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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: No Shoes Travel
Ron and Johnna started No Shoes Travel to help their friends and family learn how to carefully plan their spending and collect credit card miles.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
We 1st started collecting points well over 10 years ago when Chase introduced the Disney Visa Card. During this time in our lives we loved to take trips to Disney.
I’m not even sure if Chase offered a sign-up bonus then, now it’s a $200 statement credit when you complete the minimum spending. Today, we would never sign-up for a card without a bonus, but we began to put everyday expenses on the card to accumulate points that we could cash in for park passes.
A few years later we applied for the Chase Freedom card. For several years we would put everyday expenses on the card and redeemed points for cash back to help cover expenses on our family travels.
For years, we were content with just getting cash back from the Chase Freedom Card and occasionally opening a Chase Southwest or Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® to help pay for trips that required airfare.
It wasn’t until August of 2013, while searching for ways to get more points for airfare, that I came across Million Miles Secrets. After reading a few pages the light went off in my head and I jumped in with both feet collecting over a million miles within the 1st year.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
The main reason, like many others that you have interviewed, we had numerous friends and family constantly commenting on how much we travelled and asking how we did it. When we would try to explain or direct them to a website it just didn’t seem to set in.
So with their encouragement we started No Shoes Travel and have helped many of them begin earning points and miles for their travels. Hopefully 1 day as we grow our blog we can help inspire others outside our network to do the same.
Since 1 of our great passions in life is traveling, this blog has helped us feed that passion when we’re not traveling.
No Shoes Travel seeks to be a total travel blog experience. First, we teach others through our experiences. Second, we share our travels and the particulars of how we saved. We also hope our travel experiences keep you slightly entertained and inspired!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
The obvious thing is to open credit cards and take advantage of the big sign-up bonuses. While some cards offer bonus for categories like dining or gas, the big opportunity is with the initial sign-up bonuses.
What gets us excited is working to meet the minimum spending for a big 50,000+ point sign-up bonus!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
We’ve had so many wonderful trips over the years, but the 1 that started to feed our desire to travel more for less was a trip to Lake Tahoe. This was our 1st trip with (almost) free airfare courtesy of Southwest Airlines.
We were celebrating our 15-year wedding anniversary on this trip and it would be our 1st trip together without our kids. I was feeling guilty and nervous about leaving the kids at home.
However, once we arrived all of that went away!
What was memorable about this trip was we got to go backstage to meet Sammy Hagar! We also met many new people that we are still very good friends with today. These new friendships have grown and we’ve actually taken other vacations to Cabo San Lucas and Playa Del Carmen together.
For the last 3 years, we meet in Dallas, Texas, and visit for 3 or 4 days. Meeting new people is 1 of the true blessings of travel.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
There are a small number that are interested. And we’ve helped bring them into this hobby. Seeing them take trips they may not have otherwise taken is what drives us to continue with our blog.
But the majority seem skeptical and feel like I am trying to sell them something.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
It’s helpful to 1st have a travel goal. Once you have your goal and the amount of points needed, you can then map out how you will earn those points.
Also, knowing your monthly budget and tracking your spending is important. This will help keep you from opening more cards and keep you from spending more than you can afford.
Since I’m an accountant I’m just fine using an Excel spreadsheet for tracking all of my credit card and rewards program details.
Also I find it very beneficial to sign-up for automatic payment for full balance when opening up a new card. This always ensures that payments are never missed and we don’t pay interest or late fees.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
This 1 is easy! The least expected way I have earned points was actually being a winner on your weekend giveaway, I earned 10,000 American Airlines miles for commenting.
I can remember while typing the comment that I was sure I was just wasting my time since there was no way I would be selected. And then a few days later you contacted me to let me know my comment was 1 of the winners!
Thanks again for those points!
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I knew several years ago that I could open credit cards to cash in on new sign-up bonuses on a frequent basis and the little impact it would have on our credit score. It’s crazy to think of how many points we would have now or what great trips we could have taken if I had caught on back when we opened up the Chase Disney card.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
Of course you might know by the title of our site that we are huge Kenny Chesney fans, but you do not know that we are huge Sammy Hagar fans!
Sammy Hagar fans are better known as Redheads which comes from the fact that he is known as the Red Rocker.
We have travelled to Cabo San Lucas, Lake Tahoe, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Nashville, and St. Louis to see Sammy Hagar Shows!
Any parting words?
Our slogan is Live. Love. Travel. We end all of our blogs with this phrase.
- Live – “Get busy living or get busy dying.” – Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption
- Love – “Where there is love there is life.” – Mahatma Gandhi
- Travel – “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc
Put these 3 together and you will have a life worth living!
Live. Love. Travel.
Ron and Johnna – 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!