Budget Divas

How To Earn Free Travel By Maximizing Points and Miles - With Eli Tsukayama

June 27, 2022 Episode 33
Budget Divas
How To Earn Free Travel By Maximizing Points and Miles - With Eli Tsukayama
Show Notes Transcript

**Disclaimer: This episode focuses on maximizing credit card points**

Ep: #33 Have you ever wanted to travel the world without spending a ton of money? How about receiving an upgrade worth thousands of dollars with points and miles earned?

In this week’s episode on the Budget Divas podcast, my guest is Eli Tsukayama. Eli is a marketing professor at the University of Hawaii and holds a PhD in psychology. When he is not working at his full-time job, he enjoys traveling around the world. Eli’s hobby is travel hacking which allows him to travel elite without spending a ton of money. 

Eli first learned about travel hacking through a grad student who told him about travel hacking. Eli first thought this was too good to be true but soon learned how to maximize his credit card points to get the best travel deals including incredible airline upgrades such as private rooms with amenities that most airlines do not have. 

In this episode, Eli shares tips on how to travel hack and get the most bang for your buck. 

Some of the highlights in this episode: 

1.       How to find the best sign-on deals with travel point bonuses

2.       How to determine if travel or cash back points are best for your lifestyle

3.       Ways you can transfer your points to international partner airlines to maximize your benefits 

To follow Eli on his travels, you can find him at https://www.instagram.com/elit808/ 

Welcome everyone to another episode of the Budget Divas podcast. My guest today is Eli Tsukayama. He is a travel guru and has a lot of great tips that he's going to be sharing with us today about how to utilize credit cards, to get credit card points towards travel benefits. First of all as a disclaimer, if you are deeply in debt or you don't have a credit card, you might want to skip over this episode because we are talking about using credit cards to get those travel points. 

Eli, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here. Tell us about yourself and all the great stuff that you're up to with travel. Yeah. So basically I'm a professor here at the University of Hawaii.  I'm actually a marketing professor, that's in my background.

 

My PhD is in psychology and that said also, so some people, I guess think, oh, I'm a business professor. So that's why I'm I'm into you know, credit cards. But actually my hobby of travel hacking was actually before being a business professor. In broader terms, I would consider my hobbies - travel and travel hacking.

 

There are many ways to travel hack, but the quickest and easiest in terms of like bang for your buck. And in terms of like time net effort is through credit card signable. And the idea is that because Americans tend to be so bad at finance and saving money, banks will tend to give relatively large signup bonus.

 

For Americans at least to sign up for credit cards. And I emphasize Americans because this isn't true in most countries. This is specifically in the United States again because Americans are so bad at finance. So, on that note, as you kind of mentioned in your disclaimer, if you're not very good at finance at saving money, being financially responsible, you should get it only if you are able to be financially responsible.

 

Pay off your credit card bills on time, not spend more than you would if you didn't have these credit cards, should you do this? Got it. So, if you can rewind the tape back of how did you get into it, great question. So, this was back in 2013, almost 10 years ago. I was a post doc at the time in New Orleans. So, I was out to dinner with a few grad students and postdocs, and we were talking about whose programs funded them to come to this conference. Some richer universities will give their grad students to their postdocs money to go to conferences. So one of the grad students was saying that his program didn't fund him, but he did this thing called travel hacking.

 

So, he told us. And when I heard this, I thought it sounded too good to be true. And usually when things are too good to be true, they are but I kind of naturally filed it to like look into this later when I had more time. So, this was January, February of 2013. So that’s when I had more time, I spent about maybe 40 or 50 hours looking into this.

 

And I found out that it's not too good to be true, but it does get complicated if you want to maximize but at the simplest level, it is just get a credit card. Meet the spend requirement to get the bonus and you get the bonus, which is relatively straightforward. And for most people, most people can do this. But if you want to maximize it, then it gets complicated. And by maximizing, I mean, like my first few years I was getting about 10 to 15 credit cards. Then it gets complicated. So, for example, I still have a spreadsheet to help me keep track. When did I get it?   , how did I meet the spend requirements?

