Trips, tips and potato chips
This is the story of how I became a crazy good traveler (AKA blorg origin stories):
November 8, 2011 – My First International Flight!
My friend Jin found a deal on TravelZoo to Costa Rica from Los Angeles for $220. I’ve been wanting to travel more and got my passport in 2010 and still haven’t gone anywhere. The year before, Jin joined me on a 2-week road trip across the US so I thought this time I’d join his adventure even though I didn’t know what to do for a week in Costa Rica.
I’ll leave all the details for another post, but overall it was a lot of fun and I was hooked on travel.
August 20, 2012 – First Of Many Trips To Japan
My first trip to Japan. It would be 12 days because I didn’t want to miss too much work (fast forward to 2017, I took 13 weeks off for vacation). The trip was amazing but expensive. The Yen was much stronger than the Dollar at the time at $1USD getting you 75JPY. I didn’t take too much time off because traveling was expensive. I really loved this trip because it was inspiring to see a whole different lifestyle of people, literally a whole different world from my own.
October 5, 2012 – Trip to Peru
At the age of 25, this was my third international trip. Jin found a TravelZoo deal for $280 roundtrip from Los Angeles to Lima and without any hesitation I agreed. We booked another flight to Cusco to reach Machu Picchu from Lima. I didn’t even want to go on this trip. I had no idea what to do in Peru and what Machu Picchu was. The world was a very small place for Dan at the time.
October 15, 2012 – The Flight That Changed My Life
I was seated in the exit row with an Asian couple on my return flight from Lima to Los Angeles. Initially, didn’t want to sit in the exit row because I saw there was no TV on the headrest in front of the seat. I’d rather be entertained than have extra legroom (since I’m not that tall). I told the flight attendant I didn’t want that seat because of the TV situation. The man seated next to me explained that the TV monitors were hidden in the armrest. That’s how much of a newbie traveler I was in 2012.
As we were about to take off, a baby a few seats away from us begins crying. The crying just keeps going and going. I didn’t have any earplugs (I always do now) and endured it along with the other people on the plane. As the drink service started and the flight attendant passed by our row, she asked what we would like to drink. Simultaneously, all three of us in the row asked for beer and laughed.
We then started talking about travel. The couple also hiked Machu Picchu but planned it as a weekend trip. I asked him if he got in on the TravelZoo deal too, he said he used miles. Intrigued, I inquired as to how he uses frequent flyer miles and began taking notes. I took out the magazine that was in the seat pocket, ripped out a few pages and began writing as fast as I could to keep up with what the man was saying. Since the pages were from a magazine, I was writing up, down and along the sides of the pages wherever there was free space to write. He gave me a general overview of how frequent flyer miles work, accruing miles and websites where I can start learning.
When I went home, I spent the next two weeks reading through pages of forums to try to understand the miles system and how credit scores work. I applied for my first miles accruing credit card which was a Chase United card. My credit wasn’t that good so I had to start building it. I did have credit card debt since I was using money very irresponsibly while I still didn’t make that much. After some careful strategizing, I came up with a plan to get out of debt over the next 6 months while building my credit score and accruing frequent flyer miles.
That’s how it all started and I haven’t stopped accruing miles and traveling since.
The Year 2020
I happened to start traveling even MORE in 2019. My first stop was Taiwan and it ended up being too amazing to leave. The amazing food, people and public services were all things I haven’t seen at such a high level in just one country. Now I live in Taiwan and have another blog if you’d like to check it out, TaiwanEater.