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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: The Luxury Travel Expert
Xavier founded The Luxury Travel Expert as a source for luxury travel on a budget.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles and points about 8 years ago. At the moment, I’m an American Airlines Executive Platinum member, a Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum member, and a Miles & More Frequent Flyer.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
With a couple of friends (all of us are doctors), I started the blog 2 months ago, with a focus on luxury travel on a budget.
There is an avalanche of travel websites, information, and reviews out there. We feel that this enormous amount of information can both inspire and frustrate the demanding traveler (“Too many choices!,” “Is it worth it?,” and “Will it fit my taste?”).
So we want to filter all that information into 1 clear website with a single focus on luxury travel. It’s based on our own 20 years of experience of traveling around the world. Besides some permanent helpful information on the website, we also send 3 weekly newsletters on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, that feature:
- Inspiration on Monday: top 10 travel lists to inspire.
- Reviews on Wednesday: luxury hotel, flight, and destination reviews.
- Tips on Friday: competitions, interesting airline & hotel offers, tips for luxury travel on a budget, luxury travel news & trends, and (in the very near future) airline miles & hotel points news.
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Subscribe to the newsletters of bloggers like Daraius to be instantly updated on promotions for earning extra miles or hotel points. For example, American Airlines always has a big returning promotion for European customers in
autumn that gives you 30,000 extra miles per trans-Atlantic business flight.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
I would like to mention a couple of travel experiences, which were all memorable in their own category:
- Beach Holiday – nothing beats a Maldives holiday at a luxury hotel like Gili Lankanfushi or One & Only Reethi Rah.
- Wildlife Holiday – tracking mountain gorillas in Bwindi’s National Park, Uganda
- Scenic Holiday – hiking in Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia
- Cultural Holiday – visiting temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- Flying Business Class – Qatar Airways Dreamliner Boeing 787
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
In the beginning, I think they found it weird. Meanwhile, I found them crazy not to make more efforts to travel for free.
Nowadays, I’ve convinced most of my friends and family that miles & points can really save a lot of money when you travel often. They all joined frequent flyer programs and some of them are helping me with the blog.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
You can travel in style for almost free when you are an airline mile or hotel point freak. But it does take quite some effort to get some basic knowledge of how to collect miles & points in the most efficient
So I think the best trick is to take some time and get familiar with loyalty programs and choose the 1 that best fits your travel profile.
In addition, when you really like to stay at the top hotels (and who doesn’t), you will have noticed that many of the high end hotels, like Aman or Four Seasons, don’t have loyalty programs (except for St Regis and Park Hyatt).
But I learned that you can still get a lot of free perks at those resorts when you make a booking through a Virtuoso travel agent. So there are alternatives for loyalty programs at these uber-luxurious hotels, but you have to know them. I have a list of tips on my website.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
You have to choose and stick to a few airline and hotel loyalty programs! In the beginning, I was collecting miles and points in a non-focused way through different airline and hotel programs. And in the end I couldn’t do anything with them, because they expired or I did not have enough points in my accounts.
About 3 years ago I shifted my focus and now mainly earn American Airlines miles (even though I am based in Europe) and hotel points through Starwood Preferred Guest.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
We are from Belgium, not from the USA.
And our main focus is cancer research for finding a cure and better diagnostic tests. So we run the website in our sparse free time.
We want to combine our 2 passions of cancer research and traveling. And how everyone could sponsor cancer research simply by traveling. But we will inform you about this as soon as our ideas are more concrete.
Any parting words?
Keep traveling in style. Never stop dreaming. And follow my blog ;).
Xavier – 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!