 

So then it can get a really complicated one of the catches, two of the catches. So one is that you do, as I kind of mentioned, you do need to meet what's called the spend requirement. So usually for it to get the bonus, you have to say, spend like $3,000 in three months. Which for most people?

 

Well, I don't know if most people for a lot of people it's doable. But again, you have to be disciplined. You got to be able to keep track of, did you meet the spend requirement? How much more do you have to make? The second kind of catch is I was kind of thinking when I heard about this is that it does drop your credit score a little bit.

 

So whenever you apply for new credit, it could be a credit card. It could be a mortgage. Could be a car loan, could be any kind of loan. Your credit score does drop a few points in what's called a hard food. So whenever a bank or a lender must lend you money, they're going to pull your credit report. And there's two types of pools, a soft pool, and a hard food.

 

So a soft pull, doesn't drop your credit score. So, when you check your own credit report, that's called a software, but whenever a lender, such as a bank is going to lend you money. So that's going to drop your credit score a few points that said, if you only have, you know, one credit card a year, it's only a few points, not a big deal, but if you're getting 10 to 15, then it's kind of a bigger deal.

 

Because each one drops your credit score a few points. So, multiply a few points by 10 to 15. Now that's a, that's a big hit that usually said the effect of a heart rule. Drops off your credit score completely in about two years and mostly in about six months. So if you space it out, it's not too bad and also a bigger effect on your credit report or your credit score, is what's called overall credit utilization, which is the percent of your overall credit limit that you're using.

 

So, whenever you get a new credit card that might add a few thousand dollars to your overall credit, and if you're only using a small portion of that, that actually helps your credit score. So, in the long term, this usually actually helps your credit score. So, when I first started this about 10 years ago, my credit score was made around seven 60 and now it's close to like eight 20, even though I've got almost a hundred credit cards are still in the last 10 years.

 

Wow. So, when you're talking about that initial offer, it could be like sign up for this Amex card. Get 50,000 points. If you spend $3,000 in three months, which is not hard. I mean, if you think about putting your gas, your groceries, any of your fixed expenses and your extra expenses, that can totally be doable, especially in Hawaii, when groceries are end gas prices are like crazy, right.

 

Right and again, if you're only getting one credit card, like say every three months, then I would say for a lot of people, that's do. But if you want to maximize, if I am getting like 10 credit cards, so divided by 12 months, that might be, say three credit cards every three months, then it gets a lot more tricky.

 

So, there is this thing called what's called manufacturer spend, and there are many ways to do what's manufacturer spend. So one example is when I first started this again, back in 2013, Amazon had this thing called Amazon payments where you could set a thousand dollars to someone else. So, what I would just do is I would send a thousand dollars a month using a credit card to my mom, and then she would just write me a check.

 

So that was easy thousand dollars a month depending if you're paying a rent or a mortgage, you might be able to use your credit card to pay your rent or mortgage. So for most people that's a thousand or 2000 or $3,000 a month, relatively easily, but not all mortgage lenders or brokers or all renters will allow you to pay that with a credit card so there are other ways to do that. So when I lived in LA, there was this website called maybe Rad that allowed me to pay my rent using a credit card. I think today there's still this website called plastic that allows me to pay your rent using a credit card, but there is a fee which is maybe like two or 3%, which is usually net.

 

You're going to lose a little bit of money. But if it allows you to meet this better requirement, it's usually work. Got it. So, you know, the, sometimes I hear people saying I would rather get a credit card that has the monetary benefits and use that for travel versus the points and use that for travel.

 

Which one do you prefer? Great question. So, in general, I prefer the miles or hotel plants. It is easier. Just have a cash back card but if you know how to use it, it's usually a better value to use MYOS at hotel points, but that said, again, it gets complicated if you want to maximize it. So I tell people like half the game is earning the miles in place and the other half is knowing how to spend them.

 

 , but again, right. So, cash back is much easier, but usually not as good of a. And if you're going to travel you should probably go for the miles and then learn how to use the miles cause you can get way more value. So, for example, with cash back cards, you can relatively these, they get a 1% or 2% cash back but with miles you can, if you learn how to use it, you can get maybe 20% or more in. But then it is complicated. Again, to learn how to use the miles ideal. Okay. I love that we're having this conversation because I recently got the Amex platinum card. I reached the threshold and got the 150,000 bonus points. But then you're right. Like when I'm looking through the website, it's really complicated on how to use the points. You can use it for hotels, you can use it for airfares and all this other stuff. So can you explain more, you know, how do you maximize the points to your benefit? Okay, so we're just going to fast to surface here.

 

So first these, so banks like American express chase city, they have these flexible points or these proprietary points. So those are good to kind of invest in, because usually what you can do is you can sit on those points until you're ready to spend them. And then when you're ready to spend them, you can transfer them to the transfer partners.

 

So these banks usually have about 10 to 30. Different transfer parts. So you can take these Amex points maybe and transfer them to say British Airways so that gives you flexibility. But often again, it's, it's complicated. Now we have like this paradox of choice. It's kind of like too much but this flexibility is good because often is different transfer partners like British Airways, American   Airlines, Japan   Airlines, et cetera.

 

They often devalue their currencies, their miles. And it's basically just like patient that they have too many miles floating around. They need to increase the price of their flights or for hotels, their,   , free night or their hotel rooms. Some examples, so these different   Airlines, these different hotels, they have different award charts.

 

And because they have these different awards. If you can either keep track of them or know how to check them, you can look to see like, what's the best bang for buck. What's the best value for your points? If you do this long enough. So, I did this for about three years before I actually kind of even spent the miles. But in those three years I was kind of learning the different award charts. I knew where the sweet spots were to maximize the value. So, for example, currently one of the best deals is using Turkish airways miles to fly United   Airlines within the United States. And luckily for us in Hawaii, within the United States includes Hawaii, which isn't often true. But you can use 7,500 Turkish   Airlines, miles to fly from Hawaii, practically anywhere in the United States. So from Hawaii to New York, With only 7,500 miles, which is a great deal. Usually to fly, say, United   Airlines, it's closer to maybe, 22,500 miles. So 7.5 versus 22,500 is a great deal. So that's one example of kind of maximizing your points, your mind back when I used to live in LA, one of the best.

Sweet spots was using British airline miles. So 12,500 British   Airlines miles to fly American   Airlines from Hawaii to LA and at the time, and actually still, I think, to fly American   Airlines from Hawaii to LA to the west coast is close to the 17,500 miles. So, 12.5 for 17.5 is a good deal.

But again, it gets complicated that a lot of people are surprised that you're not going to use American   Airlines miles fly American   Airlines. You're actually going to use their partners who has a better deal on their award chart to fly. So again, Turkish   Airlines fly United or British airways fly a marriage.

 

So again, it gets really complicated to figure out, okay, who's miles. Can I use To fly who's Neto and by Neto, I mean,  the actual era. So can I ask you a quick question? Like, do you have like a spreadsheet where you have like all of this just lined up, you just have all of this in your head? Not right.

 

So for this, it's more in my head, at this point. Wow. But again, for the first three years, I was just kind of earning the miles and points and just learning about this before I spent them. So in those three years, I got over a million miles. And I was just kind of learning. Okay. What's the best sweet spots.

 

So when I was ready to travel, like I was ready to go. Wow. But that's why it's not for everyone. Again, it does get complicated if you want to maximize it for, so for those people who do just want to get a cash back card and then spend that it is a lot easier, but you're not really maximizing your value of your point to your mind.

 

So you would go to, is it, the Airlines website, like say American   Airlines and see who their partners are or would you go specific to that credit card company? See, who has partners with all of these Airlines. Right? So both actually, so both you would check to see, like, what are the Airlines award charts.

