There are few things we love more than optimizing travel. From making sure airlines pay due compensation for disrupted flights to helping you save time or money, we love exploring every way to get the most out of business and personal travel.
That’s why we created Travel Insiders: a series that will dish out the best travel advice out there from some of our favorite experts. First up, Points With a Crew!
Dan Miller runs the travel blog Points With a Crew, which focuses on using miles and points to help families (especially larger families) travel for free or cheap. And he should know — traveling with his wife and six (SIX!) kids has forced him to learn how to travel efficiently — both financially and otherwise. Read on to learn more about how this Cincinnati, OH native and his family manage to travel frequently without breaking the bank.
The whole Miller brood
How did you become interested in traveling?
We’ve always been interested in travel — one of the reasons that we like to travel is to expose our kids to other kids that are different from them.
Then, in 2012, we had a family reunion planned in Lake Tahoe. I knew that eight cross country plane tickets would be super expensive, and cost might be the difference between us being able to attend or not. I was familiar with the miles and points game (travel hacking) but had never pursued it until then. Fast forward a year or so and I was able to use 170,000 Southwest miles (that I had gotten for almost free!) to fly us to Nevada and back. We haven’t looked back since then — my wife and I went to Puerto Rico earlier this year and are going to Europe in the fall, and our whole family is taking an Amtrak train cross country to Yellowstone this summer — all for super cheap thanks to airline miles and hotel points.
The trip to start all trips — Lake Tahoe!
How are you able to make frequent travel work financially?
Using miles and points lets you travel for a fraction of the “list” price. Some of our other tips are looking for low-cost entertainment. We often look for things that charge by the family or by the carload, rather than per person. When staying in hotels, we look for hotels that offer free dinner in addition to free breakfast (each night stay might mean 16 -SIXTEEN! — free meals, which is a huge cost savings). I also shared a little bit about the budget for our family of 8 in a guest post at Budgets Are Sexy.
Sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico
How has your life changed since you started to travel regularly?
I’d say the main change we’ve had is that we just travel more! Before getting into miles and points, it was hard to find out how to spend the money. We would usually do one vacation in the summer, but now, we’re taking more long weekend trips and going to different places.
What are some of your traveling best practices?
The trips that we take are mostly low-key. I find that most of the time my kids are less interested in the actual destination than in whether or not the hotel has a swimming pool!
What inspired you to start blogging about travel?
The reason that I got into blogging is that it seems like many of the miles and points travel bloggers focus on first-class airplane cabins with 5-star hotels. And while that’s fun and entertaining to read, it is NOT how my family travels (nor how most of the families that I know travel). So I wanted to write something that felt more real to me. Plus, those of us with larger families (remember, there are 8 of us) have to deal with other challenges (like always having to book 2 rooms at a hotel).