“We assumed that kind of trip was out of reach for us for at least 20 years and we won it!”

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“We assumed that kind of trip was out of reach for us for at least 20 years and we won it!”

Million Mile Secrets“We assumed that kind of trip was out of reach for us for at least 20 years and we won it!”Million Mile Secrets Team

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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: Heels First Travel

Tiff writes for the Heels First Travel blog, and shares her travel views as a parent.

The four of us on our European trip last fall at The Acropolis in Athens
The four of us on our European trip last fall at The Acropolis in Athens

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I started collecting miles and points when I used to fly on Delta a lot for work back in the early 2000s.  I was also able to take advantage of some of their double and triple miles bonuses post 9-11 to get elite status with them.

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

We travel a lot as a family and I’ve had many people tell me “I wish we could travel like you guys do.”  So I asked Jeanne and Keri if they’d be interested in some guest posts on their blog about traveling economically for families to show people travel is more accessible than they think it is.

I know there are a lot of mommy travel bloggers out there already, but I wanted to focus more on using points to afford a “normal” vacation for a family of four (or more) and less on flying first class or using points to get suites, etc.  Not that those things aren’t awesome, but my goal was to reach that other group who just want to be able to travel with their kids.

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

If you shop or make reservations online use shopping portals.  I started using www.evreward.com to figure out which portals to use to maximize points by everyday shopping.  I always stress to people, don’t buy anything you wouldn’t normally get, but if you’re going to shop online anyways, this is a great way to easily get double points (or more)!

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

This is a really hard one for me. I have to pick just one?  I would have to say the time my husband and I went on a pilgrimage to Israel.  We assumed that kind of trip was out of reach for us for at least 20 years– and we won it!

It was such an amazing experience and something we definitely want to do again.

My husband and I in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
My husband and I in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

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

I think they admire it?  No one has said anything negative to me about it at least.

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

Know what credit cards get you extra points for certain purchases.  For example some of our cards give us double points for gas, some don’t.  We make it a point to use the cards that are going to get us the most points for certain purchases.

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

The Delta SkyMiles dining program.  I registered us for it but there are not too many restaurants that we regularly go to on the program.  We went to dinner one night in Cocoa Beach with my family then a few days later I received an E-mail saying “Thank you for participating…”  I had no idea the restaurant we went to was part of it.

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

The shopping portals.  I was uncertain about using them at first, and now that I’ve been doing it for a while I’ve been kicking myself for not doing it from the very beginning.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I was an aircraft maintenance officer in the Air Force for eight years before I left active duty to be a stay-at-home mom.

Any parting words?

Don’t worry about having to use every trick in the book to get points.  If you can only do one or two things, do that, and then go from there.  For example, sign up for a hotel or airline’s loyalty program the next time you stay or fly with them.  Every little bit helps and you may be surprised at how many points you can accumulate.

Tiff– Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

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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! :)

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Richard, I’m a contributor for the blog “Heels First Travel”, Jeanne and Keri are the owners and daily bloggers, my contributions are more every-other-week (on average). If I’m writing about a specific travel event it may be more often, and sometimes it’s less-often, just depends what is going on. If you go to http://www.heelsfirsttravel.com/author/tiff/ you can find all my previous posts about budget family travel. Some of Jeanne and Keri’s posts do address budget travel as well, the blog is well organized to find whatever topic you’re looking for. Also, if you sign up for the newsletter before Sept 1st, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card an you’ll get the daily updates sent to your inbox. Thanks!

http://www.heelsfirsttravel.com/2013/07/05/reminder-sign-up-for-our-newsletter-and-enter-to-win-a-100-gift-card-to-amazon/

Very interesting read. I’d like to follow your blog. How can I do so? I have a family of 4 and

am more interested in affordable normal vacations rather than upgraded hotel rooms or first class flying.

When my husband and his mom got their tickets they were going for around $1,000 round-trip from DFW to Tel Aviv on Delta/AIitalia. They went via JFK/FCO on the way out and FCO/ATL on the return flight.

@Lynn

Yikes to that $1470. Dunno where you’re leaving from, but if you want to get creative domestically you can get $650 RTs in that timeframe to Tel Aviv from DC or Chicago. http://www.theflightdeal.com/2013/06/17/airfare-deal-united-chicago-washington-d-c-tel-aviv-israel-644-roundtrip-including-all-taxes/

Yes, I’m a bit older than Keri and Jeanne. 😉

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