PUGS Instructor Jesse Friedman is teaching Better Travel for Less Money on Tuesdays this month (8/7, 21, 28, 9/4). Here he is explaining why travel planning is his happy place and how you can learn to love the process too:
For the most part, I love travel for the same reasons many others do. It’s exciting to see new and beautiful things, to experience and learn about different ways of living and being in the world, and of course to eat great stuff and maybe even relax.
Yet there’s an aspect that many dread, or at least barely tolerate, but which I find one of the most exciting aspects: planning. I get giddy when researching flight itineraries (especially that holy grail, getting business class seats with miles!). I love doing the math to figure out whether to buy passes or single tickets for transit months before I arrive at a city, and I’ll merrily spend hours clicking around maps and reading up to compare where precious time might be best spent. I love it so much that I’ve eagerly planned trips for several friends and family members; booking for others has exposed me to a wide variety of comfort and activity preferences.
Beyond my zeal for logistics, everyone is chasing the thrill of crafting a truly great trip. I apply a lens of value to all my travel planning: often you can save a whole lot of money with a bit of knowledge and strategy, or get great experiences you wouldn’t have sought if you didn’t know to look for them. But sometimes it’s worth it to pay face value for an experience or a convenience that’s important to you. There’s also a whole dimension of cultural norms, travel apps, figuring out whether it’s worth getting insurance, and a slew of other bits to know about that can make a big difference. And if you’re traveling with others, a little communication and expectation-setting can go a long way in making everyone happier — I have first-hand experience in how to do it both really poorly and really well.
I’m really excited that, after a few decades of booking experience and visiting over three dozen countries, I’ll finally be sharing the knowledge and techniques I’ve come by to help people like you improve every trip they take for the rest of their life. I’m also expecting it to be a lot of fun: we’ll be able to help each other plan better adventures, and I’m sure that I’ll learn plenty of tips, tricks, and stories from those in the room.
Oh, and where’s the next big trip for me? My wife Laura and I are going to Australia and New Zealand, marking our sixth continent, using miles from Alaska Airlines and the signup bonus from a credit card!
Along with his wife, Laura, Jesse hosts United Noshes, a series of 194 dinner parties, one for each member of the United Nations, in alphabetical order. The most recent dinner, the Republic of Moldova, was the 140th in the series. Jesse and Laura research authentic cuisine of each country and do all of the cooking while guests are invited to contribute by making a donation to Mercy Corps, the international humanitarian organization. In a similar spirit, Jesse has committed to donate all of his earnings from this class to Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO).