Going Places is a new series from TripIt that highlights frequent travelers to showcase their unique travel styles and insider tips.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, you could find Julia Menez, founder of points-and-miles strategy podcast and consultancy, Geobreeze, country-hopping around Europe or Asia. She often took four or more international trips a year; usually flying in economy—and always on points and miles. Her go-to mode for country-hopping? Cruises. Her favorite stop? Tallinn, Estonia.
“I’m a huge “Game of Thrones” fan,” Julia told me. “And High Valyrian has roots in the Estonian language, so I was naturally drawn to the place. Tallinn was so charming. I recommend it to everyone!”
Fast forward to 2022, and travel looks a bit different for Julia.
“Now, I travel a lot more domestically—and maybe twice a year internationally. I also opt for business or first class when I do. It’s fewer trips, but a nicer experience—and nets out to be the same price-wise,” she said.
She’s also been planning trips that involve less hopping around—and more staying put—as a result of the heightened border-crossing requirements in place due to COVID-19.
Points and miles—a game where everyone wins
When she’s not traveling, Julia runs her podcast where she interviews points strategists to learn how they travel for free. She’s also a points strategy coach, helping people level up their points-and-miles game.
Of course, she’s always on the lookout to put her own points and miles to use.
“I maintain a bucket list of award-travel sweet spots, and then keep an eye out for good award availability,” she said. “When it comes to booking, I always grab an available award first—whether that’s a flight or a hotel—and then I build the rest of my itinerary from there.”
So, what’s on her bucket list of award-travel destinations? “For starters, Greece! I became obsessed with Greek mythology at a young age. It’s been my dream to visit, but it’s always been so expensive to go when you’re paying with cash. I’m hoping to go this year using points and miles.”
Staying organized—from planning to landing to loyalty status
When it comes to planning a trip, Julia and her husband split up the tasks. She handles booking flights and accommodations with their points and miles; he handles the on-the-ground details.
But when it comes to organizing their travel plans, Julia relies on TripIt.
“I use TripIt to keep all my confirmation numbers in one place. I don’t have to dig through my emails, especially when I’m checking into a flight. I also use it to confirm I’ve booked the right hotel dates. When you’re getting in late, the last thing you want to be wondering is, did I book a room for tonight?”
When she’s on the go, Julia uses TripIt’s airport maps to navigate the terminal and find out what lounges are nearby. She also checks the COVID-19 travel guidance feature to know what to expect from different countries’ entry requirements.
And when she’s back home, Julia uses TripIt to help her estimate when she’ll earn loyalty program status. “Both the Point Tracker feature and the way TripIt organizes itineraries are really helpful for keeping track of when I’ll get status each year.”
With more luxury travel experiences on the horizon—and lots more countries to claim on her scratch-off world map—you’ll probably catch Julia people-watching at an airport lounge, helping someone book their own dream trips with points and miles (check her out on Instagram for helpful tips!), or a bit of both.