It's not often that I meet someone crazier than me. Ben Schlappig has been running the One Mile at a Time blog since early 2008, so I caught up with this veteran to see if he’s had any tips he's picked up along the way.
Everyone's got their own style—including me—so it’s always interesting to see how other people travel. And more importantly, to see if they’ve got game on the road. Though Ben lives in the credit cards and points world that can suck you down a deep, dark rabbit hole, he’s made travel more accessible by helping people leverage their financial resources. So Mazeltov, Ben.
Current Gig: Full-time blogger and travel consultant
Annual Mileage: 400,000+
Preferred Alliance: oneworld
Frequent Flyer Program: American AAdvantage and Alaska Mileage Plan
First, are you a suitcase or backpack kind of person?
Are there any pieces of travel gear/software that you can’t live without?
My Macbook Air has changed my life. Beyond that, Bose Quiet Comfort headphones are a must for any frequent traveler.
What do your travel patterns look like? Are you always going to the same places or going somewhere new?
I try to visit new places but I also enjoy returning to places I love. On most trips, I’ll visit a new city as my destination and have a stopover in a city I love and am very familiar with.
What are some of the things that you will absolutely not go on a long-haul flight (8+ hours) without?
Lie-flat seats, decent entertainment and ideally Wi-Fi (though that’s still an area of opportunity for some airlines).
Is there a favorite airline? Is there an airline you wouldn’t touch with a 30,000-foot pole?
As a German I might be partial but I love Lufthansa. Aside from them, I especially love ANA, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Korea Air, and Singapore Airlines. In terms of airlines to avoid, I’m not a fan of China Southern or Royal Jordanian.
When you're visiting friends in another city, do you usually crash with them, book a hotel, vacation rental or just declare you’re going to camp out in their yard?
Hotels all the way! I live on the road full time and need to be able to work wherever I am, so having the privacy of a hotel room is valuable to me. Besides, with how lucrative hotel loyalty programs can be, it’s not all that expensive in many cases. I maintain top tier elite status with Hilton, Starwood and Hyatt, so it’s hard to justify anything else.
What’s your single favorite travel tip?
Just go. So many people are waiting to travel “until” — just find a way to make it happen!
How do you beat jet lag?
I don’t, really. Over the years I think I’ve completely lost my “internal clock.” Most of my work takes place during US business hours, so when traveling I often keep strange schedules. In Asia it’s not unusual for me to be awake from 6 p.m. till 10 a.m., for example.
In terms of tips for beating jet lag, I think my best tip is to just power through the first day at your destination. If you can avoid napping you’ll be nice and tired when it’s bed time in your new city and will hopefully wake up refreshed.
How do you generally get around the places that you visit?
Depends on the city. I like Uber, when available, or will use public transit in cities where that makes more sense. Mostly I like to walk though.
How do you stay connected to people on the road? Is there a particular mobile carrier you use?
I generally rely on Skype, Google Voice, and Wi-Fi at hotels and coffee shops. I’m thinking of switching to T-Mobile though.
What places are left on your bucket list?
I want to go back to Iceland and spend more time in India and Africa. I want to go everywhere, basically — even places I’ve already been. So as much as I have a “list,” no matter how many places I go, it only seems to get longer.
What’s your ideal vacation?
I’m honestly happiest when I’m writing, so being someplace with a fantastic view, fast internet and quiet is amazing. If there is great street food that’s even better!
Fill in the blank: I'd love to see _________ answer these same questions.
I’d say Matthew Klint of Live and Let’s Fly. He’s a good friend of mine but also a completely different type of traveler.