2015 – Travel Highlights


I can’t believe that 2015 is nearly over! I’ve usually written these highlight posts at the very end of the year, but thought I’d post this a little early for a change since I won’t be traveling anywhere else outside the Northeast Corridor till next year. Here are my travel highlight posts from 20142013 and 2012. Below are some quick stats to provide some perspective on where I went this year:

Cities visited: 28 cities
Countries visited: 6 countries
Miles flown: 105,894 miles
Weekends away from DC: 29
Total miles redeemed: 322,875 miles
Total dollars spent: $11,995

For perspective, this is what all my air travel looked like over the past year:

Jason Bilog's 2015 Flights

But enough about the stats, here are my travel highlights from 2015: 


Places visited: New York City

In January, I headed up to New York City twice.

Walked the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn BridgeExplored Arthur Avenue (Little Italy) in The Bronx.

Arthur Avenue, The Bronx


Places Visited: Las Vegas, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart

In February, I visited Las Vegas. I came back to the DC area for a few weeks before spending the latter half of the month in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart.

Las Vegas

View of the Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip

View of Las Vegas from above.

Vegas from Above

Sydney, New South Wales

Walked the Bondi-Coogee Walk

Bondi-Coogee Walk

Watched the surf at Bondi Beach

Surfers at Bondi Beach

Saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Attended Sunday mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral

St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney

Celebrated Lunar New Year in Sydney

LNY in Sydney

Hung out at Sydney’s Fair Day, the start of the city’s two weeklong Sydney Pride.

Sydney Fair Day 2015

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Marveled at the beauty of the Southern Ocean

Great Ocean Road

The water was so cold here, despite being summertime.

Southern Ocean

Melbourne, Victoria

Watched the sunset over the Yarra River over Melbourne atop the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest tower

Melbourne Eureka Skydeck

Explored Melbourne’s laneways, filled with delicious eateries and interesting street art

Malaysian food in Melbourne

Malaysian food in Melbourne

Graffiti along Hosier Lane

Graffiti along Hosier Lane

Saw penguins at Melbourne’s Harbour

Penguins in Melbourne

Hobart, Tasmania

Drove along the left side of the road, and rented my very first car in a foreign country.

Driving on the left

Hiked up Mt. Wellington to get this gorgeous view of Hobart.

Hobart from Mt. Wellington

Explored the surrounding countryside with mates old and new.

Exploring Hobart countryside

Hiked Freycinet National Park in Eastern Tasmania to get a great view of Wineglass Bay.

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Explored Port Arthur, one of Australia’s oldest penal colonies.

Port Arthur, Tasmania

Wandered around Salamanca Market in Hobart.

Made in Tassie, Salamanca Market

Candy stand at Salamanca Market


Places Visited: Maui, The Big Island

In March, I visited my grandparents back in Hawaii on the Big Island.

View from my grandparent’s hospital room window.

Kau Hospital, Pahala


Sunset over Lanai island from my hometown of Lahaina

Sunset over Lanai


Places Visited: Los Angeles, Tokyo

In April, I visited my brother in Los Angeles, before heading over to Tokyo in style aboard Singapore Airlines’ Suites Class on the A380. I returned back to the east coast via New York JFK aboard Japan Airlines’ Business Class on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Experienced Singapore Airlines’ Suites Class

Singapore Suites Class

Stayed at the amazing Andaz Tokyo

Andaz Tokyo

Went to Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disney World.

Tokyo Disneyland

Stood on the tarmac at Haneda airport, exploring JAL’s Maintenance Center

JAL Maintenance Center

Saw a Shinto ceremony at Meiji Jingu in Tokyo

Shinto Ceremony at Meiji Shrine

Experienced Japan Airlines Business Class

JAL Business Class

Flew over pristine winterscapes over Northern Canada

Winter over Northern Canada


Places Visited: Chicago, Beijing

In May, I traveled to Beijing in American Airlines business class, after quickly snapping up the glitch fare they briefly had on sale.

