This is the second installment of my now-long-running series: the Free-quent Flyer Reviews Stuff. In the first installment, I explained why Personal Finance Digest is a pretty good blog.
I have pretty specific taste in podcasts
Since leaving my job to pursue my true passions (blogging and taking money from banks), I spend about 3-4 hours every day manufacturing spend. That's mostly by choice; it would take a lot less time if I were willing to do it by car, but I hate driving and my new hometown has been torn up completely for road construction making driving an even more unbearable chore than usual.
That gives me a lot of time to listen to podcasts, which would be all well and good except there aren't very many podcasts I like. For example, I find the most popular NPR podcasts (This American Life, Planet Money) to be what I call "overproduced." The constant background noise, sound effects, and so on make them distracting and unpleasant to listen to (for me, although apparently not for anyone else).
It's pretty hard to do a miles and points podcast
Looking at iTunes, it seems that a guy named Kevin Le started a travel hacking podcast back in March. And a year or so back I remember seeing a podcast that only lasted a few episodes before the guys behind it seem to have given up (I can't find it anymore, so it may even have expired off iTunes).
The problem is, as I've explained before, most people who have the ability to leave steady employment in order to blog do so because of the replacement income they earn from credit card affiliate links. Podcasting is an incredibly time-consuming and ineffective method of generating income-earning conversions, which means few people with the expertise needed to produce a travel hacking podcast worth listening to have any interest in doing so.
Dots, Lines & Destinations is a pretty good podcast
With all that said, let me be clear: Dots, Lines & Destinations is not a travel hacking podcast. But it is a podcast by travel hackers, and informed by their knowledge and experience as travel hackers.
So what is Dots, Lines & Destinations? That's surprisingly hard to say. On the one hand, it's a discussion of industry news like new routes, loyalty program devaluations, and runway construction. On the other hand, it's a review of the hotels and routes the participants have used lately. For example, in a recent episode Seth Miller had a great discussion of the mechanics of booking Kenmore Air flights around Puget Sound. For some reason, the discussion participants refer to traveling on new routes and visiting new cities as "adding dots and lines," which I guess is the origin of the podcast's title.
All this hopefully has led you to ask, "so who are these 'discussion participants,' anyway?" That's a great question, which is, again, surprisingly hard to answer. The Seth Miller mentioned above is the Wandering Aramean, who programs online travel tools and by the sounds of it is present at every major travel conference in the world.
The other participants I've been able to identify are Fozz Mahmud, who blogs at upgrd.com, Stephan Segraves of badice.com, and a figure named "Rolo" who apparently visits South America frequently. They seem like nice guys, but as you can tell, there's no attempt to identify them or their expertise or qualifications for being on the podcast, besides perhaps being friends with Seth Miller.
But none of that ambiguity makes the slightest difference: I love listening to Dots, Lines & Destinations because it's the kind of natural, fun, wide-ranging conversation that you might overhear at a travel hacking conference and want to jump right into the middle of. Plus, whichever of the guys runs their Twitter feed also has a great sense of humor.
So give it a shot. It might not be for you, but you might just end up with a new favorite podcast.