Chris Guillebeau often uses air miles to upgrade his flights. Stephanie D Zito
Chris Guillebeau often uses air miles to upgrade his flights. Stephanie D Zito

Travelling life: Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau is an American author and entrepreneur based in Portland, Oregon. A former columnist for The National, Guillebeau visited every country in the world in the 10 years leading up to 2013 and became an expert in the art of "travel hacking", which involves accumulating huge numbers of air miles and hotel-stay points, facilitating cut-price and often free travel. As well as writing about this in books and a highly successful blog, Guillebeau has published four books, including The Art of Non-Conformity, The $100 Startup, The Happiness of Pursuit and most recently Born for This, about how people can find or create the job of their dreams.

What is your favourite destination?

I enjoy travel for the sake of travel. I like coming and going as much as I like being somewhere. If forced to choose a single spot, though, I’d pick Sydney, Australia. I return every year and it feels like a second home.

How often do you travel, and why?

I travel at least once a month, usually for a week or more at a time, to a total of at least 20 countries a year. Some of it is work-related, but I also travel for life itself. I get restless when I’m not on the road.

What do you like about travelling?

The mash-up of foreign and familiar. The disorientation that comes from flying 10 hours to another part of the world and stepping out into a different culture and climate. The sense of possibility – anything can happen, and everything feels new.

Is there anything you hate about travelling?

There are the usual grievances, but, honestly, they are minor trade-offs in exchange for all the gifts that travelling provides.

Where was the last place you went for a holiday?

I don’t really take holidays. Don’t get me wrong – I rest and relax, and I go to beautiful places all the time. But even when I’m there, I’m still working on various projects. Being totally offline doesn’t work for me; I have no desire to completely disconnect.

Do you prefer luxury or simplicity?

I’m not sure they are opposing values. I appreciate nice things like flight upgrades and comfortable hotels. But I don’t like a “hey, look at this” design style or approach to travel in general. Sometimes I’ll stay in a hostel one night before checking into a four-star hotel the next day.

How do you research your trips?

For a long time I used guidebooks, and I do think they can be helpful. Now, though, I do very little advance research. Sometimes I’ll identify one or two things I want to make sure I do. Everything else is flexible. I also started taking walking tours. You can find them in most cities, and they are a very easy way to jump in and learn a lot about the city from someone who lives there.

You have visited every country in the world going by the United Nations definition. Are there any other places or territories that you are keen to visit next?

Definitely. I went to Iran before, but I’d be the first to say I didn’t really explore it. I’m hoping to take a more extended trip soon.

What do you think of the Middle East? Do you travel to the GCC much?

I greatly enjoy visiting the Middle East and often visit the GCC. I come through Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha at least once a year. I especially enjoy flying Etihad and Emirates whenever possible, and both airlines have flexible layover policies. Venturing more off the beaten path, I like Lebanon a lot, but haven’t been there recently due to the security situation in nearby countries. I look forward to returning at some point in the future.

What do you always take with you on trips?

I’m pretty basic. Unless I’m going somewhere with an extreme climate or for some special purpose, I pack the same clothes for almost every trip. I always have my MacBook Air and iPhone, but I also always have a paper notebook that I use for journaling and writing down project notes. Also, I have a bad habit of leaving things behind in hotel rooms or on airplanes, so I try not to take things I can’t afford to lose.

You became famous for your system of ‘travel hacking’, allowing people to travel using points and miles. What has been your best upgrade so far?

Very recently I had a “dream trip” where I travelled from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in Etihad’s Apartment, which is like First Class, except bigger and better. The suite includes a sitting area the size of a couch, a lie-flat bed, a completely private compartment and even an on-board shower. The flight is normally very expensive, but I booked it using 60,000 American Airlines miles and just US$35.40 (Dh130) in taxes. Not bad!

What’s your best travel tip?

Anyone can take advantage of the more generous mileage programmes in the United States, no matter where they live – and you don’t have to fly on American carriers to earn miles. Emirates, for example, is a partner with Alaska Airlines. You can purchase Alaska miles and use them to redeem in premium cabins on Emirates for far less than the normal price. At least four times a year, they have a discount of up to 50 per cent off, making it even more affordable.

Where do you call home?

When I’m not travelling I live in Portland, Oregon. But I also think of “home” as a transitory place. I love returning to cities and towns that I’ve been to before, but still have more to learn about. I’m constantly looking forward to the next trip, and then the next one after that.

Where are you going next?

I’m currently on tour in North America for my new book, so it’s one city per day for a while. Once that’s done I’ll be planning another round-the-world trip, visiting (among other places) Korea, New Zealand and Chile.

Born for This is published by Penguin Random House and is available through Amazon.

Read this and more stories in Ultratravel magazine, out with The National on Thursday, May 19.

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government


Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Fire and Fury
By Michael Wolff,
Henry Holt

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024


Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).


Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).


Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Race card

5.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,400m

6.05pm: Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (T) 1,400m

6.40pm: Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (Dirt) 1,400m

7.15pm: Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (T) 1,200m

7.50pm: Longines Stakes – Conditions (TB) Dh120,00 (D) 1,900m

8.25pm: Zabeel Trophy – Rated Conditions (TB) Dh120,000 (T) 1,600m

9pm: Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (T) 2,410m

9.35pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (T) 2,000m

Captain Marvel

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Jude Law,  Ben Mendelsohn

4/5 stars

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Like a Fading Shadow

Antonio Muñoz Molina

Translated from the Spanish by Camilo A. Ramirez

Tuskar Rock Press (pp. 310)

Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

Author: Kenneth W Harl
Hanover Square Press


Yorkshire Vikings 144-1 in 12.5 overs
(Tom Kohler 72 not out, Harry Broook 42 not out)
bt Hobart Hurricanes 140-7 in 20 overs
(Caleb Jewell 38, Sean Willis 35, Karl Carver 2-29, Josh Shaw 2-39)

Milestones on the road to union


October 26: Bahrain withdraws from a proposal to create a federation of nine with the seven Trucial States and Qatar. 

