“Collecting points and miles is only about 25% of the equation – the other 75% is in knowing how to use them”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where renowned mile and point gurus share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview:  Travel Summary

Travel Summary shares his unique to using miles and points, so I was excited for our Friday chat!

Travel Summary
Batu Caves in Malaysia
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?

I was lucky growing up because my parents loved to travel, and I was a beneficiary of that because I got to tag along.  My older brother always made sure we signed up for the frequent flyer program of the airline we flew on, so my family and I always collected points…but we didn’t know what they were actually worth, or how to redeem them properly, way back then.

A coworker of mine named Ryan (have to give him a shout out) introduced me to The Points Guy’s website a couple of years ago, and my head nearly exploded.  I became addicted almost immediately!

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

I started it because I found out about affiliate links!  Sadly, that’s actually part of the reason.  When I found out some of these travel/points bloggers literally just travel for a living, reviewing the most luxurious and most amazing airline products and hotel properties in the world, I nearly fainted.  THAT’S a job I could do, I thought to myself.  But that alone wasn’t enough of a reason to start a blog.

Once I realized how many bloggers actually exist in this space, I immediately realized there was a problem: too many useless posts.  Many bloggers strive to post daily, and you can totally tell when they’re forcing it.  There simply isn’t always material worth writing about on a daily basis and so we see lots of “filler” posts.

I wanted to cut through the crap and simply make a summary that linked to just the important posts for the day…a “Travel Summary” of that day’s posts.  I did all the reading anyway, so linking to the important stuff seemed easy enough.

My blog has transformed into something very different.  I now enjoy writing commentary and about observations I’ve made regarding the points world.  I like to be completely honest and straightforward with how I see things, because in my eyes that’s been lacking characteristic in this field.  Some people hate it, others find it refreshing.  I do it because it’s fun and interesting.

Of course I’ll post about a credit card deal or trip report here or there as well, but everyone does that.  I’m not a fan of repetitive postings – if one blogger writes about changes to the Starwood program, why does everyone else need to also? Why not just link to their post, and add your additional thoughts? In my mind there’s also a serious lack of proper “Hat Tips” given by some blogs.  Give people credit!

As you can tell, I have lots of pet peeves.  I simply try to run my blog the way I’d like to see one run: original content, giving credit where it’s due, and being honest and upfront about everything.  I want my readers to actually trust me, and I want them to know that I’m not selling them something they don’t need.

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

READ, and read some more.  Read the blogs, read Twitter, read Milepoint, and read FlyerTalk.  There is so much information out there, and you simply can’t rely on a few blogs to provide you all that information.  Believe it or not, they HIDE information from you, so reading the forums will give you a huge head start and can answer all your questions.  Yes, it’s time consuming.  But if you’re like me, you have more time than money.

What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Travel Summary
Sydney Harbor in Australia

Sydney in 2007.  Man, do I love that city.  If I had to pick a city to move to, I would easily be able to say that I would move to Sydney.  The weather, the sightseeing, the people, the food…loved it all.  I’m hoping to go back very soon!

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

I have the same story as everyone else: my family and friends thought I was crazy, until I took my first trip on points.  Flying on Singapore Airlines first class has a way of getting people’s attention because now they know it’s not just talk!

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

I wrote about this before, but I honestly think Twitter is one of the most valuable resources in the points community.  I hated Twitter before.  I never understood its value or use, but then I started to read about things I never knew before.

You get to see a person’s thought process as they work through an issue.  You read about all the stuff that doesn’t make it into a travel blogger’s blog.  Oh, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that bloggers are the only ones that travel well and know what they’re doing.

There are TONS of other travel experts out there that don’t have blogs, and lots of them are on Twitter!

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

BJ’s restaurants now have their own loyalty program, so I earn those points plus credit card points.  No one said points were restricted to travel!

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

I wish I knew not to get so excited over a credit card bonus.  Many bloggers create drama and say things like “get this offer while you can” or “I guarantee you’ll get the bonus through MY link,” and it makes beginners get excited and sign up for something they should learn more about first.  Affiliate links drive this business, and knowing that up front would have made me to step back and think a little bit more.

After all, if a salesperson tried to sell you “an amazing vacuum available for a limited time only,” wouldn’t you ask questions before buying?

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

Hi, my name is Travel Summary and I’m an addict.  When I find something I like, I get totally obsessed.  I buy Vanilla Reloads when I have no need for them.

I can eat at the same place every day for months and never get tired of it.  If I drank alcohol, I’d be an alcoholic.  I drink Coke Zero instead, and if I don’t have it with lunch and dinner I literally go through withdrawal.  Yes, it’s a character flaw.

Any parting words?
Travel Summary
Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco

First of all, don’t get a credit card unless you pay it off monthly.

Second, points and miles can literally save you thousands of dollars, but only if you know how to collect and use them properly.  The travel/points world seems so glamorous when you read about First Class trips, stays at the Ritz or St. Regis, the amazing service and food, and so much more.

It looks amazing, but getting all that isn’t always as easy as it might sound.  Start slow, figure out what you want and how you plan to achieve it, THEN jump in.  In this game, collecting points and miles is only about 25% of the equation – the other 75% is in knowing how to use them.

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

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