Every week we track down a great award traveler. This time, it’s Ginger Around The World's turn. Being an award travel expert, Ginger Around The World has been dedicated to share his award travel insights and tricks through his humorous tone and awesome trip reviews. Let's get to know more about him!
City you call home:
Born in Belgium, worked and lived 4 years in Dubai, just moved to Shanghai and traveled to 40 countries so far. Any place where I meet a cool bunch of friends and can get a nice coffee is home.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
After working in Belgium for 6 years it started to get boring for me. Friends started to settle down. It was challenging to find people who wanted to travel and a 9-5 job with the same routine until my retirement was not going to work for me. On a trip to Singapore I visited a good friend who moved there as an expat and I immediately felt that this was the kind of life I would enjoy. It’s about taking mini retirements during life and not waiting for a long retirement when you are old and less fit. I spent a few months working in Germany and the UK. Then a friend told me they were looking for my profile in Dubai and I moved to the Middle East. We are 4 years later now and I just moved to Shanghai!
Besides all the weekend trips to exotic places that are now close by it’s just awesome to experience a different culture every single day. Meeting people from all over the world and exploring new places gives me a huge energy boost. I visited about 40 countries so there are still a lot of spots left on this planet waiting to be explored.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
My blog will not just teach you how to score a First Class Suite for peanuts but also where to eat stinky tofu and climb an elephant mountain in Taipei for example.
In the first place I started the blog to keep track of my adventures and inspire people. I always enjoyed sharing my travel tips and helping friends to book cheap tickets. For me it’s all worth it when people who read my blog take their first solo trip and I see them falling in love with travel (or not but at least they gave it a try).
Tell us your 3 most favorite travel YouTubers/bloggers/Instagrammers and why!
The best advice you have for becoming an award traveler?
Be flexible. Be patient. Understand that flying is almost never the way to collect loads of miles (unless your company pays for it). Do some local market research, try to find bloggers who focus on collecting points and miles in the country you are residing. In the US they throw credit cards at you but in other countries it’s much harder. If you collect credit cards for the sign up bonus then check if you can cancel them and apply again!
What’s the best achievement in your award travel career?
I think the best deal I have ever got is that I only spent a few 100 USD to experience the Etihad First class Apartment. The rest was paid with miles that came with credit card sign up bonuses.
What mistake would you definitely fix if you could start your blog all over again?
Don’t think too much, just write.
What’s the best flight experience in your life?
Etihad First Class Apartment was the most enjoyable flight experience so far for me. I could not help smiling from start to end. Being picked up in a fancy car, free massage in the lounge, an onboard chef, your own freaking apartment in the sky, onboard bar and to top it all showering during the flight! I even wrote about 30 crazy things that happened on my $17.000 flight.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you have experienced when traveling?
Well one time I had major food poisoning in India while sharing a room with 4 other people. Everyone else also had food poisoning and there was only one bathroom. It's a different, less recommended, way to getting to know your travel buddies. We ended up extending our stay for a few days to recover and used all available toilet paper in the hotel.
Not really embarrassing but more a cultural difference note. When I was in Tokyo I stayed in a capsule hotel and the only way to wash yourself was to visit the attached onsen (public bath) where you have to strip down completely before entering. First you have to sit on a small chair where you can shower, left and right from you strangers who are doing the same, no divisions or curtains. After being cleaned up you can join the Japanese salary men in the hot, very hot, massive bath. It feels a bit awkward at first but it's actually nice to soak in a new culture (literally).
Oh in Mexico I had a machine gun pointed at me in a night bus when we were passing through an area with a lot of rebels. After some thorough checks of my bags I could take my seat again. Not really an embarrassing but more a scary experience.
Without all the awkward moments and cultural differences, traveling would be pretty boring right? Being challenged on the way is what makes it fun and interesting!
Tell us your favorite & least favorite airline:
I love Air Asia as they are a no nonsense cheap modern airline that delivers. Etihad, Qatar Airways and Singapore airlines always surprised me with great service as well.
On the other hand I have been quite disappointed in Emirates Business class, it simply does not live up to the hype. I am more impressed with Emirates Economy, it’s always an enjoyable way to fly coach.
What's your go-to uniform on the plane:
Nothing better than a super casual outfit. Best thing I heard is flying First Class with a plastic bag from the supermarket as carry on. Not sure how one could enjoy a flight in a suit.
How do you entertain yourself on 35000 feet?
In coach I just enjoy movie marathons and stretching my legs at the emergency exit. When I fly Business or First I am just excited by everything that happens and enjoy being pampered by the crew. What’s better than sipping champagne at 35000 feet in a full flat bed if you only paid a fraction of the real price :-D Oh taking a shower on the A380 after glass of champagne might beat that :-D
In your opinion, what’s the most annoying "first world problem” you’ve encountered on the plane?
Oh I am so happy you ask this! When you use your own headphones and there is a “PA” announcement the volume on some planes jumps up by 200% and I have to remove the headphones because it’s so loud.
Are you using any useful tools/tricks for award traveling?
Google Flights, FlyerTalk, Fly4Free, Secretflying.
Exploring places around Shanghai. And I can’t wait to visit more places in Japan and Korea. I also saved some points for Etihad First class apartment and the new Singepore Airlines new First Class later this year. Exciting times ahead!😊
Interested in more? Check out Ginger Around The World's profile to find out more!
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