Travel

Why I Don’t Care About Travel Anymore

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. 

Conrad Bali Penthouse Suite Pool Deck
Conrad Bali Penthouse Suite Pool Deck

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?

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41 Comments

  1. Love this post! You’re so right about the benefits of taking a staycation instead of jetting somewhere far away. It’s ok to stay home when you take time off work. I used to think if I took vacation days I needed to fly somewhere otherwise it was a waste of days.

  2. Travel broadens the mind and it’s so good to escape the bubble we live in. Travel forces me to turn off staying home I just work around house or do work on my computer. Taking off for a week and lying on a beach still comes out on top for me

  3. Its all about balance…

  4. Travel creates extraordinary memories of lifetime that we can all look back in old years and reminiscence and enjoy..that is my goal until I can’t physically and economically (but mentally I will be going..)

  5. I hear you…but…do you really think Ben traveled? or just flew from one point to another on one plane or another?…he hardly ever stayed anywhere even a week…and that is exhausting…yet when you travel leisurely, take your time, have your loved ones with you, choose your destination carefully – it could be a great pleasure…many people in this hobby choose the destination based on the ‘currency’ they have (airline miles, hotel points) or the plane they want to fly (“must try that new Emirates F” or something) and not the other way around…that can become exhausting…but if you go to a place you really want to go, with people you love, not in and out, but for a longer time – long enough to really explore and enjoy the place, maybe just once or twice a year instead of every month – then it could really be fun!

    • Very well said. That is how it should be.

    • He actually addressed this at one point – he does travel, he just doesn’t write trip reports. Just hotel, lounge, and flight reviews. But I’ll admit – a few years ago I would have gladly flown around between airports and not stayed long enough to visit the city. Now, that sounds exhausting. I’m good with 1-2 trips a year where I get to go someplace I like and spend a sufficient amount of time there.

  6. Sounds like its time to retire this blog

  7. i don’t get why people like to go travel and stay in fancy places or resorts…that would bore me to death. the whole point of travelling, for me at least, is to experience something new and different. i always find it fascinating how in a few hours, we are able to go to some place so new and interesting and totally get a new perspective on life. if i stayed at a fancy place or a resort, that would not be the case. try, just landing in a new country and figuring everything out from there without any reservations. it’ll change your view on travelling. in my view, you’ll enjoy it more.

    • It’s a balancing act. Staying at a nice resort after spending a few weeks off-the-beaten path can be nice. When we flew to Dubai after a week in Afghanistan, I definitely appreciated having a comfortable bed to sleep in.

  8. Phill Sims

    It’s all about “places in the heart.” We live we die we love we cry. Hold on to what is closest to your heart while on this “journey” we call life. I commend you for finding your balance. Not many know or even care to understand what this is so kudos to you ❣️

  9. Parts Unknown

    While week+ long vacations have their place, we’ve found that we really enjoy much shorter trips (I think Gary Leff sometimes writes about shorter trips being more enjoyable). For example, we live in Phoenix & next month we’re flying to San Diego just for lunch. 5 hours on the ground on a Saturday, back home by 7pm. On a September Sunday we’ve booked to SNA to catch a baseball day-game & back home the same night. Might possibly do the same thing in August going to Denver depending on work schedule. These little micro trips are something most people wouldn’t do & scratches that itch to get out & do something without being on a plane for hours, arranging childcare/pet care, booking hotels, dealing with relatives, etc. If you find yourself with a week off, maybe see where you could go as a day trip- have lunch somewhere fun, see a museum in another city, etc. etc. etc. With basically free travel there are so many possibilities out there, don’t limit yourself to only considering RTW in J
    Also, economy flights are much more tolerable when they’re <90 mins! 🙂

  10. Once people graduate to 0% balance transfers and expanding credit to maximize that versus collecting points and miles they look back and wonder why they didn’t move on sooner! Example: take out $200k at 0% annually with a 3% fee. Cost is $6k. Invest that $200k and make 40% is $80k. $80-$6k=$74k. Sure beats points. Plus compound gains for a few years out.

  11. pho tastee

    not many mention the cost of travel, not in term of dollars but the time and toll it takes on the body. the destinations are the dreams and the anticipation of getting there is a thrill but unless someone is a die hard to fly, for most people, it is stressful no one look forward to.

  12. “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.”

    This spoke to me.

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  15. Do you know about fire? Financial independence retire early. FIRE.

    Basically, the skills and discipline you’ve probably already developed for the travel points would translate well into setting you up for early retirement. One of the only problem is is that it is a set it and forget it kind of thing ; There’s not too much to do strategy wise once you set yourself up for early retirement.

    I was a point collector for 15 or 20 years, and now I am retired at the age of 43.

    • I do! I listen to the Firedrill podcast and follow Millenial Boss. I find that world fascinating, but I don’t think the early retirement angle is for me. I’m all about side hustles and working to live, but I don’t think I could quit my day job. The structure of a 9-5 job keeps me sane.

  16. Glad you woke up and smelled the coffee. But I thought you gave up MS because stupid WM wants your ID for MOs and limits to a paltry $8k/day?

  17. Interesting post. Because of all the free flights and hotels my wife and I took 75 free trips since the end of 2013. Our last trip was for 3 weeks in November to South Africa. I got so stressed out before that trip that I seriously considered canceling just a week before. I ended up installing security cameras so that I could watch our place, and our pets, while we were gone. I think the idea of leaving the comforts of home and my pets so often finally took a toll on me. We ended up going and having a great time, but I was also looking forward to returning home right from the start of the trip. In fact, I was so exhausted from all the travel it took to return from Cape Town to Miami–12 hour flight to London, a 6 hour layover, and then 9 hours to Miami–that I actually vomited in the bathroom of the plane with about 3 hours left in the flight. It wasn’t air sickness but just exhaustion and my body saying it had enough.

    I haven’t taken any trips since then and I only have a few planned for this year. I have been more relaxed since returning from South Africa and haven’t missed traveling. I love that I’m home with my cats every night. My next trip is to Portugal in late May and I’m only half excited about it.

    I had a week off last summer while changing jobs and I spent it at home(though I tried to find award trips to London). It was nice to sleep until noon and stay up late watching TV. My typical vacation involves a lot of running around and getting up early and I usually return home more exhausted than when I left.

    There are still many places in the world I’d like to visit, but at the same time I’d like to look forward to my next trip and not dread it.

    • We used to travel like that! We are in our 60’s, and have a much slower, relaxed pace now. But I told hubby I’m starting to get burned out with all the planning. He just enjoys the fruit of my labor. lol

    • I totally get that. I do enjoy travel, but it can get exhausting. Like you said – lots of running around, sleep deprivation, and exhaustion. Moderation is definitely key. That being said, I hope you enjoy Portugal! It’s one of the few places on my bucket list these days.

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