ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. -- Angelina Aucello, a points and miles fanatic, never set out to become a travel guru.
The Elmwood Park resident started her blog, Angelina Travels , five years ago, originally as a diary to share her quirky points and miles hobby with friends and family. But soon after starting -- and later joining the BoardingArea blogging network -- her content became syndicated at USAToday's Travel section.
"I soon realized I had more of a voice and an audience than I had planned for," she said. Now the mom of two kids under two she says her love of travel - and those mileage deals -- has not abated.
"I love giving my kids the gift of travel ... and maximizing the fact that they get to fly for free until age two," she said.
Aucella calls herself a "sunshine chaser," meaning she loves traveling to warm-weather destinations. Some of her favorite places include Sydney, Marrakesh, Anguilla, and all of Europe, especially France and Italy.
Up and coming for 2016 in terms of "hot" destinations she said she sees the Philippines -- "The island of Palawan is beautiful" -- Croatia, and Cartagena, Colombia, which has summer pretty much year-round, becoming more popular destinations.
As for how consumers can get similar deals to hers, she recommends using the right credit card to earn travel points and always transfer those points to travel partners (airline and hotel programs) instead of redeeming them for cash back, gift cards, or merchandise. "My favorite cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the American Express Platinum card as they both come with a lot of flexibility and you can transfer your points to programs such as United, Southwest, Hyatt, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, and so on," she said.
As for managing Newark Airport, Aucella said she loves the new center bars/restaurants that are popping up around United's terminal C. "You can order your food and drinks right from the iPad, and the food is actually good," she said. "Just don't use your miles to pay for the food… it's not a redemption I would make."
Go to www.angelinatravels.boardingarea.com/ f or more advice.