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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: John The Wanderer
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I’ve been collecting miles and points for the last 20 years. I signed-up for every frequent flier program and award program when I was in high school, and I have been collecting them since that time. About 10 years ago, I traveled as part of my work and earned elite status on Northwest Airlines. I was based in Michigan, and Detroit was one of the hubs.
I enjoyed the experience and got to travel to a lot of great places for work. By taking those trips I earned a lot of miles that I used to book tickets for my friends and family on flights. At the same time that I earned elite status on Northwest, I discovered Starwood hotels. From that point on, I got 25 stays per year to earn platinum status.
I got into the larger miles and points arena about 5 years ago when I began finding creative ways to spend on credit cards, and was able to earn a lot of miles and points. I used the miles and points to redeem for luxury travel and hotel stays.
Since that time, I have been connecting with others in the hobby and have picked up some great tips.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started the blog because I love exploring the world and connecting with other travelers. I write for fun, as I can document my experiences and share ideas and tips with other travelers so that we can all benefit.
The blog features a lot of trip reports from my explorations. I review airlines and hotels, as well as activities. In addition, I post relevant travel news to help others understand what is going on in the industry.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I love when I visited Cape Town, South Africa. It was a short trip where I was in the city for only a couple days.
I spent my time exploring the city. On one of the days, I found the beach where the penguins hang out and stood mesmerized watching them running around, swimming, and playing in the sand. It was an amazing trip, and such a beautiful country.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Most don’t understand why I travel as much as I do. It is often difficult to explain it to people outside the miles and points hobby.
But I love traveling, and my friends and family have benefited from the miles and points, as I have booked trips for us together. They think it is a bit silly but when they get to travel in Business or First Class, they appreciate the experience.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Always be on the lookout for good deals. I check Fare Deal Alert, The Flight Deal, and Secret Flying every day. When I see a great fare, I pull up Google Flights and look at possible days and then book the trip right away.
I make use of the free 24-hour cancellation or hold policy to verify that I can in fact go on the trip. A lot of the sale fares only last for an hour or so, so it is important to stay alert. That way you can travel more and experience more for less.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
I received American Airlines miles from having dinner at a restaurant in Minneapolis. I have my credit cards registered under the dining for miles program, but none of the restaurants that I normally go to participate so I never earn bonus miles.
One day at the last minute, people from my work wanted to try this restaurant. I paid with one of my cards, and that restaurant turned out to be participating so I earned miles without knowing it.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I would have known about creative spending techniques when I first got my Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express card about 10 years ago. I could have earned so many more points at that time that could have been used on even better travel experiences over that time-frame.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
In addition to traveling, I work full-time in finance for a healthcare company. I also volunteer frequently for service projects, and I lead a small group for my church.
Any parting words?
Thank you for reading about my blog. I hope that we can connect in the future. Do you have a trip in mind that you would like to take using miles and points but don’t know where to start?
I would be happy to talk with you to help develop your strategy so you can travel the world and experience more.
John – 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!