Travel Blogging In A Time Without Travel

Filed Under: Travel

Obviously the current global situation is having huge impacts on virtually every aspect of our society. While airlines were perhaps the first to be hit hard, this truly affects almost everyone in a negative way.

I’ve had a lot of readers ask what this means for both the current reality and future of travel blogging, so I figured I’d share my take in this post. For anyone who is interested I’ll share the current “state of the union” for OMAAT, what the current situation means for the overall landscape, and what it means for the future.

This is not at all intended to be a “woe is me” situation (tl;dr we’ll be fine), but rather just some insights into this world.

We have been preparing for this

The truth is that we’ve spent the past several years anticipating a significant downturn — no, not this situation specifically, but I started these businesses during a recession, and figured there would once again be rainy days.

We run a very, very, probably unnecessarily lean operation here at OMAAT. Even though this is the most widely read travel blog that’s independently owned (aka not VC-backed), you wouldn’t know it based on our team.

I do a vast majority of the writing (though I’m grateful for our contributors when they have time to write), Tiffany runs most of the back-end business aspects, Howie manages many of the projects we’re working on and coordinates with outside resources, and we have some great readers who also help us with some research and technical tasks on occasion. We might have more traffic annually than the world’s largest airport (pre-coronavirus), but we’re not staffed like it.

In many ways we perhaps haven’t taken advantage of the good times as much as we could have, but we’re also well positioned to weather the bad times. I think this largely comes down to this being a passion project/blog that just happens to be a business, rather than the other way around.

And heck, our entire team works remotely, and with at least Tiffany and me being introverts, we’ve been preparing our entire lives for self distancing. 😉

The impact on OMAAT, more concretely

In case you’re wondering, our overall OMAAT family makes money in a few ways, including through:

  • Impression based ads, where we make a penny or so for the ads you see displayed around the site
  • Affiliate marketing, including commissions on credit cards and some other travel products (all of which are disclosed when they offer a potential income pathway for us)
  • Our award consulting business, PointsPros

What do I expect the actual impact to be on us?

  • When it comes to impression based ads, our traffic has actually been way up the past week; despite that, the CPM (how much companies pay per ad) is way down, since no one likes to advertise during bad news, and our premium advertisers have all paused their campaigns
  • When it comes to affiliate marketing, I expect there will probably be fewer people getting new credit cards or booking revenue travel, and that’s fine
  • Hardest hit is PointsPros, since almost no one is planning travel or looking to use miles right now

We’ll of course be taking care of our people. We have cash reserves, unlike most businesses we get paid long after we’ve rendered a service (most of our agreements are NET60, plus a lag, so we’re getting paid this month for December), and we have a very small team for the work that we do.

We’re not cutting back staff, and quite to the contrary, we’re reaching out to people who have written for us in the past to see if they want to write at the moment (since some of them have full time jobs, but are currently not working), we’ll give our awesome team that usually works on awards other projects to work on, etc. It will be more complicated for us come late summer, but for now we’re okay.

So expect more of the same for OMAAT. We’ve been doing the same thing (for better or worse) for the past 13 years, and that will continue. I’m grateful to get up every day and be able to write about the industry I love so much. I’d rather I could be writing about positive news and developments, rather than the current situation, but…

I recognize we are lucky

Nomadic Matt shared his perspective in a Twitter thread, talking about the situation his business is in, and it’s an interesting read. He has a different niche, and it’s sad to see how this is impacting him — he’s seeing huge decreases in traffic, ad CPMs are down, travel e-books aren’t selling, affiliate links for tours and other travel services aren’t generating any leads, etc.

I’d say it’s probably much of the same for many of the “travel influencers,” who seem to be the primary people making some amount of money in the travel adjacent space nowadays. I’m talking about the usually very attractive people posting pictures of very big breakfasts in five star hotel beds (or we can’t forget the breakfasts that float in pools!).

I imagine those people are impacted pretty negatively because a) they can’t travel and b) posting pictures from your dream destinations isn’t exactly “in” at the moment.

Then I imagine this also has to be tough on some of the more corporate “lifestyle” sites with over 100 employees that rely on online ads to get their traffic. They have a lot more overhead and less ability to adapt, and I can imagine all those expenses on top of the economic uncertainty being very frightening and stressful for those employees.

