Bart Lapers

My Best Travel Experiences of 2021

Rainbow Mountain Peru Bart Lapers

2021 started with my longest travel interruption in two decades. I boarded my first flight of the year in June 2021, 207 days after my last flight in 2020. A travel ban issued by the Belgian government due to the pandemic was the culprit. Despite a late start, I went on 13 trips this year visiting 12 countries of which 5 for the first time:  Iraq ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ถ Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Pakistan ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Colombia ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ด and Peru ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช . With 114 out of 193 UN countries done, I have 79 left to explore.

Flights

flight statistics 2021 Bart Lapers

I reduced my exposure to future loyalty program devaluations by burning a significant part of my miles balances this year. I spent a total of 437.000 miles in 3 frequent flyer programs: Lufthansa Miles & More (338K) Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles (41.5K) and Iberia Plus Avios (57.5K) The use of miles greatly reduced the cost of my 14 business class and 30 economy class flights in 2021. Good for a total of 54.452 miles flown or 2.2 times around the earth and 135 hours up in the air.

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Brussels Airlines American Express card Welcome Bonus of 20.000 miles!

UPDATE JANUARY 2022: THIS OFFER IS STILL VALID
Brussels Airlines launched a new offer for their American Express credit card. You can get 20.000 Miles & More award miles when you sign up via the link below and spend a total of 1500โ‚ฌ with the card within the first 3 months.
Brussels Airlines Premium American Express Miles and More 20000 bonus miles first 3 months free

Brussels Airlines Premium American Express card with 20.000 bonus miles
Dutch / French

Why should I get a Brussels Airlines credit card?

  • Earn Miles & More miles for every euro you spend (super markets, online purchases, fuel stations, restaurants, … 1.5 mile per euro spend)
  • Your Miles & More miles never expire as long as you use the card at least once a month
  • Extensive purchase & travel insurances (details NL / FR )
    (e.g. I got 200โ‚ฌ of purchases refunded in June 2021 when my luggage was delayed)
  • Additional yearly bonus of 10.000 award miles when you spend 20K euro with the card
  • Use your Miles & More miles for free flights & upgrades. e.g. Business Class roundtrip flight to USA for 55.000 miles (Mileage Bargains)

How much does the Amex card cost?

The first 3 months the card is free. After the free period the card costs:

  • Brussels Airlines Premium Amex card: 12.50โ‚ฌ per month

You can cancel the card at any time. Just keep in mind Miles & More miles expire 3 years after you have earned them if you don’t have the Brussels Airlines American Express card.

What are the pitfalls?


American Express cards have a high conversion fee (2,5%) for non-euro payments. Use your Brussels Airlines American Express cards for euro payments only. For non-euro payments, I recommend Revolut. (0% conversion fee and 200โ‚ฌ/month of free ATM withdrawals in non-euro countries)

How do I request the Brussels Airlines American Express card?


Brussels Airlines Premium card with 20.000 bonus miles. Dutch / French

Iโ€™m not yet a Miles and More member, where do I sign-up?
You can enroll at the Miles and More website.

Questions? Email me at bart@bart.la or leave a comment below.

My Best Travel Experiences of 2020

Bart Lapers at Saint Kitts and Nevis UN country 100

Despite a global pandemic raging around the world, I managed to visit 20 countries in 2020 of which 11 for the first time: Antigua and Barbuda ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Barbados ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ง Burundi ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฎ Democratic Republic of the Congo ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Dominica ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Grenada ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Rwanda ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ผ Saint Kitts and Nevis ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ณ Saint Lucia ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡จ Saint Vincent & The Grenadines ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡จ Trinidad and Tobago ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡น. It was also the year I hit the milestone of visiting 100 UN countries. I have now been to 109 UN countries!

Flights

Flight Statistics 2020 Bart Lapers

With just 46 flights, the past year has been a low point in my aviation hobby. 39 economy flights, 7 business class flights (limited to Lufthansa and Ethiopian Airlines) good for a total of 44,555 miles flown, 1.8x around the Earth, 115 hours up in the air. My Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Elite status (Star Alliance Gold) was extended till February 2023 and British Airways Executive Club Silver status (Oneworld Sapphire) till December 2021 as a courtesy by the airlines due to the pandemic.

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10 Tips For Better Travel in 2020

Overview of the best travel resources in 2020

My best tips & tricks for your travel plans in 2020. How to get the best deals for your flights, hotels, rental cars and travel gear. Also check my best flights & hotels and destinations of 2019.

1. Find the best flight deals

Find the best flight deals
These are my favourite sites to keep track of flight details departing from the Benelux:
Fly4Free
Travel-Dealz
Flynous
For Business & First Class deals, the best site is You Have Been Upgraded. If you’re looking for a particular flight deal, set an email alert via Google Flights to keep track of flight fares. Don’t forget to also check Momondo as they tend to regularly find cheaper or alternative fares.
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My Best Travel Experiences of 2019: Destinations

Bart Lapers is a Belgian travel blogger visiting every country in the world

In 2019, I visited 33 countriesย of which 19 for the first time: Albania ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Andorra ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Bahrain ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ญ Bosnia and Herzegovina ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฆ Cyprus ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Estonia ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Ethiopia ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡น Liechtenstein ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Moldova ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Montenegro ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ช North Korea ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ต North Macedonia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Oman ๐Ÿ‡ด๐Ÿ‡ฒ San Marino ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Syria ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡พ Tanzania ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฟ Tunisia ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ณ Turkmenistan ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฒ Yemen ๐Ÿ‡พ๐Ÿ‡ช. It was also the year I decided to visit every country in the world by 2025. At the end of 2019, I had visited 98 out of 193 UN countries. Below are some of my favourite travel experiences of the past year. I hope they inspire you for an awesome travel year 2020.

North Bali, Indonesia

Gitgit Waterfall North Bali Indonesia
Gitgit waterfall (Jan 2019)ย 
In January, I finally explored โ€˜the other side of Baliโ€™. On previous visits I had never wandered up more North than Ubud. It turned out to be a stunning destination with an authentic culture and pristine nature with tranquil, rural surroundings. Check my Instagram Stories for the Northern Bali trip report.
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