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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: JetSetCitizen
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started about 12 years ago. I was living in Japan at the time and making many long-distance flights without collecting miles. I finally realized what a waste it was not to have an airline miles account.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started JetSetCitizen primarily to talk about my transition to a more nomadic life. I think I started about 7 years ago, when the digital nomad movement was still in its infancy.
My blog helped me to connect with other digital nomads. And it encouraged me to make my 1-year plan to change countries and careers. I wrote about my family’s journey from idea to actually selling our business, house and getting rid of most of our possessions on the site.
Now I’m most known for my posts on Chiang Mai, Thailand. Chiang Mai is the city I prefer most and have spent a lot of time there over the years.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
I’m always surprised at how many people don’t collect miles. You can’t collect miles until you set up an airline miles account. They are free and you can create your account after you finish your trip if you do it fast enough.
If you fly regularly, sign-up for an account, then get a credit card that gives you extra miles for your purchases. Miles add up quickly!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
There are so many. Seeing Papa Roach in Amsterdam was cool. The Hong Kong Skyline is always amazing to see. I love taking the ferry across to Hong Kong Island.
I have many memorable moments in Istanbul. The geography and the history of Istanbul are amazing. The Red Bull Flight Competition on the Danube River in Budapest was amazing.
The food in Osaka is always awesome. The world is a big place with many great memories.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Collecting air miles doesn’t register for most people. Also, in Canada, the quality of mileage programs is not that good.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
There are 2 big things to figure out how to minimize your travel expenses. Utilize open-jaw flights (travel to one city and out of another) and stopovers for low-cost ways to see other cities and countries. There is no need to fly into and out of one city.
You can sometimes even get cheaper tickets this way. If you are flying through a nice hub city like Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, New York, etc., do a stopover on the way to another destination. Stopovers are an inexpensive way to see another city.
The other trick is to study where your airline miles will benefit you most. For example, flying from Canada to Japan typically takes about 65,000 miles for a ticket that can be as cheap as $900. Flying from Japan to Australia or New Zealand is only about 50,000 miles but typically costs $1400 or more.
Pay for the cheap flights and use airline miles for the expensive trips. Also, stopovers and open-jaw travel tends to be more flexible when booking with airline miles.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
My Japanese credit card offers the best rewards compared to anything I’ve seen in Canada, so I try to use it for larger purchases. I don’t really go out of my way to collect miles, I just stay with Star Alliance and use my credit card for all the purchases I can.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I’ve learned a lot about open-jaw tickets and stopovers. I could have visited a lot more places had I known about them earlier.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I lived in Japan for 13 years. That might be surprising.
Any parting words?
The airlines are making it more difficult to collect and redeem airline miles, but they still add up. Make sure you sign up for a good credit card and register your miles each time you fly.
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!