2016 A Year of Living Extravagantly

Grindelwald Switzerland

This photo we took in Grindelwald, Switzerland, last year has nothing at all to do with our plans for the coming year

With 2015 drawing to a close our plans for the New Year are finally coming into something approaching focus. Some parts of our itinerary we’ve already committed to, like spending the winter in Mexico, the spring in New York, and the summer and fall in Europe, starting with Portugal.

After our May flight to Lisbon our plans are still a bit unsettled but at least are starting to coalesce around an itinerary we can get excited about. Our current thoughts are that we’ll spend about a month each in Portugal and Northern Spain before leaving the Schengen visa area for two months to chase leprechauns and rainbows in Ireland. We figure we’ll need about a month to tour the Emerald Isle. More importantly we’ll want a month to just kick back and relax with a pint or two hundred of Guinness in Dublin.

That last bit is part of a new strategy we’re experimenting with that we affectionately call “slowing the fuck down!”

(In the future we’ll be spending far more time doing things like watching these kittens frolic from our backyard patio while sipping rakai in Montenegro)

Over the last two years of living out of backpacks we’ve come to realize that near-constant travel over long periods of time is draining at best and self-defeating at worst. In our experience, after two months or so of changing hotel rooms every couple of days, destinations start to blur together. What’s worse is that the burdens inherent to such constant movement incrementally leech the excitement away from the places we visit. Before too long the whole exercise starts to feel a bit pointless.

To combat that we’re planning to spend less time actively changing destinations and more time just hanging in cool cities around the world. We figure a month of pseudo-domestication for every two months of active travel is about the right mix for us.

After Ireland we’re thinking of renting a flat in Paris for a month because, Paris!

Paris France

Our home away from home

But as great as all that sounds it’s not necessarily the extravagant part of our upcoming plans. No, that comes from the roughly 500,000 frequent flyer points we’ve now accumulated. In 2016, we’re contemplating blowing them all flying around the world in first class.

If current thinking holds, we’ll fly from Europe to southern Africa where we’ll sand board down Namibian dunes, track wildlife through Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and raft beneath Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls.

After what we fully expect will be a rough and rugged tour through several Southern African countries, we’re hoping to snag two more first class seats for the 12-hour direct flight to Sydney, Australia. We don’t have any specific itinerary ideas for our time “down under” but figure we’ll spend most of the winter in Australia and New Zealand.

(After flying for 12 hours in Thai Airways lie-flat seats and feeling freaking great afterward we decided that this is the only way to do long-haul flights)

Oh, and let’s not forget Hawaii. It just so happens that the Hawaiian Islands are conveniently located almost exactly midway between Australasia and our beloved New York to which we’ve already committed to return by no later than March 2017. (A note to wedding planners — if you want to schedule us we really do book up early.)

We’ll have just enough frequent flyer miles to complete those nine and eleven hour flights in the front of the plane after which our miles will be exhausted.

As will we be, too, I imagine.

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17 Comments on “2016 A Year of Living Extravagantly”

  1. Bulldog Travels December 29, 2015 at 9:07 am #

    Sounds like a great plan. I have a few posts on Maui and lots on Ireland if you are looking for inspiration. Happy new year.


    • Brian December 30, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks. If we make it to Hawaii we’ll mostly likely stop in Maui. It’s been twenty years since we last visited that island so I think we’re long over due.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mytimetotravel December 29, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    Understand the slowing down idea, after a couple of months on the road I start to flag a bit. You might think about saving a few of those miles and flying business class instead of first. I’ve done three RTWs in biz on miles (back when it was relatively cheap on a One World award, alas, no longer available), and found it plenty comfortable. I particularly remember Bangkok to London on Qantas – excellent meal and wine and then they handed out PJs, I slept until breakfast. Just make sure the plane has lie flat seats.

    Hope you enjoy Portugal, Lisbon is one of my favorite cities.


    • allisonmohr December 29, 2015 at 11:19 pm #

      Business class is good. We paid cash for it last time we went to Europe and it was worth every penny. You do lie flat and they give you socks. So there you go. Looking forward to reading all about it next year.


      • Brian December 30, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

        No doubt. I think many of the flights we’re looking at only have one premium cabin so most of the time we’ll be flying Business/First. Either way, it beats the crap out of spending 12 straight hours in cattle class.


    • Brian December 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

      Lisbon looks awesome. We haven’t been there and are definitely looking forward to it.