American Airlines Business Class

American Airlines Business Class to Beijing

Stayed at the beautiful W Beijing Chang’an Hotel. 

W Beijing Chang'an

Met up with an old high school friend living in China

Leanne in Beijing

Ate delicious Peking Duck at Beijing’s Famous Dadong Restaurant

Peking Duck at Dadong


Places Visited: Los Angeles, Richmond, New York City

In June, I headed back to the Los Angeles area for my brother’s graduation from grad school. I also visited Kings Dominion in Richmond, VA, and New York City for NYC Pride Weekend.

Walked along the pier at Seal Beach, California

Seal Beach PIer

Visited Kings Dominion theme park in Richmond, Virginia

Kings Dominion, June 2015

Walked in the 2015 New York Pride Parade with Google

NYC Pride Parade 2015 with Google


Places Visited: Hershey, PA, Rehoboth Beach, DE (twice), Baltimore, Philadelphia

In July, I stayed grounded in the Northeast. I began the month spending the 4th of July weekend in Hershey and Lancaster, PA, followed by two trips to Rehoboth Beach and a weekend trip to Philadelphia.

Visited Hershey Park, Pennsylvania

Hershey Park, Pennsylvania

Watched fireworks over the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Fireworks over the Susquehanna, Harrisburg

Got a behind the scenes tour of a friend’s brewery in Baltimore

Behind the scenes at Peabody Heights Brewery

Walked the boardwalk at Rehoboth

Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk

Hung out with friends at Spruce Street Harbor Park in Philadelphia

Hanging out at Spruce Street Harbor Park


Places Visited: Philadelphia, Upstate New York, Chincoteague and Assateague Island, Annapolis

In August, I headed up to Philadelphia again, spent a weekend in Upstate New York, visited Chincoteague and Assateague Island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and did a day trip to Baltimore and Annapolis.

Spent a Saturday at Ashbury Park on the Jersey Shore

Ashbury Park, Jersey Shore

Relaxed at Oquaga Lake State Park in Upstate New York

Oquaga Lake State Park, Upstate New York

Ate delicious seafood at Assateague Island

Seafood at Chincoteague Island

Hung out at Annapolis Harbor

Annapolis Harbor


Places Visited: Burlington, VT; Montreal & Quebec City, QC; San Diego & San Francisco, CA; The Big Island, HI

In September, I began the month in Burlington, VT, where I visited Montreal and Quebec City. I then met up with my brother in San Diego, before heading over to San Francisco for Dreamforce. I then headed over to Hawaii again for my grandpa’s funeral.

Vermont / Quebec

Driving along Lake Champlain in Vermont

Lake Champlain Byway

Hiked Mount Royal Park to get this amazing view of Montreal

Mount Royal Park, Montreal Skyline

Marveled at the architecture in Quebec City

Quebec Provincial Government Building

Admired the powerful yet calm St. Lawrence River

St. Lawrence River in Quebec City

Got out on the water on Lake Champlain

Toured Lake Champlain

Explored the quaint college town of Burlington

Burlington, Vermont


Spent a relaxing weekend in San Diego

San Diego Harbor

Running in the early morning around the UC Berkeley Campus

Morning run around Cal-Berkeley

Watching Stevie Wonder perform at Dreamforce

Stevie Wonder at Dreamforce 2015


Visited Hawaii for my grandpa’s funeral

Naalehu Church

Witnessed this beautiful sunset in Kona

Sunset in Kona

Visited Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii


Places Visited: Outer Banks, New York City, Chicago

In October, I visited the Outer Banks for my friend’s bachelor party. I also visited a friend who recently moved to New York, then headed over to Chicago to visit a friend that just moved to the windy city.

Outer Bank, North Carolina

Road tripped down to the Outer Banks for a friend’s Bachelor Party. 

Outer Banks, North Carolina


New York City

Watched Chicago on Broadway

Chicago The Musical on Broadway


Admired Chicago’s stunning architecture, despite the gloomy weather.

