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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: Go to Travel Gal
Lyn writes Go to Travel Gal to share her travel adventures and show folks how they can travel for nearly free on Southwest.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I’m longtime couponer who loved nothing better than to figure out how to get something for free combining a sale with a coupon.
In early 2015, I was introduced to Million Mile Secrets and realized I could apply these same skills. But instead of a free box of cereal, I found I could take my family around the world!
I could not believe I didn’t know this world existed!
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I’m also a longtime freelance travel writer, but found that there were many things I wanted to talk about that would not get covered by major media outlets.
Go to Travel Gal began as a way to share news and information about travel from all the interviews and research I do on a daily basis while writing articles and traveling to new places.
Then I decided to earn my Southwest Companion Pass. The blog evolved into not only a place to share my journey to secure this pass, but also to teach others how they can use it to travel with their family for nearly free.
I love to write about fun, funky hotels, and trends, which you will also find on my blog.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
I think the key is to continually use credit cards responsibly for daily expenses.
The credit card sign-up bonuses certainly get you going. But using credit cards to pay for things you would purchase anyway keeps those miles rolling in.
Day-to-day expenses, like clothing, utilities, rent, mortgages, dining, groceries, and even taxes really add up over the course of a year. Starting your spending at the online portals and maximizing bonus categories really ups the ante!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
My family’s first trip last fall, where we all flew entirely free to the San Diego area will be my most memorable.
We had a blast kayaking, biking, and boating for little out of pocket. I continue to be absolutely flabbergasted that 4 of us are flying for practically free around the US by holding 3 credit cards and using them to pay for everyday expenses.
By the end of this year, we will have flown to 6 different destinations in the US using Southwest points and our Southwest Companion Pass. And all for less than $100 per destination.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Every time we go somewhere, they roll their eyes and say, “another one of THOSE trips, huh?”
I think they mostly think I am lucky (they don’t realize they can be “lucky” too). Or they think I’m doing severe damage to my credit, but my credit is better now than it was before I started this hobby.
I just like to consider myself crafty 😉 .
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Million Mile Secrets has been invaluable to me. I subscribed to many miles and points blogs early on, but found them too complicated and overwhelming.
I narrowed it down to only a couple, including Million Mile Secrets, which does a great job of supplying the news of the day in an easy to understand fashion.
I’m on Southwest.com every day, researching and checking rates so I know the low-end award price for our favorite destinations. This way I get the most out of my Southwest points. And I look for great shopping portal deals or other offers for earning more points.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
The most unexpected way I earned Southwest points recently was by purchasing a 3 month subscription to the Wall Street Journal (a paper I love anyway) for $3 and earning 1,000 Southwest points (this offer is no longer available). Bonus!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I’d known that it doesn’t have to be complicated, especially for busy parents of young or school-age children.
Sure, if you’re single with no kids, you can spend plenty of time hacking different airline programs, routes, open-jaws, flying just to earn points, etc. But that is more time than I can allot as a mom and entrepreneur.
Instead, I have focused primarily on the Southwest Companion Pass, which is relatively simple to attain. No complicated math or crazy jargon required!
Flying for a fraction of the price is also attainable for families. Our family of 4 has been able to fly all over the place in the span of a year with plenty of Southwest points on the horizon for future travel.
And my husband plans on earning his own Southwest Companion Pass for 2017 and 2018, after mine expires.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m a devout Catholic. I blog about my conversion and give advice to new Catholics at A Catholic Newbie.
I love to see all the beautiful churches around our country on our travels! I’ve also owned my own travel Public Relations firm for 10+ years and I’m a regular travel contributor to Fox News, US News & World Report, and USA Today’s 10Best.
Any parting words?
I would love to see more families realize the fantastic benefits of the Southwest Companion Pass, so they can show their children amazing destinations.
For that reason, I’ve put together a free eBook that teaches you step-by-step how to earn the Southwest Companion Pass and how to get the most out of it. So everyone in your family can travel nearly free.
Lyn – 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!