With the New Year just hours away, it’s time for a review of my travel year of 2022 and a look at some of the highlights and cool statistics.
So it only feels right to continue this and to review my travel year of 2022 as well.
Just like the previous years I managed to have some great trips in 2022, although it was a rather unusual travel year in some aspects.
Let’s start off this 2022 travel year review by taking a look at the flights I took, which are all mapped on the image below.
I keep a record of all my flights on myFlightradar24, a handy website which was previously known as Flightdiary.
The orange lines on the flight map are the routes I have flown once last year (one-way) while the red lines are routes I have flown twice (either two one-ways or a return flight).
In 2022, I took 26 flights in total for both leisure and work.
This number is down 41% from the 44 flights I took in 2021 and a whopping 64% down from the 72 flights in 2019.
The reason behind this big decline will become clear later!
The 26 flights of the year 2022 – all of them international ones – added up to a total distance flown of 43,687 kilometres (27,146 miles) and equated 73 hours and 10 minutes of flying time.
Of these 26 flights, 9 were in business class and 17 in economy class.
Fortunately I was spared a middle seat as I managed to get a window seat on 23 flights while ending up with an aisle seat on 3 flights.
While in 2021 Air France was my top airline with 8 flights followed by Wizz Air in second place with 6 flights, it was the other way around this year as I only managed 4 flights with the French flag carrier while I took 8 Wizz flights.
The Airbus A321 was the top aircraft of 2022 with 10 flights in total, followed by 6 flights on an Airbus A320.
Sadly, I didn’t manage to try out a new plane type this year.
Airports and airlines
The travel year of 2022 did however feature some airports and airlines I haven’t used before.
The year 2022 marked my first ever flights with British Airways, Iberia and Royal Air Maroc.
As a Star Alliance and SkyTeam loyalist, I had just never really used airlines in the oneworld alliance before apart from Qatar Airways.
However, with my Star Alliance and SkyTeam elite status being secured for 2023, I had the opportunity to try out some new airlines outside of these two airline groups.
Besides, as I managed to get a Qatar Airways status match, I was able to enjoy all the perks of oneworld Sapphire status throughout the year of 2022.
Sure, I knew it would be impossible for me to maintain oneworld Sapphire status for 2023 (it’s hard enough already to requalify for elite status with two alliances at the same time, let alone with three!) but it was a great excuse to fly with a couple of new airlines through hub airports I normally avoid.
In total, I visited 22 different airports in 2022 (ten less than in 2021).
Of those 22 airports, I’ve visited 8 for the first time ever. These new airports are London Heathrow (LHR), Venice Marco Polo (VCE), Bari (BRI), Birmingham (BHX), Casablanca (CMN), Seville (SVQ), Amman (AMM) and Aqaba (AQJ).
Arguably the biggest flying highlight of 2022 was my flight in Qsuites, Qatar Airways’ excellent business class product.
Thanks to the aforementioned status match, I received some complimentary Qcredits which I could use to upgrade a Qatar Airways flight.
I managed to find a relatively cheap economy ticket from Casablanca to Bucharest via Doha, which I could upgrade in its entirety to business class with the Qcredits.
Normally such business class flights are way above my budget, although it again turned out that there are alternative ways to fly in luxury with the smart use of frequent flyer miles and points.
I certainly enjoyed my 13 hours of flying in Qatar Airways business class!
Trains instead of planes
During 2022, I avoided planes as much as I could, taking the train instead for most of my travels.
This is not because I turned into some kind of Greta Thunberg – I still love to fly and I firmly belief that the benefits of (affordable) air transport outweigh all of the cited environmental concerns.
However, as I already wrote in last year’s travel review of 2021, I simply think the all-round travel experience is often better on the train.
It’s such a relaxing experience to watch the scenery from the train window while you eat and drink something in the dining car or open the blinds of your own sleeper compartment in the morning, waking up to an entirely different view than the night before.
While flying is often just about getting you from A to B, taking the train is a trip on its own as you can savour the journey and take in the changing landscapes and geography.
Ukraine by train
My train travel year of 2022 started with an epic trip to Ukraine, covering 5,200 kilometres (3,230 miles) – roughly the same distance from London to Novosibirsk (Siberia, Russia) or London to Lagos (Nigeria).
