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