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Featured Friends: Serena from Serena On The Go


Welcome to July's Featured Friends! I'm excited to have Serena from Serena On The Go as my guest this month. While she's a Travel Blogger, she's not your typical one. She finds, experiences, researches and writes about tips and tricks on getting the most out of travel. Not to give away too much but she's an expert in maximizing loyalty programs - from working in the hospitality and airline industry myself, I know that can be a science, so I have a lot of respect for Serena! Without further ado, get to know her and learn something new!

1. Tell us about how your free travel tricks turned into a blog, Serena On The Go and what inspired you to start? 

My husband and I met through a single parent website in the early 2000’s, he lived in Chicago, I lived in Seattle.  We spent 26+ weekends on an airplane before figuring out we couldn’t afford to do that much longer, so he moved across the country. This was when we learned we loved to travel and both had a relentless spontaneous streak!  In the beginning of our marriage, we spent an enormous amount of money paying for airline tickets, hotels and cruises.  I’m a blog addict, one random Friday night while internet surfing I stumbled upon other avid travelers who were using credit card sign up bonuses and miles/point collecting to earn their flights free. I was mind blown and up for the challenge. That night that I set out to read everything I could about “travel hacking” and miles/points collecting.

After I started booking free flights (while only paying taxes), family, neighbors and closest friends bombarded me to find out how I was doing this and how we could afford to travel so often.  Instead of teaching each of them individually, I started making paper handouts that I stapled together and disbursed.  I’ve always been a passionate writer, but had never considered blogging. One night it came to me that I could “marry” my love of free travel with my love of writing and start a blog.  That’s how it all started! 


2. It looks like you've lived in several places, just like me! Tell us about how you ended up in Idaho! Also, thank you for your service!  

Thank you!  My time in the Army has a lot to do with my love of travel.  Being a young gal in the Army pushes one to be independent (not that I wasn’t already….Taurus here).  Before the age of 20 I was able to live in Columbia, South Carolina and Grafenwohr, Germany.  Looking back now I could kick myself because I had the opportunity for short assignments in Korea, Honduras and the Netherlands and didn’t take them. 

My husband and I are both fortunate to work from home. We were seeking low cost of living and a ton of sunshine, without moving far from family.  In 2014 we discovered (through Google) the beauty of Idaho, so we traded in our overpriced Seattle mortgage and rainy skies and we’ve called Boise home ever since. 

3. Your blog is a lot about saving money, being budget conscious and taking advantage of benefits. Did you have a crystalizing moment that snowballed into becoming an expert?

Booking roundtrip tickets for my family to Maui for a total of $33 made me feel like I’d earned the title of “expert”; although, I still have so much to learn.  These airline tickets were booked through Korean Airlines to fly Delta because these two airlines are partners.  Korean Airlines has a steeply discounted award schedule that allows cheap flights to Hawaii! 


4. If time or money wasn't an issue, where are 3 places you would travel to and why? 

Oh, the places!  We’d start with an US road trip to visit all National Parks in our RV; we’ve been itching to do that a while now and our kids would learn more than a classroom could ever teach.  My foreign travel dreams are Split, Croatia, Maldives and Thailand.  The beauty and culture in those countries never cease to amaze and intrigue me. 

5. This might be a hard question but which loyalty programs do you think are the best and why? 

Without question, my favorites are Chase Ultimate Reward Points (UR) and Southwest Rapid Rewards (SWRR).  UR points never expire and are so flexible!  You can use them in unlimited ways, including leveraging partner airlines against each other (like how I did to fly to Maui).  

With SWRR points, a member can earn a Companion Pass, which allows 2 people to fly free for up to 2 years; It’s an incredible deal many aren’t aware of.
 



6. What has been the best deal you've ever scored? 

A fully paid all-inclusive vacation for 2 in Cancun.  Every year my best friend and I take a much needed “girl’s trip”; this year she wanted to go to a tropical location so we picked Mexico.  By using Chase UR points transferred to Hyatt, airline leveraging to fly Alaska Airlines (booked through British Airlines), and the Hyatt Gold American Express sign up bonus I was able to book a 5 day vacation staying at the waterfront Hyatt Zilara, an all-inclusive, adult only luxury resort. 


7. I've written in the past that I've personally pushed affiliate links aside but it looks like you take advantage of it. How has that been for you? What are the pros and cons you've experienced? 

While I never started blogging to earn money, I quickly learned I could.  Affiliate Marketing allows me to make an income that supports the cost of running my site.  While some think blogging is just a hobby, it really takes time and dedication. Eventually, through loyal readers, I’d love to focus on my blog full time and replace my full time career with travel and writing.  

8. What do you hope to accomplish through Serena On The Go? 

My passion is getting other regular folks and families traveling!  I hear far too often that people are intimidated by travel and flying because of the cost.   I’m on a mission to show others that travel doesn’t have to be a budget breaker and can be accomplished frugally!  Everyone deserves to see the world, or, even just our beautiful country. 


9. Any wise words or anything you would like to share with my readers? 

Don’t let “travel hacking” or free flying intimidate you.  While it seems complicated in the beginning, I assure you that with some dedication you’ll have it down in no time!  My site takes readers through the process of learning how to fly free from start to finish. 

10. Follow Serena everywhere!


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Thank you Serena for sharing all your tips and allowing us to get to know you on my blog! It's definitely great to know how to take advantage of loyalty programs and getting a fantastic deal - I mean, who doesn't love saving some money, right?  

Want to read other Featured Friends? Click here.  

Want to be the next Featured Friends? Due to overwhelming response on interviews, I now have a section dedicated to bloggers wanting to work with this blog. Click here to find out more.

2 comments

  1. I had so much fun doing this interview Kana! Thank you again for your beautiful site, wonderful writing and this opportunity!

    Serena
    http://www.serenaonthego.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had so much fun getting to know you Serena! Love having you on my blog and really enjoyed/enjoying the tips you share to get the best deals - woohoo! xo

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