Travel Hacking Collaboration with Waller’s Wallet

Hi, it’s Tim and it’s Amy from GoWithLess.
Welcome to our channel. We’re happy that you’re here. Today, we’re gonna be talking
with one of our new friends. His name is Dustin Waller and he’s from Waller’s
Wallet which is a YouTube channel. And he talks about all kinds of things having
to do with award travel. He talks about the best ways to use your points, credit
cards to earn and optimize those points. He, like us, is into kind of using those
points really carefully so he’s not blowing them all on a big first-class
trip and using hundreds of thousands of points to do that. We don’t do that
either. So, even though we have a lot of points and miles, we still use them
very carefully so that we could travel more often. He’s of the same mindset
which made it a really nice conversation to have with him. Our plan is to have a
conversation like this once a month. We call this conversations with our
tribe. So we’re gonna cover a wide variety of topics so it just so happens
today that Dustin is focused on this travel hacking thing so we’re very
excited to get started with this conversation. A couple quick facts about
Dustin. He and his wife live in Bangor, Maine. They’re expecting their first baby
soon…congratulations! And they’re both pharmacists. They had
three hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt that they paid down in
five years. We’re not talking about debt payoff in this conversation.
However, we are gonna be talking about what they’re doing in their new life so
please stay tuned for our conversation coming right up! Hey Dustin, great to see you. Hey Tim and Amy. How you both doing today? Amazing! Fabulous! Good! It’s good to see both of
you again. Same here. So we met back in October…actually the end of September…at
CardCon in Orlando. So here we are…it’s full fall. So we’re gonna talk a little
bit about travel today as one of our very favorite topics and we know it’s
one of yours as well. I love talking travel I could talk it
all day long. And, we did when we were at CardCon! Yes, we did. So it made sense to
bring it online for both of our audiences because we hope that there would be some
value for both groups. Absolutely! Where are you traveling these days, Dustin? So, this fall has actually been a pretty busy fall for us as far as travel.
Earlier in September we went to Las Vegas with some friends for a long
weekend. When we came back, a couple weeks later we went to New York. Then 12 hours
later I hopped back on a plane, headed down to Orlando for CardCon (where I met,
actually, both of you). A couple weeks ago we
flew out to Munich and to Paris. We spent about five days in each location. Had to
account for a day of travel on each end. I got to see the tail end of
Oktoberfest and when we got to Paris it was fantastic to see all the different
sights – the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the different palaces out there. Just an
absolute stunning city as a whole. Definitely blew away my expectations as
far as what the city was going to offer. Although it was pretty extreme to see
the rats near Notre Dame, though. That caught me off guard. Although I
heard about them, I didn’t expect to actually see them. And then I’ll be
heading off to Zurich with a buddy of mine in a couple weeks so I’m excited to
explore Switzerland as well. Was that your first time to Paris or to Munich? It
is. So we typically don’t travel to the same location twice. But no, it was our
first time both the Munich and to Paris. I actually was very impressed with Paris
as a whole. I know my wife loved it as well. Baked goods they were just out of
this world. No doubt? France is actually one of my favorite countries I don’t
know that Tim…would you say the same? I do love France and so I think I used
to have this opinion of France that it’s very expensive and somewhat unaffordable. We were there this summer for 5 weeks and so it’s it’s really an amazing place and
very affordable as we found out. I agree. I thought Paris was more affordable than
Munich and that kind of shocked me because I thought Paris was gonna be far
more expensive. But I thought Paris had more affordable food options available
to you than Munich did. And we were just a Munich in June and we’ve I’ve been to
Paris four times actually my facebook feed is popping up that we were there
exactly a year ago this month. And just for people to hear this…I have been four
times. I have seen one rat ever in four visits and it was in the metro, in the
subway. So I’ve been around Notre Dame every time. So the rats around Notre Dame…? I
would be totally freaked out if I heard that and that might make me not visit
because it might make me that freaked out. So to any viewers who haven’t been yet…there
are not rats coming all over the place. Unfortunately, you had a bad experience. I
did. It was it was very fascinating to see nonetheless.
