Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Travelling King
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I learnt about miles & points collecting about 7 years ago when I got my first credit card and started traveling around. I realized my credit card gave me bonus frequent flyer points for signing-up, and then I started accumulating them just by using my card.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I originally started my blog as a way to tell my stories and keep track of my trips and my pictures (mainly for myself), sort of like an online scrapbook, until I realised that people were viewing my posts and commenting. So I researched more about blogging, and started writing better quality articles that were focused on helping other people and their travels.
I’m not sure I can say there is anything “special” about my blog. It’s almost impossible to be original or unique online when there are millions of the same websites and blogs around. But I guess one of the main differences on my blog is that I’m not a full-time traveler (which has its advantages and of course disadvantages).
Like most people, I work full-time, have a mortgage (no white picket fence though) and the usual responsibilities, but travel when I can. I try to relate to people in the same situation.
We are also an “Affordable Luxury” travel blog, which means that we look for the best deals to ensure we can enjoy luxurious experiences such as staying in 5-star hotels or going wine tasting via a helicopter.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Sign-up to newsletters that your frequent flyer program uses. For example, in Australia, Woolworths Supermarket is affiliated with Qantas, and we often get special emails telling us about sales or ways to get more Woolworths Rewards points (which you can convert to Qantas points).
A recent sale was spend $40 at the local bottle shop (alcohol store) and get 2,000 Woolworths points, which equals 870 Qantas points. All I needed to do was “activate” the offer by clicking the link in my email.
They also offer regular sales or specials in the supermarket. And the majority of the time, it’s items you’d buy anyway. It’s a great way to get rewarded for doing your everyday (or week) shop.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
As I’m sure any traveller would say, that’s a really difficult question to answer. Each and every country we have been to has provided us with some great experiences (some we are still yet to write about!). Phuket is by far my favorite place to go – it’s so relaxed and warm and the cocktails are cheap!
However, my most recent 3- or 4-day trip to New Zealand has by far been the most memorable.
We packed a lot into the few days we were there, going from 100+ degrees hot springs in the morning to snow-capped mountains in the afternoon, visiting Hobbiton (!), jumping off the Auckland SkyTower, and taking a helicopter to go island hopping and wine tasting. Plus the Business Class upgrades (thanks to my points) on the way home certainly didn’t suck! 😉
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
My mum still lives in the Stone Age, so it’s basically a foreign language to her. My husband is fairly supportive, and helps to build up points alongside me. We make it into a bit of a competition!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
As mentioned above, it’s good to get to know your frequent flyer programs, sign-up to newsletters, and do what’s reasonable (and affordable) to collect points. People don’t seem to realise how powerful they really can be!
Research ways your frequent flyer programs offer points. It might be as easy as switching over to a different phone network, or looking into their health insurance products, just to get a few extra points. At the end of the day, it all adds up.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
At the petrol station! Recently, Virgin Australia started a program where you can get points for filling up your car. I didn’t realize it was heavily advertised (I live under a rock now and then…), so I was pleasantly surprised when the petrol station operator asked if I had a Virgin frequent flyer card.
That said, I’m not 100% sure they do it any more…
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I had started earlier and had been a little more aggressive. I should have gone for more of the credit card sign-up bonuses, as they have significantly dropped now. However, from working in finance, I know it’s not a great idea to have a heap of credit card inquiries on your credit file (even if you pay your cards off every month).
I ALSO wish I knew not to spend my points at the Qantas store. Not a smart way to use points, but I sure do love my Bose headphones, haha!
I wish I had found websites like this and done a bit more research about the best way to use and collect points!
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Oh gosh! They would probably be surprised to find out that I actually really don’t enjoy writing. I really struggle with it. It’s never come naturally to me, but I think I’ve gotten a bit better over the years.
I know that’s strange for someone who has a blog (which requires writing…). But I love telling stories and giving people tips and hints. And I take 100,000 photos, most of them unusable, but I refuse to delete any of them. It drives my husband’s OCD mad!
Any parting words?
Live a little! Life gets boring when you’re doing the same thing day in and day out. I don’t think we were born to wake up, go to work, come home, and repeat.
Get a passport, book some annual leave, and go on a trip overseas (or interstate). I guarantee you will catch the “travel bug” (and hopefully not a tummy bug)!
Travelling can not only provide a change to your day to day routine, but it will give you a new perspective of how other people around the world live. You gain a greater appreciation for what you have waiting for you at home.
If you follow my advice and don’t enjoy traveling, then please send me a message and let me know why you hated it so much! But if you loved it, I’ll be happy send you an address and you can thank me by sending me a bottle of wine… haha!
Samantha – 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!