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Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: The Flying Buck
Adam writes The Flying Buck to help readers improve their personal finances and how to travel more for less.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I’ve been collecting miles and points since I started traveling in college, but my interest took off after getting 50,000 miles for the Chase United MileagePlus® Explorer Card (the standard sign-up bonus with this card is typically 30,000 miles) in 2011.
I resisted the mailings and emails I had received for that card for years because I thought there must be some catch or that applying for another credit card would be detrimental to my credit.
I’m glad I turned out to be wrong. Once I saw how much easier it was to get miles through the intelligent use of credit cards than from actual flight miles, I was hooked.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Budget travel and personal finance are 2 of my passions. Travel may seem expensive when you read headlines about increasing airplane fares and other costs, but a few simple savings strategies can slash your costs.
Handling your personal finances can seem overwhelming as well with the quantity of advice (both good and bad) out there.
My goal with The Flying Buck is to show concepts that are easy to implement but can make a profound difference in your ability to travel and to have personal financial success.
Instead of focusing on the nitty-gritty of which investments you should pick or which airline is the best, I focus on big-picture concepts that will hopefully help readers make sound decisions when it comes to their money and travel plans.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Credit card sign-up bonuses are the quickest way to earn large quantities of miles, but the personal finance angel on my shoulder always reminds me to consider whether an application fits into my broader credit picture.
When dealing with credit cards, it’s also important to be disciplined to resist the urge to spend money that you wouldn’t otherwise spend to earn miles or points.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Last January, my girlfriend and I took a trip to Japan and Australia that was almost completely paid for with miles and points. Melbourne is 1 of the most interesting and relaxed cities I’ve visited.
I’m an avid tennis player and fan, so getting to see the Australian Open in-person was terrific.
In Sydney, we had the rooftop pool to ourselves. Looking in 1 direction we could see the Sydney Opera House, and in the other direction we waved at groups climbing over the Harbour Bridge.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
I think a lot of my friends and family members are curious about miles and points. I try to write blog posts with them in mind. My girlfriend has to put up with me talking about the latest miles and points news and deals, but we’ve had a ton of great travel experiences together thanks to this hobby.
In addition to the trip to Japan and Australia, this year we’ve also visited Aruba, New York, Milwaukee, Miami, and Austin using the Southwest Companion Pass and the miles earned from signing-up for the Southwest cards.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I’m a huge fan of Club Carlson’s rewards program.
The “last night free” perk of the US Bank Club Carlson card makes weekend getaways cheap. The program also makes it easy for leisure travelers such as myself to earn serious points through its point-earning structure and promotions.
I’ve stayed in Club Carlson hotels in Europe, Asia, Australia, and in the United States and have found them to be excellent values for earning and using points.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I like the new trend in some hotels where they will give you miles if you decline the daily housekeeping service.
I figure that if I don’t clean my sheets and change my towels daily at home, why do I need that when I’m on the road? I do like to leave the housekeepers a tip on the last day when they have to clean the room for the next guest.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
When you see the travel possibilities that can come from miles and points, it can be tempting to go out and earn as many as possible through credit card bonuses, regular spending, and other methods.
However, I think you have to step back and consider how the miles you’re earning fit in your broader travel and personal finance goals.
You have to consider whether the time you’re spending on the miles and points hobby could be better used doing something else. There’s no sense in taking the time to earn miles that you may not use.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m a die-hard alumnus of the University of Virginia.
I gave about 250 admissions tours when I was a student there and have attended all but 9 home football games in the last 13 years. For those looking for a weekend getaway, Charlottesville is as good as it gets.
Any parting words?
Thanks so much Daraius for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers.
I hope many of you will check out The Flying Buck. I try to put something in my posts for everyone, no matter your experience with miles and points or your personal financial situation.
Adam – 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!