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It’s been a few months since we last checked in on some of the other travel bloggers that are part of the Prior2Boarding network, but we’re back today with 6 questions with Caroline, who runs The Point Princess.
1) Tell me a little bit about yourself – including but not limited to where you grew up, where you’re at now, family, interests, etc.
(EDITORS NOTE: Since Caroline mentioned the Big 10 – this seemed like an appropriate image to share, right? Right?!?! 😀 #ohio
I grew up in mid-Michigan and currently live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I moved to Ann Arbor when I started my bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan and have considered Ann Arbor to be my home base ever since. I’m currently working on an MBA through Indiana University’s Kelley Direct program, their remote MBA. My family is a Big 10 rivalry to the max, considering that my mom and I both graduated from the University of Michigan, my dad graduated from Michigan State, and my sister will graduate in 2016 from Michigan State, and now I’m adding Indiana into the mix, but we have fun with it. (ED: O-H!)
Other than school and traveling, my main interest is photography, I run a small photography business called Lupini Photography. Mostly I show my travel photography at art shows in the Michigan area, but I have also done photography for a couple events and exhibitions.
2) How did you first catch the travel bug?
I think I always had the travel bug in a way, but it kept getting worse and worse. As a kid, my parents really enjoyed going on cruises because it was nice to unpack once and see many places, and there was also the Kid’s Club that my sister and I loved, so my parents didn’t have to watch us all the time and got a bit of a vacation of their own. My parents would even tell you that I cried when we had to get off the first cruise I went on… I was 3 or 4.
In college I elected not to study abroad because it would extend my graduation date by a year (that’s what a small major gets you), so I went on a 4-week tour with TopDeck Travel. We started out in London, drove down Western Europe to Greece, and back up through Eastern Europe to London. It was a fantastic trip. I saw so much and I met some great people that I am still friends with today.
The summer following that trip, a friend I had met in Europe and I planned a 10-day trip to Costa Rica. That was my first international trip that my parents really had nothing to do with, and researching for that trip also marks my discovery of the points and miles world. And, let’s just say that since I discovered points and miles I’ve been traveling almost as much as humanly possible.
3) Do you have a favorite hotel or airline? Are there any elite statuses that are important to you?
My favorite hotel chains are Hyatt and Kimpton. I did maintain my Kimpton InnerCircle status last year, but since they have been bought by IHG I won’t this year. I am planning to requalify for Hyatt Diamond, though I’m getting at that a little slowly this year. We’ll see what the rest of the year brings.
Last year and this year I have had the Southwest Companion Pass and MVP Gold 75K status with Alaska Airlines. I have already requalified for Alaska MVP, and hope to at least hit MVP Gold. 75K is probably going to be out of reach.
Now, Alaska isn’t really my favorite airline… I would say my favorite miles are United and Alaska, favorite premium cabin is on Thai’s A380 in First, and favorite airline to fly in economy is British Airways. I kid you not, BA has the headrest thing DOWN. I could go on about it for hours.
4) How do you get most of your miles and points? Credit card signups, manufactured spending, or (gasp!) actually flying?!? (Or other)
I do a good mix of credit card signups, manufactured spending, and flying revenue tickets. I’ve cut back my manufactured spending quite a bit this year from the end of last year. I’d break it down like this: around 500,000 miles per year from credit card sign ups, 400,000 miles per year from manufactured spend, and 100,000 miles per year from flying. That’s a pretty rough estimate, and could very well change throughout the rest of the year, but that’s about what it’s looking like right now. Now, last year when I was hitting the manufactured spend thing harder, there was one month where I earned around 400,000 miles, so it really depends what opportunities are out there for me.
4a) Any exciting trips past, present or planned? What have been some of your best mile or point redemptions?
I always have exciting trips planned 🙂 My best redemption ever was probably pre-United devaluation… for 102,500 miles I flew from Detroit to Siem Reap, Cambodia with a stopover in Beijing in economy, and then flew from Hanoi, Vietnam back to Detroit in First Class on Thai and Lufthansa, including Thai’s A380.
Two booked trips that I am really looking forward to are my Canada Hopper
, which sadly can no longer be booked, and a trip to Myanmar and Malaysia including a week long Durian Tour with the folks from Year of the Durian
. Yeah, I like durian, I know I’m not normal.
An exciting trip that is still very much in the planning stages somewhat relates to my MBA. There is a course we can take that includes consulting in Botswana that I hope to enroll in in the summer of 2016, and then I will travel around southern Africa for a while after the course concludes… keep and eye on my blog for more info on that as we move into the later parts of 2015/early 2016.
5) Tell me a bit about your blog? What made you decide to start a blog? How long have you been blogging? Do you have a posting frequency or idea of when readers can look for new posts?
I had originally started a blog for my trip to Europe, mostly for my parent’s peace of mind, though I am really glad that I did it because I recently read back through the whole thing and there were things I had completely forgotten! I started my blog at Point Princess after attending my first Frequent Traveler University in Washington DC in May of 2013. It was right before I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, and I had such a wonderful time there and met so many great people that I wanted to get more involved in the points/miles/travel world. Not to mention, at that point my friends were already wondering how I was able to travel and I wanted to be able to point them to a blog post instead of explain the same things over and over again. Well, that was a little over two years ago (oh man I just realized I missed my blog’s birthday!!), and I’m still going at it. Things have changed over the years, and I still don’t know exactly what direction I’m heading, but I know I like blogging, and I am so thankful for the opportunities my blog has opened up for me, so at least for the foreseeable future, I’m still going at it!
In terms of posting frequency… yeah, that’s not something I’ve been great with. In 2015 I’ve been trying to as least publish two posts per week, and I’ve only missed that goal one week. Keeping a consistent posting schedule is something I have struggled with and probably will continue to, but I’m working on it!
6) How can we learn more about you?
Here are some links to keep in touch: