Whew! I’m Back. That Was Tiring.

I spent 6 hours in NY in October.

The conclusion: rapid travel is not for long-term travel.

My penchant for intense itineraries runs up to an endurance wall of 2-3 weeks. This stretch I had two weeks in southern Africa for business and pleasure, a weekend back to the US for the Chicago Seminars and immediately out to Dubai and the Horn of Africa for two more weeks of business and pleasure. I have spent the last week recovering and catching up on work.

The stats:

  • 11 UN countries, 9 new for me (plus 2 more Travelers Century Club countries)
  • First time traveling with friends in 8 years, and apparently none ended up hating me
  • 10 flight segments on South African, all in economy
  • 6 flight segments on Ethiopian, all in economy
  • 8 flight segments on Turkish, all in economy
  • 2 flight segments on TAAG Angola, 2 on Jubba Airways and 1 on American, you guessed it: economy
  • A lot of kms on the road in various Toyotas
IMG_1264

End of the long road in Eritrea

Some quick airline observations for the blog posts that may or may not catch up:

  • South African Airways runs a good operation, plenty of room in economy made even the 16-hour JFK-JNB flights pleasant.
  • Ethiopian had a great showing, much better than my initial experience last December. (“Why are you here? We’re not flying to Kigali this week.”) Addis Ababa is now my preferred Africa hub, as much as one airport can be for such a huge continent.
  • Turkish might be my new favorite non-Asian airline. Good operation and they let you rest on flights, no incessant announcements or duty-free flogging. Only big demerit for the bus gates in Istanbul, especially the trick ones where you go on a jet bridge to go down to a waiting bus. And a bit confusing when the government arbitrarily delays the daylight saving time change.

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  • Kate

    Would love to hear more about the 16 hour JFK/JNB flight! I want to figure out a way to get to South Africa from DC and have looked at that flight with trepidation!

  • “The conclusion: rapid travel is not for long-term travel.” <— I learned that the hard way. My breaking point is about 2 weeks, but now that I've tried more moderately-paced travel, I prefer it even on shorter trips.

    Sounds like you made the most of it regardless. Hope the rest of 2015 is the perfect blend of rapid travel and time at home for you.

  • You have a hefty backlog of blog material. Hope you’ll reveal all, especially your take on your trip with the other bloggers. I would imagine that it felt somewhat confining since you usually travel solo.

    You seem to be in a unique position in that you can combine your business and personal travel. What percent of your time and travel budget is the business segment of your travel? If this question is too personal just ignore.

  • I’m tired just reading about it. Loved seeing your updates on FB and it really seems like you had an awesome time (though packed too much in).

  • Definitely feel you re: rapid travel is not for long term travel. I think I’ve burnt myself out a wee bit this year doing a little too much of that! Might need to talk to you about some tips for visiting some African countries sometime soon. Definitely would like to do more travel in the region, but I know it can be logistically (and visa) challenging as well as not cheap.

  • john

    Thanks for the update. Interesting as always. I am surprised you like Addis, the airport that doesnt have the capacity to handle the scheduled flights.
    I also tried the IAD-ADD and JFK-JNB in coach this year in addition to DXB-BOS and surprisingly I survived! unlike IST-BOS which I did NOT! The seat pitch on Turkish was non-existent. On Ehtiopian, South African, and Emirates, it was surprisingly acceptable and the movies kept my brain numbed. These long flights were not nearly as bad as I worried they would be when compared to the eight hour flights back from Europe. Not that different.

    Just like the others, I would love to hear more details about the countries, visas, and all of it. I assume you hit Somaliland and would like to hear about that as well as Eritrea as well as the pyramids in northern Sudan. More on Angola too please. I would also love to hear your take on the Namibia trip. Sounds like you guys did way more driving than I did on that trip (from Cape Town all the way into Namibia instead of flying and saving at least 1000km).

  • Shannon

    Welcome back! You are missed a lot. I hope you at least get some tans. So those are not your friend when you drove in Ireland? I like that post. That can not 8 years ago. Please don’t forget about Greenland and Denmark.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Kate – plenty of legroom, good food.

    @Becky – my few 3 week ones have been a stretch, 2 weeks for me as well.

    @plane2port – it varies so much, earlier in the year had lots of biz travel so could only squeeze in leisure on weekends, while second half of the year business travel has been ratcheted down had time for my vacation bank.

    @Jeffsetter – I would have rather had these separated by a few weeks or months, couldn’t resist the launch pad from business trips, even though we are now flying economy.

    @Caroline Lupini – logistics tough, some of the visas were facilities (at cost) by agents providing entry letters for visa on arrival, wonderfully rewarding areas of the world to travel.

    @john – Addis not ideal, sometimes it is madness, first time I was there people nearly trampled on the multi-level escalators down to the buses, other times the nonchalant attitude works for me. With how far the Gulf hubs are, not many options.

    In hindsight, Fish River Canyon was not worth the drive up from Cape Town, though would be if taking advantage of the visual offerings on the South African side on the way up. Nice canoe camp on the Namibian side of the border, called Felix Unite, where we overnighted.

    @Shannon – ooh, you got my, my friends for Ireland in 2012 must be stewing. Nordic not forgotten!

  • Shannon

    Yah, Rick and Deb would be yelling to read this one. Still very funny and interesting to read your Ireland road trip especially the witty line ” Dunluce Castle is £5 to enter the castle, free to clamber down to the cave below, guess where everyone heads?? ” Time to do another year end clean up? 🙂

  • john

    hmmm, my company is also ferociously trying to kill business class travel. We are still fighting it a bit though (if you arrive before noon and do a normal day’s work you can usually get the business class; I however hate going straight to work from a 15 hour flight even if it was in business). Has it been completely cut at your place?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Shannon – year is not over!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @john – the people ordering the cutting retained it for themselves, when they have to fly commercial.

    Premium economy supposedly is ok, then I realized how few airlines have it. Arriving a day early is ok for the hotel charge, and I can make use of that.