 

But then also you would have to know. For your credit card. Oh, who did their points transfer to?  , that said what I do to learn about these things. So there's actually a lot of websites that talk about travel. So this is my hobby. So pretty much every day, I'll check this website called boarding area.com and they're an aggregator.

 

They actually kind of index a bunch of other websites or. So, I just kind of follow boarding area to kind of see, like, what's the news in travel hacking today. And these other travel hackers who run their own blogs will kind of talk about what are the sweet spots. And so for me, at least like reading this every day that I just kind of learn over the long term, like what are the sweet spots?

 

What for the different banks, what points or miles they transfer to the different programs? So after a while, I just kind of learn it. But if you're starting off, it it's a lot, it's a lot to learn. If you want to learn it, like in short period of time. Yeah. I guess like if you're a real. Goho travel guru and you love to travel.

 

You know, like my friend, Melanie, who has been on the podcast, she loves traveling. She loves blogging about traveling. So this might be, and she's debt free. So this might be something that she might want to explore but can you give us a specific example? So like, I love going to Disney right now. I want to go to Disney world.

 

Been to Disneyland multiple times, but how can I utilize points to get either a free or close to free trip at Disney world, including like hotels and any other benefits that Disney offers? Yeah. Okay. So travel hacking is mostly for the travel itself. So airline and accommodation. So, say the hotel. So, Disney itself, you're probably going to connect the out of pocket for Disney world or Disneyland itself. But in terms of accommodations, hotel and the airfare that can be practically free so again, kind of the easiest thing is just these credit card sign up bonuses so even if you, if you don't necessarily want to maximize. I would say the quickest thing is if he flies certain   Airlines and here in Hawaii, a lot of us are loyal to Hawaiian Airlines. Get the Hawaiian  Airlines card credit card on top of whatever the signup bonus is. Currently. Usually these airline credit cards give you benefits such as like one free check back, which adds up quickly. If you have say a family of four and your checking bags, each. Usually these credit cards will support like a family of four, or maybe even up to eight, people on the same reservation and each way.

 

So if you were to pay, say 25 bucks for a day, that's gonna save, you made $200 right there,  for a family four, in addition, certain credit cards, like I think the Hawaiian   Airlines card might have something like a companion pass where, maybe it's kind of almost like buy one, get one almost free. I think it might be like buy one, get one for like a hundred.

 

So you find to name man, California for Disneyland or Florida for Disney world. Then that's almost buy one, get one free for one ticket that said, so for.

 

For Hawaiian  Airlines at least. And actually that's one of the few credit cards I haven't gotten in part, because Hawaiian   Airlines doesn't have that many partners. It's not as good of a deal for this. I personally haven't gotten to it, but again, if you do fly Hawaiian   Airlines a lot, you probably should, or any airline, specifically a lot, a lot.

 

You should probably get their credit card. Same thing with hotels. If you tend to stay with Hyatt or Marriott a lot, then you should probably get that,  hotel credit card. That said though, so where I was going with that is that say if the bonus is 50,000 miles for the one Airlines card that's probably only good for maybe one round trip ticket.

 

So, if you haven't found a floor, it's not going to cover. So you might have to do something like save up for a few years or you might have to branch out to something else besides wine   Airlines, if you want to completely free trip. Similarly, so I mentioned these hotel credit cards, so similar to   Airlines, hotels, the big chains, at least again like Hyatt Hilton Marriott.

 

They have credit cards where they give you hotel points. And you can use these hotel points to get free nights, at the hotels so you can travel practically for free in terms of accommodations or Airlines.  But in terms, once you get there to get to Disneyland or Disney world or, or whatever, you're going to have to spend kind of out of pocket for those tickets.

 

I'm actually not positive. So Disney might have their own credit. But it's prob,  , but if they do, it's probably not going to get you, free tickets for family before it might get you free tickets for like one person.   , but probably not for family. So you might as well just save up the money to actually purchase the Disney.

