Today, we feature an interview with our friend Jayce from PointsNerd. Thank you Jayce for taking the time to be interviewed by us! Your blog is very inspirational and we hope that others will also benefit from your work as we have!
What inspired you to start your PointsNerd blog?
I have been in the Travel Hacking game for over 15 years but didn’t know many people that were really into it until I attended the first PointsU Conference in January of 2016. At the conference, I met a great group of people and realized that there were a lot of beginners that had many of the same questions that I had when I started out. Knowing how hard it was to get information, I thought it would be a good idea to start up the blog with the hopes of making it easier for beginners to navigate the Travel Hacking maze. Since writing the blog, I have shared much of my knowledge and have gotten very positive feedback from beginners and experts alike.
What makes your blog different from others out there?
I think what makes PointsNerd a unique blog is that I have never gone into it with the hopes of monetizing the blog. My philosophy from the start was to provide a conduit for my knowledge whereby people could actually learn how to travel hack. I pride myself in how in-depth my posts are and try to walk people through how I get the best deals in a step-by-step fashion so that they can recreate it for themselves. Nothing makes me happier then when I get an excited email from a reader that just booked their first mini-RTW or managed to get the same hotel booking in Sydney, Australia over New Years’ Eve.
I would love to be able to do this as a full time job so at some point in the future, I will be looking for ways to further monetize the blog but for right now, I am happy sharing my knowledge.
What were some of the challenges you faced when starting your blog? What has kept you going?
I think one of the hardest things when you try something for the first time is understanding that it’s a process. When I first posted the blog, I pushed it out to my friends via Facebook and got some minimal traffic from it so there were certainly days where traffic was very low … like 20 unique views low. I won’t lie. Putting yourself out there and spending a bunch of personal time to write the blog can be a slog, especially if you don’t see the traffic you hope for, but l was lucky in that I truly love what I do and I love sharing the knowledge so I kept at it. Every time I had self-doubt, I pushed myself to write another article and on some days, I would get an email from a reader telling me how much they liked the blog and that’s certainly pushed me to soldier on.
What can we look forward to with PointsNerd?
I continue to look for ways to provide value to my readers and in addition to more how-to articles on amazing redemptions, I hope to expand my reach through videos and podcasts as a companion to the site. My end goal here is to make the information as accessible as possible, so even if you don’t like reading my lengthy in-depth explanation on how to reduce your fuel/carrier surcharges, maybe you would be willing to sit through a 5 minute video explaining it.
What is the favourite place that you have travelled to so far?
That’s a hard question because I tend to find something amazing about every place I visit but if you were to put a gun to my head, I would have to say Cape Town in South Africa. The city and the country are just so breathtakingly beautiful and the diversity is just stunning. On our trip, we were lucky enough to interact with cheetahs, penguins and monkeys and saw some of the most stunning scenery known to man. The people were incredibly friendly and it was dirt cheap to eat and stay in South Africa. I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone looking for an amazing trip.
If you can go anywhere in the world (that you have not been to yet), where would it be and what will you be doing?
We have been fortunate enough to touch every continent on earth except Australia and Antarctica. We will check Australia off the list this December so the only continent left to visit is Antarctica so I suppose that will be our next big adventure. I have a friend that is quite a talented photographer and he’s been to Antarctica and it looks spectacular. One of the things that I love doing is stargazing, especially if I’m somewhere uninhabited with no light so I imagine we’ll be doing a lot of that.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
My daughter and I are big Disney fans. My wife says she isn’t but acts like a kid when she’s at Disneyland so I’ll let you be the judge of that one. We have been lucky enough to visit Disneyland, Disneyworld, Disneyland Hong Kong, Disneyland Paris, the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, Aulani in Oahu and have gone on a few Disney Cruises. The only things left on the Disney bucket list are Disneyland Tokyo and Disneyland Shanghai so we hope to cross those off our list in October of 2018.
Can you share a tip or trick that you’ve use for travel?
If I were to pick one tip and one tip only, it would be to have the courage to ask for what you want but be polite when you do it. I’ve covered this off in a post a while back but it bears repeating. There are many times when I check into a hotel where guest are downright rude to a hotel employee and expect an upgrade to a better room. That’s entitlement and I absolutely hate it. If you make a personal connection to the front desk clerk and politely ask for an upgrade, you’ll be surprised at the results.
What advice would you give travellers and “Pointshoggers” out there?
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they start out in the Travel Hacking game is that they have no end goal in mind. This results in collecting points in programs that provide little to no benefit and often results in points either expiring or traded in for toasters. Don’t get into this hobby so you can buy toasters!
If you have a goal in mind, you can then learn about the best program you can leverage to get you there and then concentrate your points earning in that particular program.
Any final thoughts?
Travel hacking is a lifelong skill that takes time and perseverance. You will run into a bunch of roadblocks but keep at it because the rewards are amazing. The way I “sell” people on travel hacking is by asking them to imagine a travel budget of $5,000 for a two week trip with your family. Now imagine if you didn’t have to spend any of that $5,000 on airfare or accommodations. Think of all the experience you could have or better yet, imagine how many MORE vacations you could take with that money. Travel Hacking provides you with that opportunity. All it takes is a little bit of time, perseverance and a willingness to learn.