December: Ahmed Al Suwaidi visits New York to discuss potential UN membership.


March 1:  Alex Douglas Hume, Conservative foreign secretary confirms that Britain will leave the Gulf and “strongly supports” the creation of a Union of Arab Emirates.

July 12: Historic meeting at which Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid make a binding agreement to create what will become the UAE.

July 18: It is announced that the UAE will be formed from six emirates, with a proposed constitution signed. RAK is not yet part of the agreement.

August 6:  The fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed becoming Ruler of Abu Dhabi, with official celebrations deferred until later in the year.

August 15: Bahrain becomes independent.

September 3: Qatar becomes independent.

November 23-25: Meeting with Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid and senior British officials to fix December 2 as date of creation of the UAE.

November 29:  At 5.30pm Iranian forces seize the Greater and Lesser Tunbs by force.

November 30: Despite  a power sharing agreement, Tehran takes full control of Abu Musa. 

November 31: UK officials visit all six participating Emirates to formally end the Trucial States treaties

December 2: 11am, Dubai. New Supreme Council formally elects Sheikh Zayed as President. Treaty of Friendship signed with the UK. 11.30am. Flag raising ceremony at Union House and Al Manhal Palace in Abu Dhabi witnessed by Sheikh Khalifa, then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

December 6: Arab League formally admits the UAE. The first British Ambassador presents his credentials to Sheikh Zayed.

December 9: UAE joins the United Nations.

Match info:

Manchester City 2
Sterling (8'), Walker (52')

Newcastle United 1
Yedlin (30')


Mar 10: Norwich(A)

Mar 13: Newcastle(H)

Mar 16: Lille(A)

Mar 19: Middlesbrough(A)

Apr 2: Brentford(H)

US tops drug cost charts

The study of 13 essential drugs showed costs in the United States were about 300 per cent higher than the global average, followed by Germany at 126 per cent and 122 per cent in the UAE.

Thailand, Kenya and Malaysia were rated as nations with the lowest costs, about 90 per cent cheaper.

In the case of insulin, diabetic patients in the US paid five and a half times the global average, while in the UAE the costs are about 50 per cent higher than the median price of branded and generic drugs.

Some of the costliest drugs worldwide include Lipitor for high cholesterol. 

The study’s price index placed the US at an exorbitant 2,170 per cent higher for Lipitor than the average global price and the UAE at the eighth spot globally with costs 252 per cent higher.

High blood pressure medication Zestril was also more than 2,680 per cent higher in the US and the UAE price was 187 per cent higher than the global price.


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
'I Want You Back'

Director:Jason Orley

Stars:Jenny Slate, Charlie Day



Director: Stephen Gaghan

Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Michael Sheen

One-and-a-half out of five stars

<html><head><meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html" charset="UTF-8" /></head><body><!--PSTYLE=* Labels:FH Label 18 Sport--><p>Beach soccer</p><!--PSTYLE=BY Byline--><p>Amith Passela</p><p /></body></html>
Our legal consultants

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Emergency phone numbers in the UAE

Estijaba – 8001717 –  number to call to request coronavirus testing

Ministry of Health and Prevention – 80011111

Dubai Health Authority – 800342 – The number to book a free video or voice consultation with a doctor or connect to a local health centre

Emirates airline – 600555555

Etihad Airways – 600555666

Ambulance – 998

Knowledge and Human Development Authority – 8005432 ext. 4 for Covid-19 queries

Stamp duty timeline

December 2014: Former UK chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne reforms stamp duty land tax (SDLT), replacing the slab system with a blended rate scheme, with the top rate increasing to 12 per cent from 10 per cent:

Up to £125,000 – 0%; £125,000 to £250,000 – 2%; £250,000 to £925,000 – 5%; £925,000 to £1.5m: 10%; More than £1.5m – 12%

April 2016: New 3% surcharge applied to any buy-to-let properties or additional homes purchased.

July 2020: Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils SDLT holiday, with no tax to pay on the first £500,000, with buyers saving up to £15,000.

March 2021: Mr Sunak extends the SDLT holiday at his March 3 budget until the end of June.

April 2021: 2% SDLT surcharge added to property transactions made by overseas buyers.

June 2021: SDLT holiday on transactions up to £500,000 expires on June 30.

July 2021: Tax break on transactions between £125,000 to £250,000 starts on July 1 and runs until September 30.

The Baghdad Clock

Shahad Al Rawi, Oneworld

Meydan race card

6.30pm: Maiden; Dh165,000; (Dirt) 1,200m
7.05pm: Handicap; Dh170,000; (D) 1,200m​​​​​​​
7.40pm: Maiden; Dh165,000; (D) 1,900m​​​​​​​
8.15pm: Handicap; Dh185,000; (D) 2,000m​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
8.50pm: Handicap; Dh185,000; (D) 1,600m​​​​​​​
9.25pm: Handicap; Dh165,000; (D) 2,000m

Drishyam 2

Directed by: Jeethu Joseph

Starring: Mohanlal, Meena, Ansiba, Murali Gopy

Rating: 4 stars

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