An Ode to the Road

As the sun sets on 2022, I’ve taken the time to reflect on some of the experiences travel has brought me throughout the year.

Indeed, it’s hard to look back on trips to a tiny atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean, traipsing across Europe, galavanting across Australia, and jetting across Canada without fondness and rose-coloured glasses, but travel isn’t always as romantic and wistful as we make it out to be.

Last year, I wrote a year-end “Ode to Airports“, describing my fascination about the facilities from which we depart and to which we arrive. 

This year, I’d like to offer some observations about the travel experience as a whole, as inspired through some of my trips this year. 

Piecing It All Together

Long before we ever get on a plane, there’s a lot of time and effort spent on planning out a trip. For a simple trip, the most important details are times and prices, but for more complex trips, it’s a matter of many hours of head scratching and making sense of the puzzle at hand.

In many of my Points Consulting sessions, we have an hour to go over details of flights, find availability, and piece together an itinerary that works with the client’s wants and needs. In most cases, it’s possible, but it doesn’t come without challenges.

For trips that I plan for myself, friends, and family, I admittedly spend way more time than I should trying to make it perfect. I’ll try to schedule an appropriate amount of time in the best lounges, find flights with great airlines but at an affordable price, and try to coordinate plans with multiple people and accounts.

A good example of this was when I flew my sister, wife, and two nieces back from Australia in November. I planned the trip back in February, before Australia had fully reopened its borders, so prices with Aeroplan were well within the domain of reason. 

There was plenty of eUpgrade space available on flights at the time, and the goal was to get five passengers in business class from Australia back to Canada as cheaply as possible. My wife has Aeroplan 50K status and I’m a Super Elite, so we were lucky to have enough eUpgrades available between our two accounts, as well as an eUpgrade nominee on my account.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a way for us to all be on the same flight on the same day, so we’d have to split up in the most reasonable way possible.

In the end, I flew from Sydney to Vancouver with my older niece, and my wife, sister, and younger niece flew from Sydney to Brisbane, and then from Brisbane to Vancouver. I used my eUpgrades for myself and my older niece, as well as my sister whom I nominated as my eUpgrade nominee, and my wife used her eUpgrades for herself and my younger niece.

We were all scheduled to meet in Vancouver, as our flights were scheduled to land within an hour of each other, and then fly to Victoria together on the same flight. It was a great plan on paper, but it didn’t come without other complications.

In the week leading up to the flight, we made sure to get notarized documents from my sister and her husband giving me permission to fly with my niece. It was a bit of an unusual situation to explain when I was asked for documents at the airport (“Why didn’t you all just fly on the same flight?”), but it worked out well; however, had we not have been prepared, that could have been a major hurdle.

It turns out that the flight from Sydney to Vancouver was delayed by a few hours, so we weren’t all on the same flight to Victoria after all. As is always the case with eUpgrades, we also ran the risk of flying in economy if there were any irregular operations, but we were lucky to all have the seats that we wanted in the end.

Lastly, my brother-in-law flew out a few weeks later, and I couldn’t subject him to a 15-hour flight in economy after his wife and daughters were treated to a lie-flat bed. This meant that I had to find him a business class seat on a reasonable routing, which fortunately, at the time, wasn’t too difficult to do.

It was well worth the effort, though, and we all have special memories of flying back to Canada together. My older niece has extra special memories of beating her uncle at a marathon of Nintendo Switch games, too, but that’s a story for another time.

Hitting the Road

Oftentimes, travel stories are about the incredible hotels and unique experiences at destinations, and the process of getting there and back is overlooked. However, there are many stories to be told about the circumstances to which we subject ourselves in the name of travel.

In an ideal world, all flights depart at reasonable hours of the day, lounges are spacious and quiet, and flights depart and arrive on schedule. In many cases, and particularly in 2022, most or all of these aren’t at all true.

If I have a flight that departs early in the morning, it’s guaranteed that my internal alarm clock will wake me up at least every hour leading up to when my actual alarm clock goes off. If a 5:30am flight wasn’t bad enough, having a very interrupted sleep the night before doesn’t really help matters very much.

Once you arrive at the airport dishevelled and exhausted to begin with, it’s nice to look forward to a hot beverage in a lounge and maybe a bite to eat before the flight. The visions of a quiet space with gourmet food and a peaceful atmosphere that we are advertised are quickly dashed by long lines to get in, automatic coffee machine swill, and struggling to find an empty seat.

