This particular reader (who wanted to remain anonymous), was one of the first to ever comment on my blog. I never forgot it. And he stuck around through highs and lows, “analysis” type posts as well as crazy rants. We’ve communicated regularly through the years, and I’ve learned that he lives part of the year in Israel due to his job.
So, I asked him to answer a few questions and also share few photos of Israel (sights every tourist should visit). This is a place I hope to see in-person one of these days.
Without further ado:
1) What motivated you to research miles and points hobby?
I was doing quite a bit of flying for work, but never seemed to get anywhere close to a reward ticket with my loyalty program at the time – Air Canada’s Aeroplan.
To make matters worse, AC added very high fuel surcharges to Israel, so even after I eventually collected enough miles for a “free” ticket, it would have cost more than half of paid fare for the same dates, which made no sense. I realized that I was doing something wrong, so did a little research and quickly discovered the wisdom of miles and points bloggers.
Jerusalem Old City, as seen from Mount of Olives
2) What are the biggest challenges you face trying to navigate miles and points hobby?
I love hotel loyalty points more than miles, but most of the programs have very little (Hilton, SPG) or no (Hyatt) presence in Israel. Thank god for IHG!
Old Jaffa port, right by central Tel Aviv
3) What’s your favorite trip that was made possible solely due to miles and points?
My favorite vacation was an eleven day road trip where nearly all the nights for our family of five were covered by points, including 3 great IHG PointBreaks redemptions.
4) How often do you think about miles and points?
Too often, usually several times per day…
5) What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done to earn miles or points?
I have convinced my family to eat at a faraway family-owned Indian restaurent because it was on United’s dining program. I gave a large tip to our server (who I am sure actually owns the place), so that the bill met minimum spend requirements. Did I mention that my kids hate Indian food?
6) How does your family feel about this hobby?
My wife loves it when we stay at fancy hotels for free, although for us fancy is Crowne Plaza, not the Hyatt Vendome. My kids love the suites (again we are talking Holiday Inn Express Suites or La Quinta, but they still love them)
7) Do you ever wish you never found out about miles and points? Why/why not?
I enjoy it too much. So no, I would not want to give it up, and I like that it lets me be generous with family, helping them make trips they would otherwise not be able to afford.
8) If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is just starting out, what would it be?
Understand that this is a hobby that is seriously time-consuming, and decide in advance how much time you are comfortable spending on it. And remember, a hobby is supposed to be fun!
Don’t be shy asking for help, some of the bloggers and their readers can be wonderfully helpful. And do try and use their links for credit cards, whenever possible.
I also have a tip for miles/points blogger and want-to-be-bloggers: if you have a talent for analysis, learn quickly, can identify novel sweet-spots, mistake fares and other such opportunities, you should seriously look into managing your own lower-risk investment portfolio – you will quickly be making more money than a full-time “spend-manufacturer” who lives close to 4 Walmart branches.
One extra tip: do not underestimate cashback on hotel stays, although the programs may entice you with bonus points for direct booking with their apps. If you are foregoing 6-15% cash back, that may be very unwise.
Masada, a true wonder
Huge thanks to this reader for sharing his wisdom with us!
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.