Finding the right balance with content going forward

Presumably we’re all going to be self-isolating for a while, and the industry won’t recover for even longer. With that in mind, I certainly welcome feedback about what kind of content you guys would like to see, as I’m conflicted.

I of course plan to continue to cover the coronavirus situation as it impacts the travel industry unlike anything we’ve ever see.

But I’d like to cover other travel and miles and points topics for a few reasons:

  • I think it’s a welcome distraction from the constant stream of bad news
  • This is a great time to get your travel strategy in order for better times; for example, being at home I’ve spent some time helping my family optimize their credit card portfolio the past few days, making sure miles aren’t expiring, etc.
  • I think we’re going to see a miles & points renaissance, where airline and hotel loyalty programs once again engage members and actually fight for business, which most programs haven’t done in a very long time

I want to keep finding the right mix of information and entertainment, and look forward to hearing what you guys want to read about.

Bottom line

I recognize this is a challenging time for everyone. In many ways I sort of appreciate that we can largely put aside differences, as the whole world is going through something together, but there’s no question that this is going to be much more difficult for some than others.

My thoughts are with those who have been laid off (either temporarily or permanently), or those who don’t have the same safety net, and I’m trying to turn those thoughts into actions while we are all so isolated.

If you’re in a position to help those in less fortunate situations, then this is a great time to do so, whether that comes in the form of donating to your local food bank or children’s group, prepaying a housekeeper, buying gift cards to your favorite restaurant, or whatever else can be done to ease the imminent cash crunch so many small businesses are facing.

I’m incredibly fortunate that I’ve been able to prepare for something like this (well, as much as anyone can prepare for something like this). We’ll take a hit like everyone else, but we’re here to stay. If anything, expect more, not less.

Thanks so much for reading OMAAT, we certainly wouldn’t be here without you!

Comments
  1. I’d love to read more in-depth reports on some of the special places you’ve visited in the past, such as Greenland and Easter Island. It would be nice to get a better picture of the experience of traveling there, on top of reviews you’ve already written.

  2. Hi Ben –

    You may want to put a block on Coronavirus related ads. Your site is simply flooded with exploitative mask and purell type ads (never a good look). I work at an large SSP and we are offering these blocks to our publishers. We don’t work directly with you (inventory comes through Frequent Flyer Services), but you can likely request this block through your large programmatic demand partners. Just an FYI.

    Eric

  3. Ben: I thoroughly enjoy your blog. It has helped me immensely, and you are extremely professional and reliable. Thank you.

  4. Whether you knew it ahead of time or whether you “lucked” into it, you don’t have the overhead and other obligations that come with you when you go in full speed and possibly use leverage or have stockholders to account to.

    It is like the people who invest and run various backtests that show you make the most money when you are 100% in stocks, well you also lose the most money being fully invested and depending on your place in life, you may not have enough time to recover.

    In your case by staying lean, the pressures are less than having dozens of people you are responsible for and would likely have to cut or lay off.

    Sometimes making less money is more enjoyable and a lot less stressful. I’ve left money on the table by not going for big bucks but I’ve also don’t work more than 40 works a week, never been laid off or in need of a job. Also by not getting over leverage (buying the expensive car, overpaying for a house, etc.) I’m not stressed out if I miss a paycheck or multiple ones and won’t have to work until I’m 65 or whatever.

    As you know, health is more important than anything.

    And I’d imagine we will see some very nice bargains on miles, ccs, etc. once things settle down.

    I’m probably going to cancel or downgrade some cards that I clearly aren’t going to be using in the next year. I can always apply to get it again (likely w/o a new bonus but you never know).

  5. Ben, because you are an interesting person, your blog is by default going to be interesting. As someone who is used to traveling frequently and is now also grounded, the “party line” is I welcome more time at home with my wife and son. And I do. But I know myself well enough to know that if I am not on a plane after a few weeks, I get “antsy” and just want to go anywhere. In many ways, for me, at least, frequent travel is an addiction. I suspect that you too will be getting antsy sooner rather than later and I would love to hear about that is affecting you. I think it is perfectly okay both to enjoy being home and miss traveling. You have a big platform on which to express that perspective and I think there are many of us who will relate.

