Brian Kelly is the founder and CEO of The Points Guy (TPG), the industry’s leading authority on rewards programs, credit cards, and travel. Kelly founded TPG in 2010 while working as a Wall Street road warrior, where he honed his keen sense for getting the most out of travel while investing as little as possible. Kelly has built the company into a powerful travel and lifestyle media platform since then.
What are three of your favourite countries and why?
I absolutely love Cape Town; it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world with so much to do, including the Cape Winelands, which I think is one of the best wine regions in the world. I personally love the Delaire Graff Estate. I also love South African for safari. I’ve gone on a number of safaris in a bunch of different African countries but doing it in Sabi Sands, and Kruger is, in my opinion, the best.
Number two would have to be Guatemala. I think it’s one of the most underrated countries in the world, it’s absolutely beautiful, and the food is incredible. I love the town of Antigua, and Lake Atitlán is just mystical. Guatemala has this unbelievable vibe about it, I love it, and I wish that people didn’t think it was dangerous to go because most of the tourist areas are perfectly safe.
Tahiti, French Polynesia
I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. You can swim with humpback whales from July through October off the island of Maria, which I loved. Also, Bora Bora is the ultimate place to recharge, relax and has some great scuba diving.
What are three of your favourite travel moments, and why?
Tracking with the gorillas in Rwanda
I just went in December of 2020 and it was unbelievable.
Japan during cherry blossoms
It’s more than just gorgeous flowers. It’s the whole culture of enjoying the beautiful flowers and having picnics. I highly recommend it to anyone.
I do a lot of charity work with Nobel Peace Prize winners. We take them to kids around the world through an organization called PeaceJam. We go to Ghana every year, and we brought Leymah Gbowee, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Liberia, to the kids in Accra, and it was unbelievable.
What are three of your worst travel moments, and why?
Truly, I don’t have many terrible travel experiences. I generally go with the flow. I would say number one would be Bali and scuba diving in Bali, where the visibility was bad. There was a lot of traffic, it was just really crowded, and for how long it takes to get there from the US, I actually think Bali is kind of overrated.
How people treat airline staff
I would say, in general, I hate when people are mean to airline staff, especially over things out of their control. All too often, I see it on my travels, where people are yelling at the frontline workers when they’re just trying to do their best job.
“Helga” in Rwanda
When I was tracking with the gorillas, a tourist refused to follow the rules and took a selfie with the silverback. She wouldn’t wear a mask around her nose, which puts the gorillas at risk. It enraged me on so many different levels. I posted it on my Instagram. We called her Helga because she just put everyone at risk. It was all about her and her getting the right photo. I hate that mentality in travel these days. More about this story on his TikTok.
What are three of your best travel tips?
Travel with a positive attitude
Especially nowadays with COVID. There are lots of rules so research, do your diligence on what type of COVID test you need, does your vaccine count, put in the time beforehand so that you leave your house equipped, and understand the rules, so you don’t enter the airport stressed, and with a negative attitude.
Print out all of your documents
Number two would be to print out all of your documents, especially COVID tests. Sometimes you need the paper document to actually get into the airport, especially around Africa.
Always bring a pen
Especially during these times when people don’t really want to share. I always love having a pen. I hate when I don’t have one on me to fill out documents.