Year in Review 2022

I started 2022 as I meant to go on, at Heathrow to board a flight. Sure enough, I managed a record-breaking 12 months of travel, racking up the novelty factor as well as re-visiting familiar favourites. I spent nearly a month in America across two trips; took long weekends in Oslo and the Swiss Alps; and capped it all off with two new countries. Throw in various domestic adventures and it’s safe to say I embraced the idea of ‘revenge travel’.


On the first day of 2022 I flew further than 2020 and 2021 combined! By the end of the year I’d covered 32,486 miles: easily my highest annual total, almost 50% above my previous record a decade earlier. It didn’t quite claim the top spot for most flights, however: that remains 2014, with 22 versus this year’s 18.

Along the way I passed 200,000 lifetime miles and took my 200th flight; fittingly, the latter was on my top route, Edinburgh – Bristol. But there was plenty of novelty to be found in this year’s flying, with six apiece of new airports (BOI, CDG, DXB, EVN, ORD, SLC) and new airlines (Air France, Alaska Airlines, Delta, flydubai, Norse Atlantic, SAS Connect). I took an unprecedented six long-haul flights, with four of them in business class – sampling AF’s incredible catering and BA’s excellent Club Suite.

The avgeek in me ticked off another Concorde, with a visit to G-BOAA up at the National Museum of Flight in Scotland. Back in the air, I joined Norse Atlantic’s first London to Oslo service for one of my favourite ways to travel – up at the front of a large plane on a small route! I also finally added an A350 to my list of flown aircraft.


Paid nights away didn’t quite match 2019‘s pre-pandemic high of 55, but I still averaged one a week. 37 were in hotels (or similar); ten were split across two AirBnBs in Salt Lake City; four were in a massive gothic house shared with friends; and one was in… a Hobbit Hut!

That was definitely a lowlight. Despite it being mid June in Cornwall, I arrived soaked through from torrential rain – as were the contents of my backpack. Since the hut was unheated, I couldn’t dry anything out; nor was I equipped to prepare warm food. Although I had to book for at least two nights, it occurred to me I didn’t have to stay for more than one! So I bailed the morning after the gig I had travelled for, reassured that my aversion to glamping is well-justified.

By contrast, I discovered that mountain resorts are my kind of thing, my favourite stay of 2022 being two nights at the Glenwood Springs lodge – admittedly, due to the pools rather than the actual room. My most and least expensive properties of the year were actually visited back-to-back: from the Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile to the Super 8 in Mount Pleasant. The latter was my first motel experience, and whilst it did the job, I’ll not be in a rush to book another one. I did use an even more basic Motel 6 as a day room, and was glad I didn’t need to overnight there!

Occasional returns to head office – and positioning from Bristol for flights – lead to half a dozen nights near Heathrow airport; the Premier Inn T5 is becoming something of a home from home…


Amazingly, hotel statuses I received from AmEx Platinum – which I cancelled in April 2020 – were still mostly active in 2022; plus I had a few months of Intercontinental Ambassador too. So I had a good run of free breakfasts, bonus points and the occasional room upgrade!

Of the various schemes, I made most use of Hilton Honors. Burning 98K points across three US stays, the continual dive of the pound against the dollar means I got about £4 of value per thousand points, a rate I’m happy with. I also earnt 33K back – although for a lot of stays, the cash savings of airline employee rates (which are usually ineligible for points) made more sense.

I didn’t renew Ambassador, but it did the job in Chicago – knocking $250 off a $535 bill and scoring a double upgrade. Since last year‘s bonus stay had already accounted for all but £29 of the membership fee, this was a big win – but the usual offer would have been less lucrative.

Over on the airline side, I continued to focus on avios, claiming my 500,000th point somewhere amongst flights, nectar transfers and churning the premium Barclaycard. I made bronze status thanks to the Chicago trip in Club, but due to my awkward membership year couldn’t push that up to silver despite the reduced thresholds.

My biggest redemption was through Virgin Atlantic. Having collected about 10K miles from Delta flights and another 20K by switching to a Virgin Money bank account, I wiped almost my entire balance for Dubai-Paris-London on Air France, all in business class. That cost 50K points and a very reasonable £150 of fees; the same itinerary booked through Flying Blue would have been 60K, as they price by segment not O&D. So I’ll be crediting any future KLM/AF activity to Virgin, although I’d need a hefty top-up from AmEx before I could redeem in such style again…

Systematic Travel

For a little while in January, I was in the top 20 of NomadMania’s “most new regions visited” rankings – thanks to my seven state dash across the US. Sadly, that was not a pace I could sustain!

In fact, I couldn’t even keep up with the pack – I started 2022 ranked 7,833rd, but despite adding ten regions, ended at 8,525th. To tread water I would have needed 18 new regions! In my defence, I like to think I travel in depth, not breadth: I just can’t resist regular visits to Scotland and Norway (and Salt Lake City was new for January, but repeated in May).

Geographically I ranged from San Francisco in the west to Dubai in the east: that was also the furthest south I’ve ever been, and my first time in Asia. Omaha exposed me to the coldest temperatures of my life: -15°C would have sufficed, but the wind-chill knocked another 11 degrees off that. Still, I’d take that over the 40 degrees that I experienced here in Bristol – or the conditions in Dubai on arrival, despite it being midnight in October!

I lazed around in the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool and admired the view from the world’s tallest building. I attended five climbing world cups – as a spectator! – and saw the winning leap at a cliff diving world series event. I toured world heritage architecture in Chicago and hunted down street art from Reno to Oslo. In Armenia I met a man who has met Khrushchev, and another who has been to every country in the world – twice.

It’s been a good year.