People always ask me, “how can you take so many vacations?” First and most important, be your own boss, and have a wife who has built up enough trust with her law firm so that they don’t really worry about how much time off she takes. Then those same people ask me, “how can you afford to fly business class and stay in nice hotels?” Well, that’s really none of their business 🙂 But in reality, it’s a because of what is commonly known as travel hacking.
Travel hacking basically means using points and miles to book flights and hotels. For the more advanced among us, it means transferring points from American Express, Chase, Citi, Capital One, and other programs to airlines so that we can often fly in the pointy end of the plane. Learning the ins and outs of these programs, the major airline alliances (Star Alliance/One World/Sky Team), and which programs partner with which airlines are important tools if you want to maximize your points.
For some people, they are comfortable using their Amex Membership Rewards points to pay for Amazon purchases. For others, they use their Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Citi Thank You points to pay for statement credits. These are perfectly valid uses of points, but also terrible redemptions. There are plenty of resources on the web for learning how best to use these points. There are also great Facebook groups like FBZ Elite, Frequent Miler Insiders, Basic Travel 101, Miles Talk, 10x Travel and many others where you can learn the basic and more advanced methods to both earn lots of points and use them effectively.
It also helps if you have what’s known as a P2 (Player 2). This can be a spouse, partner, sibling or parent. In reality, it an be anyone you trust (and that trusts you) to open credit cards and earn points in their name. This doubles the potential amount of points and miles you can earn and provides a potential source for referral bonuses (both ways). If you don’t have someone right now, that’s OK. You can still earn a ton of points if you plan carefully and watch for big sign-up bonuses.
I won’t rehash all the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years here, but from time-to-time, I’ll mention deals I’ve taken advantage of or link to a blog or article that provides important information. In my trip reports, I will always explain how I book trips and how I utilize points and miles (or cash) to book.