My Very Logical, Methodical, Review Trip Planning Process…

Filed Under: Travel

I recently wrote a post titled “I’m Over My Travel ‘Addiction,’ And That’s A Good Thing.”

It has been almost two full months since I’ve taken any major trips (other than a couple of quick one-night trips within the US for meetings), and I don’t miss it at all. I’ve turned into a full-on homebody, and personally I think that’s mostly a good thing… though perhaps Ford slightly disagrees.

You see, we both work from home and while we love spending time together, being together 24/7 for months on end will drive just about anyone crazy. Nothing is wrong, but Ford has correctly pointed out the ways in which I’ve been channeling all that energy that previously went into flying (e.g., charting our dog’s bowel movements, washing clothes five minutes after Ford puts them in the hamper).

So yeah, I think he correctly and politely pointed out that it’s time for me to take a review trip, so that I can “reset” a bit.

People often ask me about my planning process that goes into review trips, so let me give you a little insight into my process, as I’m trying to figure out where to go within the next week, for a period of maybe 3-4 days. For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, I often take trips solely to review airlines, as I get quite a bit of content out of it.

So, anyway…

Royal Air Maroc is launching flights from Miami to Casablanca, and some flights are operated by the 787-9, featuring their new business class. Maybe I should redeem 44,000 Etihad Guest miles for that.

Or I could fly Air France from Miami to Port-au-Prince to Pointe-a-Pitre on their interesting island hopper service, and then fly Air Caraibes’ A350 business class from Paris.

But what about from Paris?

Well, I could fly Air Algerie from Paris to Algiers to Beijing for a reasonable business class fare, and that could be interesting.

And I could fly Hainan’s new 787-9 business class from Beijing back to the US using Alaska miles.

Wait, but if I’m in Beijing anyway, shouldn’t I hop around Asia and also try Singapore’s new 787-10 business class and/or EVA’s new 787-9 business class?

Or should I even return from Beijing to the US on Hainan, when I could instead book a cheap Philippine Airlines A350 business class fare from Taipei to New York or Toronto?

But wait, if I’m in Paris, shouldn’t I try Air Senegal’s new A330-900neo business class from Paris to Dakar? Why are the cheapest one-way business class fares $1,600, and is there no better way to book it (maybe they offer paid upgrades day of?)?

If I’m going to do that, maybe I should instead fly Air Mauritius’ A350 business class from Paris to Mauritius, since you can redeem Flying Blue miles for it?

But Istanbul’s New Airport is also supposed to open, so maybe I should check that out on opening day instead? I could spend a night in the Yotel that’s there, though how do I do that while also reviewing new Turkish planes, since I’ve already reviewed their 777 and A330 business class? Their new 787 isn’t yet in service.

Maybe I should instead focus on visiting some new countries while flying Turkish, given all the places they fly? I could maybe go either to Bratislava, Slovakia, or Ljubljana, Slovenia, or Tbilisi, Georgia, or Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then connect from there to Istanbul? But wait, what does any of this have to do with my flights from the US to Europe to begin with?

Maybe I should forget the whole Asia thing, just fly Royal Air Maroc to somewhere in Europe, then fly one of Turkish’s regional planes to Istanbul, and then return on a Turkish plane back to Western Europe as well, so I can review something new? Maybe United’s 767 with the new Polaris seats, or United’s 787-10 business class? But none of those flights have award seats.

There are award seats on Aer Lingus’ 757 business class, which I haven’t reviewed yet, but these planes are leased and will eventually be removed from service, as the airline takes delivery of the A321LR. So is that review worthless?

Maybe I should instead fly Azores Airlines on their new A321neos, given my previous experience with the airline?

But wait, maybe the whole China thing was a good idea, and I should fly Air China’s new A350 business class to Beijing, since it has reverse herringbone seats?

Yes, this is actually just a small glimpse of what my planning process looks like. About a dozen hours of playing around with various flights later, I still have nothing booked.

  1. If ever you’ll be flying on Philippine Airlines, I suggest that you review the hotels in Manila well. A new Sheraton, Hilton and Conrad just opened in the last few months. We also have a new Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency.

    You can also go island hopping to Palawan where there is an Aman property there namely Amanpulo.

  2. LOL I feel you – we’re both remote-workers and my husband now goes to a co-working space during the day to keep us both sane and, uh, “on-task” with work.

