Everything I Thought Was Important About Travel Was Wrong. It’s the Smallest Things That Matter Most.

As you get older, it’s funny what you remember.

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD


Photo courtesy of author

“Son,” she said, “you should travel as much as possible. Whatever happens in life, nobody can take away the experiences and memories.”

I was determined to follow my mother’s advice. Luckily, my job provided lots of travel opportunities. My travel engagements took off in the 2000s.

I wasn’t interested in a frequent flyer program at first. “Why would you need the extra attention during a flight?” I was young and believed airport and airline lounges were boring.

I preferred to mingle with the traveling crowd.

My shortsightedness quickly disappeared when I began to visit airports at least bi-weekly. So, I enrolled in a frequent flyer program and soon began to level up.

And I envied the travelers with the highest status. They usually weren’t shy in showing the luggage tags that they received when they reached and maintained the highest frequent flyer level. Some of them had a whole bunch of these tags attached to their bags.

After a couple of years of intensive traveling with trips to the most exciting destinations, I belonged to the same group. And I enjoyed the free access to lounges, the priority lanes, the priority boarding, the free seat options, and all the other service, perks, and benefits accompanying the status.

Each year the challenge was to hold the status. Downgrading to a lower level wasn’t an option.

And, yes, I also had “too many” frequent flyer tags hanging off my bag.

But all of this has changed last week. My preferred airline sent me their Platinum for Life card. I managed to maintain the highest level for ten consecutive years. No need to requalify every year anymore. Just one card (and one luggage tag) that guarantees lifetime status and benefits.

The card marked another milestone in the life of a traveler.

Time for Reflection

I discussed my “ achievement” with one of my friends.



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.