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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: Le blog grand voyageur
Nick runs the French frequent flyer site le blog grand voyageur and loves to travel around the world, enjoying the holidays at his favorite places, in hotels and airlines using miles and points.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I’ve been a globetrotter all my life. I enrolled in frequent flyer programs in the early 90s before blogs and forums existed, but didn’t really get serious until I finally started following Flyertalk around 2004. I was doing business travel between France and Japan and realized it was better to become a Northwest Airlines Gold elite member and take advantage of cheap intra-Asia redemptions.
Unfortunately many of the deals to earn miles are not available for those of us living outside of the US.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started le blog grand voyageur (which roughly translates to “the frequent traveler blog”) because there were no French language blogs dealing with miles and points. I wanted to share my knowledge learned from my own travel, Flyertalk, blogs like Million Mile Secrets and hopefully learn more about the local frequent flyer scene.
The site is now the primary resource for miles and points in France even though French is not my mother tongue and I have since moved to Japan. It’s good to see more and more blogs covering the rest of the world.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
In the US, opening credit cards of course. In France it’s slim pickings with Amex the only player and few ways to manufacture spend. France is the desert of frequent flyer earning, but the food and wine makes up for it!
Due to the lack of good earning opportunities outside of business travel, most of my readers are more interested in error fares or fuel dumps to save money. Please subscribe to my Facebook page to see these limited time deals.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
This year we went to Borneo and saw wild orangutans and Proboscis Monkeys in the jungle. We also stayed at a resort called Pom Pom Island with crystal clear water where we swam with giant sea turtles. It was really great, but pretty expensive with my only use of points being an Starwood hotels redemption in Sandakan.
Since it’s more difficult to get easy miles outside of the US, I focus more on finding a great destination first and then see if there are any ways to use points afterwards.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
They can’t take advantage of the US credit card offers, so they just know I’m good at finding good deals and travel a lot. My wife doesn’t mind as long as I don’t spend too much time behind the screen.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I’ve found that reaching out to hotel general managers before arrival can really help with upgrades or special treatment without necessarily having any status. I really like milez.biz to compare how many miles are required in different programs for a redemption. This helps you find the good value redemptions and saves time searching across individual award charts.
I also use Awardtraveler.com to find award flights on the three alliances, which again saves the hassle of having to log in to different sites.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
A few years ago the same flight could be credited to two programs, but that bug no longer works. I credited to a partner program and it was a good surprise to see the miles appear in two accounts…
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
At the beginning it was exciting to see how people in the US were able to travel using only miles and points, but since the best deals are not available in France I’ve shifted the emphasis from saving money towards making the best use of my time.
I also appreciate that in Europe, we have longer vacations so we’re not rushing around trying to see and do everything in a few days. We don’t have have as many miles as you guys do, but we probably have more time to actually travel.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I might have the best job in the world designing cars for a living, so not planning to quit my day job.
Any parting words?
Why all the hate towards bloggers in the US? I know how much time and effort it takes to run even a much smaller blog than Million Mile Secrets, so I don’t understand how people expect to learn without sharing knowledge with others. The great thing about the internet is how much easier it has become to share information.
Everything I learned about miles and points has been online, so I suggest to ignore all the naysayers and keep a positive attitude. Having said all that it’s very important to go offline, see the world and spend time with friends and family.
Nick – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!