    I have two major categories of trips: one that’s planned way the heck in advance, and completely spur of the moment. Our upcoming Japan trip to ride the Shiki-Shima took over a year to make happen, whereas this past week in Palm Springs (for DesertX) happened because my friend texted and her AirBnB there had more bedrooms than she originally thought. I checked online and there were cheap, direct flights available and I left the next day.

  3. Air Mauritius also have new A330-9 service launching from London and then used elsewhere on the network.

    You could do PAR-DSS (Air Senegal) -JNB(SA)-MRU(MK)-SIN(MK)-SHA(SQ) and then review multiple new products!

  4. This post is hilarious! I love it! Goes perfectly with the title.

    Thanks for giving us a deeper glimpse into the mind of a travel genius.

  5. You should learn the difference between i.e. and e.g. since you have so much idle time right now.

  6. @Lucky

    If you start flying less, you will get fewer visitors and fewer impressions, which means less $$$ for you to do future reviews.

    I know a good chunk of readers here are here for the reviews not the credit cards or political stuff.

    You are one of the few genuine bloggers who don’t wanted to be treated differently than readers. I admire and respect you for that.

    If I want to read trash (news) about travel and comped VIP treatment showboat, I can always go to the tabloids like that “P” Guy. The Guy even pushes credit card harder than you. The day a blogger brag about having a Centurion card is the day I switch my impression of that blog from info/opinion blog to entertainment/Kardashian blog. I mean everyday people won’t get that card and it is not even worth it (that is from ppl who declined the invitation). For now you still pass my Centurion card test where “P” has failed.

    I like @Lucky when you started, with all those eccentric passion (screwing UA in the process). You seemed burned out now. No more ‘bookable’ luxury trips, no more jumping on EVERY mileage run deals. I know you’re more mature, but that is (was) part of you appeal and selling point.

    Do consider this feedback from a long time fan.

  7. I highly recommend the PAL A350 from MNL-JFK. It’s long but I personally liked it. You could do the following: MIA-CMH Royal Air Maroc but only on the 787-9, CMH-IST on Turkish, see the new airport, then IST-MXP/FRA (Maybe in premium economy if they offer widebodies?;)). Then Air China’s A350 from MXP/FRA-PEK (Ive heard MXP is better and more consistent), then China Eastern’s A350 PEK-SHA, Shanghai Airlines snazzy 787-9 from SHA-SZX Then HKG-MNL on a Cathay A350-1000, then MNL-JFK on the PAL A350. If it’s too long then maybe just go direct from PEK-MNL. you could also just go MIA-ISL instantly but I don’t think you want to…When I flew the PAL A350 my routing was ATL-BRU(DAL 767) BRU-BKK(Thai A350), BKK-HKG(HKG A350), HKG-MNL(Cathay A35K), MNL-JFK(PAL A350).

  8. Correction: Juneyao* 787-9 from SHA-SZX (Or maybe Shanghai Airlines offers 787-9 service there ocassionally I could be wrong).

  9. Uhm yeah… …I can relate to this type of planning: I found a great QR j fare and then started planning around that. Ended up having to book two separate trips on each end in order to go where I really wanted to go haha

  10. You think you dont miss it – but I’ll bet as soon as you take that trip, at least part of you will. You may not have the same passion for relentlessly going places that you once did (face it – you’ve grown up and real life has become more real), but you will miss it. And Ford knows that. As exhasuting as your trips can be, they help regenerate your soul.

    That said, if I may offer some constructive criticism: your trips are what make this blog. Your reviews have a refreshing honesty to them you dont get many other places. They are honest because you actually book and take them. Every mileage run, every mileage deal jumped on, every luxury hop taken that could be booked by mere mortals, dropping everything for a great fare sale halfway around the world and figuring out how to get there to take advantage of it – these things are the bread and butter of what feeds this place. That is what makes this blog so great (well, that and Tiffany’s writing, which we never seem to get enough of). Take those things away and this place slowly starves – or starts feeding on something else entirely, which will inevitably change your audience.

  11. Your process often defines the destination. For myself the destination is set in stone at the beginning and the process happens along the way.

