“When Everyone Sees Our 7-Month Trip, They Ask How We Pay for It. The Best Part Is Answering, ‘We Don’t!’”
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Welcome to the next installment of our interview series where folks share their thoughts about Big Travel with Small Money! If you’re interested in reading more articles like this one, please subscribe to our email newsletter! This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
Miles & Points Interview: All The Raige
Paige and Ben write All The Raige to inspire readers to travel and to provide them with useful tips, tricks, and tools to make the most out of their next adventure!
They are currently in the midst of a 7-month trip around the world. While most of their blog is about their travels, they also write about how they plan and pay for their trips with miles and points. You can connect with them on Instagram at @all_the_raige and @bleeny72.
How and when did you start collecting miles and points?
After graduating from college (Go Penn Quakers!), Paige went straight into management consulting and traveled most weeks from Monday through Thursday. As a road warrior, she quickly got into miles and points, becoming a loyalist to Starwood.
Ben began signing up for credit cards and focusing spending on the “right” card.
From there, we were completely hooked. When starting this trip, we had a combined 2 million points between credit cards, hotels, and airlines!
On our vacations, we wanted to travel well for as little money as possible. Our first “big trip” was to Peru to hike the Inca trail. In Peru, we stayed at an unbelievable Starwood Luxury Collection hotel, getting upgraded to a suite. After that experience, we couldn’t stop.
Why did you start your blog? What’s special about it?
In September, we left our jobs and began our 7-month trip around the world. As an ex-consultant and operator, Paige loves the planning part. She does tons of research on what to do, flights, hotels, food, etc.
Our blog tries to accomplish the “what” and “how” of our travel. We document the trip for our friends and family (hi moms!) and also help our readers plan their own trips by including travel, points, and itinerary advice.
Funny enough, we bought the domain name in 2009 for Paige to use as a creative outlet. Years later, this trip finally gave her a chance, time, and reason to use it!
What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?
Signing up for credit cards is the quick and easy answer.
If you are smart about it, by signing-up and hitting the minimum spend requirements, you can get so many points and valuable perks. The applications can be nerve-racking (credit score worries) and time consuming, but if you plan it out, you can get tons of value.
Other than that, we think the best thing people can do is to always swipe your card (no cash) and use the card that earns the most value per transaction. Know your Chase Freedom categories, know what qualifies as “travel and dining” etc. By pulling the right card out of your wallet, you can get a ton of points, easily. JUST ALWAYS PAY YOUR CREDIT CARD BILL IN FULL!
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Does an entire 7-month trip count? Specifically, seeing the gorillas in Rwanda was unlike anything else. We also loved the excitement and power of India.
Climbing Kilimanjaro pushed us to limits we didn’t know existed. Hiking the W Trek in Chile was breathtaking beauty for 5 days. Eating all over Italy and Japan left us stuffed. This trip is giving us too many to decide!
What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?
Fascinating, clever, and annoying.
On our trip, the only transcontinental flight we have paid for was from New Zealand to Argentina (the price was just too good to make points worth it). For everything else, we have used points and have never flown coach.
When everyone sees our trip, they want to know how we pay for it. The best part is answering, “we don’t!”
That is where “clever” comes into play. When describing how we use points, people are pretty blown away. We usually start people off with the “Chase trifecta” and go from there. Between the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Freedom®, and Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you can earn so much value and never need to switch sites to pay your bills!
Lastly, for the people who have heard it all before and listen to us boasting about our points, they probably find all our talk about it a bit annoying. Ben’s sister is in the miles & points hobby, but if she hears us describe it all once more, she may sew our mouths shut.
Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?
Paige built a tool that helps to measure if the redemption is worth it or not. Earning points is now second nature, but how to spend them is generally daunting. We have lots of friends who have a lot of points and just redeem them for cash back or the 1.5 cents per point through the Chase Travel Portal with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. While that is fine, you can do better.
We needed to figure out how to judge whether we were getting a good deal redeeming or not. With the tool, you can put in the type of miles, how many miles, and fees on one side, then how much the flights would cost on the other. This helps assess if you’re getting a good or bad deal compared the value of the points.
When you see yourself getting 10 cents per point, it feels pretty good! And the lie-flat seat feels even better when the flight takes off!
What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?
Ben is a huge football fan and was pretty stoked about Marriott’s #RewardsPoints Twitter questions every Sunday this year. We also love the rewards dining programs and the online shopping portals. The lunch spot near Ben’s old office was an American Airlines dining program restaurant and he ate there at least twice per week for 2 years. That earned a lot of bonus American Airlines miles! Any time you can gain points without spending extra money is a huge win.
What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?
Honestly, just that it is so much easier than it appears. It seems scary at the beginning. When we got started we each took 30 minutes to read your beginner’s guide, and it taught us an incredible amount.
After signing up for a few cards, it just became second nature. It has turned into a fun hobby for us and has allowed us to see the world in ways we did not think possible. It starts to become addictive without much real work. Had I known that, I would have gotten started much sooner.
What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
When Paige started as a consultant, she had no credit. She could not get approved for anything except for a secured credit card. With it, there were no points. So, she accumulated everything over the past 6 years and has a credit score above 800. If you think this is not doable for you, it is!
Any parting words?
The world is so big, and there is so much to see. By taking a little extra time, miles and points can make it feel a lot more manageable! Even if you don’t want to use the points to travel, you can earn cash back. If you don’t take advantage, you’re just leaving money on the table.
Paige and Ben – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Big Travel with Small Money!
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