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Happy Thanksgiving from Borobudur in Indonesia! I’m presently eating my Thanksgiving dinner (nasi goring, sate ayam, and ayam goring) in my room at the small guest lodge where we are overnighting – and toasting my gratitude for many things this day with some champagne we packed from the ship. Its not my first Thanksgiving away from home but it is one that has kept me grounded to the meaning of the day.
There are many things I’m thankful for – too many to list here and certainly more than I can recount each day when I think about the amazing grace and fortune I have had in my life.
I always start to make my list and travel, friendships, and amazing life experiences always are near the top. There is a common delicate thread that links many of these and it all goes
I first stumbled across FlyerTalk.com when I was in graduate school in the late 90s. At that point, I was still an office-based analyst and the thought of a career with business travel was still just conceptual to me. The internet was in the early years and message boards and chat rooms were the wild west, but somewhere in that corner the man who was already the king of loyalty programs had carved out a space for aficionados to discuss programs.
Back then, I had such basic knowledge of loyalty schemes. I knew I could earn frequent flyer miles going from point A to point B and that I could – maybe in two to three years’ time – save up enough miles for a ticket to Paris. In coach.
Oh how little I knew then. It took me 18 months to work up the nerve to actually post at FlyerTalk. It took another 18 months before I was brave enough to attempt an international mileage run, one that took me to Taipei for less than a day right before 9/11. And it was the place that comforted me in the days after 9/11 when I found myself away from home and uncertain of what was becoming of my travel world.
And through that time on the internet – on message boards, then in a recurring nightly chat room full of business travelers in strange hotel rooms, and later through the first of dozens of meet ups or DOs that I would eventually attend on five different continents – I built up a network of literally hundreds of friends. I am grateful that I can sincerely say I have friends almost everywhere I travel. And that is thanks to Randy Petersen and the world he created for others like me.
Fifteen years later, I’ve been involved in many ways. I served two separate rounds as a moderator at FlyerTalk. I hosted many meet ups, personally setting up events in Asia, Europe, and the United States. I did a two year term on TalkBoard (the advisory group that helped guide some of the vision). And now fifteen years later, Randy hosts my blog – Jetsetter’s Homestead – on his Boarding Area platform. Its been part of a long loop of interactions that have woven in and out of my years of business travel, my relationships, and many of my adventures both near and far.
The vision of connecting frequent travelers with each other to share information (and friendships) continues strong as ever. Without that vision, I doubt I’d be exploring Indonesia right now (and certainly would not have met the friend I am traveling with at the moment) and my world would be a much more distant and unfriendly place.
Today Randy, as I count the many things I am grateful for, I am thankful for you – for the vision to create the spaces you have that give the gift of travel. And to create a place to create and share friendships with those who share the vision that this big world can be a smaller friendlier place.
And in turn, I am also thankful for all of you, my fellow voyagers. May this be the gift that keeps giving as we all go out into the world.