“If you have lots of miles, it’s actually cheaper to vacation in Bali than in San Francisco!”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview: Tango in Tahiti

Seth & Whitney write Tango in Tahiti to share their romantic and adventurous travels.

Tango in Tahiti - Interview with Seth

Shark Diving in South Africa

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

7 years ago I got my first Citi American Airlines card, and a few other cards after that.  But in 2011 a friend who read Million Mile Secrets told us he had collected a whopping 500,000 miles in just 6 months.  We were sold and started reading FlyerTalk and Million Mile Secrets ourselves.

We’ve now collected 700,000 miles in the last year alone (compared to about 300,000 over the previous 6 years).

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

We want couples to plan their dream trip, even if their dream trip seems too expensive or difficult to plan.  Many exotic parts of the world (like Thailand, Bali, or Nicaragua), are cheap, easy, and incredibly beautiful.  But most travelers are intimidated by those destinations, and instead of flying somewhere new, they travel to the same places in Europe and North America every year.

We want to help readers (especially readers with lots of frequent flyer miles) plan the trip of their life.  If you have lots of miles, it’s actually cheaper to vacation in Bali than in San Francisco!

Tango in Tahiti - Interview with Seth

What Big Teeth You Have!

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

Sign up for credit cards with big bonus offers and then use those cards.  Million Mile Secrets has a great summary of how to do that.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

At the Chedi Club in Bali, we had dinner on a pavilion surrounded by acres of rice fields filled with lanterns that appeared to float in the air.  We ate roast duck that had been traditionally slow cooked over 24 hours, and drank a bottle of wine as musicians played.  It’s one of the most prestigious and legendary restaurants in South East Asia, and our total bill was $70.

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

A few have started collecting miles for themselves and a lot of others have said they might start.  But most people seem a little baffled by it all.  It mystifies some people that we spend less flying around the world every year than many spend eating out every week.

We do our best to explain how easy it is to get miles, but lots of people we know still pay $1,000s of dollars for their plane tickets.

Tango in Tahiti - Interview with Seth

In Copenhagen

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

Getting the miles is easy.  Keeping track of the miles and all the credit cards is harder.

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

Teleflora ran a promotion where we got several thousand miles for sending flowers.  We had some people we needed to say Thank You to.  They got flowers, we got miles!

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

Hold out for BIG mileage bonuses (like 50,000 miles).  Don’t settle for 25,000 or 30,000 miles.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

We love road trips and own an RV.  If it wasn’t for miles, we would spend much more time vacationing close to home.  But when miles make it so easy to fly to the other side of the world, we have to take advantage!

Any parting words?

Don’t be afraid to plan your dream trip, even if it’s outside your comfort zone.  Save up your miles, and get a first class plane ticket to Bali or Thailand and spend days getting incredible massages, eating great food, and swimming in the bluest water you’ve ever seen.  Fly to Nepal to trek or Nicaragua to surf.

Use miles whenever you can, but don’t be too obsessed with making the trip totally free.  There’s nothing wrong with spending $800 to book a great apartment in Paris for a full week.  There are also some great boutique hotels in the world that don’t take miles but are a great deal.

We write about how to plan great trips in our book: How to Plan a Romantic Adventure for Two (Tango in Tahiti)

Tango in Tahiti - Interview with Seth

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

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

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8 responses to ““If you have lots of miles, it’s actually cheaper to vacation in Bali than in San Francisco!”

  1. Last pic of Nepal looks amazing!!!

  2. Where did you stay in Copenhagen? Traveling there over X-mas and all hotels are fairly expensive (know that Scandinavia is more expensive than most places…). Let me know if you have any suggestions!

  3. Hey, great interview! I really like the concept of your site as well – it’s kind of how I started my site out, though I’ve slowly gone away from that. But after looking at yours, I feel like I should get back to the informative stuff, especially letting people know where we stayed, so that they can do it too!

  4. @Bob Nepal is dirty and poor, big disappointment. Want to see the true Himalayas? go to Bhuttan ($$$) , you will fall in love with that small country!

  5. I like this post too. Too many bloggers focus on hotels, hotels, hotels. I never spend points on hotels unless I am in a resort destination where there is simply no work around. But in most cities… priceline, apartments, local businesses offer very affordable opportunities. As long as it is clean and in a good location… who needs suites, club levels, etc… I go to destinations to see the destination, not stay in a room. And in fact, I like supporting locals as opposed to big american chains.

    With planes.. there are limited choices and seats… so I am putting all my effort towards that. The point obsession really makes some people see the trees and not the forest. Of course, I realize the whole point of this hobby it to choose what we each value… So, this is just my perspective. Nice to see a blogger who thinks the same.

  6. I live in the bay area (not SF, way too expensive) and just returned from Bali. My entire trip including the business class ticket on Cathay (AMAZING new seat), my share of hotel costs, food, new clothes (not much use for t-shirts and shorts in the bay area), activities, souvenirs, and transportation was just slightly more than my friend’s economy ticket alone. That’s all thanks to miles.

  7. Great inspiration. We just booked a round the world trip and leave in July!

  8. Love these guys! Great blog, great book.