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Today we are talking with Shawn from the Miles to Memories blog. As always, I’ve added a few comments inline with the PWAC identifier.
Tell me a little bit about yourself – including but not limited to where you grew up, where you’re at now, family, interests, etc.
I am a 32 year old proud husband and father of one. My family and I currently live in Las Vegas, NV but I spent the first 11 years of my life in Southern California. Travel really is my passion and biggest hobby. I also love to visit amusement parks and ride roller coasters. Currently I have been on over 800 roller coasters around the world. (PWaC- Having grown up in Cleveland, I was a regular visitor to Cedar Point – I’m sure you have to have been there!!)
As a family, we have traveled to over 50 countries together. In 2007 when my son was only six years old, we sold our house and traveled around the world for 18 months. I started blogging about our travels at that time. All of the old posts are still available to read even though the blog has evolved and changed names from Family ‘Round The World to Miles To Memories.
When I was young I always had a dream of backpacking through Europe. I think almost every American thinks about doing this at some point. When my wife became pregnant, I was just shy of my 18th birthday and the realities of dealing with a child prevented that from happening. At some point I told myself traveling in that way was impossible with a child.
Fast forward five years and I was sitting in my cubicle talking to a coworker. She recalled her trip to Europe when her son was younger and told me how they traveled for a month and it was an incredible experience. For some reason that sent my mind racing and I soon discovered there were quite a few families traveling long term.
It took about a year for us to hit the road after that, but I quickly realized how much I love to travel. Since our big trip, we have taken several others including multiple roadtrips across the U.S. and a three month backpacking adventure through Europe last year. Today I travel alone some of the time, but always prefer to be with my two travel partners.
Do you have a favorite hotel or airline? Are there any elite statuses that are important to you?
I think my favorite airline is Cathay Pacific. Ever since our first visit to Hong Kong in 2008, I have loved the city. Over the years I have had the opportunity to fly on Cathay Pacific several times including a spectacular flight last year from LAX-HKG in first class. It was an incredible experience. With that said, I have flown Cathay in both Business Class and Economy as well and have always been impressed.
As for elite status, I think it is nice, but only if it doesn’t cost a ton of money to get it. Last year I received an offer from American Airlines to get Platinum status for flying 12,000 miles. Pretty quickly after that I found a $400 fare to Paraguay which covered the entire distance needed. I ended up earning about 22,000 miles and Platinum status for 1 1/2 years with that $400, so I think it was money well spent.
Hotel elite status is nice as well. It is easy to get Hilton Gold, Club Carlson Gold & IHG Platinum with credit cards and I hold all of those. I find the status means a lot more when traveling internationally. On a trip earlier this year where I stayed in 15 hotels, 7 of them gave me suites. That was pretty nice. Hyatt Diamond status is fantastic as well. I have recently started their Diamond challenge to get the status through February, 2016.
How do you get most of your miles and points? Credit card signups, manufactured spending, or (gasp!) actually flying?!? (Or other)
Since I have been at this “travel hacking” thing for awhile now, my goal is to travel for free. I don’t spend a lot of money on flights unless there is some benefit to me. (Like the AA Platinum status.) A lot of my points come from sign up bonuses and a lot come from manufactured spending. I also look for great shopping deals to maximize online shopping portal payouts.
The biggest mistake that newcomers make is trying to accumulate every type of mile. I try to accumulate miles around my actual needs. As you know, traveling with children is something that requires a great deal of planning. It can be disastrous if you apply for the wrong card and end up with miles that are useless.
(PWaC – I like the way you think! I also try to always travel for free. This is what Milenomics calls “EQM-Zero“)
Any exciting trips past, present or planned? What have been some of your best mile or point redemptions?
I spent most of the month of March in India before meeting my family in Japan and traveling to South Korea. During that trip I was able to experience Etihad & Qatar Airways along with revisiting my old friend Cathay Pacific.
Of course visiting those amazing countries was far better than any flight experiences! Last year as I mentioned before, I had the opportunity to fly first class to Bali on Cathay Pacific. It was another fantastic experience. I really loved Bali and the fantastic culture there.
For me, life is about the experiences. The best miles or points redemptions are the ones that provide the lasting memories. I do love to fly in the front of the plane, but when we are traveling together we usually all travel in coach. I have had so many great redemptions over the years, but my favorites are the ones that have given me the best memories with my traveling partners.
In a couple of weeks my son and I are flying to Central America for two weeks which I think will be a lot of fun. I am still planning the trip and haven’t decided yet where we are going. I love that miles give me the flexibility to take last minute trips as well.
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 have been blogging on and off since 2007 when we embarked on our family around the world trip. Once we returned from the trip, work kind of took me away from blogging for awhile, but I always kept the blog going with occasional posts.
I have now been back to blogging full time for about a year. I try to post everyday, but occasionally take one day off within a week. Sometimes when I am traveling, the posting frequency drops a little, but you can always expect to find original content from me on a regular basis.
My blog is about both miles & points & travel in general. I chose the Miles To Memories name because the most important thing to me is taking my miles & points and turning them into memories that last a lifetime. I teach people how to earn miles & points in a variety of ways and am always there to help newcomers. I also write about many of our travel adventures as well.
While I don’t write about it exclusively, I tend to cover family travel quite a bit on the blog (PWaC – Always great to see another family traveler!). I think family travel is undercovered in this space and I have a wealth of information to share about my own on the road experiences. With that said, many mainstream miles & points methods work for families as well.
How can we learn more about you – blog link / facebook / twitter / email / other
For anyone who has a question or any comments for me, I can always be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org I love travel and I love the miles & points hobby. Being able to write about it and share the gift of free/cheap travel is incredibly rewarding to me.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or your blog?
I have been blogging and traveling for a long time now and my goal is to help others achieve their travel dreams. I am an extremely passionate person and love to share my knowledge to help others.
Currently I do this full time. I am dedicated to learning the latest and greatest methods in this space in order to share them with others. I also travel quite frequently, so you can always expect to find unique and timely information on the blog.
No matter which direction my life has taken, I always come back to traveling as my passion. It drives me and inspires me and I love to share that inspiration!
The bottom line
So there you have it. After all the hullabaloo about “Vendoming” that was going on a few days ago, I’m always glad to read about how another blogger travels. Always great to meet another person and read a different perspective.