“There are lots of tools and tricks, but the one I think is most important is to keep perspective.”

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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: Saverocity

Matt and Allison met in 2004 while working on the Holland America cruise ship “The Zuiderdam.”  They have cumulatively have lived in 7 countries, visited over 60, and struggle to go a few months without a new adventure.

 

Saverocity - Interview with Matt

A delicious dinner at Conrad Maldives’s Vilu restaurant

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

We started collecting them back in 2003, but back then it was just from earned miles on whatever revenue ticket we were traveling on.  We didn’t start taking things a little more serious until 2010 when I could qualify for US Credit Cards (I’m a Brit originally), and gain the huge signup bonuses they come with.

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

We started it in 2012.   The blog is separated into 4 distinct areas at the moment, bringing together my two passions and our two perspectives.  Finance, Products, Travel and Trip Reports.  I view miles and points as a commodity just like any other, so whilst we love to travel we also look at earning opportunities for cash back.

An example of this is the $5,000 Challenge where I try to build a Fidelity Portfolio from cash back and spending in under one year.

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

Credit card sign ups are the fastest way to earn the most miles, but personally I think the daily spend area is one for most improvement, making sure that you have the right mix of cards in your wallet to take advantage of every category spend bonus, such as Dining, Travel, Gas, Groceries etc.

Saverocity - Interview with Matt

Hitching a ride back to Cusco after horseback riding to Sacsayhuaman, Peru

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Our honeymoon through Africa, we traveled through South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zanzibar using air, land and sea.  It was the first trip (and last) that I was allowed to do the planning on and I used google maps and my thumb to estimate distances.  The 4 hour bus trip was actually 12 hours and required us to carry our own boat across the border, slip the border officials a little extra to facilitate the entry and get carried from the checkpoint to the next town on the back of push bikes.

We ran out of money mid way through that and were saved by a good Samaritan who hooked us up with a hotel room and some spending money for the evening.

Saverocity - Interview with Matt

Crossing the border between Mozambique and Tanzania, the low tide meant carrying our boat barefoot across what was once a river

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

People love the pictures and stories of the destinations we go to, but their eyes often glaze over when we talk of how we earned the points, or how to squeeze the most value out of them – it really is a ‘full time hobby’.

Saverocity - Interview with Matt

Diving in the Maldives, searching for the elusive Whale Shark

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

There are lots of tools and tricks, but the one I think is most important is to keep perspective.  When we plan our travel we are often finding kinks in the award programs to maximize our spending, doing so requires a lot of interaction with Customer Service from the loyalty program booking services, and its key to remember that being polite and not losing your cool is most important.

I find it helps to have the number to the specialty desks too, so you are talking with the most experienced people, such as the United Round The World Desk.

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

I am still surprised by the Dining Programs, they are the only ones that are totally passive – I have linked all my cards with United Mileage Plus Dining but never pick a restaurant based upon that.  Receiving an email informing me of additional miles earned after enjoying a meal that I didn’t even know was part of the program is a great feeling.

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

Stopovers and Open Jaws – since wrapping my head around them I generally get 50% more travel out of every award ticket, using these to book a free one way at the end of every award trip.  Currently this means my past 2 award reservations have resulted in between 3 to  5 trips.  I missed out on this for a long time before the penny dropped.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you? 

I’ve lived in 3 continents, starting out in the UK, and moving to Japan and now the USA, and also worked on cruise ships for several years.  So beyond visiting places as a tourist I have had a lot of exposure to foreign lands as a resident too.

Saverocity - Interview with Matt

Crossing this bridge in the Galapagos meant negotiating with a sleepy Sea Lion

Any parting words?

Travel opens the heart and mind, and I encourage everyone to do more of it from as an early an age as possible.  Using the tips and tricks shared here on Million Mile Secrets and on Saverocity will certainly help make it more accessible for you.

But don’t forget that even ‘free’ travel has a price, so by being willing to travel in Economy class and staying at cheaper hotels opens a lot more doors for people in terms of more trips, and also allowing the earning techniques to also create cash flow and provide some spending money on the trip!

Saverocity - Interview with Matt

A sunset leap from the cliffs of Dubrovnik

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

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18 responses to ““There are lots of tools and tricks, but the one I think is most important is to keep perspective.”

  1. LOL, too funny, “I used google maps and my thumb to estimate distances.” But it made for a good adventure and story. 🙂

  2. @Traveling Well For Less ……………..It looks like another trivial post by you hoping to get someone reading this fine article to click on your site. You do this every week. Comment under your actual names instead to preserve your integrity.

