“I Seriously Die a Little Inside When the Person in Front of Me at the Grocery Store Is Paying Cash”

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.

Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview:   Have Child Still Travel 

Laura’s blog Have Child Still Travel focuses on collecting miles for your family to travel to awesome destinations.

Have Child Still Travel - Interview With Laura

Laura and Her Family Riding Elephants in Southeast Asia

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I used to work for 2 major airlines and was very used to flying (for free) all over the world in Business Class and First Class.  When my son was born in 2008, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom, so I had to come up with a new way to travel for free.

While I was working for Delta in 2002, I signed up for the Delta SkyMiles American Express card because they were offering it to employees with no annual fee.  I used that card exclusively for about 8 years and earned ~500,000 miles.  Yes it took 8 years.  I can now do that in less than a year!

Fortunately in 2010, I discovered this wonderful hobby of collecting Miles and Points using multiple cards.

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

For the past couple years, I have been reading many miles and points blogs and looking at all the pictures of the bloggers relaxing in their lie-flat First Class seats, sipping champagne on their way to stay at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome.

That’s great…if you’re single.  Or even married with no children.  It’s quite easy to earn enough miles for just your own ticket.  Add even 1 child to that equation and everything changes.

Have Child Still Travel - Interview With Laura

Visiting Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok

There are a few family-style travel Miles & Points blogs out there.  But not many.  I wanted to write from the perspective of not always flying First Class and not always staying in the fancy hotel suites.

I still want to show my child the world, and I am able to show him more of it if we “rough it” in coach sometimes.  In travel, isn’t the destination more important than the journey?

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

Obviously taking advantage of sign-up bonuses.  But also using those cards for every purchase.  Every.  Single.  Purchase. I seriously die a little inside when the person in front of me at the grocery store is writing a check or paying cash.

I may be behind them buying 1 loaf of bread, but you can be sure I’m earning miles for it!  I understand that some people have financial difficulties and can’t open new credit cards.  But there are many that are able to do it and don’t because they don’t want to learn how or invest the time to keep track of everything.

Oh well….more award seats for me!

Have Child Still Travel - Interview With Laura

Enjoying a Day at the Beach

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

We just returned from a 3 week trip to Thailand so I would have to say that is at the top of my list right now.  We spent a week scuba diving in the Similan Islands with manta rays and whale sharks.  Absolutely incredible!

And I have to brag and tell you that for our 3 weeks of hotel stays (at 4 star hotels) and all international and domestic transportation our total cost was $580.  I added up the retail value and it came to $15,808.

When my son was 16 months old, we used some of my Delta miles to go to Morocco and took a camel trek through the Sahara Desert.  People thought I was crazy for taking him there, but the Moroccan people loved him.

When we got off the plane in Casablanca, the girl working the airport transfer desk asked if she could kiss him.  I lost track of how many times he was kissed and hugged during our 2 weeks in Morocco.

Have Child Still Travel - Interview With Laura

Exhausted From the Sun and all the Kisses in Morocco

Can I have 3?  About 10 years ago we took our dog to France.  She was a poodle so I thought she might like to visit the motherland.  (Ha!)

She flew in Delta Business Elite, but hated being under the seat.  She whined and cried and disturbed other passengers so we took her out and hid her on my lap under a blanket.

Walking around Paris with a dog was so much fun.  She was allowed to go in restaurants and stores, and everyone assumed we were locals.  But she was NOT allowed to walk on the grass in the parks.  We were trying to get her to sit still for a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower and got yelled at by a French policeman.

Have Child Still Travel - Interview With Laura

“Parlez-vous Francais?”

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

They’re envious of all our travel, but they also think I’m crazy and have too much time on my hands.  This can be a very time consuming and obsessive hobby.  I have spreadsheets and charts and a huge binder filled with travel plans.

You have to be strategic and organized and willing to plan things a year or more in advance.  I had a friend call me and say, “I want to go to California next month and use miles, what do I need to do?”  My answer was, “Start planning it a year ago.”

A couple years ago I got my father-in-law in on the game. He and my mother-in-law are not very interested in international travel but they like to go to Arizona and California to play golf.

People will act interested in what I do and ask me how to do it, but when I start explaining it, their eyes glaze over and they start drifting away.  I think most people think it’s just way too complicated and too much work.

Have Child Still Travel - Interview With Laura

A Beautiful Day for a Hike

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

The free 1-way on United award tickets!  I added a 1-way to Los Angeles on the end of our Thailand tickets so we are going to Disneyland for a week in June!

I also love using Award Wallet to keep track of all my accounts.

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

The Rewards Network dining program.  I am currently signed up with IHG Rewards Club Dining and to be honest I don’t pay much attention to it.  I’m not crazy about most of the restaurants in my area that participate so I don’t go out of my way to dine at them.  But it’s always fun when a couple hundred points pops up in my IHG account just because I went out to dinner.

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

Buying gift cards and using services like Bluebird.  I was absolutely clueless about this until about 18 months ago.  I am very cautious when it comes to using gift cards to meet minimum spending requirements and I only do a few thousand a month.