One of the trains I took was the Rakhiv to Mariupol night train, which back then was Ukraine’s longest train ride.
Needless to say, my visit to Mariupol turned out to be rather unique experience..
In the spring of 2022, I bought a 3-month Interrail pass for 50% off during an amazing sale, so naturally I had to get maximum value out of the rail pass.
Although I didn’t travel 3 months continuously (I also have to work after all!) I did manage to make quite a few trips using the Interrail pass during the summer.
Between mid-June and mid-September, I used the Interrail pass for a trip to Switzerland and Northern Italy as well as for some fun travels through England, visiting Cornwall and Yorkshire.
I also embarked on two cross-continental train trips.
Instead of flying from my home country of Romania to my native Netherlands, I used the train this year.
Even more epic was my trip from Romania to Scotland and back again without flying.
Those two trips were also a fun experiment to find out whether trains can be a reasonable alternative to flights on such long distances (unfortunately there still are a lot of practical downsides).
So let’s have a look at the train travel highlights of 2022.
As I took so many trains last year, I didn’t take the effort to map all of them or to calculate the total mileage as this would cost me a full day of work.
In total I took 18 sleeper trains during 2022, bringing my lifetime total to 86 night train rides in total.
I did a lot of UK train travel in 2022, which turned out to be a big highlight as I loved both the daytime trains as well as my experience on board the two night trains in the country (the Night Riviera and Caledonian Sleeper).
It was also great fun to travel on some scenic trains in Switzerland, with the Bernina Express being the best of the bunch.
Although I visited lots of new destinations during 2022 and revisited many old favourites, I only managed to visit one new country.
This country was Morocco, and although I only visited Casablanca (not exactly known as the touristic highlight of the country) I did tremendously enjoy my visit to the city and really want to come back to see more.
With Morocco being ticked off the list, I have now visited 80 countries in total (or 83 countries when you include some territories/countries which are not universally recognised).
Besides the earlier mentioned trips, there were a few other travel moments in 2022 which are worth mentioning.
I really enjoyed seeing more of Switzerland, one of the few European countries in which I haven’t travelled a lot before given how expensive it is.
Thanks to cheap low-cost flights from Bucharest to Aqaba and Amman, I had the opportunity to revisit Jordan, which was as fabulous as I remembered it was.
In the UK, I embarked on several epic pub crawls, hiked in the Yorkshire Dales and enjoyed the sights of the Scottish Highlands in glorious sunny weather.
Of course, I also managed to make multiple (short) trips in my home country of Romania.
I was perhaps most impressed by my visit to the wonderful Székelyföld (Szeklerland), a part of Transylvania predominantly inhabited by the ethnic Hungarian Székely people.
In Romania, I also enjoyed my visit to the beautiful Danube Delta with its unique avifauna and culture.
During this trip also I also adopted a stray kitten whom I found completely abandoned, making that outing quite special for an entirely different reason as well!
Apart from the more active holidays there was also plenty of time to relax, enjoying some Aperol Spritz at the Italian lakes, eating tapas in Andalusia, binging beer in Germany and tasting some fine whiskies in Scotland.
What will 2023 bring?
The travel year of 2022 turned out to be highly eventful and fun – and I do hope I can look forward to a similar number of great adventures in 2023.
Of course, this is always dependant on external circumstances, so I mostly hope 2023 will be a year of health and peace, having the means and opportunities to embark on trips in the next year as well.
Although I plan to make some epic train trips in 2023 as well, it will likely not be as many as I did in 2022 given the high costs and there probably not being a 50% Interrail sale next year to help me out.
As I want to requalify for my Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles gold status (Star Alliance) and Air France/KLM Flying Blue platinum status (SkyTeam) in 2023, there will probably be an uptick in flights after three consecutive years of flying less.
My first trip for 2023 is already booked for January – and with 5 flights and well over 4,000 kilometres of train travel it will hopefully be another epic journey.
Apart from this, I have a lot of vague travel plans and ideas in my head (who doesn’t..?!) but nothing else decided and booked yet.
Let’s wait and see what more the travel year of 2023 will bring – so stay tuned!