My 2022 travel goals

Although I’ve been focused on my travel writing for NerdWallet lately, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to write more on Josh Trips. I also want to continue my annual tradition of writing my travel goals for the next year.

Looking back

Before going into my goals for 2022, I wanted to look back at my travel in 2021. Before going into whether I was able to achieve my goals, below are some of the highlights from my year in travel:

  • After tallying the countries visited in 2021, I’ve now visited over 55 countries.
  • I flew Emirates First Class twice, including 2 showers in the air.
  • I swam with sharks and rays in Bora Bora.
  • I got to visit the pyramids in Egypt and see the brand new Royal Mummies’ Hall at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

Overall, it was a very good year for travel for me.

My travel goals for 2021 were: Sri Lanka, Bora Bora, Switzerland, Taipei, Dubai, Tallinn, Helsinki, Amalfi Coast, and the Big Island in Hawaii. Of those, I was able to make Bora Bora, Switzerland, and Dubai happen. With COVID-19, travel definitely needs to be flexible and I was able to make the best I could with my cancelled trips — for instance, I swapped Sri Lanka for Egypt and Tallinn/Helsinki/Amalfi Coast for Montenegro.

While there is still a lot of uncertainty with travel in 2022, below is a list of my goals for the upcoming year.

Tokyo

Although I am not confident at all that this trip will take place due to Japan being almost impossible to visit for U.S. tourists since 2020, I have 8 days booked in Tokyo towards the end of May 2022. Currently my plans are to stay at both the Conrad Tokyo and Four Seasons Tokyo (and I was able to book both on significant sale due to the country being locked down). If the trip works out, I’ll be flying home on ANA’s “The Room” business class, which is supposed to be the best business class product in the world right now.

Stockholm

Although my trip to the Baltics in 2021 didn’t quite workout, I’m trying to visit at least one country in the region in 2022 and have Stockholm booked for July. While I’m mainly going to see a work colleague and friend, I’m really excited to spend time out on the water and stay the Hotel Rival which is owned by a former member of ABBA.

Waldorf Amsterdam

I’m not sure if I’ve ever included a specific hotel in my travel goals rather than a destination, but I’ll make an exception for the Waldorf Amsterdam. This has been a dream city property of mine to visit for some years, and after finding some availability in July 2022, I pulled the trigger and booked a trip there. The hotel is steeped in history, with the grand staircase designed by the architect of King Louis XIV. Although with taxes a standard room can cost more than $800/night, I was able to find a room for 95,000 Hilton points per night (with the 5th night free).

Bora Bora

In 2021, I had the privilege of staying at the Conrad Bora Bora which turned out to be one of my favorite (if not my absolute favorite) hotels that I’ve stayed at. I loved the experience so much that I was already looking at booking a trip back while on the boat heading to the airport. A few months later, I was able to find 8 nights at 89,000 Hilton points per night (with the 5th night free), so I jumped on the chance and will be going again in October 2022. Although I love experiencing new places, I really can’t wait for my trip back to beautiful Bora Bora.

Final thoughts

Since 2020, I’ve had to stay flexible with my travel and I don’t think 2022 will be any different. While I’ll be thrilled if all of the above trips happen, I’m not optimistic that things will go exactly as planned. That said, I am very excited for this new year of travel (whatever it may bring).

My 2021 travel goals

Given all of the uncertainty around travel, it seems silly to even think of travel goals for 2021. Reflecting back, I was only able to hit one on my list for 2020 (and I’m thankful for being able to go on that trip — a nearly week-long surfing expedition). It’s a tradition of mine to draft up a list of travel goals for the upcoming year, though, and I wanted to get 2021 started with what I’m sure will turn out to be unrealistic optimism.

Bora Bora

This is my first trip planned for 2021 and I’m really excited about it. I’m currently set to spend 7 nights at the Conrad Bora Bora, booked entirely with Hilton points. This hotel is usually very hard to book on points (I had been trying to find availability for years), so when COVID restrictions started going into effect, I began looking for availability and dates here and I was lucky enough to find an opening in early February.

Sri Lanka

Thanksgiving is usually my big southeast Asia trip. In 2020, I was supposed to go to Bali (my 3rd trip there) and to Sri Lanka for a few nights after. Unfortunately that didn’t pan out, but I’ve already booked my flights and hotel to Sri Lanka for Thanksgiving 2021. I’ll be flying there and back on the Qatar QSuite (70,000 American miles each way) and will be staying for 5 nights at Ceylon Tea Trails, which is supposed to be a truly luxurious all-inclusive experience, including each room having its own butler. After Ceylon Tea Trails, I’m considering staying at either Cape Weligama or Amangalla, although am also considering a few more budget-friendly options.