 

Admission tickets, but get, use those points to get the accommodations and, and so forth.  , that's something that's super important to me because, you know, like if I'm looking at a hotel, I wanna make sure that it's kind of like a mini condo, you know? So I have like a full kitchen and, and everything versus just going out to eat every night.

 

So do you have any tips? Not necessarily in Disney world or Disneyland too, or. What big chains have those type of points that you're able to get all of those amenities. Ooh. Okay. So practically all of them. So again,   , Hilton Hyat Mart,   , they all have those,  , actually in terms, if you, if you want things like a kitchen or,   , like a,  , bedrooms,  , the big chains have different portfolios of different hotels.

 

So.   , for example, say Marriott bought out, she Marriot bought out S SPG. So Starwood, which I think include, say Shean, but all of these big chains have in a sense like sub sub brands.  , so I was a little surprised to find out that,  , certain companies such as IHGs, so IHG stands for Intercontinental hotel group.

 

 , they actually own say,   , poll. And that's true for all of these big chains. They actually have a bunch, maybe 10 to 20 subbrands. So there's actually only a few major hotel groups that own all these subbrands underneath them. And these subbrands,  , they are they're, they're almost always gonna have.

 

Like say luxury hotels, but also these cheaper motels, like,   , holiday ends. But then also within that, they're gonna have something like,  , so say Hyat has like Hyat places. So Hyat places are more like these condos say they have like a kitchen.  , so actually, I, I, I don't know this too. Well, I don't know these subbrands too well.

 

So these subbrands are, if you stay at like a Hyatt, a Hyatt,   , what's it called? HT plates. Hyat plates.  , you're kind of guaranteed to have like these kitchens or,   , like a bedroom or something like that. Yeah, I know we've stayed at,  , like we usually just book through hotels.com and we'll look at, I forget what it's called, like Marriott residents in, or like the Hyat place or Hyat house.

 

And they'll have like, you know, like a mini condo kind of thing.  , but is it recommended to go through their credit card companies rather than your typical, you know, Amex. CIBANK Costco or something. Right. So good. So usually for hotels, you have to book through the hotel,  , to get the benefit. So say if you're elite member,   , if you book through somethings, then you're not gonna get the benefits.

 

If you book through something like Expedia, one of the benefits,   , usually often with a hotel credit. Is that they automatically give you the status. So for example, I actually have toing diamond status through one of the credit cards.  , I'm paying for it, send out like this credit card. The AU fee is four $50 a year.

 

 , but the benefits, my opinion outweigh that $450,  , by automatically get diamond status to which includes things like free breakfast. It includes upgrades up to suites. So what you can do is you can book a relatively cheap room. But then potentially if there's space available, if there's a suite available, you can get upgraded up to a suite that costs like hundreds of dollars.

 

Versus maybe I just spent $150 for the room, but I might get like $500.  , but again, this is kind of part of this game that it's a gamble. There's no guarantee you're gonna get the sweet upgrade, but you might,   , and again, knowing the game helps you to maximize whether or not you're gonna get the suite and whether or not you should book a relatively cheap Rome in hopes of getting the suite.

 

I know it seems complicated and probably our audiences, their minds are just like my like mind blown right now. But I can see like the passion on your face on this. Like, and it is fun, right? Like when you're, it's kind of like gambling, I know it, it's not really a positive thing, but when you're getting all this stuff and you know how to do it, and you're just like turnkey about it, it's like so exciting.

 

Do you have like a really good success story? That you can share with us and how you got a lot of free stuff through these credit card points. Yeah. So,   , so again, when I first started this back in about 2013,   , I was a busy postdoc at the time. So I was mainly focused on work. So I didn't really have that much time to travel, but for at least three years, I was just acc ulating the points.

