Welcome MMS Readers, Best of Miles To Memories & A Giveaway!

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If you have come to this blog as a result of the interview on Million Mile Secrets, I am truly grateful you are here.  Over the past seven years I have traveled all around the world with my family.  During this time I have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people and realizing so many dreams.  If you take the time to look around the site, I think you will find that what we have to offer here is truly unique.

The three of us taking the smallest elevator ever at our hostel in Madrid.
The three of us taking the smallest elevator ever at our hostel in Madrid. (Also one of my favorite pictures EVER!)

Upcoming Posts:

We have some really exciting posts coming up in the next couple of weeks.  As you may have seen, today I posted a loophole I discovered in American’s rules for stopovers on international awards.  I also will be finishing my review of the Norwegian Jewel in the next two weeks.  Additionally, I will have several lounge and hotel reviews coming up including an overview of the relatively new Hyatt Place Waikiki.  If you are interested in manufactured spend, look for my upcoming series and primer on making money and earning points with Amex Sync.  I also plan to share some of my secrets about how I utilize the Chase Ink’s 5x points at Staples.

For those who are newer to miles and points, I have upcoming posts all about Bluebird and how to use it, Avios and how to best use them to save money and a complete guide about how to best get started with this hobby.  I hope to show everyone how to simply and easily take their dream trip without having to open a bunch of credit cards.

As you can see, this website really reflects my interests.  I want to be inclusive to both the miles and points newbie as well as someone who has been around the block.  Hopefully my insight, learned first hand through years of international family travel, will be of benefit to you.  I sincerely hope you will check back regularly to learn more!

My favorite travel partners. (Taken in April 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic.)
My favorite travel partners. (Taken in April 2013 in Prague, Czech Republic.)

Best Of Miles To Memories:

To make it easier for you, I thought that I would post some links here of what I consider some of the best content on Miles To Memories.  I truly believe each and every post is of value, but here is my best attempt to choose the cream of the crop.

Comparison Of The Major Hotel Chains & Their Benefits To An Infrequent Traveler

IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) Best Price Guarantee Disaster

Traveling to Hawaii For Free – Part 1 Air Travel (An ongoing series.)

Securing The Lowest Price For The Best Quality Accommodations in the Balkans!

Would You Sleep In An Airport?

It Is Ok To Be Different!

Posts from our family around the world trip in 2007-2008.

We will get to visit Tokyo Disneyland once again on our upcoming trip to Japan in April!
We will get to visit Tokyo Disneyland once again on our upcoming trip to Japan in April!


Since I am so excited to have you here, I thought that I would have a small giveaway.  To enter, please leave a comment on this post describing your dream travel destination.  Additionally, you can earn an extra entry by following us on Twitter and tweeting your dream travel destination to @MilesToMemories with the hashtag #MTM2014.  (If you followed us earlier today on Twitter then you are entered without sending the tweet.)  A sample tweet would be: @MilesToMemories I would love to go to the Maldives. #MTM2014

I will be giving away 3 $10 Amazon gift cards at random to the winners. (You can only win once.) While the prize amounts are small, I plan to have many more giveaways in the next month so please check back!

Edit: The contest will close at 11:59pm PST on Sunday January 5, 2014.  I will announce the winners here on January 6, 2014.  Good luck!

I love to hear from anyone and everyone who visits and enjoys the website.  Please feel free to comment on any of the posts with your suggestions, questions or comments.  Thank you again for visiting and I hope to see you here again soon.


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  1. I would love to visit Greece one day!
    Thanks for your amazing articles on the family travel. I will keep reading it!

    • Thanks Elena. We visited Greece for the first time last year and loved it. We were only able to visit Olympia, Athens and Crete, so Santorini and some of the other Greek Isles are high on my list of places to visit!

  2. Hi and thank you so much for all of this amazing information! We have kids and appreciate everything you are sharing! Our dream destination is Europe – to run the London or Berlin Marathon and visit Germany where my father was born and grew up.

