“As a College Student Working ~10 Hours a Week, Making $150 in Minutes Was Like Gold!”

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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:   Caroline Lupini

Caroline writes Caroline Lupini to share her travel experiences with recent college graduates like herself.

You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.  And she’s giving away award booking consultations, amenity kits, and more!

Caroline Lupini - Interview With Caroline
Caroline Rock Climbing in Ireland

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I started collecting points and miles ~4 years ago.  I was a junior in college and really just discovered my love of travel after a 26-day bus tour around Europe.  I was planning a trip to Costa Rica the following summer with 1 of my friends and came across miles & points blogs as well as Flyertalk.  I was hooked!

It was truly like 1 day I didn’t know any of this existed, then the following day I was spending hours reading various blogs.  

However, I’d been signing-up for credit cards for about a year and a half by this point.  Just no annual fee cards with relatively small sign-up bonuses.

But as a college student working ~10 hours a week, making $150 in minutes was like gold!

Why did you start your blog?  What’s special about it?

I started my original blog, Point Princess, after attending my 1st Frequent Traveler University.  I went alone, not knowing anyone, and had a fantastic time.  I wanted to get more involved in this hobby and meet more people.

Caroline Lupini - Interview With Caroline
Showing My Camera to Kids in Myanmar

I wanted to share what I knew about points and miles with my friends, who at this point were mostly recent college graduates, so that they could travel too.

Since then, I have re-branded to CarolineLupini.com.  I wanted to have a wider scope and lessen my focus on points and miles.  Even though points and miles are a huge part of how I am able to travel, they are not why I travel.

What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?

The easiest way to earn frequent flyer miles is to apply for credit cards.  For most people, a good credit card application cycle will earn you plenty for 1 to 2 major trips per year.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

My most memorable travel experience was my 1st major solo trip.  This is different than the bus tour of Europe.  That wasn’t really solo even though I went to Europe on my own.

There were a lot of ups an downs on the trip.  The biggest down was the bank freezing my account when I 1st arrived in Beijing.  I had very little money to work with for 3 days before my account was unfrozen. 

There were many ups though: making new friends, trying new food, finding 1 of my favorite places – Kep, Cambodia, getting clothes made in Hoi An, and visiting amazing sites such as Ha Long Bay and Angkor Wat.

What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?

They think I’m a little bit crazy, but to varying degrees I think they get it.  We all have something that we’re a little crazy about.  For me, it’s travel, and points and miles help me get there.

Caroline Lupini - Interview With Caroline
Hanging Out With Points and Miles Friends at Oktoberfest in Munich

Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?

Twitter.  I was not at all a Twitter user before I got into points and miles, but so many deals break over Twitter that it is impossible to ignore!  Not to mention, Twitter is amazing for dealing with hotels and airlines while on the fly.

What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?

My 1st big points and miles project was the OpenSky promotion (expired).

No one was exactly sure what the terms meant.  I went in on it by purchasing things that I would use anyway (and gifts, in many cases).  It turned out, I made a bunch of money in the form of Amazon gift cards!  It was a huge surprise that it worked out and it definitely got me hooked.

Caroline Lupini - Interview With Caroline
One of the Many Puppies I’ve Made Friends With Around the World

What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?

I wish I knew to book 2 one-way flights when my plans are uncertain.

I blew a ton of British Airways Avios points on an American Airlines flight to New York with my mom.  We changed our plans at the last minute and only First Class award seats were available.  So I had to pay for round-trip First Class award flights.

If I would have booked 1-way flights, I could have changed just the outbound flight and saved miles!

Since I’m based in Ann Arbor, it’s a pretty short flight between Detroit and New York.  So it was silly to use so many miles.  Though, my mom and I did have a great trip!

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I rode a bike from Baltimore to San Francisco over the summer of 2013.

Caroline Lupini - Interview With Caroline
The 4K for Cancer Group – 26 Young Adults Biking From Baltimore to San Francisco Benefiting the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults

Any parting words?

Stay in touch and keep traveling!

Caroline – 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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