“It was an eye opening experience to witness how other people lived outside of America”

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

Miles & Points Interview:   CulturalXplorer (formerly La Viajera Morena)

Chanel writes CulturalXplorer to encourage people to explore the world.

La Viajera Morena - Interview With Chanel

At the Taj Mahal, India

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I have been collecting miles and points for a couple of years now.  It started off small and mostly on little things like using rewards cards for stores and collecting airline miles only when I flew.

I did not get serious about applying for credit cards to collect miles and points, and getting into the ‘game’ until about the middle of 2012, when I realized how much the importance of collecting and how far those miles and points could take me.

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

I originally started blogging back in 2010 when I was living in South Korea under the blog ‘Coco in Korea’.  That blog was mainly about my life in Korea and a couple of the international trips I took when living there.

Fast forward to 2012, when I decided to leave Korea and moved back to the United States.  I wanted to keep a blog about my travels, to share tips that I learned about traveling, and to help people discover the world.  It did not make sense to keep Coco In Korea since I was no longer going to be living there, so that is when I started my current blog, CulturalXplorer.

My blog not only discusses the travel that I take, it also has special tips for solo, backpacker, and female travelers, it talks about foods I have eaten in different parts of the world, and most recently I started discussing how to accumulate and spend miles and points.

La Viajera Morena - Interview With Chanel

Teaching in South Korea

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

It is easy to begin accumulating points and miles without even stepping into an airport, and that is through credit card applications and/or credit card spending.  There are a lot of great resources by points and miles bloggers, including Million Mile Secrets, which can be beneficial in helping anyone to start collecting for him or herself.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

I have had the opportunity to create so many memorable travel experiences over the past 11 years, but the one that sticks out in my mind most frequently is the one that began my passion for travel.

In 2003, I was awarded with the opportunity to travel on my first international trip with a small group of students from my high school on an exchange trip to Costa Rica.  It was an eye opening experience to witness how other people lived outside of America.

I was exposed to financial inequalities that existed on a level I had never seen, I was able to break both cultural and language stereotypes that I had previously had, and I got to witness the beauty that the world had to offer.  It was both a powerful learning experience and an exciting trip that I was grateful to be a part of at a young age.

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

The great majority of my close friends and family think that while my ‘hobby’ of collecting points is worthwhile, that it is very time consuming.  My hope is that one day, they will participate in seriously collecting as well.

La Viajera Morena - Interview With Chanel

Brooklyn, New York

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

As far as tricks go, I have not found one specific thing that has been especially useful, but rather a culmination of things.  Through researching cheap flights on my own, to reading message boards and blogs, to seeking out different ways to do manufactured spending, I have learned how to collect miles and points.

The best tool that I have for keeping track of my miles and points has been Award Wallet, which I track every 1 to 2 days.

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

I never in a million years would have imagined the rate at which I could have accumulated miles and points until I learned about applying for credit cards.  By far, it has given me the majority of the hundreds of thousands of miles and points that I have even up until today.

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

I wish that I knew how to apply for credit cards and manufactured spending years ago as I feel that I might have had the opportunity to travel more; however, I am happy that I know the basics now, and I cannot wait to continue learning more about how to best maximize my time and resources to keep accumulating and traveling.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I write posts in between two jobs and being a full time graduate student!  It is a lot of work maintaining a travel blog, but my readers, family, and friends keep me motivated to continue to share my experiences!

La Viajera Morena - Interview With Chanel

In Helsinki, Finland

Any parting words?

I am going to throw in one of those ‘cliché’ travel quotes here because I am constantly reminded by people in the later stages of their lives that I have made a wise decision to travel while I am young.  So I leave you with this lovely quote by Mark Twain that says:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.

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

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11 responses to ““It was an eye opening experience to witness how other people lived outside of America”

  1. We are those older people Mark Twain refers to. Love blogs about travel and collecting miles. Learning fast. But what is manufactured spending? Is it the spending u do to get the bonus miles on newly taken out cards?

  2. Great quote from Mark Twain. Happy Travels!

  3. @Evelyn, manufactured spend (MS for short) is a technique for spending money on credit cards to earn miles/points by getting all/most/more of the money back that you spent on credit cards.

    MS comes in many forms, like a mail in rebate when you get the full amount back in the form of a rebate. Using VRCs and BB is an easy way to generate miles/points. Amazon Payments is another technique.

  4. Nice interview. But I’m surprised with all her exposure to other cultures she still refers to the USA as America. This is offensive to many people in the Americas.

  5. If that was your “WOW” experience, NOW try Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Bangladesh, North Korea, Iraq, Palestine, and we will see how much laughing, smiling, and jumping for joy you and friend feel like doing. Your security team will not be laughing.

    At least you are getting started, but you have witnessed hardly anything.

    Lest we all forget, the good ole USA has its impoverished areas also. Try Appalachia, Detroit, and the nations capital, you might be surprised what conditions exists just a mile from the WHITE house.

    And there are thousands more, that 99% of pampered Westerners have no clue about.

    Visit each one of the locations I mentioned, and I GUARANTEE your view of humanity is altered. Then, you will have truly “witnessed”.

  6. This post is awesome. Cheers to this young lady.

    I love that Mark Twain quote!

    I just have to add that it is amazing how people MUST find a negative in a positive. You can’t applaud someone living their life, why? This IS a travel blog. And travel IS about being free to go where you want, not where you “must” go to change your view on humanity according to how others wish you see the world…

    Ignorance, judgement, assumption, and inaccuracy…..please free yourself from these chains.

    Happy travels to all! And let this post be another reminder to get out there and explore. 🙂

  7. Amazing quote by Mark Twain! Great post!

  8. Wow – the naivete here is pretty amazing. This person is gob smacked at the “financial inequality” in Costa Rica. I guess she isn’t aware that the United States has higher income inequality than Costa Rica.

  9. I would us the delta miles to take my 91 year old mom to see her great grandchildren. 🙂

  10. @Anu, she’s not talking about income inequality within each country. She’s talking about income inequality on a global scale.

    USA Per Capita GDP = $51,704
    Costa Rica Per Capita GDP = $9,665

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

    The average American is 5.3 times richer than the average Costa Rican.

    That’s the inequality she’s talking about.