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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: Chasing Chickadees
Alicia writes Chasing Chickadees to share stories about her life as a wandering vagabond.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Frugality has always been a sweet treasure hunt for me. I can’t escape the thrill of chasing the rainbow to the pot of shiny, gold points.
Three years ago, I discovered I had accumulated unknown miles with Delta Airlines from a college trip to Africa, and the door was unlocked. It was unreal to think credit card companies and airlines would give so many points with sign-up offers.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
It started as a way to keep friends and family up to date on my travels, as folks began to lose track of what state or country I resided in at the moment.
I blend travel photography along with quirky insight into life as a continuous traveler.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
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What’s your most memorable travel experience?
That question sparks memories of adventures from working on cowboy ranches in West Texas and hiking for 3 weeks on the gorgeous John Muir Trail.
Also summiting Kilimanjaro, exploring the fierce Amazon jungles, building adobe houses in Guatemala, and most recently bicycling the California coastline.
One particular memory while volunteering in Costa Rica saving sea turtles always brings a lump to my throat.
“The moon was almost full and graciously lit the beach for us. Twenty minutes into the nightly patrol, we bump into 79 hatchlings newly introduced to the world. We gathered them to move them closer to the sea.
They flapped softly in my hands as I carefully relocated them. We sat and watched them struggle on the moonlit sand.
One would burst into a lively “turtle jog” and then lay exhausted for a moment before “jogging” once again. At the moment, I felt pure & nameless & at peace with the universe.
There was nothing else I’d rather be doing than watching 79 olive ridley tortugitas descend into the ocean.”
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Initially, they are puzzled as to how I can travel so much on a modest seasonal wildlife biologist income.
After a bit of explaining, I see their jaws drop as the gears start turning in their minds. I’ve passed on the gift of churning to those that want to follow their feet to new places.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Organization and patience is key! Keep an eye out for exceptional credit card bonus offers.
I keep an excel spreadsheet of all my credit cards with information on minimum spending requirements, dates of yearly fees, current points, and notes on each card’s particular high points.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Before I understood frequent flyer miles, I had signed-up for a Delta Airlines account in college. Unknowingly, I racked up quite a few miles flying to Tanzania and didn’t realize until years later.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I knew of the many different ways to fulfill minimum spending requirements such as paying loans with credit cards.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Although I study and love birds, they do not love me back. I’ve been roundhouse kicked by chickens, attacked by parrots while running, and projectile pooped on by dozens of birds in hand.
Any parting words?
The hardest part of traveling is taking the 1st icy plunge and stepping out of your comfort zone. Once you’re comfortable with being uncomfortable, endless opportunities flow through the door.
Alicia – 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!