Travel For Free Today. The siren call. Travel the world for free! I flew first class in Emirates Airlines for zero dollars! I stayed in the Ritz Carlton for five nights in Hawaii gratis! Is this all bullshit? Can you travel for free? I was recently asked by a complete stranger on Twitter to finance his world travels.
But is there another way to travel for free without receiving an inheritance from some obscure uncle or some random guy on Twitter? There is an entire cottage industry that makes a living and travels for free, but for this group of people, it is a religion, an obsession. And I leave it to the experts to stay on top of every trend and nuance to travel hack. And what is travel hacking?
“Travel hacking is the art of collecting frequent flyer miles and points to travel for free. The best part is the majority of miles are earned without ever stepping foot on a plane. Many travel hackers, like myself, earn hundreds of thousands of miles per year,” as defined by Nomadic Matt
When it comes to travel hacking, I would categorize myself as middling in terms of skill and dedication. Typically, twice a year, I will order several new credit card to earn the bonus sign up. This takes me several hours a year. And this, can have a big impact on saving money.
I want to share with you how I recently utilized some points to save several thousand dollars.
I Am Going To Yap
I am returning to my home base in Bangkok, and I decided I wanted to visit some Pacific Islands on my flight home. After working through a lot of different itineraries on the United website I found a series of flights that would allow me to visit The Federated States of Micronesia (Yap is an island within this country) and Palau (only 20,000 people live here). Palau and Yap are two sovereign nations in the Pacific.
I priced out the three tickets, and it was going to cost me nearly $3,900!! A pretty penny indeed.
I then clicked on reward tickets and realized for 70,000 miles and a couple of bucks, my flight would be nearly free.
In short order, by opening a United credit card, you can earn up to 75,000 miles.
Long Weekend Asuncion
Asuncion is the capital of Paraguay, one of two land-locked countries in South America. I needed to get from Santiago, Chile to Asuncion, and it appeared there is a monopoly on that route. In fact, I was going to have to pay over $500 for a one-way segment on a flight less than 3 hours or take a connecting flight that would be over 7 hours. I didn’t want to waste an entire day flying to Asuncion.
So I took a look at my Barclays Arrival credit card. It allows you to apply a credit to your statement to cover travel expenses. So, by using 55,000 points, my flight was free.
And, how can you accrue these points? Open a card, and get the bonus.
Hotel In Asuncion
I decided to check out the Crowne Plaza which is part of the IHG family. It totals close to $300 for 3 nights.
I follow Rapid Travel Chai and they announced the IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks, a quarterly list of hotels which you can book very affordably with points. I was able to book three nights for only 5,000 points a night.
You can sign up for an IHG credit card and be awarded 80,000 points. So in this example, you could book 16 nights equating to approximately $1,600.
Stopping By In Mexico City
I need to get to Chicago from Asuncion. There were not a lot of great options, so I decided to make a pit stop in Mexico City. This one-way segment was over $500, and I decided to employ my Citibank Thank You credit card.
I was able to go to the Thank You website, book my flight, and apply my points to get a free flight.
Here is an offer from Citi Thank You so you can get an idea of how many points you can get by signing up. You can get 50,000 Thank You points by opening up a credit card.
Recap – Travel For Free Today
So in these four examples, I received approximately $5,200 in travel for basically opening four credit cards. By spending a bit of time, researching and opening some credit cards you can have the opportunity to expand your travel opportunities.
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