  6. Some sort of retrospective look at your destinations would be interesting as folks start thinking about where they would want to go once the dust settles. For example something along the lines of “My favorite smaller European towns you probably haven’t visited” or the like.

    I have also appreciated your stories on the industry. Think you have a unique perspective. My guess as airlines shut down we’re going to now turn to more hotels closing up shop — akin to what we saw with some of the big ones in Vegas.

  7. One thing that may help is to “beef up” your other media channels. You surely have more pcs of T4 and the Jewel at changi. Your impressions along will be useful because (different from influencers) your comments and opinions are accepted and respected.

  8. I’d still love to see the calala island review! Perhaps you guys could branch out and start reviewing credit cards in other countries such as UK and Australia. From an Australian perspective I don’t love any of the sites that review credit cards as they are clearly biased. As I only moved back there I’d love to know what credit cards are best for me. Another option for you is to start reviewing which hotels etc have great bargains for the future. I taking 4 months of later in the year. Many of the hotels I booked are on corporate rates so I can easily cancel them, so are continuing to plan. I have noticed that even the corporate rates have come down. Best wishes to everyone out there.

  9. Hi Ben & OMAAT Team, I hope that this wouldn’t be in bad taste but something that keeps me going through this nightmare is to plan for travel in 7+ months or so, when we are likely to be on the other side of it. So I would love to read about deals or award opportunities for travel in fall and early 2021 that may be available now.

  10. This seems like a great time for my family to plan future trips, including to make up for the ones we’re canceling. Even if I won’t be booking flights for all of them yet, I feel like your blog is more relevant than ever. Lean into that aspect! Thanks as always, Ben.

  11. Excellent post. I for one really appreciate the job you do and I wish you all the best. This really is the best site on the whole web and I would be somewhat lost without it 🙂 These times are certainly very trying for all of us and one can only hope that the situation gets better sooner rather than later. A couple of weeks ago, my biggest concern was that my planned vacations might be postponed (and more expensive), then I started to worry about my stocks and potential layoffs, now I only worry about the society and economy as a whole as well as the health of myself, my loved ones and everyone else.

  12. AdamH says:
    March 17, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    Some sort of retrospective look at your destinations would be interesting as folks start thinking about where they would want to go once the dust settles

    I completely agree. A re-write and retrospective on Easter Island is an example. An airport review is an idea, too.

  13. This is why I read your blog! Sincerity and a deep sense of humanism, not just another dose of capitalism. Look forward to your thoughts as the crisis turns – hopefully sooner than later. Indeed, be as kind as possible in your communities.

  14. Please keep on posting and blogging. As a devoted seasoned traveler who is homebound for the near future, I still want to dream, scheme and make arrangements for days to come. Your inspiration will help foster all 3.

  15. Lucky, if you have extra time to kill, perhaps you could put together a new guide?

    Here’s one I’d love to see: “the best business classes for families”. A combination of:
    – Which airlines release lots of award seats? At least 3 and ideally 4-6 on the same route.
    – Which airlines have business class seats that are good for families traveling with kids? Reverse herringbone is very hard if you have toddlers, for instance. Forward-facing is great, staggered is okay, staggered with “honeymoon” is excellent (like Polaris) assuming you get those paired seats.
    – Also, for lap infants you could cover lap infant fees (% of miles or of ticket price), and which airlines tend to have empty seats (so you can hope to just put the infant in their own seat).

  16. Ben,
    One of the reasons I love reading your OMAAT is it inspires me for big luxurious trips in the future. Over the years I have read your blog I have thought many times how nice it would be if you wrote a guidebook of the ultimate trips and experiences. Perhaps not even a full-on guidebook but even just re-posts of your best trips, something that will make us dream and long for the days of travel. We need to be inspired about what to do and look forward to when this is all over. Stay safe and curious and bon voyage!

  17. Really hope ‘influencers’ have to pack up the Christmas tree lights and lightroom presets to never return, but I’m sure they have hard drives worth of the same overhead drone shots, ‘hand holding while looking back’, etc shots to tide them over for a few months.

