“I just want to travel well and pay little”

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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:  Well Traveled Mile

Susan and Rand write the Well Traveled Mile to share their experiences traveling with miles and points, so I was excited for our Friday chat!

Well Traveled Mile – Interview with Susan and Rand

Rand exploring the highlands of Ecuador at Lake Quilotoa

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

During my sophomore year at University of Colorado – Boulder, I called in to apply for a United MileagePlus Visa that had a 50,000 sign up bonus during a break between my classes.  That’s when it started.  I was hooked.

Of course I earned miles from family trips abroad and collected them from paid flights as well when I was younger.  But it really took off after I learned the ropes of mega mile earning through signup bonuses and other deals in college that earned me free vacations.  After that I realized the potential of earning miles and points.

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

The fact is that I wanted to start a blog because for years friends would try to figure out how I was able to afford to travel as a college student that didn’t have a serious job or high income.  In reality, I was traveling for free or for dirt cheap using points I earned from credit card bonuses and miles that I collected through paid flights.  For me, signing up for credit card offers was a way for me to see the world as a college student living on a very limited budget.

Friends were interested when I talked about the ins and outs of traveling with miles and points and how to earn them through credit card bonuses.  When they found out more about the tricks they became even more interested.  I figured blogging would be the most effective way to share my own experience as a points and miles addict and write about current deals that I think would benefit me and my readers.

While most credit blogs share similar insight, Well Traveled Mile doesn’t just cover business or luxury travel.  I want to also write about travel and deals that would appeal to people that are interested in adventure traveling and backpacking.  Our unique perspectives will hopefully provide you with information of where to go and what to do once you’re there.

Essentially I hope to blog about the best deals as well as the destinations you can explore using miles and points.

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

Have a strategy for signup bonuses and stick to it.  Wait for a good signup bonus and the one you want, then apply.  A lot of people get suckered into signing up for something before they research all of the offers out there and end up getting a lower bonus.

It is vital to do your own research no matter what–confirm every deal.  Be somewhat conservative with the cards that you apply for, this can benefit you because if you get too trigger happy with credit card applications, you might not get approved for the really big bonuses when they roll around.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Well Traveled Mile – Interview with Susan and Rand

Taking a breather to overlook the Andes near Villa La Angostura, Argentina

Spending two free weeks in a 4 star and 5 star hotel in Argentina.  It was the first big travel that I did for free, and being a broke college student I was definitely excited to spend a week at a luxury hotel in downtown Buenos Aires for nothing.

It all started after I had been reading fatwallet.com about a promotion by lastminutetravel.com that essentially allowed you to book a weeklong  stay at any hotel offered on their site for $1 (later it was actually free).  The promotion popped up randomly in different time zones across the US and you had to watch several videos before you could book, all while a timer was ticking down.

I randomly refreshed the page after walking in the door from a run and wham! The promotion was running for me.

This all happened as I was planning on traveling to Argentina and would be the first time I would be living abroad.  So really, a chunk of my memories of this travel experience started even before I left my home in Oregon.  Scoring this deal and making sure that I got it was all I could focus on for one week straight.

It was the whole process: learning about a promotion, finding a loophole, cracking it, and cashing in on it.  I remember setting the volume up on my computer to maximum (my computer was set to watch the website and notify me if the page had changed).  I would jump out of bed at 3 a.m.  when the promotion went off, then begin tapping at the keyboard as fast as I could before the timer counted down.

Long story short, I booked two free weeks, but wasn’t able to secure a third.  It’s addictive, especially knowing the infinite possibilities that are out there.  I remember walking into the 5 star hotel in Buenos Aires with my backpack after a 16 hour overnight bus journey.  I definitely got some odd looks from the doormen and the front desk.  I’m sure  they wanted to redirect me to the hostel down the street.

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

At first they were skeptical, but once they saw how I was traveling for little to nothing they started to believe more in the whole process.  It amazes me how many people don’t know about the possibilities of traveling with miles and points, and are just too skeptical to look into it.  I still have to explain everything to my parents a couple (maybe five or six) times so they understand.

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

Ask questions, it never hurts.  Ask for a fee to be waived, ask for an upgrade, ask if you can be approved for the credit card you were denied, etc.  There are a lot of opportunities that are never realized because the companies don’t want you to know about them or don’t advertise them.

By asking lots of questions you may open a door that you didn’t even know existed.

That being said, it is also essential to be reading about updates and browsing for the best offer.  The best offer is not the one the bank wants you to get. Do your research and find the best deal for you.  As for tools, by reading blogs, forums, and other information published about miles and points you can get the best deals.

