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 Travel Playbook
Mark writes The Travel Playbook to show folks how to play the miles and points game so I was excited for our Friday chat!
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles and points when I was a teenager. I realized what exactly points and miles could do for you (free travel!) and I made sure that each and every flight I took with my parents I received my miles! I didn’t start the obsession until 2010, however, when I was able to start traveling on my own in college.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started my blog very recently, in October 2012. I wanted to have a place to show a younger generation of travelers (people my own age) how to travel the world like I do, with miles and points!
I also wanted to teach my age group about credit, and how good credit (and spending wisely to maintain that good credit) can help you go abroad.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Maintain good credit. If you don’t have good credit, you won’t be able to take advantage of all of the great credit card offers out there!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I would say spelunking in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon in 2008. I was on the spelunking team at my high school (yes, we had a team, as well as rock climbing)! We would travel to this remote ranch on top of a mesa near Monterrey once a year.
There, one of the deepest caves in the world exists. We would rig ropes and explore down the cavern, which is about half a mile deep. One spot, the Argo Well (and one of the deepest parts of the cave) only a hundred people had ever been to, and no one from my team.
I was able to reach it on my last trip to the cave. The whole trip took nearly 12 hours! The cave itself is incredible, with flowstone formations stretching over 300 feet in length.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
They love it. My grandmother was the first in my family to start racking up points, and really showed me how they can take you places (literally). They’re always asking me now how to travel to one place, stay at this other place. It’s great!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I really like Awardnexus for its award search capabilities. It’s a little expensive when you run out of the free points to use for searches, but the power of the application is incredible!
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I won a Twitter Contest in 2011 for 50,000 Priority Club points!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
The value of some of the points. I was all about “free travel” at the beginning, and maybe used my points a little too freely. I wish I would’ve conserved my Starwood hotel points a little better, but there are always opportunities for more points in the future!
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I am 40th in the world in Disney Trivia. Two summers ago I participated in an official Disney Trivia Contest, and out of 2,000 people, I came in 40th. I’m not sure if I’m proud of myself or a little scared…
Any parting words?
Go out and see the world, not just the hotels you’re staying at for free. Go out beyond the resort’s walls and visit with some of the culture of the area. That culture may not be the same the next time you visit.
Mark – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!