Switzerland

In early April of 2020, I was supposed to fly to Milan on Emirates First Class, but as Milan closed off due to being the center of the pandemic, I rescheduled my flight to Switzerland in August 2020. Unfortunately, the 2nd trip didn’t happen either, so I rebooked and am now set to visit Switzerland in June 2020. I’ll be flying there on Swiss business class (booked with 55,000 Aeroplan miles from my Capital One Spark Business card) and flying home on Emirates First Class (booked with 85,000 Emirates miles from my Chase Preferred Business card).

I’ll be staying 2 nights in Bern followed by 7 nights in Wengen, Switzerland, high up in the Swiss Alps. My plan is to spend my days hiking and going down Swiss mountain coasters and then working remotely from the late afternoon until later in the night.

Dubai

Part of my big trip to Switzerland includes 2 nights in Dubai. Since I’ll be going in June, it may be too hard to do too much outside, but if the weather is bearable, I’m hoping to go on a 4×4 Jeep ride in the desert dunes and possibly do a sandboarding excursion.

Big Island, Hawaii

I have 5 nights paid for at the Hilton Waikoloa through a Hilton Grand Vacation timeshare offer. Through the offer, I paid $699 for 5 nights and will receive 50,000 Hilton points (valued at $300) provided that I attend a timeshare presentation. Originally I was supposed to go in May 2020 and then rescheduled for January 2021, which I recently canceled. I haven’t decided when to rebook for, but I’m hoping to get there before the end of 2021.

Tallinn, Estonia

Air Canada’s Aeroplan, one of my favorite loyalty programs, recently devalued its points and I wanted to book as many flights as I could before the devaluation took effect. One of my favorite Aeroplan redemptions is Swiss Air business class (which was previously only 55,000 points between LAX and Europe, although now is at least 70,000 points). A few days before the devaluation occurred, I booked my flights flying to Tallinn, Estonia and back from Naples, Italy on Swiss Air.

Tallinn, which is a remote work haven, has been a dream destination of mine for years and I’m really excited to finally visit.

Helsinki, Finland

After Tallinn, I’ll be hopping on a boat and crossing Baltic to spend 2 nights in Helsinki. I’m especially excited to be visiting in August, as the capital city of Finland can get quite cold and I’m not great in that type of weather. Although I don’t have much planned for the trip, particularly since it’s during the week and I’ll be working remotely at night, I am hoping to get out on the water and stroll the city streets.

Amalfi Coast

While I’m excited about both Tallinn and Helsinki, they are both relatively flat cities and, from a photography aspect, I can’t say that I’m especially thrilled about either (although hope to be pleasantly surprised). So, I decided to add a topographically beautiful destination to my August jaunt through Europe and am guessing that the Amalfi Coast will more than meet my expectations. I currently have an Airbnb booked in beautiful Positano.

Taipei

Taipei is the first trip that I had to cancel in 2020 due to COVID. I was set to visit in February 2020 and, although travel was still allowed, there was an outbreak of the virus in China and I didn’t want to have to face a 2-week quarantine when I returned (little did I know that it would be January 1, 2021 and I’d still be mostly quarantined, but I digress….). This is the only trip in my list that I don’t have booked yet, but I am hoping to make it a reality as I would love to see the stunning skyscrapers of Taipei juxtaposed against the mountains.

Final thoughts

While it feels odd to write a list of 2021 travel goals, I wanted to keep up my annual tradition and I had fun dreaming of visiting these incredible destinations. Do you have any 2021 travel goals? Let me know in the comments!

United announces San Francisco to Tahiti flight will be offered year-round

Earlier this year, in an attempt to compete with budget carrier French Bee, United Airlines announced a direct San Francisco (SFO) to Tahiti (PPT) flight, operating from October 2018 through March 2019.

The fares are actually quite decent (as far as trips to Tahiti go), and you can find direct flights on this route from United for as low as $618 round-trip.

According to the United Airlines California President Janet Lamkin:

“We are thrilled to extend this exciting flight to a year-round schedule… For Californians and our customers connecting through San Francisco, this route offers an escape to a little corner of paradise.”

While I’m personally excited for this route (and will be taking it in January!), the initial offer wasn’t ideal, as the hot, rainy season in Tahiti runs from December through March.

Because of this, I was thrilled when United announced this week that the route will now be offered year-round!

There’s no telling if this will be a permanent route yet, so my advice would be to take advantage of the flight while you can. For instance, when I lived on Guam, United announced yearly service to Fiji, and I was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of it before United eliminated it.

From Papeete (PPT), you can easily transfer to Moorea or, for around $400, fly to Bora Bora.