Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: A Journey We Love
Peter and Ruby write A Journey We Love to help inspire others to live life to the fullest.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
It all started in January 2014. Ruby and I had been dating for a few months, and she convinced me (after initial hesitation on my part!) to sign-up for 2 credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and United MileagePlus Explorer card.
She used the points to fly home to the Philippines to visit her family. After that first successful round-trip award ticket, it all snowballed from there. We have been to multiple countries and destinations within the US, thanks to points and miles!
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Ruby has been blogging for over 8 years, but decided she wanted to get her own domain name and venture into the travel space. So, during Thanksgiving weekend, we bought a domain and started A Journey We Love.
Because we’re both passionate about travel and personal finance, we decided to merge those 2 things together. We share tips and tricks about places we’ve been and show readers how to get there using points & miles.
We also do end of trip round-ups that explain how much we spent on certain activities, accommodations, airfare, food, and souvenirs.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Sometimes you need to get creative. For example, we have an upcoming wedding, and we’ve used the Chase British Airways card to pay for most of our expenses to meet the minimum spending requirements. We’re almost there!
We never leave home without our credit cards and use them for almost every expense we have – food, transportation, gas, you name it!
Airline shopping portals are useful as well. Every 3 months or so, we go online shopping for household goods at Walmart, making sure we reach the minimum for free shipping. Not only do we get extra miles by going through a shopping portal, but we also save money on gas by not driving to the store!
Also, signing-up for dining portals can give you additional points. You just link a credit card and go. Sometimes additional points would deposit into my account because we happened to randomly eat in a restaurant that is part of the program. It’s great!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Watching the World Cup in Brazil with a squadron of gun-toting police officers in Rio de Janeiro. It was the knockout stage match between Chile and Brazil, so the loser of the game would exit the tournament.
The stakes were high, and the entire city was shut down. Stores were closed, people either went to watch at Copacabana Beach, or nervously stayed inside.
Ruby and I were strolling through this giant ghost town when we came upon a group of nervous, but excited police officers who invited us to join them. They had chairs set up, and 2 TVs – one in one store, and the other, which had a slight lag, in the store right next to it.
The game went to penalties. Ruby and I watched with the group of officers with the TV which had a slightly better signal. It was kind of funny, because after every kick, our group would either groan if a Brazil player missed or cheer if they scored. The other group would get annoyed and tell us to be quiet and not give them spoilers.
Luckily, Brazil won on penalties, and suddenly the entire city erupted in tremendous joy. It was like a transformed place, music blaring, people running around, and Rio was back.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
My family definitely thought it was a bit odd in the beginning. But they’ve come to appreciate the fact that it can save a tremendous amount of money and help make travel more fun.
I’ve even redeemed a one-way flight from Europe for a relative, so they’ve seen it first-hand now!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Mistake fares. Last year, we used an Etihad Airways mistake fare to fly from New York to Manila for only ~$300 per person round-trip. So that saved us each ~$1,000, not bad!
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Promotions. We never knew that hotel promos can be a great way to earn additional hotel points!
IHG offered additional points just for staying one night and booking using the Chase IHG Rewards card as part of the IHG Accelerate promotion (now expired). So that was an easy way for us to earn additional points.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
We wish we knew earlier that our old apartment accepted credit cards (with no additional fee). This would’ve been a terrific way to earn a ton of extra points!
And we wish we were more mindful of the cards we signed-up for. Now that Chase implemented the 5/24 rule, Ruby cannot get the cards she wanted!
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
We’ve never been on a cruise! I have motion sickness, so I have been avoiding it ever since I met Ruby. But she’s finally convinced me to try a short, 3-night cruise to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral. So I’m hoping for smooth sailing!
Any parting words?
Rick Steves likes to sign off with “Keep Traveling.” But I’ll say, Keep Travel Hacking!
Thank you for giving us this opportunity. We’re big fans of the site and have used it to get a lot of great information and deals.
Peter & Ruby – 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!