“Travel Is the Only Thing We Buy That Makes Us Richer”

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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:   Holy Smithereens

Jean writes Holy Smithereens to offer travel ideas for the luxurious adventurer.

You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.  And she writes for the luxury section of World Travel Market.

Holy Smithereens - Interview With Jean
Jean at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort in the United Arab Emirates

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I’m actually a late bloomer and only started about 5 years ago.  I like experimenting and trying out different airlines.  And we all know the golden rule to collecting miles and points:  stick to one alliance!

We are fortunate that the 3 major alliances have a plethora of airlines under their banner.  So I realized that I can still be experimental with airlines while earning points.

Holy Smithereens - Interview With Jean
Monkey Temple in Ubud, Indonesia

Why did you start your blog?  What’s special about it?

I started blogging as a lazy way to update my family and friends of my whereabouts.  I worked in the travel industry for 10 years and I was always moving to different countries.

I really enjoyed blogging even if my only audience was my family and friends.  To me, it felt like scrapbooking without the mess of glitter and glue!

My style of travel is luxury and adventure.  I love luxury hotels, but I’ll also be up at the call of a good adventure.  In particular, I love wildlife and the water.  So there are lots of resort reviews and island destinations in my blog.

You will also find that I focus on customer service a lot in most of my hotel reviews.  I’m a believer that it’s the one differentiating factor a hotel can have.

Holy Smithereens - Interview With Jean
When It Comes to Luxury, Nothing Beats Resorts in the Maldives

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

The golden rule:  Stick to one alliance.

A second golden rule:  Always stay up-to-date with the latest airline partnerships and code shares.  Not only that, but also be aware of other businesses or purchases where you can earn points.

For instance, the store where I do my weekly grocery shopping has a partnership with Qantas.  So I am earning points for something I normally do anyway.

Some hotels, restaurants, and even online shops have airline partnerships.  If in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Oh, there are so many!  But high on the list is Tahiti and Bora Bora.  It’s the one place where the locals’ personalities are just as beautiful as the pristine surroundings.

Apart from the stunning overwater bungalows (we stayed at the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa and the Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort), it’s the travel experience that remains unforgettable.  Deep sea spearfishing with locals, swimming with sharks, diving, and seeing lots of manta rays and sharks.

Holy Smithereens - Interview With Jean
Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora

A few months ago, I was in the Middle East and visited the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara.  The level of service and overall resort experience totally impressed me beyond words.

From years of reviewing resorts, I have not come across one that really ticks all the boxes (there’s always room for improvement, right?).  So this was really a memorable experience.  It’s amazing how one can find bliss in the middle of the longest uninterrupted desert in the world!

Chasing and seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland is also one I will never forget.  The amazing thing with natural phenomenon is you are never guaranteed a show.  So I always feel extremely fortunate when nature graces me with beautiful moments.

Holy Smithereens - Interview With Jean
Catching a Glimpse of the Northern Lights in Iceland

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

Well, I got a very resounding, “Finally!”, from my family and friends.  Overall, they are very supportive in this journey as most of them are also frequent travelers.

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

Don’t always go for the cheapest fare.  Discounted fares are great, but if your goal is to accrue the most points, always look at the next higher fare and calculate the difference in the mileage and in the cash value.  Then weigh which fare has more value.

Holy Smithereens - Interview With Jean
The Irony of Acting Like a Big Kid at Anantara Veli, an Adults-Only Resort in the Maldives

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

From online shopping!  I love that it justifies the habit.  As my mailbox keeps piling up with goods, I keep telling myself, “it’s all for the points!” 😉

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

I wish I knew what a big worldwide community there is!  Blogs such as Million Mile Secrets are a great help.  Especially when you’re starting out and feel overwhelmed with a lot of conflicting information online.

Holy Smithereens - Interview With Jean
Somewhere Between Montana and Idaho

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

That I stick to a strict yin and yang principle.  Because I love to indulge (this is no secret!), I counter this by working out religiously.  It’s the only way to stay healthy in this game.

Most of my readers call me “brave” for interacting with a lot of wildlife, but there are 2 things that scare me and I would never go near them – monkeys and birds!

Holy Smithereens - Interview With Jean
Exploring the Waters of Caramoan in the Philippines

Any parting words?

Travel is the only thing we buy that makes us richer, but our real wealth is our health.  No amount of luxurious travels can make you fully enjoy life if you are not healthy within.

Safe travels, everyone!

Holy Smithereens - Interview With Jean
Every Moment in Tahiti Was Just Magical
Jean – 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!

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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