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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: Free Travel Guys
Joe & Michael show you how to travel this small world of ours for cheap so I was looking forward to our Friday chat!
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
We have been collecting and redeeming miles and points for a number of years now, but it wasn’t until the end of 2011 when we really started getting into them as a hobby and learning the ins and outs. The US Air Grand Slam promotion is the promotion that hooked us to the miles and points game. Those were some really fun weeks!
We had never realized up until that point how many different ways you can accumulate miles and points for free travel.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
We started our site in October 2012 in an effort to help all our family and friends with this wonderful hobby. We found ourselves constantly discussing the same basic topics over and over with different people, so we thought, “why not put it on paper”? After starting the site, we now focus our discussions with friends and family on the best way to help them get to their dream destinations rather than the basics of what points are and how they work.
What we feel differentiates our site is that we are regular travel enthusiasts with day jobs. We don’t travel much as part of our day jobs and as such struggle to attain status with the airlines or hotels. We are sharing the methods that we use day to day to earn rewards.
We show our readers that you don’t have to fly every week to be able to earn miles and points and that you can still travel for free. Anyone can do it with a little guidance and some clever tips.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
We could sit here and say credit cards, but we feel that the best way is to stay in tune with the industry and as such we recommend dedicating at least 30 minutes to an hour a week catching up on the most recent promotions/findings in the points game. At the end of the day if you keep up to date with what’s happening, the deals will come to you.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Most definitely would have to be visiting Germany, Austria, and Italy in 2008 and taking part in the BMW European Delivery program. Flying on points at the time and leveraging Priceline bidding allowed us to save a great amount of money. Driving through the Alps in a brand spanking new BMW is a thrill!
The scenery is impressive and the car’s handling on the numerous hairpin turns is the icing on the cake.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Given that we started the site for our family and friends, most of them think it’s great. Many are still mesmerized by how we can travel to so many places, so repetitively, and most importantly for free (or very close to it). Our immediate family takes full advantage of the information that we share, and we always put ourselves in their shoes to make sure we are keeping the information simple and not overwhelming.
That being said, a few of them still think we’re crazy, but they’re coming around. All it takes is putting someone on a first class flight to Hawaii, and they start convincing themselves this hobby is worth it!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Using RSS feeds to keep up to date on the latest deals. We have used Google Reader but being that it’s going away on July 1st, we have switched to Feedly. Which RSS reader you use is not as important as just using RSS. With RSS feeds you can quickly see all new content across a multitude of online sources which you pick to follow.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Most recently, flying Delta on points en route to Barcelona we were moved to an American Airlines flight due to an airport security threat which caused us to miss our flight. What was least expected and came in handy was that we ended up earning AAdvantage miles for the flight. I once also earned 15,000 AAdvantage miles because my first class seat didn’t recline. I didn’t ask for them.
They just showed up the next day on my account, along with an apology email.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
One thing that would have been nice to master is all the stopover rules with the different airlines, and how to use them to our advantage. This is the one way that you can really make your points go much further on the airline front. Many times I booked reward flights after saving up points for a long time, only to book a simple round trip.
Stopovers have really enabled me to get to more places, with less points. They are an incredibly powerful tool.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Joe knows how to fly an airplane, and ironically, Michael is afraid of flying.
Any parting words?
Set a goal and stick to it! Pick a destination, develop a strategy, and work towards it. We find this to be the easiest way to get into this game and reap the benefits. Using this strategy you will slowly begin to dig deeper and work towards multiple goals and bonuses simultaneously.
Free Travel Guys – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!