business class from Singapore to Tokyo and from Tokyo to New York in January. I planned to spend the winter in Mexico and head back to my beloved Europe for the spring and summer. I thought I was off to a fabulous start.
However, in March, the pandemic brought my travel plans to a screeching halt. I left Mexico for the U.S. and spent lockdown time in Miami and New York. Over the summer, I finally made it back to Europe, but I’ve barely traveled since. The frustration of planning trips during the pandemic (the health concerns, canceled flights, COVID-19 test requirements and mandated quarantines) has me staying put and thinking about my 2021 miles and points resolutions for when travel returns to normal.
I’ve decided to incorporate these three themes, in no particular order, into my future travel plans.
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My well-seasoned nomad friends would always tell me that I’m a “fast nomad” because instead of staying put in one place for a few months, I would change locations every month or every few weeks. I guess my wanderlust was too strong to slow me down. Since I have a remote job and can work from nearly anywhere, I was able to rationalize my pace. I wanted to see more of the world, and I loved discovering local cultures.
When the pandemic began, I had no choice but to slow down, and to be honest, I’m kind of liking it. Having more time in one place has allowed me to get into a routine and find my favorite ClassPass studios, hair salon, coworking space and local hidden gems. I even decorated my room, which made me realize how much I enjoy making a place feel like home. Plus, I’ve been feeling better about my reduced carbon footprint when it comes to our planet.
Don’t get me wrong: I yearn to sip champagne in first class, travel to beautiful destinations and keep thinking about where I'll spend the winter, but I do it with a newfound appreciation for staying in a place for longer.
Fly more luxury
When I do jump on that plane, I want to focus on flying more in first and business class.
I’ve been earning and burning miles and points for a long time, and since I spend a lot of time outside the U.S., I can’t maximize shopping portals and quarterly rotating bonus categories on my various credit cards. Because of this, I’ve been sort of cheap with myself and haven’t been flying in first class as much as I could have. I would fly mostly business class and sometimes economy. I know these are champagne problems.
However, now I’m sitting on all these miles and points, which I know isn’t a good strategy. Airlines and hotels devalue on a regular basis, so I’m essentially holding on to a depreciating asset. When I get back on planes, I’m going to prioritize first class redemptions because to me, luxury travel is one of the best ways to enjoy my miles and points.
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When I'm sitting in a first class seat or staying in a gorgeous villa on the beach, I promise myself that I will document more of these experiences. I share my travels already on social media, but as I sit here and reminisce about my past trips, I realize that I don’t have many photos or videos of the actual flights or the hotel rooms and amenities.
I’ve enjoyed some of the most amazing redemptions over the years (British Airways first class, the Concorde Room in New York and London, Radisson Blu in Copenhagen and Sheraton in Rio de Janeiro), but most of those experiences are locked away in my memory. I barely have any photos or videos of the comfy seats, the first class food, the beautiful airplane cabin, the gigantic pool overlooking the ocean or the luxurious hotel room details.
In 2021, I will record more of my travel experiences so that when I look at my photos, I can more vividly feel the joy that those miles and points redemptions brought me.
Travel slower, fly more luxury and photograph everything. Although it might be a while until travel returns to normal, these 2021 resolutions are ones I'll look forward to.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card