“Collecting points and miles is only about 25% of the equation – the other 75% is in knowing how to use them”

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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:  Travel Summary

Travel Summary shares his unique to using miles and points, so I was excited for our Friday chat!

Travel Summary

Batu Caves in Malaysia

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I was lucky growing up because my parents loved to travel, and I was a beneficiary of that because I got to tag along.  My older brother always made sure we signed up for the frequent flyer program of the airline we flew on, so my family and I always collected points…but we didn’t know what they were actually worth, or how to redeem them properly, way back then.

A coworker of mine named Ryan (have to give him a shout out) introduced me to The Points Guy’s website a couple of years ago, and my head nearly exploded.  I became addicted almost immediately!

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

I started it because I found out about affiliate links!  Sadly, that’s actually part of the reason.  When I found out some of these travel/points bloggers literally just travel for a living, reviewing the most luxurious and most amazing airline products and hotel properties in the world, I nearly fainted.  THAT’S a job I could do, I thought to myself.  But that alone wasn’t enough of a reason to start a blog.

Once I realized how many bloggers actually exist in this space, I immediately realized there was a problem: too many useless posts.  Many bloggers strive to post daily, and you can totally tell when they’re forcing it.  There simply isn’t always material worth writing about on a daily basis and so we see lots of “filler” posts.

I wanted to cut through the crap and simply make a summary that linked to just the important posts for the day…a “Travel Summary” of that day’s posts.  I did all the reading anyway, so linking to the important stuff seemed easy enough.

My blog has transformed into something very different.  I now enjoy writing commentary and about observations I’ve made regarding the points world.  I like to be completely honest and straightforward with how I see things, because in my eyes that’s been lacking characteristic in this field.  Some people hate it, others find it refreshing.  I do it because it’s fun and interesting.

Of course I’ll post about a credit card deal or trip report here or there as well, but everyone does that.  I’m not a fan of repetitive postings – if one blogger writes about changes to the Starwood program, why does everyone else need to also? Why not just link to their post, and add your additional thoughts? In my mind there’s also a serious lack of proper “Hat Tips” given by some blogs.  Give people credit!

As you can tell, I have lots of pet peeves.  I simply try to run my blog the way I’d like to see one run: original content, giving credit where it’s due, and being honest and upfront about everything.  I want my readers to actually trust me, and I want them to know that I’m not selling them something they don’t need.

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

READ, and read some more.  Read the blogs, read Twitter, read Milepoint, and read FlyerTalk.  There is so much information out there, and you simply can’t rely on a few blogs to provide you all that information.  Believe it or not, they HIDE information from you, so reading the forums will give you a huge head start and can answer all your questions.  Yes, it’s time consuming.  But if you’re like me, you have more time than money.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Travel Summary

Sydney Harbor in Australia

Sydney in 2007.  Man, do I love that city.  If I had to pick a city to move to, I would easily be able to say that I would move to Sydney.  The weather, the sightseeing, the people, the food…loved it all.  I’m hoping to go back very soon!

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

I have the same story as everyone else: my family and friends thought I was crazy, until I took my first trip on points.  Flying on Singapore Airlines first class has a way of getting people’s attention because now they know it’s not just talk!

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

I wrote about this before, but I honestly think Twitter is one of the most valuable resources in the points community.  I hated Twitter before.  I never understood its value or use, but then I started to read about things I never knew before.

You get to see a person’s thought process as they work through an issue.  You read about all the stuff that doesn’t make it into a travel blogger’s blog.  Oh, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that bloggers are the only ones that travel well and know what they’re doing.

There are TONS of other travel experts out there that don’t have blogs, and lots of them are on Twitter!

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

BJ’s restaurants now have their own loyalty program, so I earn those points plus credit card points.  No one said points were restricted to travel!

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

I wish I knew not to get so excited over a credit card bonus.  Many bloggers create drama and say things like “get this offer while you can” or “I guarantee you’ll get the bonus through MY link,” and it makes beginners get excited and sign up for something they should learn more about first.  Affiliate links drive this business, and knowing that up front would have made me to step back and think a little bit more.

After all, if a salesperson tried to sell you “an amazing vacuum available for a limited time only,” wouldn’t you ask questions before buying?

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

Hi, my name is Travel Summary and I’m an addict.  When I find something I like, I get totally obsessed.  I buy Vanilla Reloads when I have no need for them.

I can eat at the same place every day for months and never get tired of it.  If I drank alcohol, I’d be an alcoholic.  I drink Coke Zero instead, and if I don’t have it with lunch and dinner I literally go through withdrawal.  Yes, it’s a character flaw.

Any parting words?

Travel Summary

Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco

First of all, don’t get a credit card unless you pay it off monthly.

Second, points and miles can literally save you thousands of dollars, but only if you know how to collect and use them properly.  The travel/points world seems so glamorous when you read about First Class trips, stays at the Ritz or St. Regis, the amazing service and food, and so much more.

It looks amazing, but getting all that isn’t always as easy as it might sound.  Start slow, figure out what you want and how you plan to achieve it, THEN jump in.  In this game, collecting points and miles is only about 25% of the equation – the other 75% is in knowing how to use them.

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

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21 Responses to “Collecting points and miles is only about 25% of the equation – the other 75% is in knowing how to use them”

  1. Pingback: Welcome Million Mile Secrets Readers!

  2. Love that picture of the Batu Caves in Malaysia. I think the interview series are great because you see where the bloggers are traveling to and get good ideas for your own trips.

