Want to know more about the Faces of FlyerTalk?
Linda Garrett, balima, has taken travel hacking and made it into a part-time job. Her and her family travel the world for pennies on the salary of a part time Teacher’s Aide. Previously in IT, Linda had been able to focus on her family… and she’s getting ready to plan the trip she really wants. Her Requirement: it has to be somewhere where someone will bring her a drink with an umbrella Lots of options out there, I’m betting on southeast Asia. Linda, thank you for sharing your perspectives and experiences with us all. We’re thrilled to you be a part of “Faces of FlyerTalk”.
When did you find FlyerTalk and how did you find it?
Actually it was my husband that found it referenced in a newspaper in 2005. Knowing I was a self avowed “Mileage $lut” he gave me the link.
Do you consider yourself an infrequent, fairly regular, or miles and points addicted reader?
Addicted without a doubt.
How often are you on FlyerTalk, and what forums do you typically visit?
About 4 times a day. My favorites are the UA, American, US, Milesbuzz, Chicago, and Lufthansa forums.
Do you travel for business, leisure, or both?
Leisure. I got into all of this though because when I first met my husband (way back in the last century) he did a lot of travel for work. Within 2 months of us dating he took me on a trip in First Class. It was only Chicago to Minneapolis (to see a football game) but I was hooked. Back in 1984, we were served a full dinner by course in the time it took to get to our destination. My father warned him that it was a mistake. He had used very few of his miles and when we married … I became the keeper of the miles. I was really hooked when I upgraded our deeply discounted coach tickets to First Class with the then Imperial Class service to Kauai.
What credit cards are you carrying in your wallet right now, and which ones do you recommend to friends?
Chase – Priority Card, Explorer, Mileage Plus Signature, Ink Bold. American Express Hilton Honors and a very old Discover Card. My current favorite is the Ink Bold. I’ve been telling everyone.
What’s the single most successful thing you’ve done to acquire points and miles?
Just one? I loved the American Airlines 100k credit cards. Hubby and I signed up for two a piece. Easiest 400k ever.
How many miles / points have you accumulated in the past year? In your lifetime?
300K miles and 678K points this year. Lifetime? I really don’t know. I have only been keeping detailed records for the last 5 years or so.
Do you use a tracking program to keep track of your miles / points? Which one?
My own spreadsheets. I have control issues. LOL
How does your spouse / partner / family / friends feel about this hobby?
He cheers me on, trusts my judgement, asks which card to use and tries to eat at an iDine restaurant for lunch as often as possible. My family used to think I was nuts, but has slowly started coming around. Now they look to me for advice. At work it has become somewhat of a joke. People always ask me, “Where is your next trip?”. They think that something is amiss since we are taking these trips and I am a lowly teacher’s aide. When I explain, their eyes glaze over.
What’s your most memorable trip?
Actually have two. The first was in 1995 when hubby and I flew the Concorde to France to go on a trip through the Rhone Valley to taste wines. It was his dream trip. We traveled on the TGV and went to his favorite winery.
Second, was in 2009 on my son’s dream trip for his eighth grade graduation. We flew to Greece saw the Parthenon, Delphi and Knossos. Unbelievable to be at such iconic locations.
My dream vacation will come in 2015 for our 30th wedding anniversary. Bora Bora, Tahiti, Seychelles, Maldives? Not sure yet.
What suggestions can you give to rookies and newbies on FlyerTalk?
Read, read, read some more. Search, search again. Take it slow in the beginning since all these programs can be confusing to even the old-timers. Pick perhaps one airline and one hotel and start there. You can always add on as time goes on.
Are there any particular fellow FlyerTalk members whose advice you follow?
I trust Sweet Willie’s taste in restaurants.
What’s the one thing you’d like to see change on FlyerTalk?
Back to times when people trusted each other. And that’s all I have to say on that.
Have you attended or are you planning on attending any FlyerTalk related events?
Attended the Chicago Seminar last year and will do so again this year. I keep wanting to attend one of Sweet Willie’s Do’s. I will get to that this year.
Any other comments / questions / suggestions / advice?
Figure out what works for you, so many determine worth by CPM (cost per mile). But, if spending 25K for a domestic to get to visit Mom and Dad that you couldn’t otherwise afford, cpm is meaningless. In the beginning when my son was young, we used miles to get to Dizzyworld. Otherwise, we would never have gone. So the 75K we used went to memorable times with our son. Priceless. We now use miles for international business. Needs and wants change over time. And keep reading, it seems that something is always changing and I learn something new all the time.
Linda, thank you again for sharing with us. We’ve got a couple of thank you gifts to get to you, and your avatar will now show you, as one of the Faces of FlyerTalk for years to come.
Here are a few pictures Linda has shared with us: