Expert Interview Series: Robert Schrader of Leave Your Daily Hell About Traveling Smarter

Robert Schrader is a writer, photographer, world traveler and creator of the award-winning travel blog Leave Your Daily Hell. When he’s not out exploring the planet, he resides in beautiful Austin, Texas. We managed to catch up with Robert to hear about some of his travels, and to learn how to incorporate credit cards (and their rewards) into your next vacation.

Tell us how you came to create a travel blog. What “daily hell” did you leave behind to start this site?

Leave Your Daily Hell wasn’t originally a travel blog, but the way I chronicled my life as an English teacher in Shanghai from 2009-2010. I chose that career to escape the hell of the 2008-2009 economic collapse in the U.S. I was able to parlay my Chinese adventure into a longer-term one – and hence, my life as a travel blogger began.

What are some of your favorite places that you’ve traveled to – and what destinations are still on your “bucket list?”

East Asia is definitely my favorite region, with Japan and Thailand holding the biggest places in my heart. My bucket list remains long, but Iran is definitely at the top of it.

Complete this sentence: “When I traveled to ____, I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it.”

Taipei. Not because I enjoyed it (I knew I would), but because of how immediately it became one of my favorite cities of all time.

Are there any new skills that you have learned during your time as a world traveler?

Definitely packing. I recently wrote a post about how to pack light for any trip. I’ve also learned how to leverage frequent travel into free perks, such as lounge access, priority check-in and security, and even upgrades.

Given the current geopolitical climate in various parts of the world, have there been times where you felt a little unsafe as an American in a foreign country?

I’ve never felt unsafe due to my nationality, but rather because I travel with so much expensive equipment!

As an accomplished travel photographer, tell us what you look for when trying to find that “perfect” place or moment to capture in a travel photo.

It’s difficult to put it into words, which is why I take photos. What I would say is that patience is key as well as curiosity. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of walking around a city for hours and taking “practice” shots until the right moment or scene arises.

Give us one travel tip on how anyone can start saving money on their next vacation.

Save on meals so you can splurge on activities. Specifically, eat breakfast in your hotel and eat either lunch or dinner on the fly. Sit-down meals can be a nice reprieve from your day, but tend to waste both money and time.

What do you think are the qualities of a helpful travel guide?

A quality travel guide must inform, inspire, entertain, and empower.

Do you have any suggestions on when to use credit cards on a trip and when to rely on cash?

In my opinion, you should use credit cards whenever possible to earn points and track expenses, if for no other reason. I carry some cash, of course, for emergencies, but I believe plastic is always the way to go.

What are some helpful hints for leveraging credit card rewards or airline miles when traveling or planning a vacation?

The biggest thing I’ve learned about airline miles is that the best way to use them is on business or first-class travel. Whereas redeeming them for travel in coach might result in a net value of 1-2 cents per point, that increases to 5-8 if you sit in the front of the plane.

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