I’m glad you had a good trip and we loved Munich ourselves. That was
our first trip to Munich in June. And to Germany. We’ve also been to Vegas . We were
there in August this year and so we’re gonna go to New York City also before the end of the year. I love New York City. I could live there. It’s just a fantastic place to be. That’s our next trip. That’s exactly right. So one of our challenges in New York is
it’s not very affordable. However, we’ve found a way to be there for virtually
free from a lodging standpoint. We’re gonna do some house sitting there
so that’s gonna make it very affordable for us. And here’s the best part –
we’re just house sitting one cat. One cat? Oh I love cats! I have two cats myself I
would house sit a house full of cats if I could. We love cats. We love dogs. Cats are
very low-maintenance. Dogs require a little bit more attention than a cat. Yes, they do.
Great for a pet sit. Yeah, so when we talk about house sitting
we don’t charge anything for that. So we travel to kind of cool places and we don’t
charge them anything, they don’t charge us anything but we get to stay in places
that we might visit and pay for a hotel or for an Airbnb so it’s a wonderful way. We love pets and but it is a very different kind of a vacation. We’re not
gonna be out doing New York City for 15 hours a day. I’m from that area, so it
makes it easy we could just pop out and have a couple hours. We’re there
to spend social time with the cat so not to abandon her and leave her by yourself. I guess from a
standpoint of house-sitting , what are your typical
responsibilities when it comes to house-sitting as opposed to, you know, my
Airbnb I pay a cleaning service and I come and go as I please, so do you have a
certain responsibilities that you agree to? We do. It depends upon the property. So
we’ve been in huge homes with a cat and a dog and a horse. The horse wasn’t in
the house. But we’ve had a huge, huge house so that’s a lot of responsibility
to have a 10,000 square-foot house. We say that we’ll turn it
over cleaner than we got it. Most of the time
the housekeeper just left so we’re trying to keep it cleaner than the
housekeeper which is really hard to do. Absolutely! And so clearly, that’s a
lot of responsibility to keep it clean like that. So we’re taking care of all
the pets and keeping the routine with the pets as if their owner was there. So
we’re kind of careful that we’re not taking house sits…we’re not taking them
on…if the owner is someone who’s like a at home constantly with their pet 24
hours a day. That wouldn’t make sense for us. So we try to find a happy medium where
we can go out for, I don’t know, four-to- eight hours a day. We’re not abandoning the pet in any way we’re staying home every night. But we’re
taking out the trash or bringing in the mail. We actually did a whole
video on house sitting chores. Tim’s trimming hedges and doing the lawn like
mowing the lawn so that’s kind of a lot. But but when we were there for a month
in a beautiful situation, it was actually kind of nice and plus it wasn’t me who
did it. It was worth the effort for sure. But it’s not a vacation so that’s something when we talk
about house sitting. We usually say that…so it’s not like you’re in an Airbnb but
the thing we like about it? So we like slower travel and the thing
that’s nice about this is it allows you to travel more slowly and you’re living
like a local so it’s not like you’re there just on vacation.
That’s a great aspect of travel as a whole. Being able to kind of live like a
local as opposed to staying in your little cookie-cutter hotel room and
being really away from really how locals live so that that’s that’s a great
aspect. You’re totally right and we say so I think that Airbnb became so huge
partially because of its affordability but also because it allows people to
live like locals and people really love that. What we’ve learned through the
house-sitting is that Airbnb is kind of like a stepping stone in between. So
the hotel is at one level. There’s Airbnb but they tend to be in kind of the
touristy areas often where people might want to travel. House sitting is
totally different. We’re going to the dog park. We’re in places where hotels might not even exist. So we are constantly weighing
out do we want to stay in like that maybe cookie-cutter hotel (like you
mentioned) or a home? It’s a very different experience. So what we’ve
learned is that we like the combination. We stay in plenty of cookie-cutter
hotels. We don’t want to be disparaging. Yeah, we love those, too. So, we use points in miles to stay in plenty of hotels. And that’s when we’re gonna be doing those long travel days. So, in
Munich, for example, we did stay at a great hotel there with a nice redemption, but that made sense because we were out for really long days…hotel.