  12. For a few month later, I would like to recommend you something.
    Shanghai Airlines (FM), (subsidiary of china eastern) is launching its first ever intercontinental flight, from PVG to BUD. Actually it is supported by the Hungarian government, they were looking to find an operator for years, and as Shanghai Airlines took their first 787-10 last september, they took the opportunity and announced their weekly 3 nonstop flight to Budapest.
    The inaugural flight will be on June 7th. It will depart in PVG slightly after midnight, and return from BUD just after noon.
    One-way business class fares currently are around 1000 EUR. I would highly recommend you to try this flight. I know you (and everyone) loves inaugural flights, especially when its not just a new route, but a whole new concept (first truly long-haul flight of an operator).
    How to get to Budapest?
    LOT has flight from JFK/ORD to BUD (they are often discounted, sub1000 USD for one-ways), you reviewed them the last time in 2014.
    Also AA has the old 767s from PHL. Or Air Canada rouge 767s from Toronto.
    But, most importantly, you never flew Wizz Air (headquatered in BUD), they just got their first A321neo, and you can fly them from anywhere within Europe to BUD.

  13. Yeah I think many of us plan this way, and unexpected stops crop in. I would say be at the new IST (will be the code) on opening day! Adjust your expectations since opening day will not be smooth!… but a worthwhile experience.

  14. Most importantly, how are the puppy’s poopies charting? Every thing ok?

    That comment made me chuckle out loud, thanks for that.

  15. Lol. Love it. Seriously though, with no recent international trips, the miles ( earned by CC) must be piling up ??? Go crazy!

  16. I’ve been reading this blog every day lately, but what I am really looking for are the flight reports. They’ve been few and far between lately and from the way it sounds they’ll be even fewer to come. I hope that won’t be the case. Otherwise I have to go to the TPG and I really don’t want to.

  17. Criss crossing all these time zones albeit in luxury and then staying in style on the ground does take a toll on your health. Glad to see you have pulled back a bit.

    Being with somebody 24/7 is part of the committment :). Yes most don’t see each other all the time which is why when they retire and see each other 24/7 they get at each other’s throats lol.

  18. Love this post!
    Please don’t bother with Chinese airlines, they’re nothing special and there are heaps of reviews out there. PAL would be interesting if you choose to go to Asia.

  19. Try out China Eastern’s newest A350-900. Way better than some random short-haul business class.

  20. You aren’t trying to figure out where to go. You are trying to figure out what to do next with your career. You no longer want to be a mileage blogger, but it’s made you who you are. You obviously can not sit at home and log dog poop and do laundry.

    Don’t travel to write a review.

    Go travel like the rest of us do; To clear your mind, and figure out what is next.

    You’ve got a great platform. Don’t fear the pivot. Whatever is next will be even bigger than this.

  21. I like this. Thanks for sharing. I recommend you outline 2 or 3 review trips that way you don’t feel like you’re giving up on any ideas.

  22. Why not just complete the last airline to try out new first class? I believe there are many good fares out via Kuwait.

  23. Yeah you really need to hurry up and create some new content. No trips the last 2 months plus way behind on trip reports. We wont have fresh content for another month at least. I miss the OMAAT of 2-3 years ago.

  24. Curious how often you book, cancel, and pay to reinstate your miles? I’m horrible at it and am constantly looking for a better route, nicer destination, perfect weather.

  25. Life is full of changes and challenges.

    I just returned from Paris, Munich and London. Mostly business trips.
    What is my new travel hobby?

    Sèvres porcelain collections …

    Ok I am in my 50s now , so give me a break!

  26. @Lucky –

    I know this is along the same vein as asking someone how much they earn, but would you mind sharing approximately how many points/miles you have in the major currencies?

  27. If I had to put that much thought into a trip, I think I’d just end up staying! Maybe that’s why I tend to vacation within a 3 hr radius from home( and there are many options living in Florida) or booking a cruise!

  28. It sounds like the biggest problem is you need more down time to recover from all the travel. Slow down on the flight after flight after flight with no real rest in between. Take 2 long flights and spend a day or 2 in a city relax and sight see. Then after a big long trip spend 2-3 weeks at home

  29. LOVE this post Lucky! I love a look behind the scenes of all of the madness involved to plan a trip. (in fact I would prefer to see these just as much or more as those trip reports others are complaining about not seeing!) This type of insight allows us to see a lot of possibilities and tons here that I have never even heard of! 🙂

  30. @David — looks to me like e.g. is more appropriate than i.e. in this case. Want to enlighten us as to why you feel otherwise?

  31. @Ivan X

    I.e. was initially used (which prompted me to make that comment), he has since changed it to e.g.

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