“I’m continually on the move — working new jobs, seeking new adventures, and eating lots of ice cream.”

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“I’m continually on the move — working new jobs, seeking new adventures, and eating lots of ice cream.”

Million Mile Secrets“I’m continually on the move — working new jobs, seeking new adventures, and eating lots of ice cream.”Million Mile Secrets Team

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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:  Travel Junkette

Susan has been working seasonal adventure jobs and traveling the world since 2008, so I was looking forward to chatting with her on Friday!

Travel Junkette – Interview with Susan
Susan on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

Embarrassingly enough, not until a few years ago.  I’d haphazardly signed up for frequent flyer programs and had one rewards credit card, but 2011 is when I really started getting into it.  I was teaching English in South Korea and had way too much time to browse the internet.

When I came across frequent flyer blogs, such as Million Mile Secrets, I couldn’t believe what I was reading!

Travel Junkette – Interview with Susan
Scuba diving in South Korea

I added a bunch of frequent flyer blogs to my RSS reader, signed up for Award Wallet, and started collecting my miles and points in a smarter way.  I also signed up for a few credit cards with big big sign-up bonuses. After that, I was hooked!

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

I started my blog to show people that you don’t need to work at a job you hate.  Ditch the cubicle!  You can use seasonal adventure jobs to earn money, have fun, AND travel the world.

Unlike many travel bloggers, I’m not a 9-to-5 refugee who saved up money for years for one big trip.  I’m continually on the move — working new jobs, seeking new adventures, and eating lots of ice cream.

Though my blog isn’t focused on collecting miles and points, I think that readers of Million Mile Secrets will enjoy it, as its aim is to get more people working, traveling, and living the way they want to.

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

Get a mileage-earning credit card — even if there’s not a good sign-up bonus or you don’t spend a lot of money.  I signed up for a FlexPerks Travel Rewards card before college, and even though I had no idea what I was doing (in hindsight, this applies to most of my college experiences) or why I was earning miles, I put almost all of my purchases on it.

Four years later — without any additional effort — I had a free trip to Peru.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Travel Junkette – Interview with Susan
With my 1st grade class in Nicaragua

Traveling is a full-time passion and job for me, so I’ve been lucky to have a lot of incredible experiences.  Most recently, I spent three months volunteering at an elementary school in Nicaragua.  Because of the kids I worked with, every day there became one of my new favorite days ever.

The neighborhood was extremely poor; there wasn’t even running water or electricity at the school.  Yet, the kids there were some of the happiest I’ve encountered anywhere.  Their endless positivity and laughter will stay with me for the rest of my life.

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

They think I’m a total weirdo, but they like it.  I mean, who doesn’t want to travel for free?  When somebody asks me a question about something miles/points related, I’ll warn them beforehand that it could get long — but most of the time, they seem to appreciate it.

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

I use evreward all the time.  If you do any online shopping, then this should be your new BFF.  You can search for the online store you’re planning on buying from, and it’ll show you how many miles/points you’ll earn per dollar with each participating reward program.

You can then click on the program of your choice, and it’ll take you right to their shopping portal.

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

Travel Junkette – Interview with Susan
Getting kissed by the Sphinx in Egypt

Until I started following blogs and really getting into the miles and points “game,” I didn’t know about all the little ways you could earn points — such as watching a video, answering a survey, or liking a company on Facebook.  All those small things add up, and they’re a great way to keep your points from expiring.

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

This is probably too basic for many of your readers, but I wish I knew that I could earn points for one airline while flying with one of their partners.  When I started out, I’d always sign up for the loyalty program of the airline with whom I was flying.  Now I have points spread out over many different accounts — often with airlines that are in the same alliance.  Ughhh.  (Slaps forehead.)

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

Hmm. I’m not sure.  For better or worse, I kind of put it all out there on my blog.