2022 saw periods of chaos in airports as flights were delayed and cancelled, baggage was lost and nowhere to be found, and passengers were left to fend for themselves in the face of Canada’s toothless Air Passenger Protection Regulations.

Airlines were very happy to sell tickets and fill airplanes, but when it became very obvious that they couldn’t handle the demand, passengers were given yoga mats to sleep on in terminals while their flights were delayed indefinitely.

I was personally affected by travel chaos during the winter storms that swept across Western Canada prior to the 2022 holidays. Surely, we didn’t have it as bad as passengers who were stuck on planes for upwards of 10 hours or others who were stranded abroad with no help in sight, but it’s difficult not to feel frustrated when there’s seemingly no way to get help.

Of course, there’s nothing that we can do about the weather, and I’d much rather get to my destination safely and a few hours late instead of taking any unnecessary risks. It just goes to show that ideas of travel being relaxing, smooth, and seamless are often dashed by delays, frustration, and everything being out of our control.

Even in the best circumstances, travel can still be exhausting. In March, my wife and I flew from Vancouver to Malé via Istanbul for a holiday in the Maldives. 

The Maldives are about as far away as you can get from Vancouver Island, but we were thrilled about the idea of relaxing in an overwater villa at Le Méridien Maldives for a week. 

We had very comfortable lie-flat seats on Turkish Airlines, a nap and a hot shower in the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge Istanbul, another lie-flat seat to Malé, and a relatively short seaplane flight to our hotel. Sure, it was a long trip, but it doesn’t get much more comfortable than that.

Still, I remember arriving at our hotel feeling sweaty, exhausted, and completely thrown off by the time difference. My plans of hanging out on a lounge chair with a cocktail on a beach were quickly replaced by the constant desire to nap and struggling to remain awake after 7pm for the first few nights.

Of course, travel is a privilege, and getting to experience new countries and cultures is well worth the late nights, early mornings, and many discomforts that come with the process. 

Making It Happen

In 2022, I was relieved to have a number of travel plans come through after many disappointments and cancellations in the year prior. To me, there’s no better feeling than the moments when all of the planning, travel, and anticipation come together to create memories with others.

One of my favourite parts of the Prince of Travel team is that we never really know where we’ll see each other again. At any given point in time, we’re usually spread out across the country or even across multiple continents, which can make for some unorthodox meeting times to accommodate everyone’s time zones.

In September, three of us met at Oktoberfest after the idea was thrown out at the Prince of Travel Signature Event Montreal 2o22. It was very satisfying to walk into a beer tent with thousands of people only to find a table of friendly faces ready for a day of celebration.

On that same trip, I caught up with a friend in London whom I met on my first overseas trip many years ago. After meeting up and having a pint outside a pub to kick things off (as per tradition), we squeezed a few years of catching up into a handful of hours, only to speculate where or when we’d see each other again.

The past year of travel has afforded me with many memories made with friends, families, and even as an individual. After a couple of quiet years spent closer to home, I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of more adventures to come in 2023.

In fact, my first trip of the year will be particularly meaningful, as I have a ski trip to Japan planned with two close friends. We spent time working on the same wildfire crew and experienced some rather interesting situations together, and we’ve been talking about a trip for years now.

I can’t wait to walk into a crowded train station in Tokyo to gather them after their first business class flight, and then to see what adventures and mischief await thereafter. 


After a few overseas trips in 2022, I was reminded that travel isn’t necessarily the easiest pursuit, for many reasons.

Coordinating a trip can often be complicated, especially when there are many factors at play. While planning trips is basically a daily task for me, I imagine that many others also feel frustration at the time and effort involved.

When it comes to actually travel, we are often met with delays, long lines, jet lag, and early mornings. Indeed, travel isn’t always as romantic or effortless as it’s made out to be, and there are many things that can (and usually do) go wrong.

To me, it’s well worth the effort, as it results in new experiences, a greater understanding of the world, and fond memories with loved ones to look back on for years to come.

Here’s to many more safe and pleasant travels in 2023.

1 Comment
  1. Richard

    Another great article that captures the reality of what goes into a memory making escapade. I think Player 1 should share this with Player 2 to buy some goodwill credits with them for all the hours of work it takes to create and adjust an itinerary.

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