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Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Wander The Map
Jenna is the creator and writer of Wander The Map. Her husband Micah is the photographer and videographer. Through blog posts, photos, and incredible videos they hope to inspire folks to get out and see the world.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles in college when I signed up for a Delta card. I also convinced Micah to sign up for one at that time, too.
We wanted to get the bonus points for a trip to Seattle, but I didn’t get serious about collecting miles and points until about 4 years ago after we moved to Florida. The 100,000 British Airways Visa Signature Card enticed us to sign up for another card, and from that point on I was officially hooked.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Basically, I started Wander The Map because I wanted to have an outlet to share our stories and photos from our travels. I drag Micah along for the ride, and he graciously takes photos and shoots videos while we are on the road as he is a photographer and videographer in “real life.”
I think our videos are a unique part of our site. We are starting to focus more on video with our upcoming trips and we are both really excited about expanding our video catalog.
Also, even though the main focus of the blog isn’t about miles and points, I always try to do a breakdown of how we used our points to cap the end of a specific destination series. Miles and points are what allow us to afford our traveling.
I feel like breaking down how we redeem our miles for each destination we travel to, helps people see that it is a realistic possibility and they can have the same type of amazing experiences as well.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Credit cards are obviously one of the most lucrative ways to get a lot of miles quick, as well as charging your daily spending on point earning cards.
But, one of my favorite ways to get more miles is by taking advantage of hotel bonus point promotions such as the Club Carlson BOGO or Stay 3 Nights, Get 1 Free promotions. We have created a huge balance of Club Carlson points, and in conjunction with the Club Carlson credit card benefits, we have had more free nights than I can count!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Our most memorable experience was when we went glacier hiking and ice climbing in Iceland. Thanks to miles and points, we had more money to splurge on activities, and the glacier excursion was by far our favorite splurge.
We took a road trip along the south coast of Iceland and hiked about 1.5 to 2 hours up a glacier to reach the ice-fall where there are many ice walls. Our guides set up gear for us to scale and climb up the ice walls, and it was extremely exhilarating. The incredible views didn’t hurt either!
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
I think they feel like I’m a little crazy sometimes because I’m not sure they always understand how much money collecting miles and points can save.
But, for the most part, they don’t seem to have much of an opinion except when it benefits them, then they love it. I love helping people get started on their journey of collecting points!
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Make a plan and create goals to help get you there. I have always found that once I decide on the destination of our next trip, it’s easier to create and achieve targeted goals.
I will search for hotels and airlines that fit within our plans and then work on collecting the points we need to get us there. When I’m running low on points, having a specific goal in mind makes it easier to focus on our targets.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
This isn’t anything new, but my favorite least expected way to earn miles is when we go out to dinner and happen to eat at a restaurant that’s a member of one of the frequent flyer dining programs we are registered with.
I love getting an email stating I earned points, and I didn’t even have to think about it. It’s like accomplishing your
to-do list when you are sleeping!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I would have realized the great value in collecting miles and points sooner. There was a ~5 year gap between applying for my first 2 cards.
I guess I just didn’t realize you could
sign-up for multiple cards all at once. Even when I applied for my 2nd card, I still had the mentality to only apply for 1 at a time. I wish I had started applying for multiple cards at a time earlier on.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I think they would be surprised to learn that we love building furniture and other items for our home. We have created numerous pieces with wood and metal, usually taking items and giving them a new use, such as pipe lamps or pallet tables.
Micah is also building an old tintype camera from scratch. It will look like something from the 1800’s and the prints will be developed on tin. We are planning on taking it on road trips this summer to photograph people for a larger project in the works.
Any parting words?
Always remember that you can’t reap the benefits of collecting miles and points if you don’t use them. Even if you aren’t getting the best redemption rate, if it is a trip you want to take and it would otherwise be impossible, use your points!
We may be able to stretch our points further than we do sometimes, but to me it’s more about the experience you gain than the points redeemed. There will always be more points to collect, so make sure you get out and have the adventures you dream of!
Jenna – 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!