I’ll be the first to admit that some of the criticism that I get for my travel patterns is warranted, specifically on the award travel front. You see, I was a sucker for “value.” Or rather, I still am a sucker for “value,” but just look at things differently now.
While I’ve traveled extensively throughout Europe, for the past four or five years I’ve traveled almost exclusively to Asia. In fairness, I’ve visited lots of incredible places, including China (and Hong Kong), Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korean, Thailand, Vietnam, etc., and have probably spent a total of five or six weeks there. The experiences have been amazing, but at the same time I find myself going back to the same places over and over. Now there are some cities I’ll never get tired of, like Hong Kong, but still, I want to see more new places.
I now realize that largely, my measure of “value” is wrong. My thought process when taking a trip was simple — I can use my miles for first class to Asia on Cathay Pacific, or I can use (basically) the same number of miles for American Airlines first class to Buenos Aires. And I think everyone would agree that the better “value” in terms of flights is on Cathay Pacific. The experience is infinitely better.
But time and again I have lofty goals of places to visit, but I don’t make it to many of them because I’m trying to maximize my “mileage value.” I’ve always realized there was more to miles than the flights — I started my hobby of mileage running because I love to travel and visit new destinations. I remember visiting Paris when I was about eight with my parents, and after landing they wanted to take a nap. I scoffed at the suggestion and said “but, but, but, we have a whole city to see.”
But instead of spending all day ragging on myself, I’ll say this — I’m now fully committed to my goal of actually visiting the cities and countries near the top of my list over the next year or so. So near the top of my list for now is Dublin, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Dubai, Prague, Moscow, and several others.
One issue has been the uncertainty over the next few months in many aspects of my life, so I haven’t been able to plan. But that’s no excuse, and I could really use a trip right now to look forward to.
So I’ll take the last continent (other than Antarctica) off my list: South America.
I’m 99% sure I’ll book a week-long trip to South America, flying into Santiago (on LAN in business) and out of Buenos Aires (on American in first) for early next year. While the flights themselves likely won’t live up to what I’ve grown accustomed to on Cathay Pacific, I’m guessing the destinations sure as heck will.
So that leaves me with a question: for those that have been, is Santiago worth a visit, and if so, for how long?