It’s that time of the year to look back and make a summary of all the places I visited but first I would like to thank you for following CTB Global and wish you a happy 2019! That you may travel a lot, stay healthy and have a prosperous life. 2018 was good for me, with 89 flights, 174 hotel nights and a visit to 34 countries of which 8 were new to me.
The year 2018 wasn’t really a year of records but that’s also difficult because I don’t want to be away more as 165-180 days a year. I simply don’t have enough time. It was however a great year as I concentrated more on trips I really wanted to do rather as just going where I didn’t go before. So, that’s still a record with Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, St. Lucia, a Mekong Cruise, and homestay in Cambodia all being in my top 10 bucket list. 5 checked off!
In 2019 I will continue this way of travel. To go places I REALLY want to go to! Of course, I will continue to use cheap air fares, hotels and loyalty programs help finance this. One pro-tip: if you use the Flying Blue airline loyalty program make sure to book tickets on codeshare flights and not on KLM / Air France tickets. This will earn you miles based on distance and not euros spend. It can be a difference as huge as getting 25000 miles instead of just 4000.
Sometimes I get the question why I don’t post pictures of myself on Instagram or the website. That’s not because I’m camera shy but because I want to show you what I see. It’s not about me but about the destination I go to. I don’t need to be a VIP. I keep travelling my way and combine business & leisure which I hope inspires you to travel more often too.
For now, check my 2018 summary below! Stay tuned for more stories and subscribe to the newsletter or follow CTB on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram including Instagram stories; on all social media you can find CTB @christravelblog) to get updated information.
My statistics for 2018
Let’s start with my flight map of 2018 (click link for an interactive map) and don’t mind possible white lines; those are planned upcoming flights for 2019 already.
and some statistics first
- 89 flights; 16 economy, 5 economy+, 67 business class and 1 in first. The reason for the huge amount of short business class flights was due to the great AirFrance/KLM air fare originating in Bergen (Norway) with unlimited stopovers.
- KLM (with AirFrance) is my top airline and others are mainly Skyteam partners but I will fly the cheapest option on any alliance as I have enough miles to become Flying Blue platinum for life already. Flying others makes sure I easily reach Star Alliance Gold and OneWorld Sapphire so that I can always take a free bag and visit lounges.
- Total of 231858 kilometers; 5.8x around the world
- 345:42 hours in the plane that’s 14.4 days or 2.1 weeks
- 28.8 tons of CO2 I put into the air; not proud of that
- I earned plenty of miles in all the alliances to book at least 6 longhaul business class return flights.
- I stayed about 174 days of the year in hotels which earned me countless points. 119 nights were with the IHG group and I finished the SPG/Marriot Platinum challenge with just 18 nights which gives me status till March 2020.
- I visited 34 countries of which 8 were just a quick stop- or layover (not counting those to new countries). 8 countries were completely new to me.
- I saved a lot of money using loyalty programs, use of promotions and being flexible with the leisure trips
Now let’s look where I went!
First quarter with Vanuatu as highlight
I started 2018 in Takoradi, Ghana, where I finished a one-week Ghana itinerary. From there I went back to Sao Tome & Principe to finish the Christmas holidays of 2017. Both countries were high on my 2017 bucket list. During January and early February, I just had a few business only trips to Amsterdam and Berlin. In mid-February my kids had school holidays but this time they didn’t join! I made a trip to Tel Aviv, Israel (see also my 2-week Israel itinerary of a year earlier) and Istanbul, Turkey (first new country) with just my wife. We celebrated our 12 ½ wedding anniversary. Yeah, I’m just 38 but have been together for 19 years now and have two kids (13 and 16 years now). The tickets I booked I combined with 2 other tickets of the same air fare all originating in Bergen, Norway. Air France/KLM had an awesome deal to fly business across Europe and even Russia with stopovers all around for approximate 700 euro per person. Each ticket earned 25000+ miles too. Later the kids would join too.
In March I went to Singapore for my annual conference which was very successful this year. After Singapore I went back to the Pacific as I really enjoyed my Pacific island-hopping back in 2017. At the end of March, I was in Vanuatu where I visited an active volcano (see photo above) which was the first bucket list item and second country I could cross of in 2018. Make sure to check my 7-days Vanuatu itinerary, Holiday Inn Port Vila and White Grass Tanna hotel review too. A great start of the year it was!