 

I was just getting like 10 to 15 credit cards a year and just earning the points and kind of dreaming or thinking about how I'm going to spend them so one of my good friends, Steven at the time, I mean still good friends. I don't see him much impersonate for, but he kind of told me like, Eli, you're always gonna have work.

 

You just need to go. I was like, you know what? You're right. Cause so I'm, you know, ethnically Japanese, I'm like fifth generation Japanese American in Hawaii. So I was telling him like, you know, I want to go to Japan someday. Cause my ancestors came from Japan but you know, I don't really have the time it's like Eli, you just have to.

 

So this was 2015. I was like, you know what? You're right. Like I just need to go. So I, I booked 2015 for the next year, s mer of 2016.  , just to go and again, at this point I had over a million miles. I was like, yeah, let's, let's maximize this so I think to the largest 10 Americans, we don't even know how bad we have it in terms of   Airlines.

 

So our Airlines like United Airline, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and even Hawaiian   Airlines tends to be relatively good compared to Delta American United, but even compared to Hawaiian   Airlines, other countries have much, much, much better Airlines so especially in Asia and the middle east, they have planes where you have your own private suites with a bed and showers under.

 

 So I wanted to book. In part, because this is one of the main ways that miles are a good value that if I were to pay cash for these private suites and showers, there'll be thousands, not tens of thousands of dollars, which as a, for postdoc back then, even now as a poor professor, I wanna pay that in cash, but with miles, it's a relatively good deal that basically I could get one credit card.

 

Signable so 50,000 miles. And use that to book as suites that might be worth like $10,000. That again, like in real life, I would never pay $10,000 cash to fly that, but I'm more than willing to sign up for one credit card and use 50,000 miles so I booked several of these trips. I plan to round the world trip.

 

And actually, again, back then I used to live in LA.  , so I went from LA to Hong Kong flying cafe Pacific. Then from Hong Kong, I went to Singapore then to Mumbai, using Singapore  Airlines. Then from Mumbai, I went from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi to London, to Rome using Etha. And then from Rome to Dubai,   kind of back to LA using an Emirate.

 

So all together, if I were to pay cash, followed these flights, it would've been about $40,000 but I only spent maybe about 250,000 miles, which would be about five credit cards. Wow. So this was June, I think, of 2016. And then the month later then I went to Japan for the first time. So I went from LA to Tokyo, to Singapore, and then back to LA using both cap threes capping.

 

So actually I use Singapore   Airlines going there. And they cascade. So coming back so similar, we've heard to pay cash. This would've been maybe around $30,000 to fly these suites, but then using   Airlines miles is 150,000 miles to maybe like three credit card. That's amazing. You still have to pay taxes and fees, but that's maybe 1% of the,   , retail price.

 

So see if these suites cost me $40,000, I still have to be made $400.  , but that's a fraction of the cost in addition to having your own private suite and say showers on board with,   , and a bed, you also have kind of all, you can eat all, you can drink fine dining. So on these flights, they often have like caviar.

 

They have like lobster, they have steak and it's on demand. Like whenever you're ready, you can be like, call them up on the phone and be like, yep. I want my steak now. I want my caviar. Or they often have, you know, $200 bottles of champagne and it's all you can drink. So often on these like 10 or 15 hour flights, I'll have multiple bottles.

 

  , the most expensive I've had is Tennessee Parus, which now is around a thousand dollars a bottle. , so I had a bottle in part just cuz I could,  , and it's free. It's all included on these. . Wow, that's amazing. And I like how you mentioned that, you know, using these credit cards to your advantage can get you a really good.

 

Flight, you know, a really good experience on a flight because most people like me, you know, just wanna get to the destination. Like we hate being on the plane for six plus hours, you know, it's uncomfortable. And it's like, just get me off here. And then when you're talking about it, I was like, wow, I can have a really positive experience on the flight.

 

And then when you go to your destination, you're well rested. You're ready to go. And you can maximize not only. Your your points and your experience, but also like your time and your mental health and your emotional health through these points. Yeah. So, I mean, I just like to travel, even when I fly economy, I just like flying.

