“Hiking Through the Thick Vegetation…to Watch Mountain Gorillas”
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Adventure Travel Lovers
Shady and Millzo started Adventure Travel Lovers to share their travel adventures.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
We started collecting airline miles back in 2006, on 1 of our 1st adventure trips to Hawaii. Back then, we accrued miles the old-fashioned way by signing-up with an airline’s reward program and then flying on the airline to earn miles.
We continued accumulating miles this way until we finally had enough to cash in for free flights in 2008. (Luckily we were young and frequently visiting Miami and Vegas with friends back in those days!)
It was double the excitement when we booked our trip to Costa Rica, 1st because we were super excited to explore the country and 2nd because the flights were free!
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
We started Adventure Travel Lovers to organize our travel memories into 1 central location to share our passion for adventure with others. We have so many special memories of our unique adventures together, and we want to inspire others to live their dreams.
We are regular people, working day jobs and juggling busy schedules. We have friends to see, families to visit, and housework to finish. Our site shows that it is possible to go on unbelievable journeys, no matter your situation!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses! I have to thank Daraius for always keeping valuable credit card offer information on his site. Through these links we have signed up for multiple credit cards, earning bonus miles that helped us earn free flights to South Africa, Indonesia, Belize, and more!
One important thing to keep in mind is that this is only worthwhile if you are disciplined enough to pay off your credit card balance in full every month. Otherwise, the interest you pay can outweigh the benefits of the earned miles.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Last December, we spent our Christmas break traveling East Africa. The absolute highlight of the trip, and 1 of our best experiences to date, was hiking through the thick vegetation in the mountains of Kinigi, Rwanda, to watch Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat.
They went about their business: playing, eating, and roaming, as we stood in awe nearby. It’s experiences like these that make adventure travel so special to us.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Many of our friends aren’t even aware of all of the advantages of racking up reward miles. Some do know about it but just never got around to signing-up for offers.
Then there are the few friends and family members who travel almost as frequently as we do, and guess what? They use reward miles. Earn more miles and travel more often; it’s that simple. Spread the word!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?Stick to 1 airline as much as you can. You will typically be allowed to fly on affiliate airlines with the same reward miles. This way you are always working towards milestones with the airline you frequent instead of ending up with a few thousand points on various airlines that you can’t exchange for any free flights.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Like any devoted reward-mile accumulators, we typically charge everything possible to our credit cards. But even in doing so, we rarely come close to hitting the annual spending limits for extra bonus miles.
Boy were we pleasantly surprised the year we got married and charged many of our wedding expenses to our airline credit card, on top of our regular spending. We were rewarded with an extra (and unexpected) 10,000 miles!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Many credit card offers can only be used 1 time per person. Others will let you use them once every few years or more.
I once signed up for a card that I had closed less than 2 years prior and found out after the card was reopened that I was not eligible to receive the bonus offer.
Boy did I try to get the bonus anyway, calling customer service and asking for supervisors since I had received a targeted email for the offer. It was to no avail. You win some, you lose some.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I get violently sea-sick, but it doesn’t stop me from getting on boats over and over again. During our honeymoon in South Africa, we spent a day at sea cage-diving with Great White Sharks.
I was seasick and sobbing for 7 of our 8 hours on board, willing the captain to take us back to shore. But when the sharks were nearby it didn’t stop me from pulling on a wetsuit and jumping in. I will not let my sea-sickness control my adventure experiences!
Any parting words?
If you really want to do something you will find a way; if not you will find an excuse. Nothing makes me happier than thinking back on all the crazy memories that Milzo and I have made during our years of travel.
My advice is, if you truly want to go somewhere, then make it a reality. You might need to re-examine your priorities to make it happen, but anything is possible.Shady and Millzo – 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!
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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)