05 Feb Traveler Interview: Miles For Family
I have always been intrigued and inspired by families who travel frequently or long-term. We have met a number of traveling families here in Ecuador, and one of the biggest secrets that helps them break through the cost barrier is using miles and points. That’s why I’m really excited to introduce you to Leana, whose miles and points hobby allows her to book experiences that her family otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.
Leana grew up in Eastern Europe and moved to Florida after falling in love with her American husband. Over the years, she’s had a number of jobs but is currently a stay-at-home mom to two energetic kids. Leana is also a blogger at Miles For Family. Here’s what she had to tell us:
How did you get started in the miles and points hobby?
It all began in 2001 when I was booking airline tickets to Europe. The agent asked me if I wanted to sign up for frequent flyer number and I agreed. And that’s how I started on the path of miles and points addiction. There is cure or rehab for that.
What are some of the trips you’ve been able to take with your family, thanks to miles and points?
Recently, nine of us (in-laws and all) were able to fly to Europe via frequent flyer miles. It was quite memorable, to say the least. All miles were collected by signing up for credit card bonuses. It was crazy and at times, we wanted to kill each other. But we survived, sometimes even thrived.
We’ll be going on an Alaskan cruise next May. Naturally, we are flying to Seattle on award tickets, all nine of us. My family of four is actually booked in first class!
I think my most memorable trip was the one when my husband and I flew to Kauai. Naturally, we did it with the help of miles and points, so the whole thing ended up costing us only $1,000 out-of-pocket for the whole week. Yes, that included lodging, car rental and food – everything.
What is your family’s travel “style”?
Our travel style is a mix of budget and luxury. We may sleep in Days Inn motel one week and stay in Hyatt resort the next. I try not to limit myself and always look for best value when it comes to travel. Fortunately, miles and points hobby allows us to have experiences we otherwise would not be able to afford.
A lot of parents who want to travel believe family travel is too expensive. What advice would you give them?
This is what made me want to start blogging in the first place. Sure, family travel can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s very important to set realistic goals. In my posts I constantly tell readers that they will not be vacationing in Maldives for free due to this hobby. It’s not happening because there are many extra costs you’ll have to cover with cash. That said, it’s totally realistic to have a deeply-discounted family vacation to the Caribbean or Hawaii. Trips to a neighboring state (and such) can be almost free, but work and planning are still required.
One thing is for sure: If you are disciplined with credit and have realistic expectations, your family can absolutely travel for pennies on a dollar.
How has travel benefited your family?
This will probably sound cliche, but I absolutely believe that travel brought us closer as a family. At home, many times we are distracted and doing our own thing. Not so when we travel. It forces you to focus. Everything around you is unfamiliar, so you try to figure it all out as a team. That’s not to say that trips with children are easy, but they are extremely rewarding. In a way, we discover the world through their eyes. My kids are absolutely hooked, especially my daughter. She is my travel buddy!
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