 

I just like going someplace, that's it. Yeah. If you're flying sweets class, you have your own private suite, you know, on demand. All you can eat all, you can drink fine dining, even a 10-hour flight. It goes by fast. Cause at that point, like enjoying your some of these planes have bars on board. So I actually just came back from big trip.

 

 , I really want to try out cutter airways, first class. So they have one of the best bars on board. So I spent like two or three hours just at the bar hanging out with other first class passengers and chatting out with the bartenders on a plane like blows my mind that you can have a bar on a plane and showers on a plane.

 

Yeah, that I've never heard of that before. So I think I need to like, get a little bit out there and then find at these places and these   Airlines that have all of these amenities. Yeah. And again, in America, we don't have these, in part, in part because American   Airlines and by America, I mean like, you know, United Delta as well as American   Airlines as well.

 

They kind of, they know their customer. They know that Americans in general just want the cheapest flight available. So they're not gonna put these amenities on board, whereas in Asia and the middle East, their customers can both pay for it, but then they also kind of demand more luxuries,  , on planes and Americans do.

 

That's it also part of the reason is that there are these planes called a three 80 that pretty much no American carrier. But a lot of the middle Eastern and a lot of the Asian carriers do, these are huge airplanes that have two decks. They're double deck airplanes. And it's these huge airplanes that these Airlines tend to put their suites on their bars, their showers on board, because their planes are so big.

 

 But I love those planes in part because they're so big they're stable, so turbulence doesn't affect them much the sound they're, they're relatively quiet if you get air sick or like seasick, because they're so big because they're so stable, there's not that much turbulence so they're one of my favorite planes.

 

And again, because they're so big, these   Airlines can put things like bars on board showers on board, private suites on board. Wow. That's just incredible. I'm just so amazed right now. And you mentioned the website that you go to to learn more about this. What was that website? So it's called boarding area.com boarding area.com.

 

Okay. I'll be sure to put that in the show notes.   I heard you on another podcast and can you just share your stitch story with us?  Yeah. So when I travel, I take a small, like about three or four inch stuffed Stitch. So Stitch from Lilo and Stitch. And the reasons for that is that I don't like to take a lot of selfies of myself when I travel.

 

So I like to take pictures with stitch. So whenever I post on like Instagram or Facebook my followers know, look, that's Eli with this stitch taking pictures. And if you're wanting, like why stitch go stitches from Hawaii and I'm from Hawaii. So, that’s one of the reasons I take stitch with me, cuz we're both kinda from Hawaii.

 

But also he's a great conversation starter. So people around the world recognize him. They're like, oh, it's ditch and they'll often ask, they're like, yeah, why do you have a stitch? Then I can tell them the story. So it's a good way to start conversations with strangers when I travel. That's so awesome.

 

When I heard that, I was just like, that is so neat. Like that's just like so cool.  You're just like on, you know, traveling by yourself or like you said, you know, you don't want to take a lot of selfies. You, you just have like a little stuffed animal stuff. Stitch, I should say with you as like your travel partner.

 

Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Do you have anywhere that we can follow you on your trips and get inspiration to, you know, utilize these points, to become a travel hacker? Like you, not exactly. So a lot of people have told me I should start my own blog or my own podcast. ,again, this is a hobby for me and I find that often when things, when hobbies kind of become jobs, they're not as.

 

So I don't have any plans to start my own podcast. I don't have any plans to start a blog.  , but I do have Instagram. So if anyone wants to follow,  , my Instagram is doctor worldwide,   , and that's doctor with the case. So kind of do KTR,  , worldwide. And the joke is kind of like, so I'm a, I'm a doctor.

 

 , but then, you know how like pit boo is Mr. Worldwide? Just kind of like doctor worldwide. So it's kinda like Mr. Worldwide, just with more education. Nice. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast today and,  , yeah, we can't wait to see where you travel next. Thanks for having me.