“I’ve had malaria, climbed the pyramids, and got paid to sing karaoke and pour drinks for an evening in a hostess bar in Japan.”

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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:  Points and Pixie Dust 

I met Kendra at the Frequent Traveler University in Los Angeles and she now writes a blog on miles and points, so I was looking forward to catching up!

Points & Pixie Dust - Interview with Kendra

Making friends in Ghana

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I’ll never forget the exact moment.  It was kind of like a scene in a romantic comedy, where the characters have known each other for a while but haven’t yet realized that they were made for each other.  I had been aware of miles and points forever, but I hadn’t realized their true awesomeness until January 1, 2012, when I flipped the page on my brand new calendar and sat down to plan a family trip for my kids’ spring break.

I almost choked on my coffee when I saw how expensive it was going to be!  I started doing some research, trying to figure out how to use the points and miles that I had, and I stumbled onto Flyertalk.  I didn’t look up from my computer for the next three weeks.  Seriously, my eyes were bleeding.

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

I started my blog in June of 2012, because after six months of listening, nodding, and smiling, my husband could not take it anymore.  He gently suggested that perhaps I needed another outlet for my extreme enthusiasm about points and miles.

My blog is different because it’s not all about points and miles.  It’s about living luxe for less…in lots of ways.

I’ve got mad bargain-hunting skills, and I share them on my blog.  I don’t have a trust fund or a huge disposable income, but I love luxury items and I’ve got a good eye for a great deal.  I’ve learned that if you are willing to pay attention and get creative, you can reap some major rewards, whether you are up in the air or down on the ground.

So the blog is a blend of Points and Miles scoop, personal travel notes, shopping ideas, and fashion tips…all through a “high/low” lens (think Prada paired with Target).

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

Plug in to the points and miles community.  Make some friends! Share information!  I went to the last Frequent Traveler University in Los Angeles, and doubled my points and miles knowledge in a weekend.

Especially when you are just starting out and this seems overwhelming, sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm with a buddy makes it more fun, and two pairs of eyes is better than one.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Points & Pixie Dust - Interview with Kendra

Outdoor Beauty Salon in Cameroon (That’s My Head!)

I traveled a ton before I had kids, most of it “shoestring” travel. I’ve been around the world on a ship, made a wedding cake in a brick oven for my brother’s 400-person wedding in Cameroon, and spent a year in France on a Rotary scholarship.

I’ve had malaria, climbed the pyramids, and got paid to sing karaoke and pour drinks for an evening in a hostess bar in Japan.  I took a long traveling hiatus, but now that I’ve discovered the world of points and miles, I’m climbing back into the saddle again!

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

Most of them just nod and smile…or shake their heads in disbelief over my points and miles earning antics.  In the meantime, I’m shaking mine right back because I can’t believe they don’t want to join me!

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

Learning how to bump hard credit inquiries off my Equifax and Transunion reports has definitely come in handy.

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

I keep waiting to be surprised by a few thousand points, but it hasn’t happened so far.

However, just as everyone in the Points and Miles community is scandalized by how our friends and family don’t “get it,” I’m constantly surprised by how many people don’t know or care about all the ways to save money by creatively shopping online.

With just a little research, you can routinely save 50-90% on your online purchases. I like to highlight these deals on my blog.

While material goods can never trump the travel experience, finding highly discounted, high-quality merchandise is pretty exciting.

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

Jump in!  Ask questions!  Reach out!  People in the community are excited to share their knowledge, you just have to ask.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

Points & Pixie Dust - Interview with Kendra

Airsickness bag

When I was in high school, I started a collection of airsickness bags.  I haven’t added to my collection in over fifteen years, but I have some real gems.  My favorite is this one from TWA.  It’s a combination airsickness bag/gin rummy score sheet/photo processing mail-in envelope.  Gotta love the creative use of space.

Any parting words?

To all the meanies on Flyertalk:  lighten up!  Can’t we all just get along?

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

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12 responses to ““I’ve had malaria, climbed the pyramids, and got paid to sing karaoke and pour drinks for an evening in a hostess bar in Japan.”

  1. Great interview as always.

  2. I met Kendra at FTU LAX and I loved her positive and cheerful energy! This interview is awesome. One of my favorites to date. Loved learning more about her and I definitely can “feel” Kendra through her words! Looking forward to her updates!

  3. Great interview! It’s really wonderful to see someone go from big family vacation expenses to travel with miles and points in just a year!

    I managed to avoid malaria on my first ever trip to Africa last year (but had plenty of antibiotics), though I did get a bacterial stomach infection on my last day in Rio in December. We live, we learn 🙂

  4. Enjoyed the interview and the new theme for your blog (noticed it’s changed since last week 🙂

  5. @Angelina – hi! Thanks for the props! I enjoyed meeting you, too. Looking forward to seeing you at the FTU DC.

    @Miles Professor – yes, I feel super grateful to have learned so much about Points and Miles that all this travel is possible. Love it!

    @Traveling Well For Less – thanks! I did change my theme 🙂

  6. Pingback: How I Got 25% off at Athleta Today…And How You Could Get 45% Off Soon | Points and Pixie Dust

  7. Yay for the positive vibe! Love the shout out to the meanies on FlyerTalk — of course, they’re all over these days! Oh well…

  8. So started collecting and learning about points in January 2012 and started a blog in June 2012? What value you must add!

  9. Read her blog! You will see that she offers a unique perspective and information that I have not seen elsewhere.

  10. I’ve really enjoyed the blog and articles. I value reading about the author’s learnings and summaries of key information and tidbits for those of us who aren’t fully immersed in the points, miles and travel industry. I have found loads of helpful tips, and genuinely enjoy the entertainment factor of the blog as well – a fantastic story teller!

  11. Pingback: Every Blog Has Its Day | Points and Pixie DustPoints and Pixie Dust

  12. “Learning how to bump hard credit inquiries off my Equifax and Transunion reports has definitely come in handy.” How do you do that? is there a special trick?