Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: The Travel Buddy Guy
Richard writes The Travel Buddy Guy to talk about his travel adventures and to help other travelers accomplish their travel goals!
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting airline miles probably around 2009. Granted it was only 5 years ago, I have learned a lot since then!
I started when I was hanging out with a co-worker and her husband. Her husband had mentioned the points game. I was a little interested in what he had to say. But I didn’t believe that it was possible to do all he talked about.
It wasn’t until I got my 1st free First Class round-trip to Japan that I finally had the veil lifted from my eyes.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started my blog this past month because after my wedding I plan to ramp up my manufactured spending and credit card applications. I want to accrue as many points as possible to start seeing more of the world with my wife. The blog is here to document it all.
That way my family can see what I’m up to and I have a great record of where & how I’ve traveled.
Why is it special? It’s a layman’s terms blog.
I really don’t know all the fancy tricks and I am building from the ground up. So if you are afraid of some point scheme and I’m doing it, I plan to really document every step. Right down to photographs to make it easy!
If it still isn’t clear enough, tell me. I will be as responsive as possible. I want to help everyone see the world with my blog.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Think outside the box. The issue is people really think about the credit card sign-up bonuses and buying points, but think larger. Are there large purchases that family members are going to make?
Ask them to let you charge it and pay you back. Are there group events at work that you can charge? Are there random online deals that you can take advantage of?
Really think outside the box on how to accumulate with purchases because that will help you rack-up points faster.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I honestly don’t know how to answer this question. It’s similar to when people ask me, “What is your favorite place you’ve traveled so far?” Frankly, every place I’ve gone to has its own unique vibe to it, so picking between them all is unfair.
I love traveling because each new world opens my mind and heart up to the beauty that this planet has to offer. From the crazy adventures of jumping off the world’s tallest bungee jump on Friday the 13th in New Zealand, to the quiet scenery of a Japanese rock garden. Each 1 I take in and love because it makes me appreciate the world for what it is, 1 big connected entity.
What is my most memorable? I would say the places I have yet to go to, and dream about. Because I dream about exploring all over this beautiful planet of ours and sharing it with everyone on my blog. I want to help people understand that we all should get out there and enjoy the beauty of Earth.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
I remember when I told my mother for the 1st time how I was going to travel to visit my cousin in Japan. She kept looking at me bedazzled about traveling First Class for $50. She just didn’t believe it. Once I came back she started to trust me a bit on how the points hobby works.
My friends and family have gotten used to the fact that I love paying for things, and they pay me back. I like to stay at certain hotels due to deals of the month. Or I can usually find an off-hand flight route that gets you to destinations that are cheaper, not necessarily faster, than the standard routes.
They see that I love doing this and have started trying to collect some miles of their own. It’s harder and harder for me to mooch points off of them. But still it’s great to see my hobby is influencing my friends and family to get the points they need to travel the world.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Reading around 10 different sites and blogs daily. Some of them I read hourly. The point is to keep up to date with everything that comes out from the airlines.
The way to do that is to be connected. The best site is FlyerTalk. With that forum it will take you a fair amount of time to get a handle of how to use it. I am still not fully versed and I’ve been using it for months.
Always keeping up to date with the topics online that will help with getting that edge you’re looking for in the points game.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
When my father’s company paid me to buy gold coins for them. A while ago the US Mint allowed people to purchase $1,000 in gold coins (free shipping) and asked that you put them into circulation. So I did exactly what they asked!
My father worked for a vending machine company that needed a large supply of gold coins per month. They were paying a surcharge buying them from the bank.
So what I did was purchase $1,000 in coins every 10 days ($2,000 to $3,000 a month) and ship them to my parents place. Then my mother would pick them up from the distribution center, which was walking distance from her work place. She would give them to my father who would sell them to his company for a 1:1 value.
My dad would deposit the money into the bank account and my mother would PayPal me using her Discover card so she got points. Then I would deposit the money in my bank to pay the bill.
I followed exactly what the US Mint asked for yet I never touched the coins I bought! It was so good that my father’s company started doing the same thing I did, since they could save money rather than purchase the coins from the bank! It was a family effort and everyone got points out of the deal!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket. That is the key thing that I am still dealing with today. Don’t put all your points in just 1 airline.
I have a load of British Airways miles, but don’t use them that much due to the high fuel surcharges that are assessed flying them. Now I load up on Starwood points, which allows me to evenly distribute my points to multiple airlines!
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I love to make truffles, and will be posting about too. I’ve become a chocolatier as of late and want to build upon my recipes. They are remarkably simple to make, but the little chocolates are amazingly delicious and bring so much delight to those who get them.
I would love any new suggestions if you have any! I am trying to figure out how to make caramel filled truffles.
Any parting words?
I am writing my blog to document my travels and crazy schemes for future reference but also for the everyday person so that my love of travel can help you go anywhere in the world. However, I am not perfect by a long shot.
I am proud of what I do but never too proud for a helping hand. If you visit my blog and want to know more about a topic, tell me. If you don’t like how something is written, tell me. If you have any advice, tell me.
I love hearing from you and I will help you with any means I have at my disposal. I want you to travel, I want you to go for cheap, I want you to see the world! Then tell me about it. It will help me get out there myself to destinations I may have never thought of. I cannot wait to help!
Richard – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!
If you’d like to be considered for our interview series, please send me a note!