Our FTU Signature Event Speakers each bring their own passion of travel to their sessions.
We invite you to learn more about each of our speakers, and how their expertise will advance your knowledge of travel, loyalty and rewards.
Live and Let’s Fly
Matthew is an avid traveler who calls Los Angeles and Frankfurt home. Last year he traveled more than 200,000 miles by air and has visited more than 100 countries over the last decade. Working both in the aviation industry and as a travel consultant, Matthew has been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BBC, Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Al Jazeera, Toronto Star, and on NPR.
Studying international releations, American government, and later obtaining his law degree, Matthew has a plethora of knolwedge outside the travel industry that leads to a unique writing perspective. He has served in the United States Air Force, on Capitol Hill, and in the White House.
His Live and Let’s Fly blog shares the latest news in the airline industry, commentary on frequent flyer programs and promotions, and detailed reports of his worldwide travel. Matthew can be reached at [email protected].
Rudy Maxa’s World
Rudy Maxa, the original Savvy Traveler, is one of America’s premier consumer travel experts and the host and executive producer of “Rudy Maxa’s World,” the Emmy Award-winning, public television travel series featuring destinations in Europe and all over the world.
Rudy Maxa is well known as public radio’s “Savvy Traveler” and was an award-winning contributing editor with National Geographic Traveler magazine for 17 years. He’s been a contributing editor to Delta’s SKY magazine and Artful Living, the Twin Cities’ lifestyle magazine. He’s also the voice of National Geographic Traveler’s “Walks of a Lifetime” podcasts and co-hosts America’s most widely-syndicated travel radio show, “RMWorldTravel with Rudy Maxa and Robert & Mary Carey,” that airs weekly on 385+ news/talk stations in North America and via its own TuneIn.com channel 24/7/365.
Make Travel Hacking Great Again
Mike can trace his aviation geek and travel enthusiast roots to early childhood, when he’d travel cross country several times a summer on family vacations. Most of his travel is domestic, and he is not one to pass up a good flight deal. When Mike isn’t at the airport waiting for a flight, he can often be found at the spotters park at MSP, photographing the nonstop parade of Delta CRJs passing through.
Mike started a local meetup group in the Twin Cities metro with several dozen members who meet up monthly. He also runs a travel hacking slack open to anyone from total noobs to seasoned travelers redeeming millions of miles a year. Find him for more info on either, or get in contact with Mike at [email protected].
Freelance Travel Writer
Kyle is a freelance travel writer with contributions to Time, the Washington Post, MSNBC, Yahoo!, Reuters, Huffington Post, MapHappy, Travel Codex and many other media outlets. He is also cofounder of PenAndPassport.com. He focuses on using miles and points to provide a premium experience for his wife and daughter.
Lee Huffman is a former banker who now writes about early retirement, credit cards, travel, and other personal finance topics. He has been writing at BaldThoughts.com since 2012 and freelances for other websites like RewardExpert, ChooseFI, and Johnny Jet. Lee enjoys showing people how to travel more, spend less, and live better through the power of credit cards and travel rewards.
Lee recently moved to Nashville from Southern California so he could travel more with his kids. He launched the We Travel There podcast in September. On this weekly 30-minute podcast Lee interviews local experts from around the world to uncover the best things to do in their city.
Jon and Ben Nickel d’Andrea
No Mas Coach
Ben is a luxury travel writer, an immigrant and a husband with a background in linguistics and languages who travels the world for the love of it. Jon has been traveling since he was a young boy and loves all things first and business class. They both travel over 1/4 MILLION miles a year while maintaining full time jobs and their blog at NoMasCoach.com.
Win Schaeffer (“toomanybooks” on Flyertalk) retired from the computer business in 1992 and became a stay-at-home Dad to Carl in 1997. He lives in Flossmoor, IL and is married to Carrie, a professor in the Department of Surgery of the Medical School of the University of Chicago. He has a part-time book/stamp/paper collectible business and is active in various credit-card/points/miles-related activities. He has flown Southwest domestically almost exclusively since 1994 and has been a WN Companion Pass holder about 8 times. He also has been a Disney Vacation Club timeshare owner since 2006 and often rents those points out, saving people 50% or more on a stay in a Deluxe Disney property.
He also hosts a gathering of points/miles enthusiasts every 6 months in Lexington, KY to coincide with the horse races at Keeneland, with trips to bourbon distilleries and plenty of southern food and hospitality.
Carly is a freelance travel writer that takes her daughter Lucy along on her journeys, stamping passports and making memories. She has contributed to Huffington Post, MapHappy, Travel Codex and PenandPassport.com. You can also find her over-sharing photos of Lucy on Instagram by following @LucyGoesTo and @AnotherBabyMaybe.
Credit Card and Travel Journalist
Jason Steele is a journalist who specializes in covering credit cards and award travel. Jason’s work is well known within the community of travel rewards enthusiasts as the Senior Points and Miles Contributor for The Points Guy and for his contribution to other outlets on the subjects of airline rewards and family travel. And as one of the nation’s leading experts in the credit card industry, Jason is frequently quoted in mainstream outlets, and his writing has been featured at Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, and Business Insider.
Using his expertise in earning and spending points and miles, Jason and his family travel around the country and across the world, consuming tens of thousands of dollars worth of award travel each year. Finally, Jason’s writing on the subject of travel is further enhanced by the fact that he holds a commercial pilot’s license.
The Points Guy
Former traveling consultant turned corporate, Kevin is an avid tech and aviation geek known for his ridiculous mileage runs. A contributor for The Points Guy, Kevin spends most of his free time obsessing over points and miles.
US Credit Card Guide
Shawn, known as physixfan in the hobby, is a physics PhD student in California. As the pay for a PhD student is low while the desire to fly back to the home country is high, he became a credit card enthusiast to fly for free. He built USCreditCardGuide.com to help people in a similar situation since 2014, and now it has become the go-to place to check the best credit card deals for many.
US Credit Card Guide
As a foreign national working in U.S. academia, Daniel constantly travels for field work and conferences in addition to personal journeys. He regularly contributes trip reports to USCreditCardGuide.com and shares his experiences of burning miles with maximum returns. Daniel is also an enthusiastic travel photographer. He spent three months in Antarctica in 2015 (not on miles and points though) and has travelled to all seven continents but Africa. He currently lives with his wife, a cat, and two guinea pigs in New Jersey. Find out more at https://www.instagram.com/uscreditcardguide/
US Credit Card Guide
Elijah, a.k.a. 鳄鱼君, is a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology. While waiting for the cells to grow in lab dishes, Elijah developed a strong interest in hotel points & air miles. In 2018, Elijah and his wife, Jenny, spent millions of miles (instead of dollars!) and completed a luxurious and memorable Around-The-World honeymoon tour. They shared the stories along the trip via vlogs & articles and their experiences were inspiring among many. Elijah is a part-time contributer of USCreditCardGuide.com and he is always happy to share his tips of earning and burning points to friends online and in-person.
Marissa’s love for travel was sparked when she studied abroad, an experience that inspired her to launch her travel blog, Little Things Travel, a travel guide to the world while ultimately appreciating the little things in life. She aims to show that travel can be a driver of positive change in big and little ways. She’s a loyal Southwest flyer and has had Companion Pass or been a companion for the last 4 years. When she’s not traveling, you can find Marissa at her home base of Chicago.
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