Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Road Warriorette
Sarah writes Road Warriorette to give advice, tips, and observations on life on the road as a female business traveler.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I didn’t really do much beyond that until about 3 years ago. At that time my husband left his job to go back to school, and we knew that if we wanted to continue to travel we would have to get creative. That’s when we moved all of our spending to rewards credit cards and actively pursued the Southwest Companion Pass.
From there it’s spiraled into a pretty active hobby.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Before my 1st business trip I spent a lot of time trying to find information and tips for women business travelers. What should I pack? What toiletries do I need? What suitcase should I get?
There was nothing. The most helpful piece of advice I found for women was to wait until they got to their destination to put their “nylons” on, otherwise if the plane caught on fire their legs would melt. No joke. At that time I vowed that once I had enough information to share I would start a blog to help make that 1st business trip easier.
That’s still my goal today, to share information to help women and 1st time business travelers. Packing and etiquette are a big part of my blog, as those are some of the basic skills that will make business travel easier.
But another important part of business travel is getting rewarded for time spent away from your family. An awesome vacation (that’s free!) can help take the sting out of lonely nights on the road!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Credit card bonuses, no question. If you’re strategic about which cards you apply for and when you apply, you can get crazy amounts of miles. Beyond that, status definitely helps. Higher level elite travelers can get 100% or more bonus miles.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
My husband and I took a week-long trip to Puerto Rico several years ago, and we basically paid $250 for it. We used miles to pay for the flights, hotel, and even some of the excursions. It was the most incredible vacation!
The food, the scenery, the history…I highly recommend everyone go there at least once. To this day kayaking in the Bioluminescent Bay is 1 of my favorite travel memories. Okay, the kayaking with my husband was super stressful. But once we were in the Bio Bay it was awesome.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
People often tell me they couldn’t be gone as much as I am. It’s true, I travel for work a LOT. But the miles I get with my frequent travel, plus the extra points we get through credit card bonuses and spending allow us to go on amazing vacations, visit our family, and bring our family to Texas to visit us.
I’ve actually introduced several family members to credit card bonuses and the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. So while there are plenty in my circle who think I’m crazy to spend as much time as I do on points and miles, there are others who are starting to see the light!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Business travelers tend to appreciate the points, but not want to go through a ton of extra effort to earn them. They are already on the road all of the time, so they want to relax and enjoy their time at home, not stress about points strategies. The best ways for business travelers to earn points are the ones that require minimal time, the ones they can set-up and forget about.
Loyalty programs, automatic payments with rewards cards, dining programs, and shopping portals. Supplement that with the occasional new card bonus and you can rack up a nice amount of miles without spending too much of your precious free time.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Ordering flowers for my grandmother through the Southwest Shopping Portal. I was going to do it anyway, and I ended up getting ~2,500 bonus Southwest points. Besides being most of a 1-way ticket to see that grandmother, it also pushed me over the edge to get my Southwest Companion Pass! Everyone was happy.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
When I first started out I was pretty naïve about earning miles through credit cards. I realized the value of rewards cards, but completely missed the boat on sign-up bonuses. I actually lost out on close to 100,000 by not recognizing that I had to meet the minimum spending requirements within a certain time period.
Looking back it feels so dumb. That would have paid for most of a vacation to Mexico!
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Even after all of this time, I still get a little nervous before big business trips. Especially the international ones and the longer ones. I’ve been on hundreds of work trips, you’d think I’d be over it by now!
But there is still that moment as I’m walking out the door, where I think, “Did I get my wallet?, My passport?, My phone?, etc.” By the time I get 5 minutes into the drive to the airport I’m fine, but walking out the door is always super stressful.
Any parting words?
It’s tempting, but know that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There is so much incredible information being shared in the forums and blogs, let them help you!
Sarah – 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!