  18. A few topics suggestions given the current affairs:
    1) manufactured spending – what cards to use for your current “lockdown” needs
    2) how to re-evaluate what cards to keep, especially those w/ high fees, given you probably won’t travel much in the next 6 months and some of the benefits will pretty much be useless
    3) once the lock-down eases a little..maybe how travel can resume w/ roadtrips, in-state outdoor attractions, insight on staying at hotels

  19. There are a few things you could constructively do to kill time while things are sketchy. Among them are:

    Sale fares for 6+ moths away in first/business class. Buy now, enjoy later.

    Award space. Is AA still being tight fisted on premium award space? Does Delta still charge 8,700,000 miles for a one way Delta One saver award seat from Atlanta to Los Angeles? Again, not for immediately but if we didn’t like to travel we’d read a different blog.

    Revisit top choices. Best beach hotels in the Caribbean on points with each chain, best airline award value within Europe, etc.

    Analysis. This one gets tricky, but can Cathay make it after all the body blows they’ve absorbed? Do you think it likely that hotels and airlines will offer truly enticing deals to bring back customers or will they just do the same as the last several years? Will this period redefine loyalty or just stall the ongoing downward slide of individual programs?

    Worst case scenario, you can republish old trip reports as a refresher.

    What is a VC-backed blog, by the way?

  20. Love your blog. The only blog I subscribe to on a daily basis that I always read. The content is amazing, fascinating and useful. But equally as important is your attitude – no self-obsessed, bragging, arrogant, dull narratives. Always fresh, open and engaing and coming from a position of inquiry – like what can I or we learn here? Today’s edition fits that precisely, and reminds me why I always love to read them when they drop in the inbox. Thank to you and your team.
    The sun will rise again and i look forward to you charting the industry’s return to excellence. Chris

  21. – Articles and updates on industry actions and reactions, particularly as it relates to extensions of loyalty status, qualification rates etc., all of which likely to change
    – What this is doing for redemption options for second half of the year and into 2021
    – Strategies for getting redemptions – you’re a master at it; how do you play the game to get the redemptions you’re seeking. So, for example, Delta generally is terrible for GUCs a year out, but at <30 days your chances are a lot higher… whereas BA is great for redemptions out of NYC where they have (or 'had' for right now!) so many daily flights.
    – Cataloguing / reorganizing your content, so it's much easier to find on your site – it's hard to find something on your site – best way is to Google it to find it (but maybe that's the simple answer is that everyone should Google it!)

  22. Will you be publishing your review of Calala Island soon? Been waiting for it since the review of the Managua Hyatt. Wanting to know if i should cancel my August booking or not.

  23. Love your work Ben so more of the same floats my boat.

    One thing maybe a predictive piece, what your thoughts are on when we get through this what the travel industry will look like, will this have changed our habits permanently, how will the industry entice travellers back especially those who have been bitten twice maybe for the third time and lost money eg Thomas Cook failure and other airlines, storm kera and other storms and CV19 loads of people have lost money more than once and will fatigue mean more people will just stay local and not fly so often.

  24. I’d to read some recaps of your early travels, when everything was fresh and new.
    Or maybe about some opportunities that arose from the 2008 crisis, your fashion history (walking on airport with PJs, someone asking to buy your shirt), Janesis, bad juju, your travel cancelations highlights…

  25. I’d be interested to hear what Ben thinks about the value of specific points/mile going forward. If the airline industry is on the brink of bankruptcy, does that mean the stockpile of AA miles, Avianca Lifemiles or Marriott points I currently have will become useless in a few months? Should I start redeeming any miles I have for prospective travel in early 2021?

  26. Virgin Australia cancelled all overseas flights and Australia upgraded travel advice to level 4 – Do not travel overseas.

  27. Well you presumably still have to go for groceries and take Winston for walks right? Tell us about those less than glamorous experiences.

  28. Any chance you can do a post on the strategy of keeping high annual fee credit cards? The Amex Plat and Chase Reserve and Citi Prestige set me back $1500 yet I’m barely using them for who knows how long?

    There has to be others in the same boat.

  29. Maybe a “this month 7 years ago” resurrection of old reviews or something. Found myself rereading some of your Oman Air reviews wishing to be in the air myself. Helps drown out the nonstop panic of CNN and CNBC that I don’t need to hear rehashes of unchanged news 24/7.

