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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: Locos por las Millas
Diana writes Locos por las Millas to help folks who speak Spanish learn more about miles and points and travel destinations.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
Back in 1998 when we lived in Mexico. My husband Alberto got an offer for American Express Aeromexico credit card. He received enough points for 2 round-trip domestic tickets to Cancun, Mexico.
After that, we applied for our 1st US credit card in 2007. We both were approved for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and received our first sign-up bonuses. Since then, we have never stopped collecting miles, it just became addictive.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
Last August when we returned from our crazy around-the-world trip, I just felt I had to share our experiences and let everybody know that dreams can come true. You can really travel around the world on mostly miles and points.
My blog Locos por las Millas (Crazy about Miles) is in Spanish because I want to help Hispanic people who know limited English. Living in the US there’s not much information in Spanish that can help them learn more about the miles and points world.
I also receive a lot of visits to my blog from countries like Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, and Chile. Even if they can’t take advantage of the same credit card bonuses we have in the US, they can learn some tips or reviews on destinations around the world.
I just want to share our experiences and help make people happy any bit I can.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
One recommendation is to never use cash when you shop, only use your rewards credit card. And always pay off the balance in full.
Our family always has an agenda, every month we decide which credit card to use based on how many points we need for different hotels or airlines.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
For our 20th Anniversary, we planned a mega-tour in 2014. We traveled for 3 months, visiting 56 cities in 28 countries around the world. All the hotels and almost all the flights were booked with miles and points.
We visited wonderful countries like Russia, Morocco, Sweden, Italy, Tahiti, Cambodia, India, Jordan, Costa Rica, Singapore, and Thailand. We took our children with us for most of the tour. It was the most crazy and perfect experience in our lives.
These memories will last forever!
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
At 1st, nobody believed us. But after we booked our 1st international trip to Peru, they wanted to know all the details.
At this moment, my family has traveled to Europe, Alaska, Canada, Puerto Rico, and almost all of the Caribbean on miles and points.
When they return from a trip, they’re always thinking: What’s next? How many miles do we need? What will be the strategy for our next trip?
I certainly enjoy knowing that my family and friends are traveling the world like us…for close to free!
Is there any tool or trick, which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
We had a 3-night stopover in Honolulu on our way back from Japan. Our return flight to Los Angeles was cancelled due a storm and we had to stay 2 more nights at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach.
We got an offer from the hotel to participate in a time share meeting and we had plenty of time because it was raining that day. So, we received 40,000 Hilton Honors points for just listening to a 2-hour time share presentation.
That was something really easy and unexpected.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I would have liked to have known about the open jaws and stopovers. I now use these options to extend my trips without spending too many miles.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
We are crazy travelers originally from Mexico, and after only a few years of living in US we started living the American Dream! We had the opportunity to travel to 40 countries so far, all thanks to the miles and points we earned from credit card sign-up bonuses!
Any parting words?
We got married at a very, very young age, now our 20 year old daughter who’s almost finished college has been collecting miles and points since she was 18. She’s now ready to make her own travel dreams a reality!
I think we are blessed to have the opportunity to travel the world almost for free. Plus we’ve been able to show our children that there are a lot of benefits to being responsible with their finances.
If you like to travel, now is the moment! Take advantage of all the credit card bonuses while they last. I always say, we are not millionaires but we like to travel like we are!
Diana – 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!