    Taking my first trip to Singapore, Phuket and Tokyo this December. Maybe Malaysia next year, we’ll see!

  3. I love fellow travel enthusiasts that are not only travel and point addicted, but also fans of a perfectly chilled Coke! Save those MCR points!

  4. LOL, I think we all share the same “character flaw”…miles and points addiction.

  5. Who would you suggest following on twitter?

  6. “I started it because I found out about affiliate links!” – mega lol material. Nice job.
    There has been a pattern with MMS interviews that when they are done the interviewee has some nice set of shiny affiliate links in the obligatory post “Welcome new readers”:-)
    You should give us an update on the PlatAmex signup frenzy.
    I must make it to Sydney one of these days…

  7. Just wondering if you could list off a few of the top people you follow on twitter for travel info that arent bloggers?

  8. yeah, what NewNomads said… lol I’m blind

  9. Interesting read, TS. Since I don’t have that kind of blog, maybe I can point out a small defense of supposedly repetitive posts. Not all of us live or travel wherever it is that the internet comes up instantly and we can keep clicking and actually have a page come up in a reasonable amount of time. When I stumble upon a deal, I want to read the deal right there. I don’t wanna click through a bunch of links. Hat tips are fine. Sure, give the finder of the trick credit. But…when I read a page…if you give me a teaser/summary and then I have to click through a buncha stuff to read the finish line…when it sometimes takes ten minutes to load a page, you’ve lost me.

    A lot of us are here on MMS in the first place because he puts it all in one place WITHOUT the heckles, the hazing, and the hassles. I even get the whole post in my Google reader without the nonsense of extra clicks. A summary can be a great time saver for those with speedy internet service, and for those people, you provide a great service. However, there’s a reason alternatives exist.

    I’m VERY glad that some bloggers post this supposedly repetitive information, because it helps those who might actually need to save money, a category that often includes those without super high speed internet service. It isn’t just about selling credit cards to the upper middle class…

    I think there is room for both styles, but while the “big guy” such as Google agrees with you (after all, they are selling clicks and making billions), the “little guy” is harmed anywhere there is a bottleneck that blocks access to information. A summary is fantastic for those who can use it, and I do follow you. But in my circumstance, there is no question I get the most value from more complete bloggers, even if some accuse those bloggers of being repetitive. More clicks = more time wasted or just plain backing out of the page altogether.

  10. @Travel Summary who do you follow on twitter?

  11. Yeah – I’m not “into” the Twitter world – yet. Could you share some tips on how to get involved with the Twitter travel people?

  12. Great interview ! …and I agree about Twitter…

  13. Hi everyone! First, I think it’s worth noting that I wrote a couple of posts on why Twitter is important so check those out if you have the time.

    In terms of non-bloggers worth following, the ones off the top of my head are: @houseofv, @PatMikeL, @jamucsb, @foofiter, @PointstoPointB, @wanderingshane, and of course @theMrPickles (note that some of these have blogs now).

    Remember, Twitter is a mixed bag. There will always be some useless tweets, but you’ll also find travel gems as well.

  14. Congrats travelsummary for getting interviewed. Hope you seeing a boost in traffic!

  15. MMS- Love the Friday interviews!

    TS- I also agree with your comments on twitter. I used to dislike it but now I am love to read about what everyone is doing and expand my way of thinking. My family also thought we were crazy about the points and miles until we took 8 of them to Hawaii! Now they think it is amazing.

  16. @peachfront – You definitely make valid points. It’s a preference for me personally, and I’m not trying to say it’s right or wrong. Definitely keep reading whatever material is best for you!

  17. Great interview and I do enjoy this feature of MMS because it’s nice to get to know other bloggers. TS, loved your expose on credit card links!

    MMS, I am also enjoying your MIL’s visit to India. I love India, was there in 2011 and planning to go back in 2015. Kerala is my favourite for birding! I am hoping you took Emily and your MIL saree shopping as I also love sarees and wore them in India (but can’t in my hometown of BNE), waiting for the saree fashion show!

    About the Google reader thing, I prefer when they just give a snippet because that is enough information to know if I want to read the whole post or if the post is likely to generate interesting comments I would want to read. Otherwise, it is easier to just keep on scrolling. I save a lot of time subscribing to the generic Boarding Area feed rather than each individual blogger for example. My reader is up to about 100 blogs now, one of which is the gigantic Boarding Area feed so 50 blogs for the price of one!

  18. Gotta love an affiliate pimp artist interviewing another, who then complains about those bloggers who need filler. How deliciously ironic.

  19. Love Twitter. Did not like the look of Milepoint forums and focused on Flyertalk instead….any significant value in reading both? Already have to browse slickdeals, fatwallet, and several other interest related forums so I hate to keep adding more unless absolutely useful.

    I also highly recommend city-data.com forums, especially the ones for other cities besides your own (cities that you like, or that you want to visit/relocate to, or that you lived in before).

  20. @Ron – clearly you’ve not read my blog…

    @WishyAnand – I prefer FT as well, but Milepoint is a good resource if you don’t want to get bogged down in all the reading on FT. There’s definitely lot’s of material that’s worthy of being read – you’ll just have to make your choices wisely!

  21. I was wondering why I got so many Twitter followers in the past few days …

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