Category Archives: Personal

My 15 minutes

Husband has been away for the last three weeks on business in Japan and will be gone for another two months (I’ll be visiting him in May, expect a recap sometime around December, at this rate).  Rather than writing blog posts (like a boss. Sorry, can’t get that out of my head) about recent trips to Istanbul and Cartagena as I planned, I’ve been furthering my Twitter obsession and enjoying a bit of fame as a travel publicist, writer/blogger, er, the Notorious M.E.G.

Recently, serious travel journo Rolf Potts started a debate about whether or not to tweet* while traveling.  I felt the need to contribute my two cents:

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I Heart My City – Brooklyn

National Geographic Traveler‘s excellent Intelligent Travel blog is doing an awesome series on “I Heart My City” with residents from all over the world filling out a questionnaire on their city faves.  Inspired by some excellent entries on Minneapolis, Baltimore, Santiago, here is my city.

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Tweet in Review

Okay, so I’m a little late to this, but feel I can’t go forward without reviewing last week’s Twitter posts (notice I’ve added a feed to the side of this page):

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Tweet in review

Thought you go me, huh?!  Still a few minutes left in the week!  Best of the Tweets this week:

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Tweet in review

I will run out of trips to recap at some point, so new feature!  Since I’m on Twitter like it’s my job (which it sort of, kind of is), I read tons of interesting links and posts each week.  So here’s a look at the tweets of the week from

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A return to long-form blogging

After nearly a year’s absence, I thought I’d blow the dust off this puppy.  I’ve been all about the “microblogging” recently, keeping up with Facebook updates and Twitter (follow me @thenotoriousmeg), but haven’t had the attention span to write anything substantive.   But given the state of the economy, who knows how much longer I’ll be able to travel, so I might as well document it.

2008 was a banner year for my passport, ringing in the New Year in Nicaragua, closely followed by an all too brief trip to Paris (my first), two work trips to Italy in spring and summer, an epic trip to Portugal for which the Husband stayed on an extra two weeks alone, Labor Day week in Barbados for a gonga deal (no real photos from this trip), and ending the year in Istanbul (photos and commentary to come).  Wow.  I feel fortunate as hell.  I wish I could go back and write about each place (and perhaps I will at some point), but a few things I realized in the course of all these travels.

I am now the Official Corn Island Cheerleader

A little shameless self-promotion: last month I had my first legit article published, on Daily Candy about Corn Islands!  Even though I’ve read for years and have written a lot here about the Corn Islands, I still sweated writing this.  Hard to make everything clever and cute while being somewhat informative, all in 400 words.  Hope it came out well!  No byline, as that’s not the DC style, but it’s titled “The Caribbean’s Last Frontier.”

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How Not to Deal Drugs (and other assorted felonies)

I’ve been absent as I’ve just finished a two week stint as a grand juror in Brooklyn, the second busiest court after Detroit, as it happens.  After living in New York for ten years, they finally nabbed me, but it was a pretty good experience: we had 1.5 hour lunches every day, could sit around reading the paper by the hour, and can now yell at the TV screen while watching Law & Order to point out the inaccuracies.  Of the thirty or so cases we heard, most of them were drug-possession, with a large medley of robbery/assault and a soupcon of sex crimes and menacing (not to be confused with harassment, which implies less of an immediate threat).  Here are a few things I learned from the mishaps of Brooklyn’s underbelly:

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If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium

We thought that the answer to the mileage run conundrum would be Alaska, as it's a cool 7,142 miles round-trip with an obligatory stop in Chicago.  H has always wanted to go to Anchorage, while it's not high on my list, so it seemed like a good choice for our purposes. However, the only flights arrive Anchorage at 11:15pm with a red eye (and stopover!) on the way back, the bulk of the journey on the hated Alaska Airlines.  But, for a few weeks, we played the hold and release game, holding the same flights over and over to buy time before actually buying the tickets.  Eventually, though, the tickets went up to over $600 and it seemed less and less worthwhile for a two day trip.

Over the holiday weekend, I tried another tack and looked at Europe flights, after reading this Portfolio Seat 2B column. Not wanting any flights that involve London Heathrow even as a layover stop, I compared fares in continental Europe.  Amazingly, the cheapest and least painful tickets were to Brussels, for a 3 night trip.  The irony here is that Belgium is just where I wanted to go for Christmas originally.  I am massively jealous, and am insisting that H bring me Belgian chocolate (I imagine the fries and beer wouldn't travel so well) and visit the Christmas markets.

H and I have sort of started watching The Amazing Race, as we watch Cold Case on Sundays and TAR often runs into the Cold Case's start time.  If the application deadline weren't today, we would totally apply for the show. How awesome would a hotel publicist and a business traveler be on that show?!  H can be the expert in packing for an around-the-world trip in one carry-on and bitch about how it's like these people have never flown before, and I can help local hotels to create "newsy" items and packages around their village ceremonies and customs ("After a day at the market, bring in a chicken for a complimentary welcome cocktail!").  We can't lose!

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Who knew making travel so painful would be so fun?

Generally when booking a trip, I try to find the least painful flights with no connections or at least the easiest connections.  I never check bags if possible and try to fly at the least congested times.  For my theoretical summer 2008 trip, I'm trying to find flights to Europe that don't go through Heathrow, so I can avoid that kerfuffle.  But right now I'm dealing with something different: the mileage run:

Husband is/was a frequent flyer; he was flying to CA back and forth every week until April, now he's working more locally.  As of today, he has
89,137 elite-qualifying miles, 10,866 miles shy of the all-important Executive Platinum status.  Our upcoming trip to Nicaragua will add another 4,240 miles, leaving 6,626 to go.  Why is this so important?  Well, aside from being automatically upgraded on domestic flights when available, getting bonus miles on all flights, and generally being treated like a human being: there are the eVIPs.  These are systemwide upgrades you can use to fly first class at coach prices.  These precious things have allowed us to fly to Chile and Ireland in first class for a few hundred bucks a ticket and get miles at the same time.  There's also the skip the line element: at Heathrow for one, we were able to totally skip a line like this.  But beyond that, it's just a matter of pride.  H will be damned if he flew 90,000 miles just to barely miss out on the EXP goodness. 

We kept hoping he'd be staffed on another project that would require flying by year's end, but now that it's November, we are starting to sweat those last 6,626 miles.  I've been spending more and more time each day trying to figure out the most horrific flights that will bring him closest to the 100k goal without costing us a fortune.  Unless tickets are very cheap, this will probably be a solo trip, so I am taking great joy in finding the most painful flights for maximum miles.  Some contenders, all over Thanksgiving, may I add:

La Guardia to Boston to LA to Reno: 3175 miles, 14 hours including layovers
Return via LAX to Newark: a piddly 2,841 but pretty good for $579

LGA to Chicago O'Hare to Dallas to Calgary: 3,052 miles, 13 hours including layovers
Return through Dallas: 2,890, still nearly 700 miles short

So the key, I think, is to choose cities as far across the country as possible that don't offer many direct connections.  American Airlines in their infinite wisdom, makes it impossible to get to Reno without flying to California.  And Calgary is north of Seattle, why wouldn't you fly to the southwest first?! Sucks for anyone who might need to get there in a convenient way, but great for us.  I'm going to have to spend much more time studing the boards at and searching American's website if we are going to be serious about getting these miles, but I'm enjoying the journey.  Which H certainly won't.

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