  30. Singapore Airlines. Amazing service at the business lounge at Changi this morning. I could not get through to change my flight so I bought another ticket on points. Went out of their way to help me. In the end got all my points back plus taxes and fees. Got their names so I can provide feedback on their amazing service in trying times. As someone mentioned above Australia has just gone to “do not travel” globally. Telling everyone to come home. Stay safe.

  31. pk had a great idea: this day or week back in Omaat history. Bring back and highlight a post from the same day or week since 2008 and add your current view, the changes you would make on your final comments because the industry or you have changed.

  32. @Christian – VC-backed = owned by Venture Capital money (aka sell-outs like TPG). Basically, sell most/all of your ownership stake to an investment group for a fat payout, still draw a salary (and maybe have some bonus upside), but you are now salaried slaves to the VC owners and thus will pump pump pump to drive more revenue and likely lose a lot of your independence & credibility. Again, like TPG.

  33. @Lucky
    You probably already know this, but I don’t think bringing back old stuff especially travel related will keep readers coming back.
    Let’s just have fun with controversial topics related to points miles travel or credit cards.
    I can think of bunch of them. Here are some few thoughts.
    COVID and Climate change.
    Credit card strategy without much spending.
    Professional sports and COVID
    Monster Truck and COVID
    Did COVID just made every CSR holder use DoorDash.
    CA CZ MU reinstate flights
    Lyft drivers and COVID
    Uber drivers and COVID
    Stupid scooter and COVID
    COVID and Skynet

  34. “I think this largely comes down to this being a passion project/blog that just happens to be a business”

    Which is why your blog is the best! Your voice is authentic. Keep up the good work.

  35. A very deep dive unto Amex platinum medical evacuation procedures. I think you need to have a file or something open first, rather than just being in a crisis and calling for help.
    Also, many of us may be doing more domestic travel for some time after the worst of the crisis. So lots of articles on domestic destinations.
    My son’s dog is also named Winston (after Churchill). Same for your adorable Winston?

  36. Yours is the only blog that I must read daily! I remember years ago when you asked us to opine if you should start the blog or go down another path. I voted to start the blog and am very glad that you did just that. Things will turn around and get better and I look forward to you, Tiffany and company to continue to entertain and educate me for years to come!

  37. Ben & company, I’ve been a regular reader for 2.5 years now. I wish I had been reading for 10 years! I’m mostly retired now, but have had wanderlust since my early teens and don’t plan to quit once the COVID-19 wave has passed.

    I’ve learned so much from this site and all the fantastic reviews and CC advice. We have a small business we’re winding down and have perhaps 2 million points/miles to burn. Had I kept doing what i was doing, I wouldn’t have even half the miles with AA disadvantage. Everything you write about is thoroughly read and often referred back to. I don’t have 28 cards, but we have a stack that came with big bonuses.

    BTW, AA has no bargains for early 2021 award travel. They spent $15B on share buybacks instead of cash reserves and improving the customer experience. Executive management should be turfed and shareholders wiped out before they get any bailout.

  38. Hi Ben,

    Regular reader, appreciate everything you are doing! A couple of ideas:

    A retrospective of evolution of points and award travel: Since you’ve been in this business from one recession to another (possible) recession – how did award and status change, is award travel better/easier/more common than it was before, what was the “Golden” age of points like, how has things changed since, what would you like to see change once travel resumes?

    For those other small businesses out there dependent on travel: are there any services you subscribe to or agencies to book with that you want to highlight? I’m thinking like how you talked about Hyatt Prive but for other sites like TripIT Pro, ExpertFlyer, Skyscanner etc.

    I really liked your Top 10 business and Top 10 first class posts. How about top something similar for those of us waiting for the day we can travel again? Top 10 vacation destinations, Top 10 hotels and resorts, Top 10 redemptions you’ve personally made, Top 10 travel deals you’ve ever seen.

  39. It just leaked that Mnuchin told the Republican senators this morning that a 20% unemployment rate is likely.

    With that we might all be blogging soon. But it won’t be about first class travel. More like the best options for building bunkers and defending your home.

  40. I own a small restaurant and bar in a small town in Michigan. We were forced to close our doors yesterday and only be open for carry outs. This is a hardship for us and every single one of our employees. I am hoping this doesn’t last a long time and that while we are forced to do this that it actually accomplished something and helps society. No one in our entire area can sustain this. So I guess I am wishing you all the best while this is happening. I will continue to be a reader as I have always been.

  41. Agree about blocking exploitative ads. Seeing ripoff N95 ads everywhere is not good for a site. Not necessarily your site but (cough)f….talk(cough).

  42. I would love to know where you see value in Marriott Bonvoy now. I have all of these points since the last devaluation and I have no idea what to do with them. Every redemption seem like an awful deal but perhaps that is the new normal with Marriott? Or perhaps I am missing some sweet spots? Either way, would love to get your most recent take on it.

  43. @PeterSFO
    I agree. It would be nice if the “Golden Age” of travel could return in a way. As a way to draw back travelers, and/or reward them for starting to fly again.

  44. What about starting a podcast during these times? People are going to need content, and with social distancing I think a lot of people will be going stir-crazy if they are on lockdown (as my area is). You could get ahead of the game by interviewing travel industry leaders not just in this country but globally (airline, cruise operators, restaurant group heads, small business owners, etc) and even maybe a round table with readers of your blog who work in transportation and are being affected by the virus and economic slowdown. There are a million ideas (maybe a funny travel stories episode, we need to laugh during these times). Plus, even though I hate listening to commercials during podcasts, it’s another revenue stream for you. And once all this calms down, you’ll have grown your reach during the downturn.

  45. OK I am on an international flight home so keep coming up with what I would like to see. I really want an article on travel insurance. Having gotten extremely sick on a domestic business, I am a big believer in travel insurance (that was obviously covered by local private health insurance). My reading of the fine print of credit cards (at least in Australia) is that they do not provide what I need – hence the need for comprehensive travel insurance. I am very tired of seeing go fund me requests for people who did not have insurance. The things I would like to see covered are:
    (1) Adventure sports – eg skiing off piste as a lot of insurance does not cover this
    (2) Which companies cover pandemics and what level of cover they provide eg if you get the virus will they cover your medical needs, if for example you break your arm but it is not due to the virus, will they pay for it.
    (3) Insolvency/bankruptcy insurance – a friend recently lost 40,000 AUD on a trip to Antarctica as the company was no longer able to provide the service. The list of CC and stand along insurance companies who did not approve claims is long. I have spent hours researching this and have not been successful – would love someone to tell me of a company that does this
    (4) “Adventure activities” – what constitutes an adventure activity. Many people are surprised to know that riding that scooter in Bali or phuket is not covered

    The other thing I would love to see is what are you favourite hotels in some of the cities you visit frequently, eg LA, what if your favourite luxury hotel vs mid range vs brand

    BTW I also love this page. Some of the other review sites are clearly paid to give good reviews – which is a waste of time. I want real. I want to see the gym and the room service menu.

    Well done for coming up with a genuine review site that provides great feedback for everyone AND that can earn you a living.

  46. VFTW I think is also independent. Gary may see this and chime in. He also has a “day job” as he likes to say and for him it truly is just something he likes to do.

  47. Write a blog post from Winston’s prospective on how much he loves his Daddies being home with him. It could be photos or video. He can be your newest contributor.

  48. I lived through the great toilet paper shortage of the 70’s, two gas crises, global cooling, the risk of nuclear winter, 9-11 and more “pandemic cares” than I can recall. This too will pass. Our online business has taken a crap, it will come back. I look forward to my next adventure, and next visit to the grandkids in Europe. Some of us at work are looking at the potential rebate/money from the feds as financing the next trip. Stay calm and enjoy this time the best as you can.

  49. I like with your hard work. I cant say to much with this situation. Wish all back to normal as usually.

  50. Hi Lucky, thanks for the thoughtful post as always, I have been reading your blog for a long time and have found it especially useful in the last few weeks. My wife and I have been out of the country for the last 4 months on a once in a lifetime trip around SE Asia, and have been checking your blog regularly to avoid the impending possibility of being quarantined or stuck somewhere. We just got back to the States today.