    • Thanks Vicki! It is so wonderful to explore your family’s history. I know that visiting places that were important to my ancestors has always given me great understanding of myself and my family. It also has made me feel closer to them. I have no doubt that it will be an amazing experience when you get to Germany!

  3. I’m heading to Rio with my husband and two young boys this summer. That is our dream destination for the moment, but my list is long!

  4. Hi,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your MMS interview and have done some “snooping” on your site…I like what I see! Our problem is that my husband’s job doesn’t allow us to plan very far ahead and because of that , I feel we leave points “on the table .”
    Working right now on trips to the DR with daughter #1 and Australia with daughter #2. Would love some tricks/tips for the Australia trip! She especially wants to visit. Kangaroo. Island .

  5. Enjoying your blog. I just starting learning about mileage points in September. I dream of going to New Zealand, Africa, and Brazil, but I started doing this when one of sons announced he will be moving to Australia with the love of his life! I can’t wait to be able to visit them, then off to see the other countries I dream of. I also recently moved 15 hours away from my family and am realizing I will be able to fly them to visit me, instead of them having to make the long drive. So many choices… I still have much to learn about all the way to earn points and am looking forward to reading your blog.

    • Thanks! You are so right. This hobby really does open up so many possibilities for travel. It shortens the distance between us and our loved ones. Thanks again for the comment and for visiting the site.

  6. oooo I posted this already on your Hawaii page… dream destination? All the Disney Parks worldwide..2nd dream destinatio? Hawaii! We’ve visited so many wonderful places already…looking forward to more…..

  7. Dream Travel Destination 2014: Baseball spring training in FL or AZ. Shoveling 6 inches of snow today made me think of that for some reason…

    • Keith thanks for visiting the site! I feel for you, but I can’t relate right now. It is a bit warmer here in Las Vegas. Spring Training has always been one of those things I have talked about going to, but never have. Arizona is so close too. I’ll have to look into it!

  8. Hi Shawn! I did come here via MMS but am glad to have found you. It’s nice to find more family-oriented travel and points blogs, as I have been struggling with the best ways to redeem my points for my family. Most examples out there are for single people or couples. I look forward to following you in the future.

    And my wife and I both have a special place in our hearts for cruising as well. We take a few cruises a year, so it’ll be nice reading your thoughts on cruising!

    • Nathan thanks for the comments. Yeah it can be hard when you see some people redeem hundreds of thousands of miles for a first class seat when all you want to do is find three, four or five coach seats for yourself and the kids. I live that all of the time. As for cruising, I find that it compliments other styles of travel perfectly. Thanks for visiting the site!

  9. Great to find your site! I have already been traveling with my favorite travel companions, husband and son, since 2008. We are new to the travel points/miles game and I’m hoping to learn how to use all of oour Avos points and Hilton Honors points to get back to Europe next year.

    • There are so many great things to learn about family travel to Europe. I will be talking a lot about that coming up since we learned a ton during our three month trip last year. I am glad you found the site. Thanks for posting!

  10. Great to read your interview on MMS – refreshing to see someone to whom travel is more about the destination than the airplane seat/food or the hotel bathroom.

    While I have lots of travel dreams, the top 3 (can’t just pick one) are traveling through the Baltics and St. Petersburg, South Africa and safari in Kruger National Park, and Vietnam. Due to my husband’s work, our travel is limited to 7-10 days twice a year. I can’t wait for retirement (2 more years! ) to start longer trips. (the list is way longer than these 3!!!!!).

    • Hi Marilyn. Don’t worry. It seems that the more I travel, the faster my travel bucket list grows! Out of all of your destinations listed, the only one I have been to is Vietnam. For me it was an enlightening experience sailing down the Mekong since my dad fought on small Naval boats there during the war. He would tell me the name of a small town to look for and we would seemingly pass through it the next day. It was great learning about how the Vietnamese viewed the war as well. Also, Halong Bay in the north is stunning. There is no other way to put it! Thanks for visiting the site and for commenting!

