“And what’s more fun than earning awards?”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where renowned mile and point gurus share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview:  Have Points Will Travel

Jason writes Have Points Will Travel and is an avid traveler and points hoarder.  Jason started blogging to share his travel experiences and points collecting strategies with the world, so I was looking forward to our chat on Friday!

Have points will Travel - interview with Jason

Jason in Santorini Greece (September 2011)

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I started collecting points somewhere around the time I took my first “grand adventure” trip.  I moved to Berlin, Germany, in 2009 for 7 months after I turned my Web Marketing business into a 100% virtual operation.  That’s when travel became an integral part of my life, and it’s also when I realized points and miles would be very useful.

But I didn’t really start aggressively collecting points until around the time I created my very own personal productivity system, “Productive Points.”  Just like being rewarded for taking flights or staying at hotels, I use “Productive Points” to reward myself for getting things done in my personal and business life.  Then, when I earn a set amount of points, I give myself an award.

That system still works for me today, and I think it’s why I’m so in love with the whole idea of “earning points” for travel too.  Life should be fun.

And what’s more fun than earning awards?

Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?

I started Have Points Will Travel because I love travel, I love points, and I love writing.  I have a strong passion for travel and have always wanted to run a travel blog.  I attempted a few other travel blog projects but couldn’t find the right angle.

Then, I stumbled upon this idea and just jumped on it.  It’s still in the early phases but I’m working to make it a more regular part of my business.  I also have another travel blog about my favorite place in the world — Santorini Island in Greece.

Have points will Travel - interview with Jason

Jason on a Catamaran in Santorini (June 2012)

What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?

Change your limiting beliefs.

I talk to so many people about what I do (taking multiple stop flights, applying for lots of travel cards, etc) and almost always hear excuses and self-doubt.  Just like starting your own business or setting out on an around-the-world adventure, limiting beliefs can really hold you back.

The absolute worst limiting belief I hear more than anything else is, “My credit score will go down if I apply for so many credit cards.”  But when you really talk to people about that topic for long enough, you soon realize they don’t actually know very much about how credit scores work in the first place.

Limiting beliefs are usually ideas we have just because we don’t really understand something.  They’re always worth challenging.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Have points will Travel - interview with Jason

Christmas in Berlin 2011 (I proposed to my girlfriend on this trip!)

When I took that fateful 6-month trip to Berlin, Germany, in 2009 I met some fantastic people and had some unforgettable experiences.  One girl in particular I’m now very happily engaged to.  We’re getting married May 2013.

I’d say that trip tops them all.  🙂

What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?

Most people really love it when I share my tips and ideas.  I’ve helped a few friends and family members score some great credit cards and book $5.00 business class award flights.  So most of my closest friends and family members really love it.  They often just wish I didn’t travel so much.  What can I say?  I’m hooked!

Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?

Have points will Travel - interview with Jason

Boarding Aegean Airlines flight (very short haul) from Santorini to Athens (July 2012)

Online shopping is my best friend for racking up massive amounts of points.

I use EvReward to double-check for the best points deals on online purchases every time I shop online.

What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?

It’s probably the little bonuses I stumble upon here and there.  Signing up for dining programs, opting-in for text message marketing — you name it.

If something will bring in an extra 500 or 1,000 points for not much work, I’ll almost always go for it.

What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?

I regret not doing a better job of consolidating my points and miles into a handful of key programs.  For example, I’ve done a lot of traveling around Europe, and I’ve often made the mistake of signing up for a random airline’s miles program instead of leveraging just one alliance program.

I have 8,500 miles in the Lufthansa Miles & More program that I could have had put into my United account.

Have points will Travel - interview with Jason

Air New Zealand Business Class LHR to LAX (my first ever long-haul business class flight) Feb 2012

Plus, I also wish I’d spent more time learning about which programs had the best/easiest redemptions.  But I think that’s the nature of points & miles collecting.  You’ve got to just jump in and learn by doing.  You won’t know which programs work for YOU unless you get real experience collecting points, booking awards, and then learning as you go.  And since everyone’s travel style is different, what works for you might not work for me and vice versa.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

In the past year alone, I’ve traveled 116,405 miles to 29 locations.  Thank you TripIt for tracking that for me.  🙂

Any parting words?

I’ll borrow my parting words from the great Mark Twain…  “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Have points will Travel - interview with Jason

Jason in Paris (December 2011)

Jason– Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

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9 responses to ““And what’s more fun than earning awards?”

  1. You can actually fly on Aegean Airlines? I was concerned that it was just a holding company that allows you to generate gold status on star alliance .

  2. Thanks, Daraius! I really enjoyed doing the interview with you. Cheers!

    -Jason

  3. Dude…you went to Santorini (and Oia in particular I imagine), the most naturally photogenic place on earth, and couldn’t find a better backdrop than that?

  4. Okay that came off as too douchey. Sorry about that

  5. Is it possible move Lufthansa miles to United like you’ve mentioned? I looked for a way to make a similar transfer earlier this year but only found a lot of fine print stating that Star Alliance members do not participate in mile transfers between their airline FF programs. Am I missing some loophole to make this LH to UA miles transfer?

  6. Great interview with a very interesting person! Thanks for sharing some new tips. I especially love the comment, “Change your limiting beliefs.” So true, some people spend time clipping coupons to save a few dollars, I can spend the same amount of time finding free hotel stays and miles deals!

  7. Neat interview!! I do agree to Changing your limiting beliefs since a lot of my friends and family are super skeptical. That somehow you are ethically not doing the right thing by “travel hacking”. Hmmm. Anyway, I guess my main question is, if you live abroad most of the year, how do you manage to get your credit cards to you???

  8. @James – Ha! Fair enough. To be honest, I gave Daraius the pics and let him do the rest. It’s probably the most favorable pic of ME. I’m *really bad* at remembering to take ANY photographs, let alone good pics. Something I’m trying to get better at all the time. No douchey-ness taken.:)

    @ASW – Unfortunately, I never did find a solution to that problem with my “trapped” 8,500 Lufthansa miles. Lately, I’ve been thinking more about focusing my points/miles strategy around topping up specific accounts. Someday, I’ll try to put those 8,500 to use… in some way. Then again, it’s always important to remember the old adage: “You don’t have to earn money the same way you lost it.” Also true for points & miles.

    @Kathie – Learning to change limiting beliefs is such a powerful skill. It can be applied to so many areas in life with great results!

    @Naomi – Great question! Although I don’t really spend most of the year abroad (only about 3 months of the year usually) I do still manage to get my credit cards delivered and activated even while I’m traveling. I use a service called “Earth Class Mail” http://www.earthclassmail.com/ to get all of my “snail mail” and packages emailed to me and scanned into PDF format at my request. On my most recent trip, I did receive 2 new credit cards, had them scanned in, AND managed to activate them from my remote location via my Skype phone. Pretty nifty. 🙂

    Cheers everyone!

    -Jason

  9. Great interview! Jason, thanks for the tip on EarthClassTravel mail service–that will solve a big headache for us on our long trips!