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Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: Conway Travels
Andrew started his travel consulting business, Conway Travels to help travelers locate cheap airfare and hotel rates and coordinate sightseeing itineraries.
And you can follow Conway Travels on Facebook for his latest tips and news.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
About 4 or 5 years ago, I was in graduate school doing some research for a paper when I stumbled upon an article regarding using gift cards and other tools to accumulate frequent flyer miles.
That’s when the light bulb went off, and I began researching any and everything I could on this unique hobby. It wasn’t long until this hobby turned into my profession and years of English grad school turned into “fun facts” I could lecture my wife on while traveling to many of the places I had only read about.
Why did you start your site? What’s special about it?
I started my small travel consulting business to show others how miles and points can open up the world to them. My wife and I aren’t insanely rich, but we’ve managed to travel all over in First Class style, and our friends and family wanted to know how we did it. I didn’t have much ambition to start a blog, so I began helping others 1-on-1 or in small groups using my system and tactics.
The response to those little workshops was so positive that I now work nearly full-time assisting others realize their travel dreams.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
The 1 single thing most people can do to get more miles is to understand and respect their credit. Signing-up for lots of credit cards continues to be the most lucrative source of miles, yet a fundamental misunderstanding of how credit actually works scares off countless individuals.
If you treat your credit responsibly, then you are in prime position to take advantage of the enormous miles and points bonuses being offered at this place in time. This wasn’t even possible decades ago, and it might not be possible decades from now.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
For my 30th birthday we decided to go to Europe for 30 days, mostly up and down Italy. It was a once in a lifetime trip, in part because it was too exhausting to ever repeat, but 1 that shapes your life, adorned with a hundreds of wonderful memories that will always stay with us.
This trip should have taken several lifetimes to save up for, but it took me only about 9 months worth of miles strategizing. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in this hobby.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
The wife couldn’t be happier, as you can imagine. She and those close to me were actually quite supportive, especially considering the 180 I made from professor to whatever this is. Haha! Most others probably have a healthy mix of curiosity, skepticism, and envy.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I was at Frequent Traveler University Chicago 2 years ago and Mommy Points thought it was cool that I label my wife’s credit cards with the appropriate spending bonus categories. Most spouses are usually just along for the ride so I try to simplify everything as much as possible for her. And I don’t like leaving free miles on the table 😉
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
By NOT taking surveys! Sure, everyone knows taking surveys is a tedious way to accumulate points, and many won’t even bother with e-rewards or MyPoints surveys because they are too long. So I purposely throw the surveys, taking in the quick points for not qualifying.
Some easy ways to do that are choosing you are under 18 or over 65, live in an obscure country, or note that you or your family works in 1 of the specified industries the survey is regarding. Those answers will usually abruptly end the survey and you’ll make the quick points in under 30 seconds.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I had jumped in head 1st sooner, rather than testing the waters. I know that sounds contrary to popular belief, but I believe I missed some big opportunities that I don’t foresee coming around again.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
My 1st trip to Europe, many years ago, I actually paid for (with money!) and didn’t even collect the miles – all 20,000 of them, if you include my wife’s too. That still haunts me to this day.
Any parting words?
Every time I see a debit card I die a little bit. Because just a few strategic swipes of a credit card, can open up the world to you and your family.
Andrew – 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!