Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where renowned mile and point gurus share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: The Travelling Adventurer
Elizabeth has not only traveled to 14 countries on 5 continents, but is also getting her pilot’s license. I want to be a pilot too, so I was waiting for our Friday chat!
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles and points in college when I needed to fly out to conferences. I got onto websites like Flyertalk and start reading up on all the different programs out there. But I didn’t make miles-collecting a hobby until after college when I was trying to find ways to travel on a budget.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started my blog after watching the movie “The Bucket List.” The movie inspired me to come up with my own bucket list of 100 adventures I wanted to do before I die. I created the blog to share the list with others and write about the adventures as I go through the list.
My blog is a bit different from other blogs out there because I don’t talk about the latest deal or trick out there, but rather how to set big, aspirational goals and then how to go about achieving them.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
If you have a lot of financial discipline and have a good credit score, taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses is the quickest way to pick up enough miles to go on a trip.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I’m blessed in that I’ve gotten to experience so many amazing moments in many parts of the world. But my most memorable one for me was my first trip outside of North America. I went with two good friends of mine to Tokyo.
We were there for two days, and I was just overwhelmed at being in such a different culture from the US. But it was also a lot of fun- we did things like go to a restaurant serving sushi off of a conveyor belt to singing karaoke Japanese-style to going to temples and museums. That trip really sparked my desire to go see other countries.
Since then, I’ve been to 14 countries across 5 continents and plan to visit many more.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
My family is happy that I get to go on a lot of fun and unique trips. My friends and co-workers think I’m crazy, but in a good way. They often joke around and ask what country I’m running off to for the weekend (and sometimes I can give them a serious answer :)).
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
My favorite tool out there is TripIt. It’s a wonderful tool that makes it very easy to save trip details and share them with friends and family.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I bought a $3 bamboo sushi mat which is used to make sushi and earned more then 4,500 United miles from the purchase. I don’t even know how to make sushi!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I had realized how easy it is to keep miles from expiring, and that miles can be credited to other airlines besides the one you’re flying on. Before I got serious about the hobby, I let miles expire and credited miles to different airlines within the same alliance.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m currently in ground school to get my pilot’s license. Learning to fly is one of the items on my bucket list and it was one of the goals I wasn’t sure I’d be able to achieve due to the time and cost involved. But friends and family have really come out and supported me in various ways to make the dream come true. Now I’m hoping to get my pilot’s license before the end of the year.
Any parting words?
Life is short. Don’t think that travel is something only business people or people in retirement do. You don’t have to be rich to travel to exotic places or wait until you retire to take a dream vacation.
With a little time and effort studying how frequent flyer programs work, it’s possible to go on that trip you’ve always wanted to take. If you told me three years ago that I would end up going to places like Easter Island, Nairobi, or Tokyo, I wouldn’t have believed you.
But now knowing what I do, the world has become my backyard and all I have to do is go out and play in it.
Elizabeth – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!