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: Points Pinnacle
Troy writes Points Pinnacle to show folks how to use miles and points to travel.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles and points in late 2011. Earlier that year I had stayed at a W hotel and when I checked out I realized they auto enrolled me in the Starwood hotel program and I had 2,000+ points for a 2 night stay. I later had a friend that moved to Atlanta and I was wondering if I could maybe use those points to get a hotel and go visit.
I remember very vividly the Google search I did for “SPG50” returned a result from Flyertalk.com and from that moment on my travel imagination exploded!
I got married in 2010 and you can just imagine how bad I felt putting all the expenses on a non-rewards card receiving NO miles and points!
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
For almost 2 years now I have become sort of obsessed with miles and points and the end result; amazing travel experiences. I started the blog simply to share travel stories and information on how normal people can travel and showing them whats possible.
However I think the main focus or the real motivating factor is, I want other people to experience the beauty of our planet. Not everyone wants to travel but if you do, I don’t want money to be the limiting factor in being able to see the world.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
I wish I could break the mold here on this response but there is no way around credit card sign up bonuses being the BEST way to get more miles.
I will say whats helpful for me is just constantly staying on top of the industry and constantly scanning flyertalk, or blogs such as yours, Daraius. Information is the most valuable commodity!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I have had some GREAT experiences just in the past 2 years alone! I will have to admit there is one moment that stands out in my mind. We went to Kauai in 2012 and hiked the Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai falls.
When we got to the waterfall for whatever reason I became slightly emotional because it is that type of beauty that’s hard to believe exists. My wife still gets a chuckle whenever we watch the video of me walking up to the waterfall!
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Honestly, I am not really sure. They have seen the vacation pictures and heard some stories of our travels, however when my family and friends travel, they all just pay cash for their flights and their hotels.
Most of them are not even signed up for any loyalty programs and let any earned awards go to waste. And that’s perfectly fine, maybe all my family and friends are rolling in dough and are secretly laughing at me!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I like to use Award Wallet to track most of my award accounts. I also keep a separate spreadsheet showing the dates of when I opened or closed accounts and how much the annual fees are and how many miles or points were awarded at the time.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
All my miles and points earning are typically planned out but on a trip to Hawaii we got “ill” for a day or two and the hotel we stayed at agreed to give 10,000 points. We may have most likely got “ill’ while off the property so it was a nice surprise.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Well, I certainly wish I knew about them earlier while there was 75,000 American Airlines mile offers floating around and I had wedding expenses! However I would say, I wish I knew to use United and American Airlines miles for international flights only. For example, it costs 80,000 for a United saver award to Hawaii (from US mainland) for two people round-trip.
Instead, I could have used my Southwest companion pass as a positioning flight to the west coast for about 10,000 to 12,000 Southwest points. And then used 50,000 British Airways Avios points for two round-trip tickets to Hawaii.
Thus saving 20,000 miles in total, and I would still have the more valuable United miles for long haul travel.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
That until recently getting on an airplane was my biggest fear. My first flight ever, at about 3 to 4 years old, was from Chicago to the Bahamas, and I cried the entire time! So from the start, I didn’t have a love affair with air travel.
Eventually after a full blown panic attack on an airplane on the way home from Vegas in 2005 (they had to give me the oxygen! LOL) I decided enough is enough and went to my doctor for a prescription. The Valium wasn’t very effective but the Xanax really helped me relax and actually I could fall asleep on a plane.
I decided earlier this year that I don’t need pills and that it was all mental. While I am never 100% comfortable on a plane I can now enjoy the flights and enjoy the beautiful views out the window.
Any parting words?
If you want to go somewhere, please go! Don’t make an excuse because your time on Earth is very short and before you know it you will be gone. Make sure you do the things you want to do.
I would also encourage people whether you travel or not to step back and appreciate the world. The cultures, the religions, the landscapes, the foods, the wildlife be thankful we have a chance to LIVE! Go out there and do it.
Thanks to Darius for having the chance to speak with his audience! I wish all Million Mile Secrets readers, Happy Holidays.
Also, if you have a chance, please check out pointspinnacle.com. I’m giving away American Airlines lounge passes today to mark this occasion! I am happy to respond to any questions!
Troy – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!