Chicago Architecture



Had an amazing four hour long, 10-course meal at a wonderful steakhouse in Chicago.

Steak at Maple & Ash


Places Visited: Dubai, Sydney, Honolulu

In November, I visited Dubai, Sydney and Honolulu on a crazy three-day trip around the world. The trip was mainly to fly Etihad’s new First Class Apartment product.


Had high tea on the 123rd floor at the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, in Dubai.

High Tea at Burj Khalifa

Marveled at the architecture at Dubai Marina.

Dubai Marina Skyline

Watched the sunset over the Persian Gulf in Dubai.

Dubai Sunset

Etihad Flight 454

Traveled on arguably the most luxurious first class product currently available in air travel: Etihad’s First Class Apartment from Dubai to Sydney. 

My first class apartment.

Etihad First Class Apartment

Here’s the shared business and first class lounge.

First Class Lounge on the plane

And by the way, did I mention there’s a shower on board for first class passengers?

Shower Dial


In December, I took my first road trip with my very own car to Philadelphia. I’m also planning to visit New York one more time this year for Christmas.

Road tripped to Philadelphia with my first car ever!!

Jason's Toyota Corolla


How did I afford to do all of this?

A ton of miles redeemed, cheap rent and cheap airfares. 

Total Miles Redeemed

I redeemed a total of 322,875 miles this year, spread across the following accounts, for the following trips:

British Airways: 38,500 avios

  • DCA-LGA roundtrip (9,000 miles)
  • LAX-SJC one-way (4,500 miles)
  • SYD-HNL one-way (25,000 miles)

American Airlines: 145,000 AAdvantage miles 

  • DCA-OGG (Maui) one-way – 17,500 miles
  • AUH – SYD one-way on Etihad’s First Class Apartments – 60,000 miles
  • NRT – JFK one-way on Japan Airline’s business class – 50,000 miles
  • HNL – JFK one-way on Hawaiian Airlines economy – 17,500 miles

I’ve also already redeemed the following for next year:

  • DCA – CGK (Jakarta) one way on Cathay Pacific First Class – 67,500 miles
  • DCA – BKK (Bangkok) one way on Cathay Pacific Business Class – 55,000 miles

Delta Skymiles: 22,500 Skymiles

  • WAS – OGG one-way on American Airlines economy

United: 42,500 United miles

  • IAD – DXB on United economy – 42,500 miles

Singapore Airlines: 74,375 Singapore Airlines miles

  • LAX – NRT on Singapore Airlines Suites’ Class – 74,375 miles

Total Spent on Travel

As of this writing, according to my Personal Capital account I spent a total of $11,995, or roughly $1,064/month, on travel so far this year. Personal Capital also includes ridesharing and subway expenses, including those that were taken in DC. As a result, I’d suspect that my average travel costs per month are under <$1k/month. A grand a month on travel might seem like a lot to some, but considering I spend only $300/month on rent by living in a living room, the ~$1k extra a month that would’ve otherwise go to pay for rent instead paid for my travels.

What a year of travel has taught me?

Three lessons I’ve learned from a year of travel are: 

  • Award points make travel ridiculously accessible. But just because something like travel is accessible and readily feasible, it doesn’t mean I should do it all the time.
  • The world is a whole lot smaller than we truly realize. You can pretty much get to anywhere in the world within 24-48 hours.
  • Travel burnout is real. It’s important to recharge and take a few days (or weekends) off from traveling. 

There’s so much more to write, but I’ll save my stories for each of these places in later trip reports. 2015 was an amazing year of travel.

Travel Goals for Next Year:

In the coming year, I’m hoping to do three things:

  • Decrease my travel budget to finally pay off my student loans
  • Do a lot more road trips to explore more of the mid-Atlantic and the Eastern Seaboard. 
  • Mitigate travel burnout by limiting the number of times I’m flying, both with domestic and international travel

Here’s looking forward to another year of travel!!