  3. Neil Laubenthal December 29, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    We toured Ireland 2 summers back…we were there 3.5 weeks and really needed another couple of weeks to do it properly. Spent 3 days in Dublin…seriously that’s probably about enough and then rented a car and drove clockwise around the country. Here’s a couple of recommendations for your stay.
    -Skelig Michael – islands off the SW tip of the country, used to have a monastery. Go there…absolutely breathtaking.
    -the whole SW quarter of the country; Connemara, Killarney, Kilkenny…again, really nice.
    -Belfast…cooler than we thought it would be.
    -Giant’s Causeway…up near Belfast but definitely worth the trip.
    We stayed in mostly B&Bs but there are plenty of both higher and lower cost options.

    Parking is an art form in Ireland…anyplace that’s not specifically posted no parking is a legal parking place and however you can fit your car into it…sideways, backwards, whatever, is perfectly fine.

    Don’t only drink Guinness…it’s great of course but make sure you sample Beamish and Murphy’s as well…my bride likes them a little more. They’re both stouts like Guinness, the world’s finest beverage…but are subtly different. Eat in Pubs, not restaurants…that’s where the good food and camaraderie is to be found. Also try Magners Apple Cider…we found it to be an outstanding light brew for lunchtime.

    There are only 5 national parks…so it’s pretty easy to do them all…3 are in the southwest quarter of the country.

    Irish whiskey…try them all; our favorite was Green Spot…very smooth like a good bourbon. Those from the west are smooth like bourbon, those from the east near Scotland are smoky and taste more like scotch than what you think Irish tastes like. We must have sampled 30 different ones that we had never heard of before.

    Have a great time there…we sure did.


    • Brian December 30, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

      Hi Neil. Thanks for all the suggestions. I had forgotten about Irish Whiskey as I mostly think of it as Jameson. We’ve always been more Scotch drinkers with an occasional dram of Bourbon thrown in. I’m glad to hear that Irish whiskey has much more variety than I knew. Now I’m definitely adding whiskey sampling to our agenda. 😉


    • vjdunlap January 6, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

      I would add the Aran Islands onto your recommendations — standing at the ring fort Dun Aengus just thinking about the invaders that must have continually attacked that sparse little island is worth the visit.


  4. Paul Thomas December 29, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    Our 2015 trip started in Vegas with a drive of the canyons, Bryce the best with Antelope in Page close 2nd, UK then France, 1 week, Normandy, Mont St Michel driving down Lour Valley and into San Se-bastion Spain 2nd wk, The Medieval Cities and towns.so many, Segovia, Zaragoza, (Cuencathe best) Ainsa, Ainsa plus more and many we missed. Ended in Barcelona They started building in 1882 and still not quiet finished but fantastic Gaudi Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Empty freeways in Spain apart from main cities. Paul


  5. Laura December 30, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    Every long haul flight I board the plane thinking, “there is no way I would pay three times the price for the same flight in business class” and every time, by the time I get off the plane I think “Oh HELL no, never again.” You guys are doin it right…..


    • mytimetotravel December 30, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

      I have also considered boats, even though I get bored on them. Repositioning cruises in the spring and fall are one option, and there’s always the Cunard New York – Southampton run….


    • Brian December 30, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

      Yep. We fly enough to know exactly how much it blows. And at the same time, we completely agree. Business/first tickets are way too expensive for what they offer: a reasonably comfortable travel experience.

      But that’s where miles come in handy. Super expensive premium cabin seats are much more reasonably priced when purchased with miles. The 50,000 Chase Sapphire Rewards points we’ve earned through our credit card can be converted into $500 cash back or a one-way business/first flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Sydney, Australia. Meanwhile, that same flight I’m buying with $500 worth of credit card points retails for $2,181. Not a bad deal at all – especially considering that non-stop economy tickets for the same 12hr flight cost $586 according to Kayak.


  6. Jason December 30, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

    Hey Brian & Shannon,
    Great to get an update from you guys. We owe you one in return, will shoot it to you for NY reading 😊


  7. Nikki T January 1, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    Hi guys! I have been reading your blog for a while now and want to thank you for all the information and quality writing. We started traveling full-time last summer and decided 30 days was our minimum stay. We adopted the slow travel ethos right off the bat, partly because it was more economical to rent by the month. Since you will be doing some slow travel in 2016, it would sure be nice to get your perspective on shorter vs longer stays in a future post.


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