Living a nomadic life for one whole year (almost)

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Exactly one year ago, on 1 April 2019, I went on a little experiment to see how cheap living in hotels (and sometimes Airbnbs) can be if I throw all my travel hacking skills into it. A few things have changed since my last article in December 2019 that got featured in Mothership. Covid-19 came out of nowhere and blew up in everyone’s faces really quickly.

I was in Europe for a 38-days trip till late February and am happy that I left right before things got very serious over there. I went on a carefully-calculated joy-ride to London in mid-March and was served a 14-days Stay-Home notice (SHN) on arrival in Singapore even though I was just transiting in London. I had a 2-weeks stay booked at DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru to take me over the one-year mark but that had to be cancelled not only by the SHN but also by Malaysia’s lockdown at short notice. That effectively put an end (or a long pause?) to my nomadic life, 14 days short of a year.

Wings clipped. What now?

Today also marks the last day of my 14-days SHN. I’m not sure if it would change anything though. In times like these, having the freedom to head out does not mean mean that I should.

My wings are properly clipped this time as there is literally nowhere that I can/dare fly to. There are no options but to stay in Singapore but let’s face it, this country is one of the best places to be in at the moment.

Not living in hotels will also increase my productivity and I look forward to churning out more travel-hacking guides in the near future.

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Trip cancellations and what-could-have-beens

SIN-LHR-SIN-PEK in Business Class for 25,000 Alaska miles
Before the pandemic, I had plans to fly to Beijing in Singapore Airlines 2013 Business Class. It was part of an incredible system glitch on Alaska’s online booking system that allowed me to book a one-way ticket from Singapore to Beijing with a stopover in London for only 25,000 Alaska miles. It would have been my first time in China. Upon arriving in Singapore from London, I had no intentions of flying to Beijing and the plan was just to throw that leg away since I already got all my miles worth with the round trip joy-ride to London.


Singapore Airlines 2006 Business Class

Singapore Airlines 2006 Business Class

I called Alaska anyway to see if I can get some form of partial refund in miles or taxes. I was amazed that they managed to change the SIN-PEK leg to October this year at no additional charge at all. I knew that I could change flights for free as an Alaska Gold member but that does not apply to “partially consumed” itineraries.

So this was great. That flight is a good six months away and I am hoping that the world recovers by then.

HKG-SIN-PVG in First Class for 35,000 Alaska miles
This was booked around the same time as the above itinerary and was a major glitch as well. I have flown the HKG-SIN leg in Singapore Airlines 2013 First Class and am supposed to fly the second leg to Shanghai in the latest 2017 First Class Suites (2017 F) on 22 April.


Singapore Airlines 2013 First Class

Singapore Airlines 2013 First Class

First, there was an airplane swap that “downgraded” me from 2017 F to 2013 F. But yesterday, as I have shared on Instagram, I received an email that Singapore Airlines has cancelled that flight and I have been put into SQ 830 on 27 April instead. I will be flying in a Boeing 787 for that flight. It wasn’t a big deal until you find out that Singapore Airlines do not have First Class on their Boeing 787s. I was conveniently downgraded from 2017 First Class Suites to 2018 Regional Business Class (2018 RJ), from seat 1A to 17A.

The problem with this is that there are no Singapore Airlines First Class partner award availability for SIN-PVG for the next 11 months. I couldn’t just call Alaska and ask for a date change if they do not see any First Class flights to put me into. There is still 27 days to that flight and I am hoping to see award availability appear soon as Singapore starts reopening to China.

If that doesn’t happen, I’ll try to request for a date change in a Business Class seat in early 2021 to buy me more time.

Euro 2020 in June 2020
I had secured great tickets to watch France vs Portugal and a couple other matches in Budapest, Hungary. This European football tournament has since been postponed to June 2021. It is great that UEFA is allowing fans to bring forward the tickets that they have already bought to next year’s event while still holding the freedom to cancel them.

I had made points reservations on Marriott hotels which could be easily cancelled for free. I did not have flights booked yet as I was looking to redeem my miles for ANA’s new Business Class to fly into Europe and maybe Oman Air’s Apex Suite back into Southeast Asia.


Oman Air’s new Business Class

Oman Air’s new Business Class

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Elite membership extensions

I shared a few days ago that Hilton has extended everyone’s membership status by an extra year. That was a nice gesture in what must be a really troubling time for the hotel giant. Singapore Airlines had also done the same today. I am hoping for Alaska Airlines to follow suit. My MVP Gold membership status with them has been incredibly valuable and I’m sure that I will not be able to meet the requirements to keep that status for another year.

Conclusion

If I could trade all my unimportant travel plans and disruptions for the world to get through this pandemic, I would. Troubling times like these really made me appreciate modern travel much more, not that I have not. Hang in there everyone. We will get through this! <3

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