“Use your points – I hear Charon doesn’t accept them”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview: Free Travel Genius

Dave writes Free Travel Genius to show his wife and family how to travel the world for less.

Free Travel Genius – Interview with Dave
How and when did you start collecting miles and points? I joined American Airlines’ AAdvantage on Thursday March 30, 1989 at the ripe age of 13 and never looked back.   Why did you start your blog?  What’s special about it?

In the first 7 months of 2011, I took my wife to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Tanzania, Netherlands, Israel and France.  The longest of those flights were in first or business class and we stayed at many luxury hotels.  We didn’t pay for any of it.

When my friends and family caught whiff of what I did, they started asking questions.  After answering the same questions unknown times, I wrote it down and soon thereafter put it online.  It started as just one article.  I soon decided to make it a professional website and renamed it freetravelgenius.com.

Free Travel Genius – Interview with Dave
Cooking Class in Thailand
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?

Credit card bonus offers, of course, but you don’t need me to tell you that if you are reading Daraius’ blog.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Wow, there are so many, but summiting Kilimanjaro with my wife stands out the most.  It was a pretty easy walk up a hill other than the whole lack of oxygen thing.  It certainly hit me a lot by 18,000 ft., but gave us a huge sense of accomplishment.

I loved being able to fly to Kilimanjaro airport from Boston with only one plane change in Amsterdam on KLM (as compared to most that need to fly to Nairobi or Dar-al-Salam and spend a day on a bus).  Best part is that I received over 90% of the points needed for BOTH my wife and I to get there from a single American Express Platinum card application; and Capital One Venture Card was nice enough to pay for my wife’s climb.

Free Travel Genius – Interview with Dave
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?

About half of them want to do it too.  So I do it for my core family and advise many others.

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

Two websites are key: matrix.itasoftware.com and wandr.me.  Bookmark them!

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

Calling up American Express and just asking for them.  Just a few years ago, they would oblige (but not so much more).

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

I started caring about miles quite a while ago, but I never brought it to scale until a few years ago.  I am kicking myself thinking about all of the cash that I spent on travel during the first 35 years of my life; imagine if I invested it in Google instead!

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

That I am an online marketing professional for one of the world’s fastest growing agencies.  This is a bit embarrassing since I do almost no marketing for freetravelgenius.com and have a relatively rudimentary web design.  The funniest part is that I sometimes use my site as an example of what not to do when speaking with clients.

Any parting words?

Use your points – I hear Charon doesn’t accept them.

Free Travel Genius – Interview with Dave
Masai children in Tanzania
Dave  – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

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