    One small thing to add. I work in the entertainment industry, which is obviously not doing great right now. One small thing people can do to help is instead of asking for a refund for any tickets to shows or events that are cancelled, donate the money to the company. This can make a huge difference, especially to smaller theatre companies, bands etc…

  51. Ben,
    With the slowdown in flight reviews now inevitable, I’d like you to post a few retrospective articles, for those of us who tune in mostly to get information on airlines that we are planning to travel with, which to avoid and which you recommend.

  52. More than 10 years ago I started reading a bunch of travel blogs, and OMAAT is the only one left that I still read every day. I like your writing and your personality. Keep writing!

  53. Definitely looking for places to escape the covid news everywhere, now that I’m fully locked down looking for distraction.

    So keep the non-virus content coming too please!

  54. @WJM

    Oh please no, people writing in the “voice” of their pet is just so cringe.

    @Lucky

    This could be a good time to work on past trip reports that were never published, like the MEA one? 😉

  55. I read this blog site because of all the tips that may be of value to me personally. However, I am finding it hard to read anything about travel at the moment because it is like dreaming of Hawaii while being incarcerated in jail. My two overseas trips this year are on hold, pending ( I assume) cancellation…not necessarily by me, but certainly by lockdowns, lockouts and possibly liquidations. How quickly the world turns on a dime. Pity all the people who are now living from pay check to pay check … I am only losing my affluence, not my home.

  56. Blaz I’m pretty much in the same position as you.

    First and foremost we are world travelers who love to see and do new things around the globe so this virus is a big blow to the travel lovers.

    Now as a world traveler with three trips that are about to possibly be scrapped with the first one that I might have to say bye-bye to which is scheduled to leave NEXT WEEK 🙁

    That being said I really am sadden by how this is affecting so many people financially especially people who live pay check to pay check. Thankfully in some states that have closed their schools are providing students with boxed breakfast and lunch so that students will not starve which is a very small step in the right direction. Next step is to make sure people DO NOT get kicked out of their homes whether they are a renter or owner.

    And please no matter what the age of the person if they get the virus please let their body be strong enough to overcome it.

    Okay travelers stay well an if anyone comes across any articles next week talking about someone laying in the middle of the street clutching a suitcase crying that will be me. So just ignore it and look away while shaking your head.

  57. Hi Ben, how a bout a few more top 10 lists such as the top 10 points hotels for each brand, could be around experience, or value gained. I also agree anything when you can go over some of you previous trips and pick out some destination tips will always be an interesting read 🙂

  58. Lucky

    I am a bit of an exception, but to give you an idea of what I ‘get’ from your posts and other travel sites, I will offer some personal insights that may help you develop some posts that might interest some others here (but recognise that most may think me a bit barmy). But it works for me.

    For decades I have been very much Into knowing myself, unravelling the hidden mysteries of life and (successfully) answering the supposedly unanswerable eternal questions.

    So why do I follow your posts?

    1. I am broke, so travel is impossible for me. Incurable cancer doesn’t help. So you offer a sort of ‘virtual holiday’. I haven’t had a holiday in a decade and it is nice to relax myself into your posts, and imagine a different lifestyle. (I care for my wife).

    2. But more that that the details matter. I use your posts to help me develop my Intuition skillsets (I have a proveable (to spooks at least but more recently publicly) track record of accurately predicting against conventional wisdom). Things like Trumps election, Brexit etc. By thinking about this hotel or that (and why), even which breakfast, which room, etc, the contrast, how it makes me feel, I have been able to train myself. How does this work? Well it’s all about knowing yourself, your ego, your desires, what makes you feel comfortable or uncomfortable etc.

    3. Your posts are good education. Eg I now know that there is only one luxury credit card I would want to have (you don’t have it), but out of those you do have and promote, I now know specifically which would matter to me. And why.

    So posts you could do which may (or may not) generate interest to some others here….

    1. How the above relates to your travels.
    2. Rooms, hotels, places, meals, that have not only wowed you but which you learnt something about yourself in the process. Maybe a service failure that early had you acting badly out of character or a room you entered and felt déjà vu etc. What you learned from it and how you got to a place where you learnt from it. (Clue lots of reflection then working to smooth that specific rough part of your character).
    3. My personal favourite. Which countries ‘pull’ you to visit and which you really do not want to go to, same with hotels etc. The key bit is why.
    Etc.

