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“I had enough miles to go to Hawaii for free…I was totally hooked after that!”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series  where renowned mile and point gurus share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview: Mommy Points

Emily and I don’t have kids yet, but in 5 to 6 years (3 to 4 if you ask Emily!) we will have to incorporate strollers, bottles, and diapers into our travel routine.

Knowing that the way we travel in the future is going to change BIG time, I thought I’d get a jump start by talking with Mommy Points.

Mommy Points writes the Mommy Points blog which focuses not only on the various travel and points deals, but more importantly, on how they may (or may not) work well for a traveling family.

Mommy Points Interview - 1

Mommy Points also writes tips and reviews about traveling with small children.

Daraius:  How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I don’t remember when I collected my first mile (gasp), but I got serious about collecting miles when I was going to grad school at NYU and flew back and forth regularly between New York and Houston to visit family…..and a boy I was dating at the time.

I achieved elite status with Continental as a result of those back and forth flights and pretty much thought I had won the lottery when I got my first free upgrade!  When I finished grad school, I had enough miles to go to Hawaii for free with the “boy at the time” to celebrate graduating – I was totally hooked after that!

Why did you start Mommy Points?  What’s special about it?

I started Mommy Points in May 2011.  I have been obsessively talking about points and miles with friends, family, coworkers, the dog, etc… for many years, and had been told repeatedly by many I really should start a blog about the topic.

I’m not sure if they suggested that because they really thought I should share this info with others or because they were just tired of hearing about it themselves!  🙂

I like to think that Mommy Points is special because it doesn’t just list points and travel deals that are out there (though those sites are great, too!), but it tells the story of how those deals impact our family, and how they might work for other families as well.

Some deals and destinations that work great for a single person may be a complete bust for a family with small children.  We have a 1 ½ year old daughter, and she influences every single thing that we do, including my blog.  Thus, realities of a family with small children are never far from my mind, or my posts.

What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?

These days, nothing can even come close to the massive credit card sign-up bonuses that are out there!  It is easy to get hundreds of thousands of points and miles a year just in credit card sign-up bonuses without even trying very hard!

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Just one??  How about top 3 as they are different and special to me in their own way?

1.  We had a destination wedding in Las Vegas with 50 of our friends and family members.  Many of us were on the same flights and we made a whole long weekend of it.  We had a blast sharing our wedding and favorite city with so many of our favorite people.

Mommy points - Interview

2.  Riding horses with my husband and dad up a mountain near a dude ranch outside of Yellowstone National Park a couple of years ago.  It was on his “Bucket List” of things to do, and it was a very awesome experience.

Mommy Points Interview

3.  Seeing my daughter’s face at Disney World when she first saw Mickey Mouse and the Disney Princesses performing “live” on stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World earlier this year.

What do you have to differently when you travel with a child?

In a word, everything!  The list is almost endless, but with a young child your whole world and travels are a completely different experience than they are in pre-baby days.

There are obviously many logistical differences in terms of all the stuff you have to bring with you, the destinations you consider, the number of seats on the plane you need, etc…. But the main difference for us has just been the pace of the vacations.

With a young child you can’t be go, go, go all day and night.  That will quickly end the fun of the vacation with an over-tired and cranky kiddo.  You really have to take on a whole new attitude towards the flow of your vacation days and be okay with more “down-time” at your destination than you might have previously had.

What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?

Undoubtedly they all think I am a little crazy, but many of them have really seen how successful seeking out points and miles has been for us and most eventually jump in and hunt deals with us!

Finally convincing my husband to “hotel hop” on his business trips in order to earn stays quicker towards his Hyatt Diamond status proved I had finally converted him!

My mom also now pretty much gives me carte blanche to help her get whatever deals and credit cards that I recommend as she has seen how lucrative it can be!

Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?

As most people who are reading your blog would probably agree, it is the message boards (Milepoint and Flyertalk) and blogs that have really helped me take my points-earning to a whole new level.

The fantastic level of sharing in the frequent flyer online community continues to amaze me.  So, the tool I have had the most success with is learning from all of the others out there who are as obsessed with points and miles as I am.

