Giving Thanks in a Year of Turbulence

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

In a typical year, this holiday marks the changing of the seasons, gathering with our loved ones, and maybe a cheeky getaway over the long weekend.

This has been far from a typical year, of course – we’ve hit some turbulence, maybe spilled a drink or two, and have been instructed to keep our seat belts tightly fastened for a little while – and Thanksgiving in many households around Canada will look and feel very different from years past.

But that’s why I think it’s even more important than usual to take a moment and give our thanks to the things in life that we value the most.

My fiancée Jessy recently developed the film from her Olympus vintage camera, which she likes to bring along when we travel together and snap a spontaneous shot from time to time. Seeing the photos gave me a chance to pause and reflect, and I’ll intersperse a few of them here as I share with you some of the things I’m most thankful for in spite of the tough year we’ve all had.

I’m thankful for good health, good spirits, and loving family both near and far. Life would be very different without these core elements, and I often must remind myself not to take these for granted.

I’m thankful for how things just seem to work out sometimes. I’m thankful that Jessy and I got to spend two weeks in New Zealand late last year, which quickly became one of our favourite countries, shortly before it would close to visitors for the foreseeable future.

I’m thankful that we got engaged under the Maldivian sunset in early March – if that trip were scheduled for one week later, who knows how things would’ve played out. I’m thankful that the return journey brought me on one of the last flights of Etihad Airways’s Airbus A380, allowing me to experience the Etihad Apartments, before it was grounded indefinitely.

I know many of you will be spending today reflecting upon similar trips that you had the good fortune to embark on shortly before everything changed.

But I’m also thankful for when things don’t work out, because of the lessons we can always learn.

Indeed, in many ways, I’m thankful for external shocks. No, I wouldn’t wish the events of 2020 on any future generation, but I know that external shocks like these are an unforeseeable and inevitable part of life.

In that sense, I’m thankful for the innate resilience we all possess, our ability to find silver linings in the worst of situations, and the chance we all have to grow, learn, and recover. I’ve learned many valuable lessons this year about myself, what I want from life, running a business, etc. that I probably wouldn’t have learned if it weren’t for the pandemic.

For these lessons, I’ll offer a begrudging “thank you” to the once-in-a-generation external shock we’ve all witnessed this year – otherwise, for heaven’s sake, please get lost already.

Here in Canada, I’m thankful for the respectable work that our government has put in to containing the pandemic and balancing that objective against our natural instincts to continue living our lives.

We may all have varying opinions about how well that balance has been struck – including many of us who might bemoan the ongoing requirement for 14-day mandatory quarantine upon return – but I think we can all agree that decisions are being made with the best interest of the public in mind, and that’s a luxury not all nations around the world have been afforded.

In the meantime, I’m thankful for staycations and domestic road trips. For the opportunity to take a walk through different neighbourhoods and be a tourist in my own city. If nothing else, I’m thankful for the simple combination of Google Maps and Wikivoyage, which lets me dream about faraway destinations for hours on end.

I’m thankful for the miracle of modern air travel. The sense of wonder that a widebody aircraft evokes. The rush of adrenaline upon takeoff. The fact that it’s somehow possible to fall asleep and wake up on the other side of the world.

I’m thankful to the sunrise and sunset – distinct from every vantage point around the world, but equal in beauty. I’m thankful I’ve been lucky enough to watch them from a fair few of those vantage points, as well as for the opportunity to look forward to many more to come.

I’ve said this many times before, and will say it many times again. I’m thankful for the inherent serendipity in our lives, and how travel amplifies it.

Anytime, anywhere, something could happen that changes the course of your life forever, and as you travel, you play your part in stretching the invisible thread that connects all of us far and wide. You open your life up to be shaped by unpredictable forces in unpredictable ways, and you open yourself up to shaping the lives of others, too.

I’m thankful for the hundreds of happy strangers whose paths have crossed my own all over the world.

The gallivanting couple with whom we shared a long conversation on Santorini’s black sand beach. The Montenegrin student with whom we exchanged travel tips by the Dead Sea. The locals who helped me out in faraway islands like Chuuk and Pohnpei, who lead lives so unimaginably different to my own – lives that I’ll never possibly truly understand, but still consider myself fortunate to have caught a glimpse of.

I’m thankful for the inherent sense of mystery in having crossed paths with these strangers, knowing that we’ll almost certainly never see each other again, but leaving open the possibility that we’ll miraculously bump into each other somewhere in the world.

Finally, of course, I’m thankful to the wonders of travel, the pursuit of Miles & Points that allows us to travel more and travel better, and the platform I’ve built that allows me to share these with you.

I’ve always said that it’s kind of a miracle that the opportunities we have with Miles & Points even exist in the first place. I’m very thankful that the airlines realized the allure of frequent flyer programs way back in the 80s, and that carefully learning and applying the right strategies with credit cards and loyalty programs can allow us to unlock experiences most of us would never have considered possible.

