Travelling with JJ Thompson

We recently began working with Aeroplan member, travel enthusiast and professional photographer JJ Thompson. To help introduce him to our member community, we sat down for a 1:1 to get to know him better.

1) JJ, we are super excited to be working with you! Can you tell our Aeroplan members a bit about yourself? (who you are, what you do, your family, etc.)

I’m a British ex-pat living in Toronto with my wife and our three rambunctious young children (4, 6 & 8). I’m a commercial photographer, which means I work for companies taking photos for marketing and advertising. Much of my work takes me outside of Toronto and we spend every free moment away, so traveling is a really big part my family’s life.

2) How long have you been an Aeroplan member?

Probably since I first arrived in Canada, but it’s only in the last four to five years I’ve become a really serious collector. As I began to travel more and really use my miles, I took earning them more seriously and looked to combine them all in one place.

3) From all the travelling you’ve done, what has been your favourite family destination?

We’ve done a lot of traveling with the family over the years, so I’m hard pushed to pick a favorite. We definitely favour smaller or more rural communities and always want to be the near the water (I don’t think our kids could ever get bored of the beach.)

When we’re traveling in Canada we’d likely go to Prince Edward County in Ontario, we just came back from our first time in the cottage area of Haliburton and loved it.  Another favourite area is rural British Columbia. This year we’ve spent a lot of time traveling Central America (Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica) which we all really loved. Central America is very family oriented, which helps a lot when you’re traveling with young children.

4) You’ve found some great ways to use Aeroplan to travel with your family. Can you share some of your tips?

I find Aeroplan an incredibly flexible program, which is why I focus on it (and yes, I said this before working with Aeroplan). There’s a number of different ways I use to get the most of my miles;

  • First thing I always do is look at ‘multi-city’ bookings, the most overlooked feature of Aeroplan. You can book more than one stop on the same journey, and done in the right way can be done for no additional miles! There’s some caveats, but it’s basically the bonus of extra flights for almost nothing!
  • When I can’t find a direct return flight on Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards the next step is to look at Market Fare Flight Rewards and other reward classes such as Business/First options. A good tip is to break up the booking into two one-way flight rewards. I’ve done many journeys using a Fixed Mileage Flight Reward in one direction, and a Market Fare Flight Reward in the other (so only using more miles on a single flight rather than both).
  • When the only option is connecting, don’t be put off by long travel times given by some of the choices – read the details! A long transit time could indicate a chance to stay overnight in a city and explore (rather than waiting around in an airport). I’ll take that any day over a red-eye.
  • The ‘Great Deals’ section is great. I look at this all the time. If you don’t have have a set agenda, and just want to travel, this would be an awesome starting point.
  • You can use Aeroplan outside of Canada! Consider country to country hops on your travels and see if you can do it using Aeroplan Miles. I used my miles to fly the whole family from Nicaragua to Guatemala.

5) What was the most recent trip that you took? Can you tell us more about it?

I travelled to Costa Rica with my middle child Luca and we spent two weeks in the small town of Uvita (that’s on the Pacific side about three hours from San Jose). It’s a beautiful area of beaches, waterfalls and jungle *just* outside the main tourist hub. While it has a lot of visitors, this is definitely more of your nature crowd (you won’t see any big resorts around there). We spent our days checking out schools, real estate, beaches and eating mango’s off the trees (Luca’s favourite breakfast).

6) We know you’re planning to travel with your family in the coming months, can you tell us about your travel plans?

We decided a while back that we wanted to leave Canada for a year and try something a little different with the whole family. Come this August we’ll all be down in Uvita, Costa Rica and sending our kids to a brand new school there called Kabe. Not only is a new environment very exciting, but we’ll be using Costa Rica as a launch pad to travel to places like Panama, Ecuador and Colombia.

If you want to keep up with JJ on his travels, follow him on Instagram @jjtho. Be sure to keep an eye on our social media channels @Aeroplan where we’ll be posting more from JJ’s travels around the world #withAeroplan.