If I have a big minimum spending requirement to meet on a new card, like the 100,000 mile Citi Executive American Airlines card, I will do a bit more, but overall I am very conservative.

Have Child Still Travel - Interview With Laura

A Family Bike Ride Around Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

That I am also a paranormal investigator with my own group called Gatekeeper Paranormal.  I have never mentioned this on my blog, so I guess my secret is out now!  Over the years my friends and I have traveled to some supposedly “haunted” locations and I may eventually write some trip reports about it.

Any parting words?

I honestly believe that travel broadens the mind.  It’s 1 thing to read about another culture, but to witness it with your own eyes is completely another.  To taste the different foods, hear the different languages, and see the different customs is an extremely enriching experience.

Being able to show my son the world is the best gift I could ever give him.  Without using miles and points I would never be able to afford it.

Have Child Still Travel - Interview With Laura

Our Little World Traveler

I will leave you now with 1 of my favorite travel quotes:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in 1 little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

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

If you’d like to be considered for our interview series, please send me a note!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 16,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

14 responses to ““I Seriously Die a Little Inside When the Person in Front of Me at the Grocery Store Is Paying Cash”

  1. Among several curios:

    “I am very cautious when it comes to using gift cards to meet minimum spending requirements and I only do a few thousand a month”

    Really now? Cautious? Lots of artificial manufactured spending in there, by chance? (as in not buying actual products, just buying cards to pay off…. cards. Oh, but just a “few thousand” a month…. are you kidding, or being serious? You recommending this to others? )

    while we’re at it, what’s your current best strategy for re-loading Bluebird? (given the scarcity of VRC, the blocking of incomm gc’s, etc. You using the INK/Staple trick? Can you really get away with “a few thousand a month” and not be shut down? )

  2. Will S – Yes I think I am being cautious by only doing a few thousand a month. And by “few thousand” I mean usually $2,000-$2,500. (maybe I should have said “couple thousand” rather than “few”) I think that is rather conservative considering I read the blogs of several people who do upwards of $25K a month.

    I also do not pay off my credit cards with the gift cards. Again…cautious and conservative. I load the GCs to Bluebird and pay my bills. Mortgage, electric etc. I am simply using my credit card to pay bills that do not normally accept credit card payments and I don’t see anything wrong with that.
    I do not have an Ink card and I’m not really sure what the “INK/Staple trick” is, so no…I do not do that. I buy GCs at Walmart and immediately load them to the BB.

    I’m sure I could rack up a lot more miles by doing more aggressive MS but I don’t really feel comfortable doing it. You have to do what is best for you…not what other bloggers do.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. @Will S. You can buy a few thousand of gift cards and use Evolve to pay bills. This is not a trick or Manufactured Spending. It is allowed by Evolve. No risk involved.

  4. As far as I know, the free one way trick is gone now that the charts have changed.

  5. Yes I believe that it is. Sadly, all good things come to an end.
    I also got the tickets to Thailand for 65,000 miles each!

  6. Hi Laura,

    Great post! My wife and I just started up a millennial travel blog after being pestered by our friends who we have served as the unofficial travel consultant for years now. As we begin to think about going from two to tango to three, blogs like yours are very inspiring!

  7. Free one way gone on American

    Still possible on United on certain flights,I think

    Check Scott Grimmer posts on this

  8. Loved this interview! I have so much in common with Laura and share her view on using miles practically. I will be following her blog. Thank you Darius and Laura.

  9. @StacyShine – thank you for your kind comments. I really want to write some great stuff on the blog. I just wish I had more time!! But I seem to spend more time traveling than writing blog entries (and really…isn’t that why we do this anyway?) But I have no trips planned for the month of July so I hope to get some half-written posts finished.

  10. Hi Laura! Thanks for the tips! Quick question: If you are buying gift cards and loading them to pay your bills, how much do you spend on the gift cards? Is it worth the cost? I’m thinking I could use this to pay my mortgage and electric bill. Thanks for your help!

  11. @Mad Mads. That is exactly what I do. I spend around $20 a month on gift card fees. That is about $240 a year that I simply add into my travel budget. Yes that sounds like a lot, but even if I wasn’t earning a category bonus, I would still get a minimum of 30,000 miles a year. That is enough for a roundtrip domestic ticket that could cost twice that amount. Of course if you use a card that gives you a category bonus, you can earn much more than that. Even a card that earns 2x points on grocery purchases – Walmart codes as grocery purchase. And of course the office supply stores that earn 5x with certain business credit cards.

    And to be honest, I don’t always buy gift cards and use Bluebird. I have opened a total of 3 Citi Executive AA cards in the past few months which means $30,000 worth of spending! I HAD to do it to meet that. If I don’t have any cards going with a huge spend requirement, I lay off BB for awhile and save some money.

    But that’s just me. As I said before, you have to do what is best for you and what you feel comfortable doing.

  12. Pingback: AMEX Sync Offers and Walmart Gift Cards | Have Child Still Travel

  13. Pingback: VISA Gift Card From Staples - And An Apology | Have Child Still Travel

  14. Pingback: Paranormal Road Trip 2014 | Have Child Still Travel