  3. Traveling Well For Less has manage to piss me off more than even The Free Travel Guys carpetbloggers. Every week (they’re always the first to comment) on the MMS weekly interview comment section they make a short worthless mind numbing comment hoping to get a few hits from the link showing their site name. It’s a joke, they do it every week. The Miles Professor stopped this practice (but her comments were at least intelligent). I posted a comment to them on MMS today(was it deleted yet) suggesting that they post comments in their birth names instead of site name w/o link to show some integrity. ribs. zoloft. wingz.

  4. go easy heckler. pimping has its own brand of integrity.

  5. Posting a “short worthless mind numbing comment” in response to a “short worthless mind numbing” interview seems logical to me. 😀 At least these folks didn’t term themselves “geniuses”, and don’t seem to have recruited all of their friends and relatives to come here and post about what great bloggers they are. Let’s give them credit for that !

  6. D, thanks for introducing us to Matt! I like his blog a lot and he provides valuable insight into financing, which could be really helpful to many of your readers. 🙂

  7. @heckler, why do you care? It’s a just a comment. Relax.

  8. @Scott, you are right Doc, Zoloft just kicked in. I went overboard. My bad. Like YOUR site though, and you always comment using your name, nice. Sorry to whoever I offended.

  9. Hi, Daraius,
    Can we redeem Lufthansa Miles for store gift card if we really have no travel plan?
    Same question for the United MileagePlus points?Thanks a lot!

  10. I’ve been following Saverocity for a few months now, his posts are very high quality. One of my favorites is “The Ultimate Hotel Award Booking Post.”

    It’s worth keeping in mind that Matt’s blog is about personal finance and covers more diverse topics. But his “miles and points” posts are so good that sometimes I wish he wrote exclusively about that.

  11. @Marcus: “It’s worth keeping in mind that Matt’s blog is about personal finance and covers more diverse topics. But his “miles and points” posts are so good that sometimes I wish he wrote exclusively about that.”

    For a while, pondering about the direction of TBB before its inception, I thought about doing the exact same thing: combine my two passions of personal finance and travel w/ miles&points). But I decided against it and trying very hard to keep two identities intact (besides, you miles/points tend to be control freaks and definitely NOT my target market lol). I told Matt the same: that his content may be TOO broad. I also told him that his posts can be VERY long:-) But he appears to be doing well so all the best. I really like the photos!

    So…Matt, what were you doing on the cruise ship? 🙂

  12. Hi guys,

    Thanks for the comments, I was expecting much more of a roasting so they’ve been surprisingly nice!

    @Jessica, thanks!

    @Marcus, thanks very much, lets hope that Robert doesn’t find out we’re related! Its nice to hear you like the travel hacking stuff, but I’m not sure what direction that will go in. I have found the market to be quite saturated in this area, and the only way people are being disruptive enough to break into it seem to be by showing all the tips and tricks of the trade… there is a fine line between showing all the secrets and adding enough value to be relevant. I personally am enjoying more sharing about concepts that come from the travel hacking community and translating them to financial concepts, or exploring the opportunity costs etc within seemingly free ideas – but who knows what will come next!

    @George – I worked in the Casino, one of the best departments IMO as it paid really well, came with good perks in terms of authority, living conditions, etc and due to the laws of the land we had to close up shop in port (barring a few exceptions) so whenever we reached land we got to go out and enjoy it like the PAX.

    PS That Sea Lion was a real PITA! I look like I have it under control… but I had to shimmy along the railing on my backside with my legs in the air as it snapped at me (OK I may have been a little overly worried, but it looked grumpy as hell).

  13. i recently put on hold with the help of an American Airlines agent for a multi-city trip – Rome to LAX to Nassau – planning a long layover in LA for a second one way trip to Nassau. When I put the cities in I got the message that I could have a layover in LA for no extra points, also confirmed with agent who helped me put on hold. When I went to pay, 5 days later, I was told that I could not do that but would have to use extra miles for a separate trip. Was there anything I could have booked to get the future free one way trip?

  14. I thought Princess Cruises was the “Love Boat”! I’ve only been reading your blog for a few weeks but I quite enjoy it, keep up the good work! You’re lucky, Mozambique was a lot harder to get into back in the early 90’s. I had to do that Tete route between Zimbabwe and Malawi so I could count that I had been in Mozambique! LOL

  15. CharliesBrowns

    Is it me…or are about 90% of the comments in these “interview” posts from other bloggers?

  16. Do you mind elaborating on the Round the World desk with United? Is there a direct # for this? My husband and I have had really bad experiences with United agents, over the phone, booking reward flights to lesser known areas. (An agent actually argued with us about a flight that landed 2 hours behind takeoff, due to time/date changes, because “sir, you cannot time travel.”) If we could speak with a CS agent that understood this kind of travel, (love routing to as many places as possible!) it would save us hours on the phone. Thanks!

  17. Can you provide this newbie with more information around how I can use Stop-Overs and Open Jaw awards to maximize my travel?
    Thanks!