How do I take these trips?
All of my travel, unless explicitly otherwise stated, is self funded.
Yes, I’ve taken some sponsored trips. For example, last year I participated in the “Amex Stars” program, whereby I got access to some awesome events courtesy of Starwood, with corresponding stays at Starwood properties. I clearly disclosed my relationship with Starwood with each post, and I think most would agree my hotel reviews were fair and balanced (I didn’t leave out the empty box of condoms I found in my room at W Union Square or my frustration with the valet at the St. Regis Bal Harbour, for example).
And one of the main reasons I took part in the program is because there was something in it for you guys. With each trip I took I could give away enough Starpoints for a similar hotel stay, so I was able to give away around 200,000 Starpoints. I figured that’s a win-win, and frankly I’m not sure I would have participated without that, as I’ve turned down plenty of comp trips when there was nothing in it for you guys and I didn’t think you guys would find the content interesting.
Beyond that, I disclose how my trips were paid for even when they’re self funded. In the introduction post to each trip report I provide an exact breakdown of how many miles each award ticket costs.
So where do I earn all my miles?
Much like most savvy mileage nuts, through a combination of credit card churning, flying, strategically purchasing miles, and taking advantage of every promotion out there.
I earn well over a million miles a year, which I don’t think is really unattainable for most.
I probably fly about 200,000 miles per year on American, and as an Executive Platinum member I get a 100% bonus on miles, so that’s 400,000 miles right there.
I earn another 500,000 or so miles per year (at a minimum) from credit card churning.
And then I try to maximize miles on everyday spend, which can add up to another couple of hundred thousand miles per year if done properly.
Lastly, I strategically purchase miles when it’s a good value.
But more than anything else I look at these trips as an investment in what I do.
The two things I do for a living are blogging and travel consulting. My goal is to review as many products as possible so that I can dish out the most useful/educated advice.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have the flexibility to not be limited in the amount of time I can spend traveling, so my hope is that by sampling as many different products as possible, I can help those of you with limited vacation time make the most of your trips.
And while many may not like my writing style, I hope the fact that I compare so many airlines is useful to you guys. One of my struggles with online reviews is that you usually don’t know enough about the person making them to know whether they’re credible or not.
For example, you can read a review of a Four Seasons that gets five stars because everything was amazing, while the next review gives it one star because they were angry the hotel charged for wifi and parking, and that it should be free at such an expensive hotel. Hopefully the fact that I review dozens of airlines and hotels in a similar fashion makes it easier to actually get something out of my reviews, since you can judge them based on what you value most.
Unlike others I’m not making a claim that travel is “free” or costs “just pennies,” though I certainly respect that approach.
Rather, my hope is that every trip I take is attainable to anyone willing to put in the effort to earn the miles and spend a bit on taxes, cash co-pays, etc. I do spend a disproportionate amount of my income on travel, though that’s because it’s both my passion and my job, and I don’t view it as a waste of money but rather an investment.
My living expenses are reasonably low, so a large portion of my income is discretionary. Unfortunately I’m neither loaded nor a trust fund baby, or all of this might be even more fun!
Anyway, hopefully that clears up a few things for those of you that were wondering. And if anyone has any follow up questions, I’m more than happy to answer. Thanks, as always, for reading!
Trip Report Series
Christmas Markets With A Touch Of Garuda
A Rare First Class Opportunity
Flying China’s Other 5-Star Airline
Journey To Kazakhstan
A Journey To The Most Expensive Place I’ve Ever Been
A Very Short Trip To Fiji
An Insane Week In The Sky
An Arctic Summer
Flying Halfway Around The World For Half A Day
New Years In The Maldives, Summer In New Zealand
Mexico City, Really?
Star Alliance To South Africa
The Long Way To Spain
Mileage Run To Beijing
Chinese New Year In Taiwan
O-man, IB Crazy AF
5-Star China On The Cheap
To The Middle East… The Very Long Way
A Week Of Rest And Relaxation In Cabo
The Long Way Between LA And London
Off The Beaten Track In Thailand
AAround The World Using AAdvantage Miles
Thanksgiving In London
Gin & Churros For The Weekend
An MQM Run To Tokyo
One Direction In London
New York, New York
A Different Kind Of Trip Report
Taking Mom On An Airplane Ride
Amsterdam Via Britain And Indonesia (Sort Of)
You Get What You Pay For On American
To Madrid And Back On SkyTeam
Relaxation In The Maldives
20,000+ Miles In 72 Hours
The Long Way From Abu Dhabi To Doha
Best Trip Ever
A Suite Ride To Frankfurt
Mileage Running To Hong Kong
One Stroopwafel At A Time
Flying Brussels Airlines to Tomorrowland
Last US Airways Star Alliance 90K
To Abu Dhabi For An Etihad Inaugural
A Week In Sicily
Battle For South America
Rounding Out The A380s
How I Ended Up On A Gulfstream IV
New Years in Europe
Air France vs. British Airways A380
Around The World In 80 Hours
To the Vaterland with my Vater
Mom’s Bali Birthday Bonanza
The Rimowa Quest
Another round the world for 90K
Going to HEL with American
To Sicily for the Weekend
Buenos Aires for the Weekend
A Royal (dis)HHonor
The “New” American to Europe
Vienna to Istanbul via Tokyo