Our Interview With Million Mile Secrets!

Hi everyone! To start today’s blog entry, we’d like to give a big shout out to our friends at Million Mile Secrets! That is a “points and miles”-centric website written by Darius and Emily and their team, who, as per their web presence, “have earned millions of airline miles and hotel points to travel the world for free,” and are, “now blogging to help more people to the same!” Why the shout out? Well, if you are already with Your Mileage May Vary, you already know a little bit about us. But if you’d like to learn even a little bit more, take a peek at this page of Million Mile Secrets, which is a question and answer session they recently had with us, as part of their ongoing Interview Series. In that series, their readers who have blogs (like us!), “share how they book trips with miles and points to get big travel with small money.” And they interviewed us! You know what that means, right? We’re FAMOUS, y’all!

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Sharon (L) and Joe (R) (because we know you really needed us to specify who was who) at the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge at sunset, October 2014

If you are visiting us for the first timeWELCOME! We are Joe and Sharon and we’re a married couple, originally from the northeast (he’s from NJ, she’s originally from Brooklyn, and then Staten Island, NY) but now living in Orlando, Florida. Joe is the one who is majorly into the points and miles and he writes most of our articles that have to do with miles, points, credit cards, airlines, hotels, tricks of the trade, etc. Sharon is the proofreader and tends to write the more diverse entries in the blog.

To give you a feel for us and what we write, here are examples of some of our posts from the past few months:

Miles & Points
 How not to be fooled by false point valuations
 The ways that miles and points are NOT equal.

Credit Cards
 Joe’s review of the Citi Prestige credit card.
 An explanation of why we have a Disney Rewards Visa card but hardly ever use it.

Hotels
 A comparison of using points vs. a credit card offer for our upcoming trip to Disneyland.
• When we stayed in the Towers of the Waldorf=Astoria in Manhattan before they closed for 3 years for renovations.
 Joe’s search for a hotel for our upcoming trip to Las Vegas, while negotiation resort fees, parking fees and taxes.

Airlines
 How we haven’t paid for a flight on Southwest Airlines since 2015.
 Joe’s excitement when he managed to get us flights to Charlotte for $25.

Theme Parks
Sharon’s report of where to look (and where not to look!) for discount tickets to Walt Disney World.
A #TBT, going back to April 2005, when we visited Nara Dreamland, a knock-off of Disneyland, which was operational in Japan from 1961 to 2006.
 The time when we got to throw beads from a Mardi Gras float at Universal Studios Florida.

Our Travels and Experiences (an eclectic mix of places we’ve seen and things we’ve done that we find interesting – they’re oftentimes a little bit unusual or off the beaten path)
 When Joe got to go to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiere screening and after-party for their new season.
 How thrilled we were when we managed to get a reservation for the Pan Am Experience.
• A #TBT, looking back at September 2002, when we got to eat dinner inside the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World.

Info for Newbies and Those Who Don’t Travel Often
• What to bring on a trip and what to leave home.
 Hacks for managing hotel room thermostats.
 What Sharon did when an airline broke something in her luggage.

So yeah, that’s us. We’d love if you would decide to hang around and click the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post. We’ve got some cool topics planned in the next few weeks, which run the gamut from which credit card we recommend to use outside of the U.S., to our visit to Salzburg Austria to see places where they filmed “The Sound of Music,” to some interesting summer hotel promotions we’ve seen, to a lighthearted look at Sharon’s “Photobombs Around the World” series of pictures, to a discussion of when is the best time to buy airfare. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

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We were able to get on a special queue for this photo op at Walt Disney World a couple of years ago because of having our Disney Visa card. Perks like that are one of the reasons why we keep it.

Cuba’s First Luxury Hotel Is Opening In Havana – What Will It Mean?

A friend on Facebook posted an article earlier this week, originally from the AFP, that the “Gran Hotel Manzana” (I took Spanish for 8 years…The Great Apple Hotel???) recently opened its doors to guests in Havana (According to this article, it soft opened on May 22, with a grand opening schedules for June 7). Jointly owned by the (Swiss) Kempinski Hotels and military-controlled Cuban tour operator Gaviota, it’s said to be Cuba’s first ultra luxury hotel, with rooms and suites going for $440 to $2,485 per night.

If it’s the country’s first “ultra luxury” hotel, what will it mean? Will it be a game changer Continue reading “Cuba’s First Luxury Hotel Is Opening In Havana – What Will It Mean?”

