Well…Didn’t See That Coming – Points & Miles as a Digital Nomad Ch. 4

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Well...Didn't See That Coming - Points & Miles as a Digital Nomad Ch. 4

Well…Didn’t See That Coming – Points & Miles as a Digital Nomad Ch. 4

For those who are new to the site, I’ve been chronicling my life on the road using points & miles as a digital nomad for the past few months. In short, I needed to remain outside the US, we had moved out of our apartment in Brazil, and my wife was doing an internship. The past few months have had some ups and downs, and this past month had some big extremes. I saw my wife after an interval of 2 months, but our plan going forward has completely fallen apart. Here’s the latest.

Key Events From The Past Month

I spent most of November around the “stans” and Middle East. The month ended with a short trip to Niger, since they removed the quarantine requirement I wanted to avoid when I got my visa earlier in the year. I also had to spend a few days in the UAE after losing my ATM card in a total moron moment. The month ended with a massive highlight: I saw my wife again after a full 2 months of not seeing her.

Highlights Of The Past Month

These are the best parts of October:

  • Favorite hotel: Hyatt Regency Dushanbe, Tajikistan; the hotel itself isn’t “wow” (it’s a category 1), but the staff there are super awesome.
  • Favorite experience: aside from seeing my wife (the obvious answer)? A day trip to Damascus, Syria from Beirut, Lebanon. I really love seeing places that challenge my perceptions from western news programs.
  • Favorite flight: would it be cheesy to say my favorite is the one where I finally reunited with my wife after a United basic economy ticket in a middle seat? OK, other than that: Finnair business class from Helsinki to New York. I wish every flight could be like this. Here’s my review.

Watching a man make rugs in the traditional way in Damascus, Syria

Low Points Of The Past Month

Not everything was perfect. These are the low points of October:

  • Least favorite hotel: even though I found the staff weird at both Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi (review here) and Four Points by Sheraton Lahore (review here), actual “least favorite” of the month would go to Inter Hotel Baghdad. Breakfast never started at the time they said (so I missed it both mornings), check-in was awful (they said I didn’t have a reservation, but I did). The hotel itself was a decent hotel, but service/communication need big improvements.
  • Least favorite experience: multiple major changes required in my trip. I had to reshuffle a bunch of stuff when I walked away from an ATM with my card still inside and couldn’t receive a new one in the country where I was, due to no DHL/UPS/FedEx services there. Another massive change came when my flight to Niger and flight leaving Niger both had schedule changes. I wound up with only 36 hours there, plus had to make 3 separate bookings to get to Mexico at the end of the month (Tunis Air via Tunisia to Paris using a voucher I had with Tunis Air, Alaska miles for Finnair flights to JFK, United basic economy flights to Cancun using cash). I arrived totally exhausted and confused on what day it was.
  • Least favorite flight: Tunis Air flights from NIM to TUN to ORY, because they’re really the worst airline ever. I’m sure the plane was older than me. Padding is missing from some seats. Everything sucks. I just wanted to use my voucher, and I wouldn’t fly them for any other reason.

Using points & miles as a digital nomad, we went to Mexico for Dia de los Muertos
We spent 4 days in Chiapas, Mexico for Dia de los Muertos at the end of October and beginning of November

What’s Next? Big Picture

My wife and I just spent several days in Chiapas, Mexico for Dia de los Muertos. It was incredible. Amazing. The plan was for her to finish an internship, spend some days together in Mexico, and then her attend a course for the next month to prepare for taking the veterinary licensing exam. That course has now been canceled.

In a matter of 3 days (that’s how much “cancellation” notice we got before the start of the course), we had to figure out what’s next for our lives. Since the whole plan for the next months has been to keep our cash expenses down, avoid me spending more time in the US (due to annual tax requirements), and her prepare for the veterinary exams, now what? We wound up back at a safe place: back with her mom, where we lived for the past 5 years in Brazil. It’s not where we wanted to be, but we own this apartment and don’t have to pay rent. We can make new plans. And we can follow our local football (soccer) team, who is about to be champion of the Brazilian league this year.

Positives and Negatives

There are some obvious positives and negatives. My wife did the internship she wanted and got some good experience. I traveled to new places and lived on points & miles, so neither of us had to pay rent anywhere. We met our objectives for the past 2 months. We saw each other again, which was fantastic and made us super happy after 2 months apart.

The negatives are essentially that we are back where we started when we left here at the beginning of August. With the cancelation of this course my wife intended to do until Christmas, we now have no idea what we are doing next. She has a potential job offer after New Year, but until then? That part is up in the air, and we’ll likely be throwing darts at a map and a calendar over the next week(s), trying to figure it out. Maybe we’ll just stay in Brazil and take side trips for a month or 2. Nothing is for certain.

Final Thoughts On the Past Month of Using Points & Miles As A Digital Nomad

The past month was rocky, to say the least. It had some moments of high stress but also some amazing experiences I’ll never forget. The month ended with the real highlight: seeing my wife again after 2 months. We really have no idea what’s happening with the next 2 months of our lives, but we are lucky. We own an apartment here in Brazil that we can stay at without paying rent, living with my mother-in-law. That presents its own challenges, but we are definitely fortunate in many ways. My time using points & miles as a digital nomad may be on pause, may be done, or may start again next week, if places we want to visit open up.

It’s just as likely that I could be sitting in this same chair next week as it is that I could be sitting in Kazakhstan next week. Who knows?!

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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