I love traveling. Yes, TSA lineups and impatient airport staff and long queues and passengers bumping into you with their luggage and screaming toddlers are no fun. But if you look past that, there is still some romance: airports buzzing with people from all over the world, flights to exotic destinations, swanky airline lounges, newsstands packed with reading material for long flights, the anticipation of landing in a new place. It’s all part of the thrill.
My dad worked at Air Canada (née CP Air, Canadian Airlines) as I was growing up, so I got used to hours and hours in airports. We would fly standby, which often meant getting bumped off flights and lingering around in hopes of finding an empty seat on the next one. We regularly flew to destinations around Canada and the United States, but had a particular fondness for Hawaii. In those days I learned how to pack (always take way less than you think you’ll need) and picked up some other useful tips (carry-on luggage only, if you can).
It also left me with a deep and lasting bite from the travel bug. I love hopping on a plane and disembarking a few hours later in an entirely new world — and it’s so easy to do from Hong Kong! The city is surrounded by countries offering a rich variety of languages, cultures and foods, like Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, and I could go on. I aim for two major trips a year, but most are shorter than a week; three days and three nights in a new city is actually sufficient if you’ve done your homework in advance. It’s enough to get a feel for a place if you had a few restaurants and hotspots planned beforehand, even if you won’t be able to see everything. And also, nothing beats walking around a new city. Always, always walk.
So with this in mind, it’s time for me to head home for a summer visit with my family in Victoria, Canada, where I grew up. I looked at flights from Hong Kong to Vancouver, but buying a seat would have left me bankrupt. I tried to use Asia Miles to get a flight on points, but there were no more seats available. Rather than get down about it, I started to get creative: is there some combination of flights that would get me home without breaking the bank?
I won’t detail the entire process of what happened next, which took several hours — suffice to say I’m using a combination of Asia Miles, cash, and standby tickets to get from Hong Kong to Victoria over a four day period. Because why not have a little fun on the way?
I depart exactly two weeks from today. Here is my upcoming travel itinerary:
July 26: Last night in Hong Kong before departing
July 27: Qatar Airways business class from Hong Kong to Doha, Qatar; sleep in Doha
July 28: Qatar Airways business class from Doha, Qatar to Warsaw, Poland; sleep in Warsaw
July 29: British Airways economy class from Warsaw, Poland to London, UK; sleep in London
July 30: Air Canada standby from London, UK to Vancouver, Canada
Even I think this is a bit crazy, but I’m excited. Before heading home I’ll have spent time in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. I get to sample two airlines I rarely fly (Qatar and British Airways) and visit two cities I’ve never been (Doha and Warsaw). Warsaw, in particular, has long been on my bucket list, and I’m incredibly excited about finally putting my feet on on Polish soil.
The nerdy side of me is also excited to use these airlines’ mobile apps, check-in services, lounges and more, as I so frequently fly Cathay Pacific I’m rarely exposed to what other global airlines are doing in this space. And because two legs of this journey are in business class, I’ll also get to sample some new lounges and services and see how they compare with Cathay.
So… I intend to blog about this whirlwind, around-the-world five-day adventure in the coming days, with a quick look at the cities themselves, the airlines, the travel process, the airports, the lounges, and anything else I can think of.
Even for a long-time regular traveler, five cities in (almost) five continents in five nights is something I’ve never done before.
I may as well document it.