Tag Archives: award ticket
I’ve got great news, Maggie Doyne the inspiration for our project and one of the subjects of our documentary is featured on the cover of the NY Times Magazine tomorrow morning. (10/24/10).
Make sure to get a copy and read about Maggie’s incredible story.
Another bit of exciting news is that we just launched our project on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors. Basically it’s is an example of crowdfunding where one can host their creative project on the Kickstarter’s website and offer people levels at which to donate. People can pledge amounts from $1 to …….. the sky’s the limit and most creators offer various rewards at the different levels.
We put our project on Kickstarter to raise finishing funds for our film. So as I continue to cull through over 150 hours of footage shot during our 99-day journey, people can contribute to our project so that we can get the funds to hire a professional editor who will be able to take the film to a higher level. This will broaden it’s chances for distribution. We have a window of 74 days to reach our goal of $7500. Any funds that go over the $7500 will be split 50/50 with 50% going to promotion of the film and 50% donated to all our subject’s causes and foundations. If we don’t meet our goal of $7500 in the next 74 days – all bets are off and we receive nothing. That doesn’t mean that the film is dead. It just means that I will need to go it alone with the editing and it will take a little longer.
It will be exciting over the next couple of months to see what develops. But no matter what happens, our ultimate goal for our film is for as many people to see it as possible. The more eyes that we open – the more we will motivate and inspire others to be change-makers and make our world a better place.
Please share our project with people that you know or on Facebook or Twitter or any other places you communicate. We can all make this world a better place.
These past few months I’ve been consumed by the details in preparing for this upcoming journey. So much too think about, both in regards to our day to day needs and logistics as well as the pre-production details for our documentary. I needed to book hotels for 99 nights, make airline reservations with over 14 different airlines from puddle jumpers in Nepal to trans Pacific flights, book train tickets in India, secure cure visas, get vaccinations and of course think about any personal needs. We’ve had to schedule all our subjects and research, buy and test all of our gear.
It’s been a challenge because we are doing it on a shoestring so to speak, using airline miles, hotel points, bartering services and roughing it – but I love a challenge. But when I sit down and collect my thoughts at the end of the day, I think about how fortunate I am to be able to take on such a project and how thankful I am to all of you who have been supportive and made it possible. Thanks to everyone for all your help and support.
I’m continually amazed at the power and reach of electronic communications. Orchestrating something like this just 10 years ago would have extremely difficult and time consuming as far as dealing with the logistics. But it also would not have been possible to “share” the experience virally and globally. We’ve been able to network with people around the world. People have been telling us about individuals who they know who are making a difference in the world – and in turn we are making others aware of people like this and the power of the individual. We hear from people all the time who are inspired by what they can do to make a difference.
Soon my daughter and I will be leaving the US for three months. Whenever I leave the country, I feel it is my opportunity to be an emissary for our country. It’s my opportunity when I meet people from other countries and cultures to show them what an American is – beyond the celebrity, pop culture and politics. I’ve always been conscious of my role as a diplomat when I travel overseas and the example that I set for my daughter in this regard. I think when Americans travel overseas we all have the opportunity to bring a more balanced perspective of what America is – beyond “TV network” point of view.
As the days dwindle down till our departure next Tuesday – my mind drifts from trepidation to glorious anticipation. But one thing is constant and that is that I feel extremely fortunate to be making this incredible opportunity and I thank all of you for giving me the support and confidence that I need.
I spent the better part of last week on the phone with the airlines creating our round the world itinerary and ticket which wasn’t all that easy given the fact that there were two of us traveling and we were using airline miles – 160,000 miles each to be exact. As a side note – the fact that I had so many miles piled up is one small thing that prompted this trip, and when Erin became a part of this – Tom gave her his miles so she could come. That should tell you something about Tom – that he would do that for his wife and daughter.
