Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Cool Family Life
Karen writes Cool Family Life to share her passion for traveling and finding deals.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Soooo many years ago, maybe 15 years ago? I started with Air Miles then Air Canada Aeroplan miles and RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Avion points in the last few years.
We live in Canada but mainly fly out of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and occasionally Toronto. We’re also looking at flying out of Detroit to get a cheap flight to Vegas this year or next.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
There are not enough Canadian travel bloggers! I was super excited when Million Mile Secrets published an article comparing the costs between flying out of Toronto or Buffalo.
I actually started out as more of a personal finance blog and then started moving into more and more travel articles because that is really my passion.
We’re a family of 5, our children are 15, 12, and 8. And we’re into quick travel, even though there’s a trend now towards slow travel.
One of our kids is on a state sports team and trains about 49 weeks per year, another kid is getting a part-time job soon, and our youngest dances competitively. She will even be in a parade at Disney World next year.
So being away from home for long periods of time usually doesn’t work for us right now!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Americans should apply for a credit card or cards with those incredible sign-up bonuses. The sign-up bonuses in Canada aren’t as generous. So I stick to 1 major card and charge everything on it, even a pack of gum.
There was a time about a year ago where I actually paid interest for 1 or 2 months. Ever since then I started paying off my credit card as much as 3 times a week. So I would keep on top of it and never let the balance get to an amount we couldn’t pay.
The benefits of a credit card are not worth the interest you could wind up paying.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Backpacking in Europe with my husband just before our 1st child was born was very memorable. We were 29 and 31 at the time. We just bought a flexible Eurail pass in Canada and flew to Europe without any plans or reservations.
We’d just look at the train schedule and decide where to go right then and there. That is a benefit of traveling in the low season! Our only mission on that trip was to ski in the Alps. And we made it happen in Austria.
Another memorable travel experience is when our family rented a cabin in Northern Ontario. We didn’t use points on this trip because we found a great price! We only use our points when it makes sense for the price point.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
They love it and tease me about my passion for this hobby. Many people tell me I should be a travel agent, but then it’s not really a hobby anymore!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I follow Canadian and American travel bloggers because we fly out of both American and Canadian airports.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Spirit Airlines had a promotion where you could earn 8,000 points for complaining about them or another airline (This deal is expired). Spirit Airlines flies out of an airport in Niagara Falls, that’s close to where we live, and they often have cheap flights to Fort Lauderdale.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I followed more bloggers years ago. I thought they just wrote about themselves and their travel. But many have tips or information about hotels, events, airlines, and opportunities I would have never heard of otherwise.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I was a cheerleader in the Canadian Football League…many years ago!
Any parting words?
Enjoy every day of your life. Explore nature 10 minutes from your home or go somewhere exotic. Travel fast, travel slow, use your points for events or anything you want.
Appreciate and be grateful for all the opportunities and choices available to us!
Karen – 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!