Steve Kamb left his native Oregon last year on a round-the-world trip starting in Los Angeles. Over the course of the next 10 months, Steve spent time in Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dublin, Madrid, and Buenos Aires. He took 15 flights and covered a distance of 35,000 miles. And he did it all for just $418.36.
Steve is one of a new breed of savvy globetrotters called “travel hackers” who use every possible tip and trick to keep their travel costs down. Get the essentials right and you, too, can see the world for a fraction of what you thought it would cost.
For Steve’s trip he used 300,000 air miles that he earned without taking a single flight. Instead, he got them from using his credit cards.
Opening three to four cards a year won’t ruin your credit rating—though don’t close one as soon as you open another, as that will affect it.
Manage your finances by putting as much as you can on the cards. Spread that principal across, say, three cards per month and you can gain thousands of air miles and points without going near a departure lounge.
American Express offers 30,000 bonus miles once you’ve spent $500 in the first three months using their Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. You can earn 10,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 in the first three months using the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. After the same amount of time with the Citi Platinum Select/AAdvantage Visa Signature you receive 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000. And the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a sign-up bonus of 40,000 rewards points.
Sometimes a great offer jumps out at you. Just visit an airline’s website and often you’re presented with offers of 1,000 to 5,000 free air miles for taking surveys or watching advertiser videos.
More reliable are specialist websites that are particularly useful when you’re first planning your trip and at your most flexible. Search for promo codes for flights, hotels, and car rentals (always making sure that they cover your dates and have the terms and conditions that meet your needs). Then take the promo code to the airline, hotel or car rental site in question to benefit from the savings on offer.
Like anything else, a flight will be priced higher when demand is strong. So the time of day you book matters.
Think about the time when you would normally buy a flight. For most people that’s lunchtime or when you can settle down with the laptop in the evening. Then do the exact opposite. Book late at night or early in the morning…book that flight when no one else is looking. Ideally do this on Wednesday or Saturday nights as that’s when airlines update their schedules.
Editor’s note: The full “jet set on the cheap” article is in the November issue of International Living magazine—out now. It reveals the two times of the week you should never book a flight…how to save money when booking a hotel…the number of days before departure when almost every flight is at its cheapest…the travel hacking websites you should visit…and more. Subscribe here and get immediate access to this article and the rest of the articles in the November issue.