Our initial plan was to depart from the US in mid-June, heading first to Namibia to visit a friend and then on to Uganda for our first story. Our first hurdle was that the Star Alliance airline partner that went from the US to Africa was South African Air and there were no award seats into or out of Johannesburg for the entire month of June – Johannesburg is hosting the World Cup and everything is sold out. I was told that we couldn’t connect through Europe on another carrier like Lufthansa because that would mean going back thru Europe after leaving Uganda and the rules didn’t allow this. I’m broken hearted that we can’t get to Namibia because it means that another opportunity is lost in connecting with my friend while she is living there – but it wasn’t meant to be.
The airline agent could get us to Entebbe, Uganda but in order to make that work, we had to move up our departure date to May 25th giving me a slight panic attack knowing how much I still needed to do before leaving for this journey – vaccinations, visas, lodging arrangements, not to mention getting my gear ready for filming. I’ll talk about my gear in another blog, but essentially, since I want to shoot both stills and video – I’m opting to use a hybrid DSLR system because I need to pack light and can only bring one camera format. If it doesn’t fit on our backs – it’s not coming. But I digress.
Our next challenge in ticketing was going from Uganda to our next destination on the European continent. I was aiming for Warsaw or Moscow but we settled on flying from Entebbe, Uganda to Istanbul, Turkey. We’ll figure out how to go to Warsaw and Moscow on our own – that will be a piece of cake. Incidentally, there are a lot of rules on these round the world award tickets – you must keep going in the same direction (can’t backtrack) and you’re only allowed so many segments – I got answers anywhere from 12 to 16. And you can’t go back to a continent more than once – that came in handy going to Istanbul when the airline agent and I had a lively debate as to which continent Istanbul was on. I think the agent liked my creative way of solving the problem and gave me a little leeway.
In the end, after many hours on the phone – we created an itinerary: NY > Entebbe, Uganda > Entebbe connecting thru Cairo, Egypt to Istanbul, Turkey > Istanbul connecting thru Frankfurt, Germany to Delhi, India (somehow that was ok) > Delhi to Bangkok, Thailand > Bangkok to Melbourne, Australia > Melbourne to Sydney> Sydney connecting thru LAX to NY. The agent told me to call back the following day because all the carriers needed to make confirmations. She also told me our reservations would only be held for 48 hrs till they needed to be ticketed.
The next day, I called the airline and was told that there was a leg missing on Erin’s itinerary – Istanbul to Delhi – she corrected it and told me everything looked in order but to check back that afternoon. I did and found out that we were still waiting on Thai Air to confirm our flights from Delhi to Bangkok and then on to Australia. The agent said, “don’t worry – Thai Air is slow – so call back tomorrow.” Being the worrier I am, I knew that “tomorrow” was the day the tickets needed to be purchased or our reservations would be dropped, so if there was a problem I needed at least to know about a plan B. So I asked what other airlines flew that route – Delhi>Bangkok>Melbourne. I was told that Singapore Air flew that route but connected through Singapore.
The next morning – the day the tickets needed to be purchased – I called the airlines and was told that all my Thai Air flights had been canceled but Erin’s had been confirmed. I didn’t freak out – instead I suggested that the agent route us using Singapore Air – which he did. He put a rush on the confirmation process and told me to call back that evening.
To cut to the end of the story – I literally purchased the tickets right down to the deadline hour. I didn’t get everything I wanted – but I did get what I needed. We’ll be leaving May 25th and returning August 3rd. We’ll have to purchase separate tickets to get us to and from our destination in South America sometime in August and we are still trying to nail down those story ideas and dates.
People ask me why I didn’t use a travel agent. I have been handling my travel logistics for over 30 years and my answer is – I’m the one who will be doing the flying and I want to have control over that. Even if it looks doable on paper to have a one-hour connection in Frankfurt when flying from NY to Lagos, Nigeria – even for an optimist like me – I know better than to tempt fate like that.
In total – flying 7 different airlines, 12 flight segments and traveling across 5 continents, I managed to get us 2 tickets for $263.44 each – that’s for the taxes. Now I need to look into vaccinations and visas. Yesterday I discovered that my passport, which is still good for another 4 years, has only two pages left in it for visas – and India requires that you have two empty pages for their visa. Another thing to add to my “to do” list.