    I have spent decades doing such inner esoteric work. It has paid off in spades for me. Sure I am broke, but a decade ago I answered supposedly unanswerable questions and have a decent predictive against conventional wisdom track record. Which is worth its weight in gold.

    Anyhow just some thoughts. Feel free to ignore them as the ramblings of a madman.

  59. I’m thinking perhaps a “retrospective comparison” of airlines (in particular) or hotels, destinations etc that you’ve had longevity with. For example what did travel on Lufthansa, Singapore, Emirates, etc look like when you first travelled/blogged about them and now…

  60. No, no, no! You are not allowed to be anywhere but here! I look forward to getting the emails and poking through the site. All posts are easy to read and personable. I would really miss ya’ll! I am still dreaming of future trips and I’m sure other people are too. I am crossing my fingers and holding my thumbs that it’s all fine and I will still have my favorite travel blog.

  61. Ben……Thanks for a well written post…written aptly and at the appropriate time…just praying this nightmare gets over soon as it has been very well mentioned earlier that far more people would die from bankruptcy than from the virus….

  62. @Lucky, I think it’d be interesting to see your take on what your prediction is for Credit Card offers, etc going forward. Assuming banks see their numbers hit, do you think the bonuses will increase to attract customer? Ease restrictions on applications (Once / Lifetime, 5/24, etc)? Something else?

  63. If you’re taking suggestions, I really liked the couple of posts that you did on your Africa trip last year. I’d love to see some more in depth discussion of the various hotels, game reserves and other travel options in Africa. The readers also provided great insights in the comments. Maybe this is the time to implement threaded comments so that we can go into detail on specific topics?

  64. For me, this is a time for re-evaluation. I traveled during 9-11, but since then I’m much more invested in travel, the loyalty, the cards. I’ve known for years that loyalty has been one way, but the level of non-support has been eye opening for me (ie United’s policy change-4 times). I’m rethinking my airlines, my hotels, my credit cards. The value I placed on credit cards travel insurance is no where near it’s true value as a maze I’m currently working through.

    Another interesting aspect is from Las Vegas. I have some level of status with almost every major casino…all of which have shut down. The communication has been different from all of them, but some seem to value me more as a customer than others. I say that not from a “give me something” perspective, but from communicating what is important to them, what they are doing for the employees, and they want me back, but only when they can accommodate the staff and visitors safely.

    So, pivoting back to you….. I’d love a few post of the ethics of the airline, hotel, etc during these times and how they responded…or didn’t.

  65. I read your blog every day no matter where I am. Have used some of your tips and they have helped me. Thanks for the great blog. To you, your husband and family Be strong and stay safe at this time.

  66. You’re the best Ben! Keep doing what you do best! We are all looking forward to life after COVID-19.

  67. I’m a big fan of yours. Glad to hear you have prepared for a rainy day. Our modern life came to a halt in January since we live in China. I’ve got to get my dog and husband home since I took my children and left early Feb. Stay safe friends! I enjoy the comments a lot too.

  68. Lucky –
    I think while most of us are self-isolating, what keeps us going is thinking about the future, when we’ll be able to travel, visit friends, and go out again. We need dreams and hopes, so if you were to post about your dream trips, aspirational redemption opportunities, places you’ve always wanted to visit, maybe more in-depth reviews of some past trips, that would keep a lot of us going. (And Tiffany – you seem to always be travelling. I’m sure you have some amazing trips or dream trips you could tell us about).

    Also, pictures of Winston, please!

  69. This is one of my favorite blogs to read and somehow I missed this article until I saw Gary from View of the Wing mention it on his post today on how his blog is doing amidst the pandemic. Keep on writing and more importantly, please stay healthy!!!

  70. @ Ben — You sound like a good business person. These others, not as much. A business should not take on expenses until absolutely necessary. If you follow that rule, you won’t lose money. You might lose some toys or some upside potential, but you don’t risk going under. I run my business the same way. My business could shrink, but I will still make a profit.

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