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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where travel bloggers share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!
Miles & Points Interview: The Lazy Traveler’s Handbook
Andy writes the The Lazy Traveler’s Handbook and is re-launching the book, so I asked him to re-launch his interview as well!
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I think I began in 2000, but I might be off a year or two.
Why did you have to write the Second Edition of The Lazy Traveler’s Handbook?
Things have changed so much! The strategy, the core, so to speak, remains the same, but all my suggested specific recommendations for cards are different now. Besides, I just had to change things that are no longer relevant.
At the beginning of your book, you’re listing reasons why some people shouldn’t buy it. Isn’t it a sure-proof way to sell fewer books?
A lot of people tell me the same thing, LOL. Sure, but it’s also a reliable way to sell books to people who qualify and to make sure that people who don’t, have been warned. There has been too much credit card debt already, and the last thing I want is to be the part of the problem.
The thing is, when you buy a bad fiction or even non-fiction book, the worst that could happen is you lose $5 to $15 and a few hours of your time. But when you consider following credit cards advice, you have got to make sure you can handle the consequences.
The rules of our game are quite simple. If you don’t pay your balance in full every month, you shouldn’t be playing at all. But the opposite is also true.
If you love to travel, live within your budget, and pay in full every month—yet don’t take advantage of the benefits your “excess credit” affords you—you pass up a great thing!
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
I started my blog solely as a companion to my book series Lazy Travelers Handbook. Since so many things change all the time, I just needed the vehicle to post updates and communicate with the readers. I had never considered myself a blogger before.
Since then, however, I have realized that there are many things that a blog can be used for, including writing things that are on your mind. Who could’ve thought, right?
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
There is still nothing like credit card bonuses. Nothing else comes close. I know it doesn’t work out for everyone, but that’s the fact.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
This year, I spent a week with my old and dear college friend in Tenerife. I hadn’t seen him for 13 years, so it was a real treat to hang out with him and his family. Although Tenerife is not really an exotic destination, it’s virtually unknown to North Americans. Yet, it’s a nice island with a lot of activities and not without its own charm.
On the way to Tenerife, I spent a day in Berlin (I built a 23-hour layover with Air Berlin to see some of the city). After I landed in Tenerife, I learned that they had bulldozed the place called the East Side Gallery and removed the fragments of the Berlin Wall. I was probably one of the last people to see those amazing relics of the Cold War in the old place.
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
They have come a long way in the last year. My family and I had a fantastic trip to Bermuda in July. We flew and stayed in a suite at the Fairmont Princess for four nights, all on miles and points.
My wife absolutely hates flying (which is why I travel alone so much) but it was a short one, so she tolerated it. And she loved our stay, so I guess she might appreciate my hobby a little better now.
As for my friends, some have begun asking questions. They still don’t follow through (too much trouble, LOL) but at least, they’re curious. Baby steps.
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
It’s credit card-related, as well. You probably remember the American Express 100,000 Membership Rewards points bonus offer at the beginning of the year. It was only alive for a few hours.
I was coming home very late on a subway. So I’m browsing Flyertalk on my phone and see that discussion. Then the train hits the tunnel—you won’t believe my frustration! When I finally got home, it was early morning, and I was sure it would’ve been dead by then. But it wasn’t. Best unexpected surprise of the last year.
Any parting words? Is the game still worth playing?
For anyone who can’t live without travel, I don’t believe there is another way. Yes, it’s gotten more challenging with devaluations and increased spending requirements, and it might get even more difficult in the future (who knows what is going to happen after the American Airlines & US Air merger).
But with new challenges, come new opportunities, too. I’m a strong believer that when one door closes, another opens up, and I am very curious to see what the future holds for our hobby.
Andy – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!