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If this 23 year old “without a real job” can travel the world, there is no excuse for you not to travel too!

If this 23 year old “without a real job” can travel the world, there is no excuse for you not to travel too!

Million Mile SecretsIf this 23 year old “without a real job” can travel the world, there is no excuse for you not to travel too!Million Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview:  Travel with Grant

Grant writes Travel with Grant to show folks how to travel for cheap.

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

When I was younger, my parents would take us on summer vacations every year.  They used to travel for work so they made sure to get frequent flyer miles on every flight we took.  They set up frequent flyer accounts for us so we always earned miles.

Like most families, the miles that were earned were never enough for free trips, so they were never redeemed and eventually expired worthless.

Fast forward to March of 2012.  I was in the backseat on a long road trip.  I was curious about buying gift cards and earning cash back and stumbled upon Frequent Miler’s post on buying and selling gift cards.  I was instantly hooked.

I read as many articles as I could and still read Frequent Miler’s posts every day.  I finally met my hero at Frequent Traveler University in December 2012.

Travel with Grant - Interview with Grant
Frequent Miler & Grant

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

If Lucky (@OneMileataTime) can do it, surely this 23 year old can too!  I may not have nearly as many miles as Lucky (maybe 1/100th is more accurate), but my passion for travel is just as great.  Honestly, I don’t think there is anything special about my blog, I just write about things that interest me that aren’t talked about on other blogs.

Motto: redeeming less miles = more free trips

Travel with Grant - Interview with Grant
Travel with Grant

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

Besides the obvious (applying for travel credit cards), I also ask for retention bonuses.  I call and say something like, “I’m thinking of cancelling the card because the annual fee is coming soon and the perks are not worth the annual fee.  If you would waive the annual fee, I would gladly keep the card for another year, and spend money on it.”

Sometimes they will give you a bonus for keeping the card – especially if you spend money on the card and are a good customer.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

In January of this year, I went on a Euro Trip with one of my best friends.  It was her first time to Europe, so I had to show her around.  We flew from San Francisco to Amsterdam (35,000 US Airway miles round trip), took the train to Dusseldorf, flew to Paris, stayed at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, flew to Munich for a few beers, took the train to Heidelberg, Cologne, Aachen, Brussels, and back to Amsterdam to stay at the Andaz Amsterdam.

90% of the hotel stays were on hotel points or from free night certificates.  I got into trouble when I chose 500 free Starwood points instead of free Wi-Fi, so I never made that mistake again.

Here is the view from our walkout balcony from the 5th floor of the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome (2 free nights thanks to the Hyatt Credit Card.  Retail price for our room was over 1,000 euros a night.)

Travel with Grant - Interview with Grant
View From The Park Hyatt Paris

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

My parents get it.  I tell them which credit cards to get, they add me as an authorized user, and I help them reach the minimum spend.  My brother thinks I should “get a real job and stop traveling so much.”

If I had a mile for every time I heard that, I would be Executive Platinum with American Airlines (I apologize for the lame travel joke).  My college friends will send me texts and Facebook messages asking me to find a cheap flight from ABC to XYZ.  I start searching for award tickets, but then remember that they have 0 miles and 0 interest in miles; they don’t understand the concept of miles and points.

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

Award Wallet comes in first followed by Credit Karma/Credit Sesame tied for second.  Learn about Award Wallet and Credit Karma/Credit Sesame.  I use Award Wallet almost every day and can’t imagine life without it.

Points.com is about a “million miles” behind Award Wallet.  If you are a serious traveler, you have to use Award Wallet!

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

I once earned 45 United Airline miles for eating at a Japanese restaurant in San Francisco.  Apparently they are part of the United MileagePlus Dining Program. The sushi wasn’t that great, but I will take the miles any day of the week.

Travel with Grant - Interview with Grant
Miles for Sushi

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

Everyone starts at 0.  Don’t feel overwhelmed if you don’t travel a lot or spend a ton of money on credit cards.  The phrases “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” come to mind.  Everyone starts at 0.  A few credit card sign-ups, travel promotions, and retention bonuses later, you will look back at laugh at that 0.

It’s hard to ignore the other travel bloggers and their many first class trips around the world, but they too started at 0.  (I know I said I flew mostly economy, but when you can get a round trip ticket to Hawaii in first class for under $300, you take it )

Travel with Grant - Interview with Grant
First Class to Hawaii

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

Not really travel-related, but I am also an eBay Power Seller (out of my bedroom).  I have been selling “stuff” on eBay for more than 8 years and have over 3,700 positive transactions.  I have run out of things to sell at home, but luckily friends and relatives are constantly giving me items to sell for them.

eBay has changed a lot of the years, but you can still make some good money selling items.  You might be surprised to learn that people buy old/broken electronics, specifically cell phones, iPods, and cameras.  You won’t get rich off that (unless you break a lot of electronics), but every dollar is one more dollar you can spend traveling around the world.

