Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Adventures With Sally
Sally writes Adventures With Sally to share her travel adventures and tips with readers.
You can also follow her on Instagram.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started seriously collecting miles and points in 2014. Prior to that, it was mostly through sporadic personal and business travels.
A while ago, a financially savvy friend mentioned this hobby. Afterward, I started researching the topic and it landed me on various useful points and miles sites such as Million Mile Secrets, The Points Guy, One Mile at a Time, etc.
Armed with the knowledge, I remember the adrenaline rush when I clicked “submit” to apply for my first rewards credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, in 2014. That year I applied and was approved for 6 credit cards totaling 259,000 points and 2 nights at Hyatt.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Initially, I started the blog as a way to keep myself challenged. I was feeling stagnant and wanted do something to redirect that energy. Writing has never been my forte, so I decided to face it head on.
With the newfound interest in traveling on miles and points, starting a travel blog and sharing my travel experiences with friends and family provided the purpose I was seeking.
My blog is special in that it’s based on a single female traveler’s perspective. It also focuses on sharing travel experiences, tips, and lessons learned along the way.
My trips aren’t about fine dining, staying at high-end hotels, or flying in premium cabins. They are more nature, outdoors, and adventure focused.
Many people have the notion that traveling is a luxury and is expensive. Some may just never think or know how to get the most out of miles and points. I hope to encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone and embrace the world.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
None other than earning credit card sign-up bonuses. This is still one of the most lucrative ways to earn lots of miles and points in a short amount of time.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
This is a tough one as each trip brings unique experiences and special memories. My all time favorite (for now) is a trip to Peru last year. My friend and I did a 4-day guided hike on the Inca trail.
During the trek, we camped out in the middle of the ancient mountain, along with 200 other hikers and porters (chaskis), mice friends, and good ol’ rain gifted by mother nature.
We burned millions of calories from the never ending ascend, endured each other’s stench from the lack of showers, and were chased by llamas. Best of all, we got to see the Last Inca – Machu Picchu as a grand finale. This was also my first full attempt at travel hacking.
Some of my other favorite travel memories include road tripping around Taiwan, trekking the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, hiking along the beautiful Cinque Terre in Italy, whitewater rafting in Colorado, and ice caving in Iceland.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
My family thinks that the miles and points hobby is complicated, and that I’m a nut for constantly wanting to jet off somewhere.
I still haven’t been able to convince them to take the plunge. One of the comments I regularly get from people is, “You’re on vacation again?!”
A few of my friends also share an interest in the miles and points hobby. We love getting together to talk about credit cards and ways to travel and life hack.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I really like AwardMapper when researching hotel rewards programs for a particular destination.
Also, as new products get introduced and credit card rules change, signing-up to receive newsletters from established blogs is also very useful for getting updated information.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I once responded to a hotel survey after a business trip to New York City. It wasn’t an enjoyable stay due to the noisiness of the location at night, so I expressed that on the survey.
The hotel manager sent an email apologizing, and offered 2,500 Starwood points as a nice gesture.
It was really unexpected and I even replied to compliment him on the gesture. Well, I never did see those points. Regardless, you never know what you might get by responding to surveys. It doesn’t cost anything at all anyway.
Also from time to time I’d look for bonus codes and sign-up for promotional offers from airlines and hotels. Even though I may not have an immediate need to use them. When I do fly or stay at the hotel which triggers the bonus, it’s always nice to get those extra points or miles.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I’d paid more attention to baggage rules for different airlines and been more strategic on which credit card to use.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m a mini “mustachian” and “boglehead”. Those terms may sound bizarre for those that have never heard of Mr. Money Mustache (financial blogger) or Jack Bogle (founder and pioneer of the Vanguard mutual fund company). The knowledge shared by them really brings things into perspective.
We are all driven by different goals and motivations in life. Mine is being able to live a simple and fulfilled life without all the materialistic distractions that constantly tempt us. Achieving financial freedom is my ultimate goal.
Any parting words?
The biggest hurdle between you and your dreams is yourself. Whether it’s a dream vacation, a life goal, or a bucket list item, it will remain a dream if you don’t allow yourself to take that first step.
Thank you so much for having me. Million Mile Secrets is one of the blogs I follow religiously. It’s such an honor to take part in the interview series.
Sally – 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!