Fantastic. So tell me how how have you used
award travel to book your travels recently? I mean you guys do seems like
you’re doing extensive amount of traveling. How does the points and miles
really come into play here? Want me to answer that? Sure! Well, we could
talk about this for years. And as a matter of fact, we do talk about this for
years on our YouTube channel so please subscribe over there if this is
something of interest. But I’m gonna talk about a biggie. We just got back this
summer from a 63-day trip to Europe. We’ve never been able to take that kind
of time but this year we were and it’s really nice that we’re retired because
we mixed five weeks of quick travel through, like, ten cities kind of hustling
in five weeks and then we piggybacked a four-week house sit in France. So, it was
kind of the best of both worlds. But how we hacked that? There were a couple
things. First of all, our flight was canceled on the way over, which might not
be a hack (and we were really disappointed because we arrived a full
day late), but we ended up getting over $1000 compensation for that because of
an EU regulation but the interesting thing about that Chicago cancellation is
that we were in line rebooking tickets for the next day for hours and hours and
many, many hours. Not a single person mentioned a peep of
this. So I’m guessing that people don’t know about that. But there’s an EU
regulation that gives you compensation if you apply for it like I said we have
a whole video we use the services for it who took a cut and it was worth every
penny for us. However that trip…so we, first of all, got a thousand dollars back
I’m not gonna call that a travel hack because you can’t plan for that. But we
used our United points. We got a great redemption on those. So we flew to
Krakow, Poland and then made our way back over those 63 days we flew out of Zurich
where I know you’ll be heading soon. So we flew out of Zurich and that was only
taxes and fees, which were wiped out with a cash back credit card. We stayed in nine hotels. We stayed in eight AirBnbs. Except for two
nights, all of those were covered by either points and miles or by cashback, wipe aways. So we only paid for two nights
out-of-pocket and it made sense because it was a good cash rate but that was
like I said that was there was 23 nights at hotels nine
hotels so that that was that was really nice. And then we also used our Chase
Ultimate Rewards points to take…we usually don’t use it for like stuff to
do and activities but we did because we found a good redemption in the Chase
Ultimate Rewards portal and we did a nice walking tour in Prague. Did you say how much the sixty-three days was, the total? I didn’t. The sixty-three days, the entire total out-of-pocket after you
take out the thousand dollars we got back that’s in there? It was not even three thousand dollars. Oh that’s cheap for a 63-day trip.
Something else, when we talk about…that’s every penny we spent. So
that’s food, that’s lodging, that’s airfare, that’s tours. That’s every single penny that
we spent on the trip. Wow that’s fantastic! Yeah. How about you? I know
that you have a lot up your sleeve. Yeah, so, a lot of our travel I mean I haven’t
paid for an airline ticket in well over four years by utilizing these points and
miles. But our most recent trips were pretty straight-forward redemptions in
the fact that we used American Airline miles flying from Bangor over to Munich
which was 60,000 miles total. And about things $80 in taxes to get over…no
I’m sorry…it was $10 in taxes to get over to Munich. And when we got to Munich we
actually took, after our trip, we took a flight on Flying Blue over from Munich
to Paris which was $80 a person which I redeem cash back for. And then, again, I
used American Airline miles to fly us home at 60,000 miles total and about a
hundred and ten dollars in taxes and fees. So we were very fortunate to find
some Saver availability on American Airlines to redeem those points on. And
then as far as where our stays? We’re big Airbnb fans when we travel international
for the fact we like a washer and dryer, it allows us to pack lighter, and we
typically try to save money by cooking one meal inside per day which Airbnb
gives us that kitchen. You’re using a cash back card to wipe away the taxes so
that’s the card that you charge your airfare on? Well, because I earn my cash
back on a different a variety different credit cards, I’ll typically book my
travel on a card that gives me the most points or cash back and then I’ll just
go back into my cash back fund I call it and redeem against those
rewards. So I’m not typically redeeming for…I’m not purchasing a reward for less
value or any fewer points on those purchases. I’m just making sure I redeem against that reward with my cash back fund. And your trip over, that you
just mentioned, that you said it was ten dollars in taxes and fees? That seems
really low for an international trip, especially since I’m sure you were
