2018 Travel Highlights


Despite not traveling so much this past year due to a focus on saving for grad school, I still managed to travel to a few places this year. Here are my highlights from 2018:

Cities Visited: 17
Countries Visited: 4 countries
Miles flown: 47,511 miles
Weekends away from DC: 13
Total miles redeemed: ~100k (for flights to Hawaii and Asia)

January – Louisville


February – Maui

Sunset in Lahaina

February – Big Island

Early morning run in Hilo!


February – Vienna, Austria

Visiting the palaces of Vienna, Austria

February – Bangkok, Thailand

Rooftop bar in Bangkok

February – Siem Reap, Cambodia 

Visiting Angkor Wat!

May – Las Vegas

Rock formations at Red Rocks State Park near Las Vegas

August – Brussels

Flight of beer in Brussels!

August – Gorges du Verdon, France

Swimming and kayaking at Gorges du Verdon in France

August – Nice, France

Biking and walking along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France

August – Monaco 

Wandering around the streets of Monaco.

August – Paris

Visiting Paris for the first time!




August – Paso Robles, California

Visiting the wineries of Paso Robles, Central Coast, California

November – Albany, New York

Visiting the NY State Capitol in Albany

December – Ashville, North Carolina

Honey tasting in Asheville!

December – Nashville, Tennessee

Visiting the music city of Nashville!

December – Southern Kentucky

Walking through caves (including this cool suspension bridge) in Southern Kentucky


December – Charleston, West Virginia

Visiting the West Virginia State Capitol


2018 in Review


I’ve neglected to post on this blog the whole year, but it would be strange if I didn’t post an annual review! Hard to believe I’ve been doing this for nearly the whole decade! And after doing this throughout my 20s, I’m writing this blog post as a now 30 something! You can check out my previous annual reviews here:  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

How did with my 2018 goals?

Keep running and lifting

  • I only did one race this year, and it wasn’t even a half marathon! As a result, I didn’t set a new PR. Additionally, while I have consistently gone to the gym throughout the year (yay!) I haven’t increased my weights all that much. Perhaps I need to switch it up this year with classes?

Running the 2018 Cherry Blossom 10-Miler Run!

Keep cooking

  • This one surprised me. While I did continue to cook throughout the year instead of eating out, I didn’t really expand my repertoire of dishes to make…thanks Trader Joes!

Keep saving and investing

  • This one was a bit tough considering I was saving so much for grad school while paying down more student loans. I managed to contribute about ~$5k to retirement this year, but didn’t add to my emergency fund or set up a 529 plan.

Keep improving my Mandarin Chinese

  • Surprisingly, I did have a tutor (briefly) for the school year in the months leading up to grad school.

Get my Private Pilot’s License

  • I completely failed on this one. I didn’t even schedule a call with flight instructor to do a demo flight. This is still something I want to do, but not quite sure when it’ll happen. Now that I’m not doing grad school, hopefully I can get to this goal.

2018 Areas of Focus:


  • By far the big thing this year was my decision on doing a career change from marketing to international affairs, and the possibility of starting grad school. I finally applied, was accepted and started grad school at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Between juggling school and work full-time, quickly realized that while I LOVE learning about other cultures, international affairs as a career was no longer for me. So happy that I went through the process. I can finally move on with my life!
  • Switched jobs again from marketing analytics back to marketing automation. Realized that I (1) still prefer being on the execution rather than strategy side of marketing, (2) I operate better working in smaller rather than larger organizations, and that (3) it’s better to work for a company as a full time employee rather than as a contractor.

Getting an award for my efforts at my day job!


  • Continued to grow in my relationships, both with myself, my significant other and friends.
  • So happy that things are going well on this front! 

Friends visiting my apartment for my 30th Birthday Hangout/BBQ!


  • Managed to maintain my weight throughout the year, as well as continued to workout and cook my own food several times a week!

Meal prepping for the next few days! Shrimp and spinach linguine


  • Visited four new countries and crossed a few places off my bucket list: Ankor Wat/Cambodia, Brussels/Belgium, Paris/France, Monaco.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat!

Sunrise at Angkor Wat!


  • Paid off two additional student loans (roughly ~$7k) and have just one loan remaining!
  • Paid in cash my first semester of grad school (roughly ~$13k)
  • Didn’t get to saving more as a result of my focus on education expenses this year.

2019 Goals

After having done these year-end reviews for now 8 years, I’m realizing that most of my goals are pretty much the same as they are every year. Perhaps this means I need to think bigger and outside the box. In order of priority, here are my goals for 2019:

  • Finances: Pay off my car ($6.8k remaining) and Penn student loans ($4.2k remaining)
  • Traveling: Visit at least 3 new countries this year, go to someplace new in the U.S.
  • Career: Get certification in either Salesforce/Pardot/Marketo (tools I use for my day job)
  • Health: Gym at least 4x/week; PR my half marathon time.

That’s it for now, let’s see how this new (and final year of the decade) plays out!

2017 Travel Highlights


Compared to years past, I flew a lot less this year. Check out my travel highlight posts from years past: 20162015, 20142013 and 2012.

Here’s where I went this year:

Cities Visited: 16
Countries Visited: 2 countries
Miles flown: 57,107 miles
Weekends away from DC: 25
Total miles redeemed: 85,000 miles

And here’s what all that traveling looks like for this year:

Cities Visited: Reykjavik
Miles flown: 5,568


Gulfoss Waterfall on a cold January day!


Cities Visited: Portland, OR
Miles flown: 5,603 miles

Portland, Oregon

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach


Cities Visited: Miami
Miles flown: 1,851 miles


Murals in the Wynwood District of Miami.