  11. I enjoyed your interview on MMS; I like reading about the experience others families have while traveling. I look forward to reading your blog! Also, I would love to take my family to South Africa!

    • Thanks Courtney. South Africa is really high on my list along with Zimbabwe and Botswana! Africa is the only continent I haven’t set foot on, so I am really pushing to get there soon!

  12. I’m going to my Marriott Ko Olina timeshare in Honolulu, Sunday, Feb. 23th to Mar. 9th.
    I have the following points & miles: 69,800 Ultimate Rewards, 82,200 Membership Rewards, 636,000 Marriott Rewards, 80,000 United MilagePlus & 75,300 Southwest Rapid Rewards.
    What is the best usage of my inventory? How do I add a free leg? Thanks, George

  13. I enjoyed reading your interview on MMS. It was a pleasure to hear from someone who doesn’t just pop into one chain hotel after another as they flit around the globe in First. When we travel, we also go for longish periods and get out to really see things beyond the top tourist attractions. We also prefer to stretch our miles in coach and are fine with using public transportation. While we did hire a driver to get us to the Great Wall of China, we also took buses in many places in China including a rickety public bus that broke down in the middle of nowhere in a very remote province! It was actually a great experience, enhancing our ability to get to know what life is really like there.

    When we took our daughter to France after she graduated HS – she’d earned a merit scholarship so we were able to use some of the funds we’d put aside for college tuition, and it seemed a great way to acknowledge the five years of French she’d completed – my 11 year old son was the only one of us who knew no French. He came home determined to learn a foreign language. He is now completely fluent in Spanish and has traveled extensively in Latin America. Sadly he claims he is too busy with work to get into the miles/points game but I hope he’ll come around!

    As for a dream trip, I am the daughter of a TWA employee and have traveled since I was a small child. I been to many places – both usual like Europe and Israel and off the beaten path like Newfoundland and remote provinces in China – but I have never been to Africa and I would really like to go there.

    Happy 2014!

    • Thanks for the kind words. We took every beat up form of transportation in China as well. In fact, I probably have more crazy travel stories from our two months in China then I have from everywhere else combined! My son, despite being so well traveled, struggles with language like I do. His mom is bilingual, but it is a constant struggle for him to learn Spanish. We keep trying though. It sounds like you have had and continue to have a blessed life! Thanks for commenting and visiting the site!

  14. I would like to go to Pondicherry, India and to spend some time in an Ashram doing yoga. Recife, Brasil is another destination on my list as well as Buenos Aires, Argentina. While we are dreaming, why not a march with the Penguins in The Antarctic?

    • Hey Glen! All good places to shoot for. I am really hoping to be chosen for this press trip to Kerala, India next month. That would be amazing and it isn’t too far from Pondicherry. (The opposite coast I think.) Buenos Aires is very high up on my list as well and when you get the ticket sorted out for the March of the Penguins, let me know and I am TOTALLY in.

  15. Hello! We have been playing this game for a couple of years and have had some great trips (last year we did a road trip through France with our 2 teenagers) but I’ve always been hesitant to do any manufactured spend so I’m really looking forward to those posts. I have many places I would love to visit but next on my list is Italy and Spain.

    • Thanks for posting Elizabeth. The secret with manufactured spend is to stay within your comfort level. That road trip through France sounds amazing. In 2009 we did a ten day drive through Spain. It was amazing to stop at all of the small towns to see how they live. It is so different than the U.S.

  16. I look forward to exploring your blog more, thanks. We are going to New Zealand for 6 weeks this Feb/March. I wasn’t much into points and miles before this January, so the only freebie we have on this trip is the first leg of our flight on US Airways from flown frequent flier miles. I am really looking forward to having more budget friendly travel options as we build up points. Our next dream trip is a month in Southern France with a trip to Monaco to see the F1 race, hopefully next year. Thanks again for what you do. Tricia

    • Wow Tricia! Both your New Zealand trip and the dream trip to France sound AMAZING! Miles & Points definitely help to keep the costs down, especially in places like New Zealand and France where budget accommodations are not always easy to come by. We spent about six weeks in New Zealand in 2007. All of what we did is here on the blog. You are in for such a treat. There are so many amazing sites in New Zealand. I am assuming that you are going to explore both of the islands? Thanks for visiting the site!

