Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Trials and Miles
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
It started back in 2012 as my husband and I were fresh college graduates and looking for ‘career’ jobs. I was doing a lot of web browsing and somehow came across an article about applying for credit cards multiple times in order to get points and miles for free travel. I LOVE to travel but, back then, didn’t think it was feasible with our finances.
I started reading more and more into earning miles and points towards free travel and then told my husband all about it. My husband was the one who latched on really hard and just a few months later, we had booked our first international trip!
Million Mile Secrets was one of the first sites that we followed and has helped us so much throughout the years!
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started my blog back in 2010 after my husband and I got married and moved across the country for grad school. It initially started as a means to keep our family and friends up-to-date on our lives. And through the years, it has become very therapeutic for me. It has been a huge outlet for me to express all our highs and lows of life and everything in between.
I blog about my husband’s battle with cancer, my running, my family, my trials, the good times, the bad times; I really don’t hold anything back and I think that’s what is most special about it. I really push myself to be as honest as possible. And believe me, I sweat for hours after posting some of the content and have almost taken so many posts down!
But I truly believe that by putting it ALL out there it might help someone. And helping people and making them happier is truly a love of mine. That’s why we have incorporated sharing how we travel for free into my blog – I want everyone to know that ANYONE can travel if they know how to get the points and miles. I am so excited to share this wealth of knowledge with others so they can get out there and experience the world alongside us!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Swipe that card! “Swipe, swipe, swipe” – please go listen to Justin Bieber’s ‘Boyfriend.’ I think about it all the time when I think about spending on credit cards! But really, you would be surprised how fast points and miles add up by just making everyday purchases on your credit card. And credit cards are especially vital in earning those big sign-up points and miles bonuses. We hardly EVER use cash. We put everything we possibly can on our cards.
Please be aware though, in order to make getting these miles and points worth it, you must pay your credit cards off in full each month. There is no sense in accumulating a lot of points if you are simultaneously accumulating a lot of debt! However, as long as you are wise and responsible with your credit cards, they will only benefit you!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Oh man. That is a real hard question. We have gone on some really amazing vacations like Vancouver Island, all-inclusive hotel stays in Mexico, Switzerland, and Italy. But I think the one that takes the cake was on our vacation to Portugal and Açores Islands.
My husband served a Mormon mission in Portugal which included some time on São Miguel in the Açores and so we really wanted to go back so I could see where he lived for 2 years. While we were on São Miguel, the capital of the Açores Islands, we took a little zodiac type boat way out into the ocean, jumped overboard while the boat was still zipping along, and got to swim with a pod of wild dolphins!
We spent an hour or so swimming out there as they danced around us out in the clear open (and VERY DEEP) ocean. The dolphin-loving little girl in me couldn’t help but squeal! It was so surreal and beautiful. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xDFeh9JpF8
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
At first they were hesitant and scared we were making big financial mistakes. But now that we are open and explain exactly how we do everything, they love it and have jumped on board! We get a LOT of questions from them on how to do it!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
An EXCEL SPREADSHEET! With opening up so many credit cards, rewards accounts, and all the different usernames and passwords that come along with it, it is vital to stay organized and on top of things. We have a master spreadsheet so we can keep track of all our accounts, usernames and passwords, and miles and points that we have.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
My husband coaches NCAA track and cross country and although most hotels will only give him the points from his hotel room, there have been 2 instances where the hotel desk person was extra nice and gave him the whole team’s points! This once happened at an upscale LaQuinta and still to this day we have LaQuinta points left over!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
It’s not as complicated as you think. I remember feeling very overwhelmed as I looked into it. But if you make sure to stay on top of things, it’s really quite easy. And if you ever have questions, make a call! We have gotten much better flights and deals just by calling in and talking to someone directly.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
As mentioned before, I am a pretty open book about most things in my life. However, I hardly talk about what my ‘career’ was before I ‘retired’ and became a full-time Momma.
I graduated in Psychology and then after got my teaching degree. I taught social sciences at a therapeutic high school. The high school is a boarding school for teens who needed help overcoming addiction or mental health problems. I loved my time there and hope to get back to teaching in the future.
Any parting words?
Don’t be scared to try your hand at award travel! It seems confusing and overwhelming at first – we have all been there! But the great thing is there are people and sites such as myself and Million Mile Secrets that are so willing to help you. We all want you to travel and have your own amazing experiences! So don’t be scared to go for it!
Kacee – 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!