Originally posted on 11/26/15:
November 26, 2004. Black Friday in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My 20th birthday. I was teaching children for a year in a school that couldn’t afford toilet paper and where it rained inside my bedroom. And it was the day I started a small blog for friends and family, ctownbochur.blogspot.com. It wasn’t until 2007 that the DansDeals.com domain name would fall into my lap.
Blogging was a natural extension of me. I was flipping baseball cards as a 10 year old. Selling beanie babies on eBay as a 12 year old. Freezing out in the cold on Black Friday as a 15 year old to make a large profit on eBay (thank goodness that can be done online now!). By 16, I negotiated a 50% discount with Delta and booked out an entire flight from LAX-JFK for my yeshiva, saving everyone money while earning a boatload of miles and free tickets for myself in the process. And by 17, I took advantage of a now defunct eBay program to rack up over 1 million miles with Cathay Pacific. And since then it’s grown into an obsession to see how many millions of miles I can manufacture and burn through each year. There are worse hobbies to have, no?
I won’t bore you again with details, I gave the cliff notes version of the history last year for this site’s 10th anniversary.
I’ve been blessed with being in the right place at the right time so many times in my life that I could fill a book. It’s amazing looking back at how all the pieces fall into place. Over the course of 11 years of blogging, every day I gain an incredible appreciation for the world and our part in leaving it better than we found it.
I don’t know when exactly it crossed over from, what I did for kicks to what I do professionally, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t know when exactly the traffic to the site increased from a few hits a month to millions of hits per month. I do what I love and I love what I do. Even if I do let the commenters that never seem to read the post get to me at times 😉
And so I’m thankful to G-d for allowing me to support my amazing wife and 2 adorable children in the most unique of ways. And for being able to take them on dozens and dozens of flights around the world thanks to miles.
I’m thankful to my parents for making sure that I was always curious. Always questioning. Always working hard because nothing worthwhile comes easy. And always striving to be humble and appreciative of everything and everyone.
I’m thankful to my brother JJ, 6 years my junior, for invigorating new life into the deals since he started contributing to this site 2 years ago.
I’m thankful to my wife Mimi for putting up with me working all-nighters, for letting me book international travel glitches just hours before departure, and for always being there through life’s ups and downs.
I’m thankful to my kids, Rafi and Talia. Aside from being impossibly cute, their wide-eyed wonder at seeing the world and listening to foreign languages and seeing other cultures is refreshing. Their adorable innocence, hugs, and unconditional love melt away the biggest worries and fears in the world. Sure it’s significantly harder to travel with kids, but there is no greater blessing in the world.
I’m thankful to the amazing DDF Family for being a great source of deal leads and an awesome place to read trip reports, plan trips, and shmooze. I even got to fly with my 4 year old Rafi to his first DDF DO this year!
And I’m thankful to you. For reading. For following on Twitter, Instagram, SMS, and Facebook. For telling your friends and family. For commenting and adding insight. For patronizing our advertisers and shopping and signing up through our links. For sending me countless touching emails letting me know how DansDeals made a difference in your life. For coming to seminars and being able to bounce ideas off each other in person…and then letting me know that I’m a lot more down to Earth of a guy than you expected. You make it all possible and worthwhile.
Hard to believe 11 years are in the books. I still haven’t wrapped my head around turning 31 today. But I won’t stop as long as I’m having fun. And I hope you won’t either.