  17. Hi Shawn,
    We are headed to Costa Rica this April, What can you tell me about this country? We are going for 7 nights in Guanacaste and then the Caribbean side for 4 nights Do you have suggestions for us, while we are there? Love your Miles to Memories site. Safe Travels.

    • Hey Lorraine! Thanks for visiting the site. Costa Rica is high on my list of places to go. The only places we have been in Central America are Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. I found this really cool site about two Americans living in Costa Rica long term that has some great information that is very recent and current. Here is the link. http://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/

  18. Hello. Putting my hat in the ring for a gift card welcome. Will look forward to reading about more miles tips and tricks. Thanks for the seemingly non intimidating welcome for the newbie. Would love to simply get my family of four to a 5 star resort in Hawaii.

    • Paula welcome to the site. I really love to help newer people achieve their travel dreams. If you have any questions pertaining to Hawaii, then I suggest reading my “Travel to Hawaii For Free” series which has 3 parts so far and more to come next week. Of course, if there is anything specifically you want to know, feel free to email me or comment on any of those posts! We just returned from Hawaii two days ago and it was fantastic. Thanks again for the comment and for visiting the site!

  19. I’m going to sign up for your email as it looks like you have the kind of info I like to read. I’m looking forward to Mt Rushmore & the Badlands this summer. I’m trying to see all of the U.S.

    • Hi Diane! I loved Badlands National Park. Recently I was talking with someone who lives near there and he gave me a weird look when I told him how much I loved the landscape. It may not be the prettiest, but it is unique! My favorite part of South Dakota is driving down the street with Bison everywhere. Also, the prairie dogs popping their heads out from all of the holes is really fun to watch. There are often thousands of them! Enjoy your trip!

    • Thanks Janet! Antarctica is definitely on my list as well. As far as continents go, I do still have to visit Africa as well, but that should be taken care of in the next year or so I hope. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview!

  20. We are heading to Hawaii for 2 weeks in June 2014 and would love to go to Europe in 2015. Thanks to blogs and FT it seems like it is working out in our favor. Looking forward to reading your blog.

    • Heather thanks for coming over to the site and commenting. I think you will find that the more you get into this “game”, the easier it will become to earn miles and points. As your attitude towards travel changes, the world will shrink tremendously. If you need any help or have any questions when planning your Europe trip feel free to drop me a line!

  21. Hi Shawn, loved your interview on MMS! I felt like I was reading my own story!

    So many of the things you mentioned, I have experienced: Trying to explain your crazy hobby to friends and family; CVS and Vanilla Reloads and the infamous slow Walmart kiosk and AMEX Bluebirds.

    Luckily, my husband is sharing in this adventure with me. It seems like our dinner conversation revolves around, “did you see the item that XXX had on their blog?” and point values.

    My daughter, 23, who lives in Amsterdam and was gifted at Christmas with a biz class, flat seat for her return last weekend became a believer! Said the worst thing about business class was that the flight was too short and she wanted it to continue! Me thinks she also liked the white wine.

    Now maybe she will start putting her Frequent flyer number into reservations. When I tried to get her credit for past flights that she booked herself within Europe and asked her to send me her boarding card information, she said: “Mom, I don’t keep that junk. I throw it all away.” When boxes started showing up at my door that she ordered from various catalogs last week, I said “You should have let me order through the UR portal!” She didn’t get it but now will understand a little bit better this passion.

    And finally the 16-year-old teen who didn’t want to spend time away from his friends last summer became less disgruntled after the warm nuts showed up in biz class on our way to Amsterdam and subsequently Rome, Amalfi, Mykonos, Athens, Santorini, Ephesus and Istanbul for a Med cruise. Hopefully, he won’t moan this summer when we head out again and hit about seven new cities and countries.