Cities Visited: Raleigh, New York
Miles flown: 0 miles


Ran the 2017 Raleigh Rock N Roll Half-Marathon

New York

Walking along the Hudson Greenway looking towards Jersey City.


Cities Visited: Los Angeles, New York, Punta Arenas 
Miles flown: 10,965 miles
Los Angeles 

High school friend’s wedding in LA!

New York

Trying out Burmese food at the Queens Night Market

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park.


Cities Visited: Santiago, Chile; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; New York City; Los Angeles; Hilo, Hawaii 
Miles flown: 18,861 miles
Travel Costs:


Wine tasting in Santiago!


Exploring the beautiful city of Amsterdam

New York City

Marching with Spotify at the 2017 New York Pride Parade

Los Angeles

Walking around Fox Studios in Studio City, Los Angeles.

Big Island, Hawaii

Exploring Mauna Kea National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Cities Visited: Honolulu, HI; Cape May, NJ
Miles flown: 4,817 miles

Oahu, Hawaii 

Morning stroll along Waikiki Beach

Cape May, New Jersey

Beach weekend in Cape May, New Jersey

Cities Visited: Boston, MA; Portland, ME; San Francisco 
Miles flown: 5,577 miles

Friend’s wedding in Cambridge!!

Portland, Maine

Roadtrip to Portland, Maine

San Francisco

Friend’s wedding in SF!

Cities Visited: Chicago, Philadelphia, New Haven, Newport, Boston, Portland (ME), New York, Dallas 
Miles flown: 3,656 miles

Wandering around Chicago on a beautiful September afternoon.

New Haven, Connecticut

Trying out clam pizza at Modern Apizza in New Haven!


Having oysters in Boston!

New York

Visiting the World Trade Center Memorial in New York

Newport, Rhode Island

Exploring the amazing architecture in Newport, Rhode Island


Pre-wedding /  brunch in Philly


Hanging in Dallas on a work trip!

Cities Visited: Claymont, DE 
Miles flown: 0


Friend’s wedding in Delaware!

Cities Visited: Charlottesville, VA; New York 
Miles flown: 0 

Weekend trip to Charlottesville!

New York

Post-Thanksgiving Weekend in NYC

Cities Visited: Philadelphia, Durham (NC), Charleston (SC)
Miles flown: 0

Housewarming in Philly!!

Durham, North Carolina

In front of the Duke Chapel

Charleston, South Carolina

Walking around Charleston

How did I afford to do all this?

A lot of my travel this year was actually through road trips. I also redeemed quite a bit of miles not only for myself, but also for friends and family. A major highlight this year was redeeming 25k miles less than a day before a friend’s wedding for a cross-country flight for a friend who’s flight was delayed due to weather. I also redeemed my points to fly back to Hawaii, the first time I’ve been back in about two years, and for my brother to fly out east for Christmas.

I also relied heavily on Southwest. With the exception of my flight to Iceland and Portland, Oregon, all flights that I paid for were on Southwest. Now that all the major carriers have gone revenue-based and have made award redemptions increasingly harder to redeem, I’m going with the cheapest option. I’m even considering flying Spirit in the coming year!


Unlike in years past, I did not travel solo at all this year. All of my travels were either with friends or family. I’ve also done a lot less credit card hacking, having opened up just one new account this whole year! 2017 was another amazing year of travel, and hope to continue exploring more in 2018!

Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class New York to Hong Kong


Earlier this year I traveled to Phuket for my college roommate’s wedding in Phuket. As luck would have it, I managed to redeem some American Aadvantage miles prior to American’s most recent devaluation to travel in Cathay Pacific Business class for the main long-haul portion of the journey. Here’s how the trip went.

Flight Stats

Seat: 11A
Carrier: CX 845
Route: New York, NY to Hong Kong, PRC
Flight Time: 15 hours, 20 minutes

Departure Time: 1:30 a.m.
Arrival Time: 5:15 a.m.
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER

At the Airport

After working a long day down in DC and catching a flight up to JFK, I was in desperate need for a shower to wash the stresses of the day away. Luckily, the JFK lounge had private showers!

Private shower at JFK Lounge

Private shower at JFK Lounge

Entrance to the shower

After getting all cleaned up, I hung out at the lounge for a few hours before my late night flight. The spread at the bar.


In-Flight Experience

After boarding the plane, I made my way to my seat: 11A.

Plenty of legroom and storage!

In-flight entertainment system.

My amenity kit and the menu.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Amenity Kit

Cathay Pacific Business Class Amenity Kit

One thing that I liked about this flight was that it was the first time flying right over the Arctic!

Cathay Pacific Business Class Dining

Here’s the menu.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Menu

Cathay Pacific Business Class Menu

For a 15hr 20min flight, I ate quite a bit!

My dinner.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Dinner

Cathay Pacific Business Class Dinner

I also had a couple of snacks during the flight.

Singapore noodles

Singapore noodles

Noodle soup

Noodle soup

And towards the end of the flight I had a light breakfast.

Cathay Pacific Lounge

On this particular trip my final destination was Bangkok. As a result, upon arrival at Hong Kong I got a chance to freshen up at Cathay’s Business Class Lounge. Because I arrived so early, I had the lounge to myself for nearly half an hour.


Interesting art piece at the entrance of the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

Early morning at the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

Breakfast buffet at the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

Breakfast bar

Breakfast bar

My breakfast

English breakfast at Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

Breakfast at Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge Bathroom. After a 15 hour flight, it felt great to take a hot shower!


This trip was the first time I’ve flown Cathay Pacific Business Class, and only my second time flying international business class on a non-US carrier. The on-ground experience at both JFK and HKG were excellent, and I particularly enjoyed the food options available throughout the flight. With a retail cost of about ~$4500 for the one-way ticket, I’m glad I was able to redeem my points for this flight!