Travel with Grant - Interview with Grant
Power Seller Grant

Any parting words?

Go to as many travel conventions as you can.  Frequent Traveler University (FTU) and other seminars are great ways to meet friends who don’t think it’s strange that you have 13 credit cards and know exactly which card to use for every purchase.  You will hear some crazy travel stories and learn a thing or two.

Travel with Grant - Interview with Grant
At Frequent Traveler University!

If this 23 year old “without a real job” can travel the world, there is no excuse for you not to travel too!

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

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Mike,

You have been really entertaining ;). Valid questions. If money grew on trees, sure but it doesn’t :).

We can all keep the conversation civil and still answer questions(if we feel like).

Michael,

I had a reply but they wouldn’t post it. Don’t know why. So I’ll try this shorter one.

TVM is an issue. I once had 10 apps going and found it just to much. Plus I got some turn downs for the high activity so I had to spread them out. But even then, tracking so many (and I don’t want to pay some Wallet to do it as I still have to keep myself informed) is time consuming.

The other issue I see is you need to concentrate on a few airlines and get Elite status. Having 50,000 miles on 15 airlines is not a great deal. I fly out of a hub for my airline and can get non-stops to Europe. But if I use a different airline (I’m not naming them since maybe that’s why my last post wasn’t approved) then I have to fly to their hub first.

At any rate, even with Elite bonuses I cannot even approach 500,000 miles, though when my job required more travel I could at least earn a lot which helped me achieve Lifetime Elite.

Bottom line, even though I’ve asked for an explanation, no one can tell me how they actually collect masses of miles, like Asar’s 1.6 million, in 3 years.

Darius has a great job that involves a lot of travel. Not many people earning $18k, or $24k, can do that.

Question to moderator here, can you tell me what was wrong with my prior attempted post so I can avoid that in the future?

Michael,

Glad to see some realism here.

On TVM, I’ve found that trying to do too many CC apps can result in a turn down, to say nothing about potential hits to your FICO. But, the biggest problem of course is the time involved. At one point I had 10 apps going and the biggest problem was being able to make the spend required. And forget about the $85 or $95 annual hits on a bunch of cards. Though Marriott does give me a free night for that $85.

Good thing the company allowed me to charge many of my tickets and hotels to my card instead of using theirs. My wife has it easier since she’s a Consultant and bills for travel reimbursement so she really racks up the mileage.

While I was doing a lot of travel I managed to get Lifetime Platinum with American (2 million miles) but travel has tapered off, and credit charges no longer earn Elite status, so Exec Plat probably won’t happen.

But, even while getting the 100% bonus as Platinum it was still impossible to really earn another million, though granted I wasn’t flying to HKG every week.

There is one other thing that is a fact and that is that you really need to concentrate on one or two airlines to get Elite status, that really is a great benefit and outweighs all the mile awards. I’ve got miles on airlines I will never fly, even in the US. My hub is Dallas, American. I go to Europe non-stop. But when I want to use a USAir award I have to fly to PHL before the flight to Europe (this is hopefully only until the merger is done, but who knows). I don’t mind BA’s London connection, though I try to use then for domestic only.

But, there’s no doubt it’s a great game.

Hi Mike,

I wholeheartedly agree with you. I travel +200 days a year and fly every single week. I look for credit card offers and try to achieve status through challenges when available.

I simply don’t believe someone making less that $30,000 can travel or accrue the amount of points like these people are claiming. My travel expenses are around $2,000 a week and the numbers I see at the end of the year are around half a million hotel points and miles.

Unless everyone plans to live on credit the rest of their lives I don’t think these claims are possible. Also; what is y’all’s tvm? At a certain point devoting hours to credit card “schemes” and quick fixes won’t work out.

Gerry,

Could be I’m just stupid, even with all my miles and elite statuses. No problem. But after looking at my mile collection, and how I’ve done it, I don’t think so.

I plan my app activity, I plan my travel, I manufacture spend, though I do watch just which cards and fees I am willing to shoulder yearly. I manage to keep my FICO over 800.

My questions have been serious and curious because I feel one can always learn from others, and I know what it takes me to accumulate So when I see someone who is able to amass mileage somehow I am interested. I never view a question as negative.

I assume that you have no problem understanding how Asar has amassed his 1.6 million in three years on $18k? Then you are smarter than me and I’d be grateful if you would explain it. I want to do that too as I have more than $18k available so it should be even easier for me.

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