    We have always been travelers but like doing it for free or at a significantly reduced price so much more!

    Look forward to browsing through your website and receiving your newsletter. Will do that later today. First, I have to buy gift certificates at restaurants because it is the first Friday of the month and you know what that means with your Sapphire!

    Happy traveling in 2014!

    • Linda thanks for coming to the site! Like I said, it is a lot more fun talking with those who share the same passion for this. My wife Jasmine enjoys some of this stuff, but for her the joy is in the travel. She isn’t as much of a miles and points junkie as I am, but she does stop at the CVS to buy Vanilla Reloads and participates in some of the deals. She is great for playing along.

      As for friends and family, I have learned to offer help, but not be surprised when they do the complete opposite of what I say and end up paying way too much money. My brother did tell me that he wants to get into the game when he saw me book our last minute trip to Hawaii last week with three days notice! Thanks for coming to the site and for sharing your passion for travel with me!

  22. New Zealand! I am excited to start following you and your family on your blog. Looks like you take some amazing trips. I love that first picture too – especially the smile on your son’s face.

    • Wow! New Zealand seems to be a popular dream destination. I don’t blame you. New Zealand is one of those places that lives up to the hype.

      Thanks for the kind words Denise. We have had some great adventures and have some more in the works. I love that picture as well. The elevator was so small that he had to duck down below my butt so that we could all fit!

      Thanks for visiting and following the blog!

  23. Our first family dream trip is Australia and New Zealand in 2015 for a family of 4. It seems like a really, really tall order right now as we only started looking into this type of travel in Nov., but we think we are inching in the right direction. After that…

    • David getting the miles and points for a family trip is always a bit more difficult. It is definitely important to have a plan. If you need any help or suggestions as the trip planning moves forward please let me know.

      I think you will find that both Australia and New Zealand are amazing family destinations. Sometimes I am still shocked at how beautiful New Zealand is. Thanks for coming to the site and for your comment!

    • Hi Greg! The whole country of New Zealand is spectacular. There is just about every kind of natural wonder you can imagine. Auckland itself is a wonderful city. It reminds me a lot of Vancouver. Very international and very hip.

      If you go make sure to visit Rangitoto Island. It is a volcanic island just across the water from Auckland. You can climb up the volcanic rock and get great views across the water of downtown Auckland. It was one of our favorite things to do in the city.

      Thanks for visiting the site and commenting!

  24. We would love to go to Australia next winter (their summer). In Oct. we were on a Med. cruise and met a couple from Tasmania who run a B & B that we would like to visit.

    • Mark that sounds amazing. While I have been to quite a few parts of Australia, we never did manage to get out to Tasmania. The rest of the country is wonderful though. We are hoping to return some time in the next couple of years.

      Good luck with your trip and thanks for visiting the site!

  25. Hi, my dream would be a trip that never ended but absolutely had to hit the Seychelles, Maldives, New Zealand, Bora Bora/Moorea.

    • Susan you can never go wrong with Europe. We had a fantastic time during our three month backpacking adventure through Central and Eastern Europe in early 2013!

      As for the cruise, I am right with you. While traveling in general is my passion, I have a special place in my heart for cruising. Thanks for visiting the site!

  26. Tired to subscribe however get message saying “The feed does not have subscriptions by email enabled” ??

  27. I have been lucky enough to already go to some of my dream destinations by playing the mileage points game. Always glad to find another blogger to get ideas from. My next dream trip is to go to Nepal Bhutan and Tibet. Been to Asia twice so am in the process of replenishing my mileage account.

    • Laney I have also been blessed in that I have realized so many of my travel dreams. Tibet has always been pretty high on my list of places to go! When we were in China in 2008, Tibet was closed off to foreigners because of Olympics. Thanks for reminding me that I have to get there!


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