Most people in this hobby have seen Up in the Air and fantasized about being Ryan Bingham. I didn’t care how the movie ended and what the moral of the story was. When I saw it eight years ago, my thought was, “He was living the dream. There’s NO reason he couldn’t be happy continuing on that path.” Traveling nonstop, acquiring millions of miles and avoiding the monotony of daily life sounded great to me. I began searching for jobs that required lots of travel. Then I got into the points game, started blogging, and found a way to earn millions of miles every year. I was obsessed with travel and structured my whole life (and career) around it.
It’s going to sound so sad to the younger people reading this, but I don’t really care about travel anymore. When I read this article from Ben, where he expressed a similar sentiment, it resonated with me. I don’t know that I can blame this new perspective on turning 30 (or 31). I think it happened for me when I began a new job in 2017, after years of freelancing. Two years on, I’m still there, I like the people I work with and generally feel content. I don’t need to distract myself with travel planning anymore. What I do on a daily basis is fulfilling and I don’t feel the need to escape it.
What helps is that my work environment isn’t so restrictive. I have a lot of autonomy and can work from home when I need to. My quality of life has improved significantly because I don’t have a Bay Area commute or a job that makes me reconsider my life decisions. I’ve paid off my student loans, and I’m more solid now than ever. When those things weren’t as they are, I used travel as an escape mechanism. When I was able to travel without diverting funds I could have used to pay off my loans, I fully immersed myself (and indulged) in collecting points and miles.
Why do I keep going then, if I’m not redeeming miles? To quote Ryan Bingham, “The miles are the goal.” I may not be obsessed with travel anymore, but I’m still obsessed with earning points and miles. I still get a kick out of liquidating gift cards. Nothing compares to the thrill of getting an Award Wallet alert summarizing all of my reward account balances that have increased. Paying off credit cards after racking up tens of thousands of dollars in spending via Visa gift cards comes in as a close second. This is now a hobby and I love doing it. I’m perfectly content redeeming miles for family members and earning some cash back while churning gift cards.
Nowadays, nothing beats the comfort of being home. It may not have a rooftop infinity pool overlooking a beach, but it’s a cocoon of warmth and happiness. I will gladly spend an entire day in bed, surrounded by a dozen pillows, a cozy comforter, and a bowl of Raffetto’s pasta while working on my laptop or binge-watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
A while ago I was feeling exhausted at work and took a week off. Initially, I wanted to fly somewhere. Maybe try out the amazing Etihad Apartments or spend a week in Koh Samui. In the end, nothing sounded better than just being home. I got a ton of work done, ran errands that I’d been putting off, went to pilates every other day, got to unwind and really enjoyed my time at home. I kept thinking how much more stressful it would have been to sit on a plane for 16 hours (even on a flatbed seat), navigate different airports, deal with jet lag, etc.
The fact that my last three trips have been disastrous doesn’t help either. But really, settling into a life I’m happy with is why travel isn’t a priority anymore. I want to enjoy every day, spend as much time with family as possible, and try to do some good while I’m here. I’ll keep this hobby going and when I do travel, I want to do so comfortably and meaningfully. No pointless trips to places I’m only flying to because of a mistake fare. Everything I do needs to have a purpose, because time is becoming scarce.
Has your perspective on travel changed with age or circumstance?