Posts We Like: Share Your Best Disneyland Tip

A fellow blogger, Travel With Grant, posted this entry today that says:

I need your help! My niece, her husband, and their two kids ages 5 and 3 are coming to visit me in Southern California. And what’s top on their list of experiences? Well Disneyland, of course 🙂

So they asked me, their favorite Aunt and travel expert, for tips about saving money at Disneyland. Yikes, I haven’t a clue. I love Disneyland, but haven’t been in years, so I’m not at all in the know. But I am hoping the TWG posse has some great ideas.

DLJoe&ShaNow, Joe and I are pretty good for helping out and answering questions when it comes to Walt Disney World, but for Disneyland? Well, we’ve been there a few times and are even going back this fall, but to give advice about ways to save money when you’re actually inside Disneyland? Not so much. However we’re always willing to help someone with a request and even if we can’t answer her question, we suspect we have readers who can. So do us a favor by doing them a favor and if you have some ideas for money saving measures at Disneyland, go over to Travel With Grant‘s page and let them know. Tell them Sharon and Joe from Your Mileage May Vary sent you. Thanks!

Posts We Like: “When An Airline Proves Twitter Support Is Officially Worthless”

TwitterWe read other travel bloggers all the time, for tips, ideas, news and anything else that can pop up in the world of miles and points. We saw this post earlier this week, from another travel blogger, One Mile At A Time. It discusses how Twitter can be the best or the worst thing ever when you’re trying to fix a problem with an airline.

We just recently used Twitter to fix our reservation with JetBlue and they were great, but Continue reading “Posts We Like: “When An Airline Proves Twitter Support Is Officially Worthless””

How we keep ourselves safe online when we’re traveling

The Points Guy website had a good article this week on how to keep yourself safe online. 

All of the tips in this article are worth considering, if you haven’t already. I already use some apps to keep myself protected online.

For a VPN, I’ve used WiTopia for around 3 years. It’s reasonably easy to set up and works with your laptop, tablet and smartphone. While I try not to log into any financial websites when I’m on a open wi-fi network, it sometimes is necessary. Being able to use a VPN, if needed,  lets me not worry as much about having my personal information stolen.

To keep my passwords in order, I use the product 1Password. With that, I can set secure passwords for each website and only have to remember one password to open the program. This 1Password has apps for Mac and Windows OS, browser extensions for Safari, Chrome, Opera and Firefox, as well as apps for iPhone and Android, allowing you to carry your passwords everywhere.

 

 

What to do with a couple points here, a few points there.

There was a good article I read on Frugal Travel Guy’s website this week called

What Should You Do With Your Leftover Hotel Points?

It’s a problem that you’ll have to deal with after collecting points for a while. I currently have random point balances with Hilton, Hyatt, Choice Hotels, Marriott and La Quinta. Not enough points to book a room for a long stay but not so little than I’m willing to let the points expire. Remember, hotel points can go bad if you don’t keep your account active and  I use AwardWallet to keep track of my points so that doesn’t happen.

If I have enough points for one night, I’ll look to see if I can use them up when we need a quick, overnight stay. I used La Quinta points to book a room in Tampa when we went to see Billy Joel in concert in 2014. We just needed a room, and that’s what we got.

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I wasn’t a fan of the avocado green painted brick walls at the LaQuinta Tampa Bay Airport, but all we needed was a bed.

When I don’t have enough points for even a one night stay, I have to determine if it’s worth the effort to keep the points alive. I almost always answer yes to that question because it’s usually not that difficult to do. Since rules for each plan differ, I go to the internet to find acceptable ways to have some account activity. There are multiple resources with seeming endless ways available to keep your points from expiring.

So while the article above does mention left over points, I always seem to have a use for 1 night in a hotel. It’s more of an issue when I have orphan points that I want to keep from expiring that takes a little more effort to manage.

Are you giving away your personal information?

It seems that almost everyone has a story about their email being hacked, credit card number being stolen or even worse, their identity being used.

Remember this the next time you want to post a picture like this to your Instagram.

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Pictures or it didn’t happen, right? This was from a trip back in 2014 when I was all too happy to show off about flying from Melbourne to Bangkok to anyone who could see my Facebook. I was just reading “6 Shocking Reasons NOT to Post Pictures of Your Boarding Pass” by Million Mile Secrets about how by posting your boarding pass barcode you are giving a whole bunch of info to anyone who can use an online barcode reader (I didn’t even know you could do that until I read this article).  I found this picture and uploaded it here. What do you know, there was my info (I’ve since blurred the barcode on the picture). With that simple information someone could go and cancel your flights, change your seats or even get into your frequent flyer account and steal your points.

Just one more thing to remember before you overshare on social media sites. Don’t make it easier than it already is for someone to get your personal information.