Not too long ago I started hearing about the term Travel Hacking. I get what that is at a high level, but I’ve not taken too much time to dive into the nitty gritty details in order to learn how optimize the whole process. I really don’t know if I’m doing things correctly, completely screwing it all up, or am missing out on easy opportunities.
Nevertheless, I’m still giving this travel hacking thing a whack because about 10 months from now I’ll be flying my family of six to Hawaii for a week. Anything I can do to lower my bill and keep a few extra bucks in my pocket will be awesome!
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Here’s how we’re travel hacking our family vacation to Hawaii
We’re being flexible
We had to change our date. Our original plan was to travel the week after Christmas and stay over New Years. Fun, but it turns out that’s a peak time for the islands and prices were crazy high. Rooms look to be about HALF the cost just a few weeks later. So we’re planning on February now. I’m not sure if this move technically qualifies as a “travel hack” but just by being flexible with our date, we’ve already saved about 50% on the price of lodging. Plus that gives me a few extra weeks to rack up more points on my credit cards. Speaking of which…
I opened an AMEX/Delta SkyMiles credit card
About two months ago I got an offer for the American Express Delta SkyMiles card. The normal point bonus on this card was 30K, but the offer I got was for 60,000 SkyMiles if I spent $1,000 within three months. That didn’t take long and the points have already been deposited into my SkyMiles account. When it’s time to book flights, I’ll easily have at least one round trip ticket covered just for making purchases on this card that I was going to make anyway. Yes, please.
I opened an AMEX/Hilton HHonors card
A few days ago on Twitter, someone I follow posted an offer for 100,000 Hilton HHonors points; also through American Express. To get these points I just need to run $3,000 through the card within the next three months. That shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve done a bit of digging on HHonors points and this should be enough points for at least one night in paradise. Again, a free night just for using this card to buy my gas, groceries and pay a few other bills.
Earning loyalty rewards with Hotels.com
With summer quickly approaching we’ll be doing our annual pilgrimage to visit Grandma and Grandpa, who live a few states away from us. Hopefully we’ll also be able to squeeze in some weekend trips to Vancouver, BC and Portland this summer and fall. Throughout the year we always seem to book about a dozen or so nights in hotels. After 10 stays booked through Hotels.com I’ll get one free night at any hotel, worth the average of my previous 10 bookings. So that will be one more free night in paradise. And by using my new AMEX cards to book these reservations I’ll be able to rack up more points that we can redeem later. AMEX credit card points + loyalty rewards for one transaction? That’s like double dipping – I like it!
So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m not sure what else I can, or should, be doing (or avoiding!). I’m really looking forward to this trip, but figuring out ways to travel hack this is also kinda fun. Without very much effort at all I’ll be able to get at least one round trip flight and two hotel nights covered. That leaves me on the hook for five more nights and five more round trip tickets.
Travel Hackers, am I on the right path? What am I doing wrong? Am I missing out on something that I should be doing? If so, let me know in the comments section because I’d love to ramp up my efforts and get even more goodies!
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