I’m thankful for the sheer breadth of new experiences that we encounter in this pursuit, ranging from the spectacular, whether it’s your first business class flight, which you’ll never forget, or getting to bring your kids on their first international trip and showing them the world – to the frivolous, whether it’s debating the merits of First Class champagnes or batting your eyelashes at the hotel’s front desk in an effort to suite-talk your way to an upgrade – to the downright ridiculous, whether it’s being known by your mailman as “that guy who gets three new credit cards every week” or racking up five-figure bills at your local grocery store.

On a deeper level, I’m thankful that I’ve found my passion in life and get to live and breathe it every day. Mine just so happens to be travel, but even if it were something else, I’d feel equally thankful.

To that end, I must reserve the final round of thanks for you, my readers and the Prince of Travel community. It’s only because of you that I have the privilege of doing what I do, and I’m very thankful to be entrusted with the job of informing and inspiring you with everything you need to travel more and travel better.

Many times this year, I’ve been going about my day as usual, and then suddenly I’m hit like a train by the realization that something genuinely crazy and terrible has happened this year, affecting all of us and upending our lives, and we just kind of have to… deal with it. 

But just like when we hit a patch of turbulence in the air, I have no doubt we will collectively strap ourselves in, overcome, recover, and very quickly move on from the events of this year.

When that happens, I’m sure those 2am karaoke nights with our friends will be a few decibels louder, those endless platters of local food in foreign lands more delicious than you remembered them, and those sips of bubbly in Seat 1A just a touch more satisfying.

Until clear skies resume, let’s make sure to give our thanks and hold them close to our hearts.

  1. smuncky

    Well said and well written!

  2. Kuanysh

    Thanks Ricky, I’ve been enjoying your writing.

  3. Garth

    Your comments about sunrises and sunsets resonates. Saw a spectacular sunset the other day with the Toronto skyline silhouetted in the far distance while driving on the 401. Brought back instant memories of the sun rising over Sydney Opera House.

    Happy Thanksgiving and happy travels.

  4. Steve

    Thanks for not only being so dedicated to doing what you do (and consequently helping so many pursue their passions) but in being someone who seems like genuine fellow. It seems to me that this is the kind of pursuit that could easily bring out such traits as selfishness and greed above all. However, the sincere interest you show not only in the hobby, but in your readers’ interests and successes, is a great example of balance for others to emulate.

    And speaking of balance, now that I’ve doled out the compliments I feel I must fire off a few insults somewhere…perhaps at the inevitable changes to the Alaska Miles program? Cheers.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Thanks for this comment Steve. I’d agree with your assessment, the sheer amount of value we can get from this hobby can result in behaviour like you describe, but in my view there’s plenty of value to go around for everyone.

  5. AleksYVR

    Great article Ricky! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Ricky YVR

      Thanks Aleks, hope you had a happy Thanksgiving too.

  6. Geo@YQB

    Great article Ricky. Reflection is always important, now more than ever. We all have different passions, and finding it is one of the most important things in life. Thankful to share our passion of travel together.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Wise words. The feeling is mutual!

  7. PrincessOfPoints YYZ

    Great article. Thank you for being one of the most (if not the most) useful public voices in the Canadian mikes and points world.

    1. Ricky YVR

      My pleasure Sarah, cheers!

  8. Dean

    Thank you for your excellent articles. They are always so well written and informative. The blogs about planes and hotels always get me itching to travel. I can usually collect enough points to travel in business class every second year. Then do the unthinkable and pay cash for the other years (economy of course). lol Also thank you for always answering my queries.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Good to know the review posts are doing their job. And hopefully the points strategy posts can help you level-up to travelling in business class every year. 😉

      1. Dean

        Yes, I hope so as well Ricky. I just booked a business class ticket for Istanbul and Tel Aviv with miles and it only cost 330,000 miles and 334.92 for two tickets. I will get to experience Turkish Airlines for the first time.

  9. MistressBarb

    Thanks to you Ricky. It’s always a pleasure to read your articles. Happy thanksgiving wherever you are!

    1. Ricky YVR

      Thank you Huguette, happy Thanksgiving to you too. It’s great to have you in the community.

  10. Mark

    You are a blessing Ricky!….. I am thankful!

    1. Ricky YVR

      And you’re too kind. Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. T

    Nice article Ricky continue with your great blog, your article reminds us of how much we all have lost in this covid year and to appreciate the simple things and yet continue to dream of travel to faraway places which we all share a common passion here on your blog.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Here’s to appreciating the simple things for now and looking ahead at the more bombastic stuff in the future.

  12. DenB® YTO

    I’m thankful for the the great writing and the high editorial quality that make PoT my favourite-with-a-U daily read.

    1. Ricky YVR

      DenB, your comments always warm the heart.

    2. junyanboon

      Hats off to that DenB.
      I don’t think I would enjoy the points and miles game half as much without being able to read all of the wonderful articles.

  13. Wrubel

    Thank you Ricky. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too good sir.

  14. Peter

    Happy Thanksgiving, Ricky.
    Thank you for your continued great work. I am thankful for your insight that has certainly changed the way I travel for an infinitely better experience.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Thanks Peter, glad to have helped, hope you had a great Thanksgiving too.

  15. Abubakar

    Thank you Ricky!

    1. Ricky YVR

      My pleasure!

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