Meet Guy Guyton, a travel points enthusiast from New Jersey. He works in finance and it is this industry that has taught him all he knows about credit and how to save money for travel. Guy opened his first rewards credit card on a corporate account and ever since he’s been learning the ins and outs of how to save money while earning points. This interview reveals some travel tips from the guru of credit card points.
Guy recently relocated to the San Francisco Bay area from New York City. While travel restrictions are still in place, he is taking advantage of this new location to explore unfamiliar surroundings with his partner. For further details of Guy’s ongoing adventures, check out Travel With Guy on Instagram for the most current updates.
For her latest interview, Dreams Abroad founder and director Leesa Truesdell spoke with Guy to quiz him about his travels. Join us on an entertaining journey through burgers, cameras, and points. There just never seems to be a dull moment in Guy’s life.
Why ‘Travel with Guy’? How did you get your name?”
When I started traveling, I didn’t know of all the possibilities out there. I have grown tremendously during this journey and am keen to now share that perspective — the perspective of someone who’s always trying to make the most of every experience because none have simply been given to me. So, I wanted something easy to remember, and to share my story, my locations, and my journey, along with travel tips.
How did you find out about credit card points for travel?”
I was fortunate enough to meet one of my mentors when I first started in finance. He worked at Amex and knew all of the travel tips and tricks related to credit card points. He revealed a whole world of free travel that was possible by putting a simple strategy in place. That got me started. So when I began working as a management consultant, I took business travel to whole new levels.
As a business traveler, I was thrown into a large community of other travelers, each more than happy to share best practices. There’s a ton of resources out there, but I still think it’s best to learn from someone who is in your corner. Each of our situations are different and it’s nice having someone to reach out to.
How many travel points and miles have you accrued and where have they taken you?”
A lot. Over three million for sure. I’m currently sitting on nearly two million credit card points for travel across several programs as I keep earning during the lockdown without having a lot of places to use them on right now.
Travel points have helped me explore four continents, 17 countries, and 30+ states over the last five years. It’s more than just distance though. At 6’2, long flights in economy are rough and hard to sleep on. Flying with points and miles allows me to travel at the front of the plane more often and feel rested when I arrive at my destination. One of the most important travel tips I have to share, though, is that using points and miles has allowed me to take way more trips than I would have otherwise thought possible.
What one photo of yours instantly transports you to the place you took it and why?”
The Santorini sunset photo, hands down. This Greek island is part of the Cyclades. Santorini was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BCE which forever changed the island’s landscape.
The intensely fertile soil makes for some amazingly tasty olives and, more importantly, the best olive oil I’ve ever found. It’s out of this world. The volcanic landscape has also created beaches of black, red, and white lava pebbles. There’s a ton to explore on this tiny island in the Aegean Sea.
But let’s get to the photo. Santorini is one of the most romantic places on Earth and a popular spot for honeymooners; I can see why. Its sunsets melt you away, lighting up the sky and sea for miles around. Words do it no justice, but this photo brings me back to how happy and relaxed I was on this incredible island.
Which camera would you recommend for beginners?”
The best camera to use is the one you have. In most cases, all you need for some stunning photos is your cellphone. Most of us have already spent the $1k on the phone; use it. If you’re just posting photos to Instagram, then you’ll be fine. Essentially, Instagram compresses your photos, so your phone actually overachieves versus what you can end up posting anyway.
For those who have outgrown their phones, I personally like Sony mirrorless cameras. Canon and Sony are fantastic for photos and videos. I also grew into the hobby by using a Nikon D750 which had all the bells and whistles that I could ever need for photography. Currently, I have the Sony a7 III, as it is a great hybrid camera for photography and videography. It’s also a great vertical travel camera.
Where is the best town to grab your favorite meal?”
I’m a burger enthusiast for sure. Besides trying to see all 30 baseball stadiums, I’ve also been trying to visit as many of Business Insider’s 50 best burger joints in the country. It’s quite hard, as the list changes significantly each year.
However, the best place in the US (nay, the world) for a burger is Chicago, at Au Cheval. I first heard about this spot in 2015 when a friend told me it was the best in the world. After pausing to laugh, confident that it was an exaggeration, I nevertheless headed over. Once I got there, the wait time was two hours. I waited. It was worth it and I’ve been back half a dozen times since.
Au Cheval is designated as an “upscale diner” which, if I’m being entirely honest, I have no idea what that is even supposed to mean. Even having been there multiple times, it is hard to describe. If I had to, I’d say that being there makes you feel like a local and like you’re in a new, hip spot at the same time. Everything is low-key and minimalist. Time passes differently and it is really intimate. It is also familiar, like heading to a cool friend’s house.
A Sample of Heaven
When I got there the first time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just wanted a good burger. I asked the waitress what was really good here. She thought I was kidding. This place is known for being the spot with that burger that I’d later fly from NY to eat. Little did I know.
But what makes this burger better than the rest? Well, they do all of the obvious things right, of course. The meat is fresh and you can taste the quality. Each of the ingredients seems like they’re farm to table.
What’s signature about Au Cheval is they’re known for their thick burgers with double patties between perfectly toasted and buttered buns. Topped with four slices of bacon that are closer in size to logs than anything else, yet seasoned like it could stand alone as its own meal and with a giant egg on top smothered under melted cheese, sets this burger well apart from the rest.
I also can’t speak enough about how cool the environment is. Now I’ve gone by myself a few times and, when I do, I like to sit up at the bar and watch them prepare the burgers. It feels like art more than food and the whole experience is incredibly intimate.
What is your favorite meal when traveling and why?”
It’s a guilty pleasure for sure, but I’m such a sucker for gelato. People who travel with me know that they can basically get me to do anything or go anywhere if there’s going to be gelato involved. I’m known for wandering the streets of Italy and insisting on getting gelato after any meal. It’s definitely something I look out for whenever I’m abroad, especially when I’m using up all those credit card points for travel.
When did you realize you enjoyed interviewing people via podcasts?”
I’ve always had great conversations about travel. Talking about past trips, different travel tips, where to go next, and where to explore further energizes me. Once COVID hit, I realized so many of those chats were happening on Zoom calls. The only thing that changed for me is I decided to hit the record button. I wanted the podcast to feel like two friends chatting, because it is.
What have you learned from it?”
The power of connection. This may not have been learned, but certainly reinforced. When you take the time to chat with someone, you unlock more than you would from a text or an email. It’s similar to traveling in general.
Travel lets you escape the day-to-day routine and do something different. Oftentimes you’re fully engaged in whatever it is you have on your plate for that day. Podcasting is very much the same. For an hour or so, I’m only focused on what my guest is telling me. I learn a new perspective after each of these discussions. That is because I get to hear their own travel tips and gain new insights.
Podcasting also helps me keep my own travel fire lit. These are hard times for everyone. I know staying home and staying safe is what we need to do for the greater good, but a lot of my own personal development comes from travel. Talking about new tips, ideas, and locations keeps me energized for what’s to come next.
Which destination is at the top of your bucket list?”
I typically travel for the culture and to understand more about different parts of the world. But one thing I must do is explore Finland to catch the northern lights. It’s basically magic and I’d love to try to capture that.
Imagine you go to sleep in your hut. Then you wake up to those magical colors above you in the middle of the night. I think the experience is extremely unique and I’m looking forward to the day I can make it out there.
Guy Guyton and Leesa Truesdell will be hosting a Facebook Live event on Wednesday 24 March at 3:00PM EST. Guy will be available to answer live questions about how to save money while traveling and living abroad. He’ll share his best travel tips and how to use those credit card points for travel. Don’t miss your opportunity to catch up with Leesa and Guy live.