I think that is why us credit card bloggers blog in the first place, we want to do the leg work and share the secrets with our readers.

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

Probably earning 100,000 points for a Capital One signup by transferring points from my Continental account to my Mileage Plus account.  The promotion was that they would match the total miles in one of your other accounts for up to 100,000 points.  I just didn’t see this promotion coming again, but luckily I was able to take advantage of it to maximize the offer by transferring my miles over to one account.

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

Patience, and planning.  Normally, the absolute best deals that show up are offered for a limited time.  It pays off to know what promotion you are after and when it is feasible to get it.  Do your research and know if you are going to get approved for the card offer.

It pays to plan ahead so you are ready for the next round of great offers.  Also, make sure you don’t hold on to a card for too long so you can be eligible for the next signup offer.

Definitely knowing the tips and tricks about certain loopholes has helped me.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

In my free time I fall timber and manage a logging operation in the backwoods of Oregon.  I also backcountry ski and mountain bike a lot.

Any parting words?

Well Traveled Mile – Interview with Susan and Rand

View of Vernazza, Cinque Terre Italy

Remember to have fun and enjoy the points earning game and to use your points for something that you are really excited about and looking forward to.  Half of the excitement is scoring the points, and the other half is knowing that you can take an amazing trip in the future without having to cough up any or much cash to pay for it.

I’ve traveled to 26 countries and a majority of the trips were made thanks to using points and miles.  I just want to travel well and pay little.

Susan and Rand – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

14 responses to ““I just want to travel well and pay little”

  1. Great interview! I will check out his blog!

  2. My favorite part of all these interviews is the unusual travel photos. The bloggers always share their best and most interesting travel photos in these interviews. However, since this isn’t National Geographic and they aren’t professional photographers, they have a very real sense to them. I love the picture of Cinque Terre. It’s something we have all heard of, but it’s awesome to see it from that angle!

  3. I believe those are photos of Crater Lake, Oregon.

  4. I have never heard of Cinque Terre, Miles Professor.

  5. Yes, you have! It’s the Italian Riviera region where Genova, Italy is. :) You probably just didn’t know the Italian name for that region. Kind of like Nice and Cannes in France are on the French Riviera called Cote d’Azur.

    Beautiful photos, again.

  6. @bababooey yeah my first thought was Crater Lake as well.

  7. Thanks for reading everyone!

    @ bababooey I thought the same thing when I visited it! Quilatoa is a beautiful lagoon at the top of the Quilotoa volcano near Latacunga, Ecuador. There is a great 4 day hike from village-to-village that starts from there.

    @The Miles Professor thank you, I really appreaciate the comment. Cinque Terre was a really beautiful place to visit, have you been?

  8. Not Cinque Terre yet. I’ve been to Italy twice – once to Rome and once to Amalfi coast (highly recommended!) I’ve also been to French Riviera and may be going again in August. Maybe Cinque Terre at some point, still a lot of Italy to visit. :)

  9. Grazie Bella Professora da Merti, Ciao sei Molto, ps Howard and Fred Norris say your hot.

  10. Regarding Vernazza, not sure if it is still there since this was about 12 years ago but I bet it is…

    If you walk along the street leading to the harbor in the middle of that photo, on the left hand side is a set of stairs that lead up to a restaurant that overlooks the water. Back when I was studying in Rome, we had a group of 10 students and took over a table there for 6 hours. The food and wine never stopped coming. The final tab was 500k lira (about $250 at the time…roughly $25 a piece…not bad for 6 hours and an amazing memory). We kept getting ready to leave, they kept asking us to relax and stay…bring more food :)

    We ended up rounding up to an even 1 million lira then all running out before they could give the rest back.

  11. Cinque Terre is amazing! Vernazza suffered a major flood a couple of years ago that ravaged the town. Vernazza is still recovering but it is there and going strong. The Cinque Terra is one of my most favorite places. And I hate to be snobby but Genoa, Italy is not part of the Cinque Terra. Cinque Terra is made up of five little villages along the northern Italian coast with an awesome trail connecting the five villages. It is a bucket list type hike.

  12. I stayed in corniglia in cinque terre! Awesome town on the hill love the small town feel! I posted a trip report on cinque terre, my favorite place on earth!

  13. Hiking the trail between the five little villages is amazing, my photo is from the trail as I was coming into Vernazza. You can easily do the hike in a day, stopping in each village for a coffee, or relax on the beach, and then return to the village that you started from by train.

  14. Am I the only one wondering if he’s single?

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