Today's interview features Jeff from therewardboss.com. Jeff, like many of us, discovered the freedom of miles and points and has been to a number of awesome destinations.
How, why and when did you get started to blog your thoughts on travel?
For 3 years, I lived in a hotel while working as a consultant. I gave up my apartment and traveled most weekends (for free using points). I had a lot of down time in the hotels and I became obsessed with miles and points. I started the blog about a year ago to share the deals that I found with friends and because I enjoy writing about travel and deals.
What is your blog all about?
theRewardBoss.com is about traveling the world for free (or close to it) and helping friends and others earn and use rewards to do the same.
Are you a full-time blogger? If so, do you live a rich lifestyle? 🙂
No, I do this for fun in my spare time. However, it's the points and miles that allow me to live a rich lifestyle by taking me all over the world, staying in the best hotels and getting upgraded to amazing suites. For example, I'll be flying to the Maldives, Vietnam and Singapore in business class this year which cost me 120k United miles. I wouldn't be able to do that otherwise – the cash price would have been, well, not something I could pay for.
What has been your most popular post so far?
My most popular post was Glitch at United Airlines lets you book FREE (almost) flights again! Only a month earlier, a United glitch allowed people to book flights almost for free and honored them. When it happened again, I posted the details and everyone got really excited even though I was pretty sure they would not honor it.
What I didn't expect was my second most popular post (which may become the most popular at some point): How to Book Machu Picchu Tickets Online (without pulling your hair out!). I wrote this while booking my Peru trip after spending too many hours online trying to book my own tickets. I was close to paying my hotel about $30 extra per ticket because I was so frustrated, but the markup they charge was too much because they know everyone has trouble. After I figured out how to do it, I posted the instructions hoping to help others save time and money.
What's your favorite country/place you have traveled to and why?
It would be either Peru or Chile because of the amazing hikes, food, and variety of things to do. Peru for hiking Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu and sandboarding in Huacachina. Chile for hiking Patagonia and the glaciers – probably the most breathtaking views I've ever seen.
Where would you want to live if you'd have to settle on one place?
A couple places I would consider are New York City, San Francisco, or Barcelona. I would want to have easy access to a large international airport and great food.
If I would be looking for beaches, mountains, city life, nightlife – where would you send me?
Beaches: Maui, Hawaii (where I took my first surfing lesson)
Mountains: Patagonia (where I climbed my first glacier)
City Life: New York City, Barcelona, Paris, Buenos Aires
Nightlife: New York City, Barcelona, Paris
How many countries have you been to?
What's currently in your TOP 5 list to go to?
Maldives (planned for 2014)
What was the most complicated flight itinerary you have ever booked?
To the Maldives: New York City – Taipei – Hanoi – Singapore – Maldives Istanbul – Montreal – New York City.
What is your favorite hotel you stayed at?
Tambo del Inka (a Starwood Hotel) in Peru is a recent favorite. Two of the best suites I had 1) at the W Montreal – a very modern Fantastic Suite with an open bathroom and 2) Westin Snowmass (Aspen) – the "Panoramic suite".
What airline/hotel are you craving to try?
EVA Air and Singapore Air – I've heard great things about both and will be flying both later this year.
What are your favorite travel websites and why?
The main websites I use most often are
1.www.itasoftware.com to search for flights because it gives you the flexibility to filter/search by so many things (nearest airports, departure/arrival times, calendar of lowest fares, and more. It makes searching for the best routes much easier than any other travel website.
2.When I need to include low-cost airlines in Asia or Europe, I will also use www.skyscanner.com (My favorite feature is that you can search "NYC to Everywhere" when I just want a see where I can go for cheap).
3.www.spg.com to book hotels (sometimes www.kayak.com). My itineraries are heavily influenced by availability of SPG hotels.
Do you have a simple advice for a beginner – how to collect and use miles easiest?
The short version for people who can pay off their credit cards in full every month: getting credit card sign up bonuses and using your credit cards. Its best to wait for a very good offer – the kind that might be offered only once per year or 2 years.
What is your biggest learning from earning so many miles and points?
I used to believe that it was very difficult to accumulate any meaningful amount of miles or points and even if I was able to collect enough, that it would be impossible to find something I wanted on the dates I needed. I've heard the same story from many people. I couldn't have been more wrong. It hurts my ears when someone says they have miles expiring and they don't know what to do with them. With a little bit of planning and effort, anyone can learn the system and start booking free trips. Not sure where to start? I'm happy to answer your questions at: www.TheRewardBoss.com.