What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?

I earned a ton of miles when I got a mortgage for my house.  I was thrilled when I learned that was possible via Lending Tree and it was a great feeling to have a new house and a nice chunk of miles to go with it!

What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?

That there are others out there who are just as points obsessed as I am who have much to teach and share with me.

I also wish I would have known about how many things you can pay with by using your credit card, thus earning miles.  If I could go back in time and snag all those miles I’d be set for quite a while!

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

That despite my love of travel, points, and adventure, my favorite thing in the world to do is lie around in pajamas in bed with my daughter and husband on the weekend and watch cartoons.

Any parting words?

For families not to let fear of the challenges of traveling with children prevent them from doing it.  In the end, travel as a family may be harder than traveling alone, but it is a million times more rewarding.

Mommy Points – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

If you’ve ever been confused about whether a deal would help your family travel more, you should head on over to Mommy Points!

Not only will you learn more about traveling with family, but the pictures of baby “C” will put a smile on your face!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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@ Mommy Points & Daraius: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question. I spent sometime today to read the past articles in Mommy Points site 🙂 It is now in my list of bookmarks…

First of all Darius let me tell you that having children is the most wonderful experience. I ended up a father by “accident” but for sure it has been the most wonderfully rewarding experience one could ever hope for. Embrace and enjoy!!! We were always “3 or 4 or 5” years from having kids before one day we found out we were, er, 8-9 months from it 🙂 lol

And what’s more travel itself is more rewarding when you are taking your offspring with you and showing them the world. Tomorrow night I am taking the whole family to Mauritius and then on to Seychelles in Air France biz class thanks mostly to last years Sun Trust Delta promo. With about 3m miles across various programs in the bank my kids will experience the most exposed, diverse upbringing through world travel. Getting awards for all of us is a real challenge but thanks to Air France, British Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic and other it is possible to take your whole family around the globe in luxury and style!

Now will definitely follow and try to contribute to Mommy Points. We are all part of families, we were all kids once, and as such we should not exclude ourselves from the joys of luxury travel for free/cheap!

Million Mile Secrets

@Emily – I’m looking forward to it as well!

@Michael – I like them too!

@Mommy Points – Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

@Nguyen – Mommy Points is spot-on. You can have a stopover on your trip.

@Phil – I am looking forward to kids – particularly being able to teach and show them many new things! I still remember the excitement when my parents took me on trips as a kid, and I’m looking forward to when I can do the same for my kids.

It is strange how quickly we forget that we too were once kids.

Safe travels!

(Not trying to hijack here – Continental is just my favorite!)

Nguyen, I think with Continental you should be able to do that with a round-trip award to Mexico. If it was a purely domestic award it would cost you extra miles for a stopover, but you should be okay since you are not on a domestic or Canada award. Here is what it says on their website: STOPOVER: A stopover is permitted on roundtrip reward travel only. One stopover is permitted, unless otherwise noted. Additional mileage may be required for SaverPass rewards within the Mainland U.S., Alaska and Canada. Thanks for the comments about our little girl. 🙂

Another outstanding interview, and the baby girl is soooo cute!!! I am also interested in redeeming awards in coach as well. I don’t know if this is the right place to ask, but using Continental, can we go from San Francisco to Houston to Cancun, and on the way back, can we stop in Houston for a few days before heading to SF? Is this allowed for a coach award?

Thanks so much to everyone else for the kind words about Mommy Points!

@Anne, thanks! We were lucky to get any good shots on that trip as there was always something going on. We try to make time and stop for a shot every now and then!

@Craig, wow you sound like a seasoned travel pro with that trio of little ones! The pace is certainly VERY different these days on vacation. 🙂

@Daraius, thanks so much for the interview. It was fun thinking back through some of those trips!

@Kay, I know exactly what you mean! I love all the stories of international first class travel on all the different blogs, but in 99.9% of my life what I really need are economy domestic tickets and mid-range hotel nights!

@Emily, Baby C thanks you. Kids are certainly a whole new (mostly fun) adventure!

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