I travel as much as I can…but never as much as I’d like. I love it. I love new people, new foods, new cultures, new sites and new experiences. It never gets old. It fuels me and fills me up.
And over the past couple of years, I’ve been able to travel a lot more. Most of that is due to travel hacking. I stumbled upon the concept by accident, and am so glad that I did! It has allowed me all sorts of opportunities that I might not otherwise have, and many of my friends have asked for guidance in trying to get started as well. So, I thought I’d explain it a bit here.
To start, if you are unfamiliar with the term, travel hacking is simply finding ways around the typical travel system—traveling for free or very cheap. This is typically done through credit card offers. You sign up for large bonuses, use the bonus, then dump the card before the annual fee.
For the best explanations and introductions, here are a few introductory posts from the pros I follow:
- 7 Ways to Get Started Earning Points and Miles for Free Travel by Chris Guillebeau
The Short Introduction to Miles, Points and Credit Cards by Drew at Travel is Free
A Guide to Finding Super Cheap Flights by Drew at Travel is Free
Can More Credit Cards Increase Your Credit Score? by AwardWalletOnce you’ve read these posts, it’s easy to start clicking around their sites to learn more. That’s exactly how I started!
Additionally, here are some of the other resources I use:
http://www.secretflying.com: crazy low error fares *
www.travelzoo.com: This is an awesome weekly email with deals from your nearest large city. They have deals for all over the world at any time. Their packages are absolutely the best! This is also a great recommendation if you simply don’t want to do any of the other travel hacking work.
http://faredealalert.com: Good deals out of ATL, but you can find these for all major cities, I’m sure. *
www.fly.com: cheap flights and easy App
www.awardwallet.com: They have a really helpful blog, and this is where I store all my accounts for easy reference.
TrustedHousesitters.com: Stay in people’s homes for free all over the world in exchange for taking care of their pets.
Travel Pirates: Another great, weekly newsletter.*For Secret Flying and Fare Deal Alert, you have to jump on them quickly to get the deals since many are error fares, meaning the airline made a mistake in the pricing and will change it as soon as they notice. So I get Twitter alerts via text to stay on top of it. It’s worth getting a Twitter account for these deals! Once you’re logged in, just click the gear on the profile page and select “Turn on mobile notifications.”
I am by no means an expert at this, but here are the things its afforded me over the past two years:
- Four night’s stay in Chicago (free)
- Flight to Chicago (free)
- Two night’s stay in Irvine (free)
- Two flights to NYC ($30)
- One night’s stay in NYC (free)
- Flight to DC ($30)
- One night’s stay in DC (free)
- One night’s stay in North Georgia (free)
- One night in a suite in Fort Myers (free)
- Car rental in Fort Myers (free)
- Two night’s stay in Austin (free)
- Flight to Austin ($75)
- Flight to Barcelona ($250)
- Three nights in Barcelona (free)
- Flight home from Barcelona (free)
- Two nights in Nashville (free)
- Two nights in Orlando (free)
- Ticket to Universal Studios (free)
I should also note that my key to making the minimum spends is that I can pay my rent via credit card. So, for example, many cards require you to spend $3,000 in three months to get the initial bonus points. If that isn’t something you can do, then you’ll need to stick to error fares and travel deals rather than relying largely on points.
If you are interested in getting started with a rewards card, the one everyone recommends to begin with is the Chase Sapphire. Here is my referral link. These are by far my favorite points! I kept this card rather than canceling before the renewal because it’s so awesome. Give it a try!
I hope this helps you a bit as you start your travel hacking adventures. And happy traveling!