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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: Travelpointology
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
I started collecting miles and points ~4.5 years ago in 2013. I have a family of 7, including myself, my husband, and 5 children.
Unfortunately, my family suffered a tragedy in our lives around that same time, when a dear friend lost his life at the hands of a murderer.
Because of this, I had difficulty sleeping at night. When I was unable to sleep, I would distract myself by searching the web wishing I could get away for a while. I came across the Chase Fairmont credit card (no longer available) that offered 2 free nights plus other perks that came with Fairmont elite status (like the 3rd night free, free breakfast, money toward dinner, etc.).
I applied for the card and was approved. After receiving the card, I did my usual shopping and within a couple of months, 2 free nights were posted to my Fairmont Club account. I decided to use the free nights and drive to Washington, D.C. for a getaway with my husband and two youngest children. And stay in the beautiful Fairmont Washington D.C., Georgetown.
We were able to stay for 3 nights for free using the 2 free nights from the sign-up bonus and the 3rd night free perk. They even gave us an upgrade to a suite! We also got free breakfast for 2 of the 3 days at their beautiful restaurant.
I felt like a queen! I would never have paid for such a luxurious hotel, and I saved over $1,500. I was hooked!
I continued studying miles & points at night, and over the next 4 years, setting up 1 vacation after another. I became a free travel expert, studying the various credit cards, their bonuses, perks, and how to use rewards. I even took advantage of checking and savings bank account bonus offers.
I have always been very money conscious and organized due to having such a large family, so I enjoyed learning and it kept my mind occupied!
Why did you start your blog? What is special about it?
I started Travelpointology so that I could help the average person, that doesn’t have the time or the will to study travel rewards, take an amazing vacation for free using miles & points.
What makes Travelpointology special is the Travelpointology Plans. They are step-by-step guides that, when followed, will get a subscriber a free vacation to a specific destination. Including airfare and/or hotel stays at wonderful hotels I choose based on my experience!
I offer a yearly subscription for only ~$15, so people can take their time accumulating the travel points they need. And I kept the price low so that everyone can afford to subscribe if they want to.
I have traveled to many wonderful destinations and stayed at fabulous hotels for free. I could never have afforded to travel like I have if I had to pay for it, especially with a family of 7! I have enjoyed over $80,000 worth of free travel so far. And if I can travel with this crew, I can easily help others take 1 free vacation, and would love to do just that!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
I think the best way to accumulate miles is to first decide where you want go, where you want to stay, and who you’ll be taking. You need a plan to get where you want to go, which is why I came up with the Travelpointology Plans.
What is your most memorable travel experience?
My most memorable travel experience has been taking my entire family to Malta, Paris, and London for 2.5 weeks.
I paid nothing for our airfare, train fares, and our hotel stays in Paris and London. In Paris, we stayed in 3 rooms for 3 nights at the Park Hyatt Vendome. Which is my favorite hotel thus far!
When we were in London, we stayed at the newly renovated Sheraton Grand London Park Lane in 3 rooms for 2 nights. That was a fabulous hotel, too!
While in Malta for 2 weeks, I did pay ~$3,000 for us to stay in a beautiful 4-bedroom condominium overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. So we would be comfortable with all the amenities of a home. My husband is originally from Malta. and we all enjoyed spending time with family members there.
This amazing trip was a dream come true for me and my family. If I had paid for this vacation, it would have cost me close to $30,000. But with miles & points, it only cost me ~$3,500!
What do your family and friends think about your miles and points hobby?
My family and friends are amazed at how much we travel and how little I spend. They have said they wish they could do that too, but they were overwhelmed by the thought of having to figure everything out on their own.
I gave some of them a subscription to my Travelpointology Plans, and encouraged them to get started on their free vacation. Some have been using my Travelpointology Plans, and have taken a trip. And others will soon be taking their first vacation.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
I really appreciate the Million Mile Secrets website to keep me up to date with all the best offers. I really admire the fact that you give out all the information, and not just information that you’ll get compensated for. It shows honesty and integrity, and promotes trust from your users!
What was the least expected way you earned miles or points?
I was able to get a one-way coach ticket from New York to Malta for only 20,000 Starwood points, by transferring 20,000 points to Flying Blue (loyalty program of Air France/KLM), and automatically earning a bonus 5,000 more miles. A one-way ticket from New York to Malta is only 25,000 Flying Blue miles, which is an amazing deal for a ticket from across the pond!
What do you now know account collecting miles and points that you wish you know when you started out?
I wish I had gotten the Chase Sapphire Preferred card before Chase put the “5/24 rule” in place. Now, if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and these other business cards) in the past 24 months, you won’t be approved most Chase cards.
I still do not have that credit card, and am holding off on applying for anything for a while so I can take advantage of all it has to offer.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I do not like hearing someone say, “I wish I could take my kids to Disney World but it’s so expensive.” I have vacationed at Disney World for free many times. And I don’t want families to struggle paying for such a magical experience, or worse, never go at all because they cannot afford it!
I offer many Travelpointology Plan options to Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando, so subscribers can learn how to get their airfare, hotel, and theme park tickets for free. I am also a Disney World expert after taking my 5 children to Disney World yearly, and have vacationed there over 35 times.
Any parting words?
I am going to donate $1 from each subscription purchased in 2018 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They send many children and their families to Disney World and other wonderful destinations. And I would be proud to help grant the wish of children diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition.
Susan – 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!