Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Two Bad Tourists
Auston and David write Two Bad Tourists to show readers it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles and points in 2007, when I began traveling frequently for work. I got a offer through US Airways and decided to sign-up (since then, US Airways has merged with American Airlines).
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started the blog with my husband David back in 2012, when we set off on a 1 year round-the-world trip. We initially started our blog just as a hobby to keep our friends and family updated on our travels. But we decided half-way into our trip to write for a general audience and make it more useful.
Our blog is unique because we write primarily about LGBT travel, festivals, events and travel issues relevant to our community that other people don’t face. For example, we recently published gay travel guides to Madrid and Barcelona, which have become extremely popular with our readers.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses is the absolutely best way to earn a lot of miles quickly!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Spending 1 year traveling the world was pretty memorable. Most days were amazing as we traveled to more than 30 countries. But spending a year without a home and hoping around every 4 to 5 days quickly became exhausting, though exhilarating.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Our family and friends love it! I constantly get questions about how they can earn miles and book award tickets. I’ve helped my family find the best credit card offers for them and many have redeemed the miles for international tickets, often coming to visit us abroad either in Spain or on other trips we take together.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Flexibility is the best trick to get the most bang for your buck. Applying for a credit card is not particularly difficult once you find a good 1 that fits your needs. But I find most people have problems actually redeeming the miles for a ticket that they want.
Because of work, school or personal schedules they are often not flexible with their dates and mileage tickets are either at peak redemption rates or simply not available. If you can arrange your schedule in advance to allow for flexibility in booking your tickets then you’ll get the most value.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
A few years back, I participated in the US Airways Grand Slam promotion (this promotion is no longer available). There were so many random ways to earn miles it was a bit ridiculous. One time, I booked a hotel room across from my office for $50, checked-in and immediately left, never actually staying in the room.
Spending $50 for a room you don’t use sounds pretty stupid, but it put me over a particular threshold in the promotion than gave me an additional 10,000 miles. This was worth it in the end, especially considering that you can sometimes get a 1-way international ticket to Europe for just 20,000 miles.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
When we took our 1 year trip, we each booked a round-the-world ticket with US Airways for 200,000 miles a piece. Our tickets included 15 international flights over the course of a year, which was a fantastic deal. Two paid tickets would have easily cost more than $20,000!
But what I didn’t realize is that once the ticket was booked, there was absolutely no flexibility in changing dates or destinations part way into the trip. This was pretty frustrating because you never really know what you might want to do 6 months later. Finding a ticket with flexibility or booking individual tickets probably would have been the better choice in hindsight.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Actually, I think our readers would be surprised that we use miles so often to travel. It’s not usually a topic I write about on the blog so very few people know.
Auston & David – 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!