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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.
I am currently 24 years old and live at home with my parents in Irvine, CA. It is a small city located 10 miles from Disneyland and nestled between Los Angeles and San Diego. I have lived here my whole life. I have been selling on Ebay since December 2004 when I was only 13 years old and have been selling ever since. I’m now an Ebay Bronze Level Power Seller and have long run out of these to sell at home, but my friends and family members always have something for me to sell. I have a series of posts about selling on Ebay on my blog, just view the posts under “Ebay / Amazon”. In sports, I was on the swim team for 6 years when I was younger, then did soccer up until my junior year of high school, then did bowling for my senior year in high school, and badminton for 4 semesters at Cal State Fullerton, where I graduated in 2012 with a BA in Marketing and Finance. I currently work at Panasonic Avionics which is a division of Panasonic North America. They are the global leader in In-Flight Entertainment Systems and have the only global broadband WiFi network. Needless to say, I feel at home talking about travel with people at work.
My parents have always taken my younger brother and I on family vacations ever since I can remember. When I was younger, we went to the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Boston, etc. but I was too young to remember, so now I am trying to go back and relive those memories. Earlier this year, I went to the Grand Canyon with my brother and we *foolish* hiked to the river and back during a 10 hour, 18 mile hike. My legs were sore for a few days after that. I didn’t get into the miles and points world until right after I graduated. I was 22 at the time, but I wish I had learned about miles and points a few years earlier when I was still in school, since I had so much free time (classes on Tuesday and Thursday only meant 4 day weekends every week).
3) Do you have a favorite hotel or airline? Are there any elite statuses that are important to you?
I am not loyal to any airline or hotel chain. Since I am not hub captive flying from SNA or LAX, I have many choices depending on where I am going. Here are my top frequent flyer programs: Southwest Airlines (plenty of flights from SNA to SFO, PHX, and LAS), British Airways (useful for flights that fall in the 4,500 / 7,500 / 10,000 Avios brackets), Alaska Airlines (due to their airline partners), and American Airlines (20,000 AA miles for off-peak travel to Europe is a great deal). In terms of hotels, I used to be a big fan of SPG, but haven’t stayed with them in more than a year. I have the following hotel branded credit cards: Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, Hilton (Surpass and Reserve), and Club Carlson (personal and business). I am not loyal to any hotel chain, I will use hotel points to stay at any chain, provided the hotel is in a good location and that I get a good deal on points. The elite status that comes with the hotel branded credit cards is all I need. I don’t chase hotel status. I must confess, I stayed at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome (PWaC – a Vendomer! Oh my! LOL) in January 2013, a few months before I started blogging. It is a great hotel, obviously. Here is our view from the walk-out balcony overlooking the Vendome street.
4) How do you get most of your miles and points? Credit card signups, manufactured spending, or (gasp!) actually flying?!? (Or other)
I don’t pay for airfare often, so flying miles probably account for around 5% of my total miles. I would say 70% of miles and points come from credit card sign up bonuses. I currently have 26 open credit cards (list) and I usually apply for 3-4 new credit cards every 3 months or so. I am pretty good with retention bonuses and sweet talking the customer service reps. If they cannot help, I will downgrade the card or transfer the credit line to another credit card and close the card to avoid paying the annual fee. I can only justify paying the annual fee on hotel branded credit cards which offer free night or points every year you pay the annual fee. The other 20% of my miles and points come from MS with the help of 3 Serve Cards (mine, mom’s and dad’s).
4a) Any exciting trips past, present or planned? What have been some of your best mile or point redemptions?
My new years resolution last year and this year has been to travel somewhere every month. I can pretty close last year and pretty close this year too. I rarely ever fly in first of business class, I slum it in economy because I am small and can handle being uncomfortable for a few hours. So far this year:
- In January, I went to Europe for 2 weeks (Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, and Rome) with my friend from college
- In February, my brother and I went to the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, Arizona for Presidents Day Weekend in February (gotta love paid holidays from work)
- In April, I went to Hamburg, Germany for Airline Interior Expo for work with a weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark (flew back on Air Berlin business class)
- In late April, Seattle FTU in late April and met some TWG blog readers
- In May, my brother and I went to Salt Lake City and Arches National Park for Memorial Day Weekend (gotta love paid holidays from work)
- In June, my family and I went to Europe for 2 weeks (Barcelona, Carcassone, San Sebastian, and Madrid)
- In August, I have a few weekend trips planned: San Francisco to visit my cousin, Cabo San Lucas with my brother (non stop flights on Southwest Airlines from SNA), and Portland, Oregon with my family for Labor Day Weekend (gotta love paid holidays from work)
- I will also be going to FTU Advanced 9/26-9/28, Chicago Seminars 10/17-10/19, and #westcoastdo 11/7-11/9 (hopefully I will see some of you there)
Every redemption is usually a pretty good redemption. I have scored some great deals with miles and points. One of my favorite trips was compliments to TheFlightDeal.com. They found a flight from MIA to GPS (Galapagos Islands) for around $400 round trip on American Airlines / LAN. Great place to visit and see the wild creatures of the Galapagos.
My blog has been an exciting journey. This is the first and only WordPress blog I have ever worked on and I had to learn how to do everything. Finding the theme you like as well as the plugins that work well on your blog are very important. I know it is not the more beautiful blog out there, but I think the charm comes from the wackiness. I started my blog last May after reading Chris Guillebeau’s book $100 Start Up coming back from FTU DC. I was inspired and felt like I had some great travel ideas and information that was worth sharing. I have some very good tutorials on how to do various things like using the ITA Matrix (link), how to find award space (link), how to freeze your ARS and IDA credit reports (link) to get approved for US Bank credit cards (I have 3 US Bank credit cards, so I guess it is working), and many other helpful guides. I like pictures much more than text, so my tutorials are 70% pictures and 30% text. Ideally, I would like to post daily, but I would rather not post for a few days than post something that has been said by many other blogs already or that is not useful/helpful/interesting. Sometimes I don’t post for 2-3 days and I feel like a bad blogger. Other times I have 4-5 really good blog ideas but not enough time to post all of them #backblogged.
6) How can we learn more about you – blog link / facebook / twitter / email / other?
Of course you can always go to my blog www.travelwithgrant.com to read all my posts. I am on Twitter a lot @travelwithgrant too. If you don’t like Twitter, you can like my Travel with Grant Facebook page. If you really want to send me an email, you can find the email on the About Grant page. I try my best to respond to each and every facebook message, Tweet, email, and blog comment. I feel like if you can take the time to leave me a comment or send me an email, I can make the time to answer your question. Sometimes I will spend 30 minutes finding award space for people who just need a little help.
If you are in Southern California, I am having 2 OC Meetups. The first is this Saturday night (July 26) and the next is in 2 weeks on Saturday, August 9. I would love to meet you if you are able to make it. All the details are here.
There you have it!
PWaC: So there you have it. I have to say – one of my favorite things about this hobby is meeting different people in different situations and that have different outlooks on life, travel and everything in between.