Second quarter with Tunisia as highlight
Vanuatu wasn’t the end of my 2018 Pacific trip as I continued to the Solomon Islands. Another bucket list item of mine and the 3rd new country in 2018. Check my 7-day Solomon Islands itinerary to see what I did there including an awesome dive on Munda arranged by the Agnes Gateway Hotel. I had the chance to shoot THE iconic anemone fish. Who doesn’t know Nemo? The island was my solo highlight of the 2nd quarter but I put Tunisia as the highlight as that was with my family.
Remember that I mentioned the very special air fare from Bergen? In May the kids joined too and we flew to Bergen again for a direct turn around back to Amsterdam, Paris and then Tunis. Earning, as usual, countless miles on the way. In Tunis I stayed at the Sheraton hotel to complete my Platinum challenge. It was cheap and now I have this status till 2020. Check my 2-week Tunisia itinerary to see all the magnificent places I visited with my wife and kids. Tunisia was also the 4th new country I visited in 2018. From Tunis we flew for a few days to Istanbul (again) as the tickets allowed more stopovers.
In June I just made one trip to Bangkok and Hong Kong. I had to go mainly for business, but I had a few days off. A friend joined to explore a bit of both cities with me, mainly craft beer. I paid about 1400 euro for a British Airways ticket which was all right in business class for a combined ticket on specific dates to both cities. Between Hong Kong and Bangkok I could try both Cathay Pacific and Royal Jordanian which I had never flown before. It was early July when I returned back home in the Netherlands.
Third quarter with St. Lucia as highlight
The third quarter was a busy one with the usual family summer holidays, a conference in the United States and Buenos Aires. Mid-July I flew with my wife and kids to Ho Chi Minh City. We started in Tunisia again as China Southern Airlines offered a business class fare from there for just about 700 euro. Due to a schedule change we didn’t have to go back all the way and could just disembark in Paris and fly to Amsterdam. I normally always finish my tickets including last legs. Check out my Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap itinerary including Mekong Cruise what we did there. I could check off two bucket list items: Mekong Cruise and a homestay in Cambodia.
Back in the Netherlands I had exactly one day to repack and fly to Philadelphia for my annual conference in the United States. Previous years I always added a trip in the states like my west-coast road trip or city hopping in the states. This year I went to the Caribbean for the first time and made an island-hopping trip to Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados. It still needs planning but travelling the Caribbean is much easier as the Pacific! St. Lucia and my stay at Jade Mountain Resort was one more bucket list item I could cross off. Most of September I was at home in the Netherlands with just a day trip to Berlin and Dusseldorf. At the end of September, I flew to Costa Rica (another new country) to start my annual South America trip.
Fourth quarter was just the regular
I had big plans in Costa Rica with a 6 day stay and a 3 day stay. In between I flew to Buenos Aires for a conference where I stayed again at the Intercontinental Buenos Aires. In Costa Rica however I didn’t see more as San Jose. October is NOT a good time to go there as the rainy season is in full swing. The fact that there were some protests and road blocks at the same time made me just stay in San Jose. I’ll for sure return to Costa Rica to make a road trip there. At the end of October, I had my annual trip to Moscow, but I couldn’t plan any additional days as I had to go to China immediately after.
This year I flew from Warsaw to Amsterdam and onwards to Chengdu. KLM changed their originating city for the cheap flights as it was always Prague in the previous years. After the conference in Beijing I went to Shijiazhuang and Taiyuan. I made day trips to Anyang and Pingyao. On the way back, I had one day to explore more of Chengdu’s craft beer scene. A week later I was on my way for a weeklong conference in Bangkok. I would have loved to explore more of Thailand as the Thailand road trip I did earlier wasn’t long enough to see the whole country.
At the end of the year it’s family time. This year I booked flights to Singapore from where we made an overland trip to Kuala Lumpur. New Year’s Eve I celebrated in Kuala Lumpur with magnificent fireworks. I will cover this trip soon so stay tuned. Now it’s time to plan 2019 trips!
Until summer 2019 I have already booked everything! A tip of the iceberg: Lebanon, South Korea and I hope to visit Niue and Tonga after my annual Singapore trip. I have already flights booked to Auckland (New Zealand) but planning trips to these two islands now!Stay tuned for more stories and subscribe to the newsletter or follow CTB on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram including Instagram stories; on all social media you can find CTB @christravelblog) to get updated information.