connecting from Bangor, Maine. I’m sure Bangor, Maine to Munich wasn’t a direct
flight. So, was just that low naturally? We’ve been
very fortunate in finding tickets. So on the way over we’ve been really fortunate
to find the taxes and fees to be relatively low on our award flights over. The tickets back from Europe typically have the higher taxes and fees
for us. So we’ve been very fortunate to find around $5
international trips or even ten to 20 dollars in taxes depending on which
partner you were to utilize but for American for us we’ve been very
fortunate. We haven’t seen the taxes and fees really increase on them. And then as far as for Zurich, I was actually able to find two
off-peak awards on American Airlines. So I’m flying me and my buddy round-trip
total for ninety thousand American airline miles and about a hundred and
seventy dollars total in taxes and fees. It’s great to see those off-peak awards
for American Airlines because it does give some extra value for those there
and because him and I don’t actually live in the same area I was actually
able to link up the itineraries to where we meet in Philadelphia and fly on the same flight over his or together. So it took a little bit of
puzzle piecing together but I was able to get that to work. And maybe you’ll get
your flight canceled and that would be even better. I’m always willing to take
the bump, for sure, to earn that compensation. We we were in in Zurich,
briefly, you know this last summer in our European trip. And so Switzerland in
general it is crazy expensive in Switzerland so save your pennies. Amazed at how expensive it was there. Yeah, blow-away expensive. Yeah, it
so it’s always a challenge to find places that typically are expensive to
find those lower-cost food options that still deliver high-quality food and give
you a piece of the experience. Actually we find it doable everywhere.
Switzerland was exception for us. So we’ve been to some really
expensive countries (and again that’s kind of what our
channel is about is how to find really… because we’re food obsessed…so how to
find great food and great things to do without spending a ton of money),
Switzerland made that hard. Even the grocery stores. Okay, that’s good information. Last big question today. What credit cards are you using to make all this
happen? So the credit cards that are currently in my wallet right now for
groceries and for dining domestically, I’m using the American Express Gold Card
that earns four points-per-dollar on all those purchases.
For international dining, I’m actually using my Uber credit card which earns
four-percent back so that’s a very big staple for me. As far as other credit
cards I’m big on the rotating five- percent category credit cards. So I
actually just utilized the US Bank Cash Plus credit card on furniture purchases
and I earned five percent back on all my furniture purchases recently. Is
there a category called furniture? What sort of category is that where
you’re getting five percent? Yeah, so the US Bank Cash Plus is pretty interesting in
the fact that you actually get to pick your five-percent categories from a list of them. You don’t get to just freely pick but there’s a
list and furniture stores is actually on that and so was like rideshares and a
lot of other categories so it’s unique in the sense that it kind of gives you that
customization for your five percent categories. You know the standard
Discover It and Chase Freedom I think a lot of people have just for those
categories. But probably the one card that stays in my wallet and will stick
in my wallet is the USAA Limitless card. And that actually earns me two-and-a-half percent cash back on all my purchases. So that’s a pretty fantastic
return that comes with no annual fee and has no foreign transaction fees and
actually chip-and-pin as well which has been huge for us to use in Europe. You
have to have military connections to have that card? Yeah, so my dad was in the
military, so I’m a military brat. So, I was able to get access to USAA. I have been
banking with them for probably fifteen years now. So when that card came out, I
was able to get my way into getting that card. We could just be jealous, I
guess. We can’t qualify for that. So what about you? What credit cards are
you using for your travel hacking? I have three brand-new cards that I’ve just
signed up for that I’m working on meeting the minimum spend
for so they’re at the top of my wallet right now. So we have the Citibank
Premiere card that is a 60 thousand point promotion and no annual fee for the
first year so I’m looking to have that. So I don’t have any Thank You points
today so that’s a nice card to add to our arsenal of points so
with this card we’ll have Ultimate Reward points (from Chase), we’ll have American Express Membership Reward
points and now I’ll have Thank You so all of the transferrable programs we’ll
have some points in so that makes it so that we have we have a lot of ground
covered for anything that comes up when it comes to value with points and miles.
