“We assumed that kind of trip was out of reach for us for at least 20 years and we won it!”

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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: Heels First Travel

Tiff writes for the Heels First Travel blog, and shares her travel views as a parent.

The four of us on our European trip last fall at The Acropolis in Athens

The four of us on our European trip last fall at The Acropolis in Athens

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I started collecting miles and points when I used to fly on Delta a lot for work back in the early 2000s.  I was also able to take advantage of some of their double and triple miles bonuses post 9-11 to get elite status with them.

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

We travel a lot as a family and I’ve had many people tell me “I wish we could travel like you guys do.”  So I asked Jeanne and Keri if they’d be interested in some guest posts on their blog about traveling economically for families to show people travel is more accessible than they think it is.

I know there are a lot of mommy travel bloggers out there already, but I wanted to focus more on using points to afford a “normal” vacation for a family of four (or more) and less on flying first class or using points to get suites, etc.  Not that those things aren’t awesome, but my goal was to reach that other group who just want to be able to travel with their kids.

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

If you shop or make reservations online use shopping portals.  I started using www.evreward.com to figure out which portals to use to maximize points by everyday shopping.  I always stress to people, don’t buy anything you wouldn’t normally get, but if you’re going to shop online anyways, this is a great way to easily get double points (or more)!

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

This is a really hard one for me. I have to pick just one?  I would have to say the time my husband and I went on a pilgrimage to Israel.  We assumed that kind of trip was out of reach for us for at least 20 years– and we won it!

It was such an amazing experience and something we definitely want to do again.

My husband and I in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

My husband and I in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

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

I think they admire it?  No one has said anything negative to me about it at least.

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

Know what credit cards get you extra points for certain purchases.  For example some of our cards give us double points for gas, some don’t.  We make it a point to use the cards that are going to get us the most points for certain purchases.

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

The Delta SkyMiles dining program.  I registered us for it but there are not too many restaurants that we regularly go to on the program.  We went to dinner one night in Cocoa Beach with my family then a few days later I received an E-mail saying “Thank you for participating…”  I had no idea the restaurant we went to was part of it.

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

The shopping portals.  I was uncertain about using them at first, and now that I’ve been doing it for a while I’ve been kicking myself for not doing it from the very beginning.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I was an aircraft maintenance officer in the Air Force for eight years before I left active duty to be a stay-at-home mom.

Any parting words?

Don’t worry about having to use every trick in the book to get points.  If you can only do one or two things, do that, and then go from there.  For example, sign up for a hotel or airline’s loyalty program the next time you stay or fly with them.  Every little bit helps and you may be surprised at how many points you can accumulate.

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

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19 responses to ““We assumed that kind of trip was out of reach for us for at least 20 years and we won it!”

  1. Pingback: Tiff Featured on Million Mile Secrets Today! - Heels First Travel

  2. Great interview! Where else did you guys visit in Israel?

  3. Our first night we stayed in Haifa,then we spent three nights by the Sea of Gaililee. While we were there we went to Nazareth, Mt Tabor, Cana, Jericho, and the Dead Sea. Then we stayed in Jerusalem for the rest of the trip. Our hotel was right outside an entrance to the “Old City” which was amazing. We also got to go to Bethlehem while we were there.

  4. “what’s so special about your blog”

    Real answer = nothing.

  5. Paul, you’re right, I avoided the question a bit. I’m a contributor on the “Heels First” blog. I didn’t feel right answering a question about “my blog” when I do not have ownership of it.

  6. Tiff, ignore hateful comments, lots of bitter people out there. Great interview! I am a fellow stay-at-home mom/points junkie(no rehab for that addiction) . Its wonderful, that you are showing your kids the world even at such a young age. I will try to look up your posts in the future. BTW, your boys are very cute!

  7. Thank you so much! I don’t have a “regular” day I post on Heels First; but if you follow the Facebook page or Twitter feed you’ll be able to catch my posts (and Jeanne’s and Keri’s as well)! =)

  8. Tiff….you mentioned that you “won” your trip to Israel. Can you explain? Was it a trip for which you utilized accrued miles and points or was it a trip you won at a church raffle or similar? Also, was it from before you had kids? I have three kids, so my struggle is to find a way to take everyone to Israel – ideally on miles and points, but hopefully at least part of the way there on loyalty earnings. Thoughts?

  9. @Leana: Her boys are even cuter in person! The youngest never seems to smile in photos, but he’s got a great smile (like his brother)

  10. David, we won the tickets at a charity raffle. The trip was only for two of us; even with our kids having three grandparents the biggest challenge we had was the logistics of figuring out where and with who the kids were going to be with while we were gone. We would love to go back with the kids too; but we’re waiting until they’re older. If you go with a group a lot of times they will have a cheaper rate if you make your own flight arrangements; that’s a way to use miles/points to offset the cost of your trip. My husband used our miles for flights to Israel when he took his mom on a trip there earlier this year. They also flew out a few days earlier to get adjusted to the time and a hotels there aren’t as expensive as you think. They were able to book an IHG property in Tel Aviv for 10,000 points + $70 a night and they rented a car for a few days to travel on their own before they met up with the group. This was in January, so I’m not sure what the rate would be during the tourist season; but definitely something to look into!

  11. brendastinnett

    Tiff, great post and your boys, as well as you and your husband, are acquiring amazing life experiences through travel. Best education in the world. I love when your little one, talks about The Great Wall of China like he’s already been there!

    Bren

  12. Our church is planning a trip to Israel in Feb, 2014. Many in the group are flying with miles. The air for the group is $1470, so it’s a great savings! Some are also going early and using hotel points. I also mentioned using the Barclay Arrival card to pay for some of the land portion, in order to save another $440 per person.

  13. better update your website title tagline to THIRTY SOMETHING instead of twenty.

  14. Yes, I’m a bit older than Keri and Jeanne. 😉

  15. @Lynn

    Yikes to that $1470. Dunno where you’re leaving from, but if you want to get creative domestically you can get $650 RTs in that timeframe to Tel Aviv from DC or Chicago. http://www.theflightdeal.com/2013/06/17/airfare-deal-united-chicago-washington-d-c-tel-aviv-israel-644-roundtrip-including-all-taxes/

  16. When my husband and his mom got their tickets they were going for around $1,000 round-trip from DFW to Tel Aviv on Delta/AIitalia. They went via JFK/FCO on the way out and FCO/ATL on the return flight.

  17. Very interesting read. I’d like to follow your blog. How can I do so? I have a family of 4 and
    am more interested in affordable normal vacations rather than upgraded hotel rooms or first class flying.

  18. Richard, I’m a contributor for the blog “Heels First Travel”, Jeanne and Keri are the owners and daily bloggers, my contributions are more every-other-week (on average). If I’m writing about a specific travel event it may be more often, and sometimes it’s less-often, just depends what is going on. If you go to http://www.heelsfirsttravel.com/author/tiff/ you can find all my previous posts about budget family travel. Some of Jeanne and Keri’s posts do address budget travel as well, the blog is well organized to find whatever topic you’re looking for. Also, if you sign up for the newsletter before Sept 1st, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card an you’ll get the daily updates sent to your inbox. Thanks!

    http://www.heelsfirsttravel.com/2013/07/05/reminder-sign-up-for-our-newsletter-and-enter-to-win-a-100-gift-card-to-amazon/

  19. Pingback: Heels First TravelRe-Introducing Tiff! - Heels First Travel