Ooh, I know!  My least favorite activity in the world is packing.  Kind of strange for a travel blogger, huh? But whenever it comes time to pack, I have a meltdown.  I literally sit on a pile of clothes and put them into my backpack then take them out again.

Luckily, at this point, all of my friends and family are prepared for it and support me (read: hang out and laugh at me) through it.

Any parting words?

Travel Junkette – Interview with Susan
Catching halibut in Ketchikan, Alaska

Just do it.  Travel now, and travel hard.  You’ll NEVER regret getting out there and seeing the world.  And with the free flights and hotels afforded to you by miles and points, why wait?

PS. Thanks, Daraius and Emily, for having me! I’ve loved following your adoreable journey and am honored to be featured here. Keep sharing all your awesome tips and advice, and never lose the bowtie — it rocks!

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

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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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Just because you would crash and burn doing what she’s doing, you don’t have to come try and justify your way Roswell. She’s making it work, no need for you to come post a passive-negative response.

Hanson +3 JTP-0.

There really aren’t haters on this topic. Susans rah rah way is not my way. I work a decent job and took 2 months paid vacations or used 2-4 month leaves of absences in my past. Always had my bills covered before I took off from the states. Sometimes worked jobs over seas and sometimes not. Wanted to enjoy the sights without constantly working or worrying about my next dollar.

I am a 3rd shift joe who has enjoyed life and travel his way. Have never stayed in a 5 star hotel or traveled 1st class. Just stayed in places with basic good accommodation. I did scrimp by in college living like Susan——-but without chicken buses or big pets.

I agree with Hanson on many points. 9 of 10 people will crash and burn doing things Susan’s way. Its not for everyone. Anyone wanting to try things Susan’s way should have a back up plan, in case things don’t work out.

My niece does not know about Susan or her blog. She is in the Dominican Republic and trying to succeed like Susan. At last report she is living in squalor with almost no money. It appears mom will have to pay her way home back to the states within the month

I see no problem with Susan being happy doing things her way. To be happy, you must succeed. Unless one has won the lottery,has a trust fund, good inheritance, the Susan way is not an easy road to travel happiness. Again one must have contingent plans in case matters don’t work out or one tires of 60 hr weeks with 4 jobs.

All I say is this. Glad I did travel my way and feel happier for it to this day. It doesn’t make me “a hater” of Susan’s travel way.

Do your thing Susan, I enjoy your blog. Forget the haters and keep on travelling.

Wow! I’m completely blown away by the responses to this interview. I never would’ve guessed that it could cause such a stir.

First off, THANK YOU to everybody who’s read and commented. I wish I could respond to each of you, but suffice it to say that all of your comments touched me, motivated me, or made me think. It’s so cool that MMS has such an engaged and supportive community; you guys rock!

I also want to apologize to anyone who felt that I was condescending towards people working in offices or leading more traditional lifestyles. That never has been, and never will be, my intention. (I should mention that I currently work as an office manager in Alaska!) Whether you enjoy raising labradoodles, running ski lifts, or sitting at a desk, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to do what makes YOU happy. Happiness can come from your job, your relationships, your family, your hobbies, whatever. If you’re not happy with a part of your life, do something about it!

I’m a huge supporter of recognizing your priorities in life and making choices based upon those priorities. Right now, my priorities are travel and adventures. I work these jobs and lead this lifestyle to support these priorities. My priorities will likely change over time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The ONLY thing I’m urging you to do is to carefully assess your priorities, and then try to align them with your life.

Why? Because life’s too short to be anything but happy.

(Thanks again for all the wonderful insights, everybody! Please stop by my blog and keep in touch with me there. xoxo)

Clearly: Robert is offended by Susan’s post and others merely making observations of his comments.

Not exactly “Revenge” when people reading these sort of blogs are doing exactly what you said you’d be doing to get “revenge.”

Lighten up a little. Clearly you took offense to something here seeing that you’re constantly trying to defend your comments.

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