And then I have, when I traveled for business, I stayed pretty much
exclusively at Marriott properties and so I had an SPG card that I
subsequently upgraded to the SPG Luxury. It’s not necessarily a card that I’d
recommend for most people but for just an upgrade, I got a hundred thousand
point bonus and so… It’s an expensive card, though. It is an expensive card. So,
it’s four hundred fifty bucks a year but it did make sense for
us. You get $300 in Marriott travel credit back. And so we’ll use that so
that makes it only a hundred and fifty bucks. So the way I see that paid one
hundred and fifty dollars to have a hundred thousand Marriott points so a pretty
good return. Yeah, not a bad return. And then I also just
signed up for IHG (I can’t remember which) I think they have two cards.
The Premiere? The IHG Premiere credit card? So yeah, I have the Citi Premiere and the IHG Premiere which is very confusing. So I have the IHG Premiere card and
that’s another hundred thousand point promotion. And so, I think I did have to
pay the annual fee on that card with that promotion but I have a hundred
thousand IHG points. And we have we already have the other IHG card and so
we have a nice collection of those points in the bank. It also gives you an
annual free night so I’m working towards those three. I think it’s
eleven thousand dollars worth of minimum spend I’ve gotta meet…I think I’ve got a
hundred and twenty days to do it. This is a big spending season for us. We have insurance bills that are due and other things so it
shouldn’t be a problem to meet the spend. Use your spend to an advantage to earn
those points for your for your free travel. Exactly. So you mentioned
at the beginning that we spend thirty six thousand dollars a year to live. So
where is he getting this eleven thousand dollars in…I don’t know…120 days? So
we’re covering that in the video – I’m gonna pop up a link in a card above – so
you can see because we’re doing some creative things to make sure that he’s
meeting those minimum suspend requirements so that we, in fact, get those bonuses.
We’re not signing up for cards (like what he’s talking about), we’re not doing that any
because every quarter. This is kind of unusual. It was awesome chatting
with you today, Dustin! Oh it’s great talking with both you. This is fantastic. Yeah so
thank you for watching to our audience and to Dustin’s audience. This is
great so we love this collaboration idea. As we’ve said many
times we could talk for hours and hours and hours this points and miles stuff is
so wide and deep there’s a thousand topics.
I feel I could talk on this for hours on end and it’s nonstop. I’m pretty sure my
wife hears it more than she’d like to hear about it but you know it’s it’s
just a fascinating topic. I’m very passionate about it
and it’s just great to have our audiences be able to see your your take
on how you travel, especially so frugally, living on, you know, thirty-six thousand
dollars a year and how you utilize house sitting as one of your main
lodging to really reduce that cost that’s that’s quite interesting. Thanks,
it’s completely changed our life. It really has. And so, we’re gonna be chatting about travel
hacking, the kind of things that came up in this video we’re gonna be chatting
about that one time a month. Tim takes over on that. And then the
house sitting, I chat about that one time a month also. Our videos come out every
Wednesday so hopefully you will subscribe to that channel and also
to Dustin’s Waller’s Wallet and get updates from all of us. Thank you for watching. Thank
you, both it was great talking with you.

3 thoughts on “Travel Hacking Collaboration with Waller’s Wallet

  • Thank you for watching our conversation with Dustin! Any questions or comments? Please ask here! And, make sure to check out Dustin's channel –

  • Hello! I finally posted a video! I only did it as the crowdfunding website needed one for my book but it might start me on more who knows? Just back from travelling with the family… It's so lovely to explore the world together… Makes all the saving worth it!

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