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Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Where is Rahul
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I’ve been a business traveler for over 12 years. For the first 5 years, I just went about getting from point A to B without any regard for airline carrier or miles.
I went for what was most convenient and made sense to me. Which meant I was a frequent traveler of over 100,000 miles per year, but those miles were spread across 4 or 5 airlines. So I never had any decent status when it really meant something.
Then 1 fateful day in 2007, my wife sent me a Wall Street Journal article about mileage runners, and the website FlyerTalk. That day I was hooked and immediately planned my 1st mileage run.
At the time I was starting to fly United Airlines a bit more than others, but I could never get past Premier Gold (50,000 miles flown per year) and envied the Premier 1k’s of the world. My goal was to hit Premier 1k status on United Airlines that year, which I did, and I’ve never looked back.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I travel a lot for work, on average about 100 days per year, and my family and I travel about 2 to 3 weeks for fun each year to boot.
So I wanted a way to share my experiences with others and hopefully provide some insight into ways to enjoy travel and have a better travel experience. I strive to make my blog fun.
I want people to not only see what it’s like to travel, but also to enjoy the everyday experience that comes along with visiting a new city. To me the experience of getting there, anywhere, can be just as much fun as the destination.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Be loyal. Pick an airline and fly them or their partners as much as is possible and credit all travel to that 1 airline. This will build status, get you more miles, and provide some extra travel perks.
Also, pay for as much as you can on a miles or points branded credit card. There’s no reason not to get a few extra perks there too.
On the hotel front, I used to do the same but now I’m more of a free agent, and stay at hotels that best suit me and are priced right for my work or personal budget.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Without a doubt it’s the 2 trips my family and I took to the Maldives. We flew Singapore Airlines in 1st class on both trips and stayed at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort. This is by far the most decadent trip I have EVER taken. I dream about it daily.
My screen saver is a picture of my daughter sitting on the beach and each time I see it, reminds me of what a great trip this was. And yes, both trips were paid with points.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Honestly, they think I’m nuts. Luckily my wife is totally understanding, and because we get to use the perks of my addiction on every trip, that doesn’t hurt either. My friends were dumbfounded when I went to Dubai 3 times over 6 weeks with only an 8 hour layover on each trip.
They will probably never understand why I’d fly to New York from San Francisco to get to Portland, Oregon. Only those in the miles game will get that craziness.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Absolutely, reading blogs like yours, One Mile at a Time, and The Flight Deal are sites I look at many times a day to track good deals and provide me with the insight I need to book the ultimate vacation or trip.
I also follow many of these same sites on Twitter so I get immediate alerts to amazing fares, like $65 to Orlando on Delta from the west coast or $45 to Hawaii. Without these tweets I would never have had as many amazing trips as I’ve had.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Two years ago I applied for and received the American Express Platinum card (by the way the perks of this card are amazing). With the AMEX Platinum card I got 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 within 3 months (This offer has expired). I had to book 2 tickets to Germany, so I met the spending requirement within 1 day.
I have not spent the points yet, but soon I will hopefully use it for a round-trip First Class redemption on Singapore Airlines.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I knew about FlyerTalk back in 2002, when I started the miles game. I think I would have been able to take advantage of some amazing mistake fares back in the good ol’ days.
I think over the years I’ve become pretty savvy. That being said, there is so much more to learn and that thirst for knowledge is what’s kept me interested in learning as much as I can about the travel industry and miles game.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I like to fly anonymously. In other words I may do a mileage run, but I’m not one to share the information with my seatmates, or flight attendants. When they ask me where I’m going and for how long, I always make up some story or destination that would be natural for me to travel to on my trip.
I’m really shy in that regard. I may even see others on my trip that are doing the same thing, and I do my best to avoid talking to them or having them notice I’m doing a run too. But that doesn’t stop me from advertising my travels via Twitter, Facebook or my blog.
Any parting words?
I love, love, love to travel! And I love sharing my experiences with strangers and helping others plan their vacations and dream trips.
I simply enjoy the thought of helping someone cross off that bucket list item and playing a small part in making that trip possible.
Rahul – 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!