I have always had a lust for travel and when that was joined by the lust for the woman who then became my wife I thought I had hit the travel jackpot!
You see she happened to be a flight attendant and in my future I saw years of discounted crew tickets.
Unfortunately she quit her job and when my suggestion that I marry another flight attendant (purely for the travel benefits of course) fell on stoney ground, I thought I had better pursue other options.
That is when I discovered the art of Travel Hacking.
I never realised that there is a whole sub-culture of people out there who devote their lives to accumulating frequent flyer miles.
Either join the predominant airline in the region in which you live ( I spend most of my time in Asia so I have joined Singapore Airlines) or join the American airlines as they tend to have the most generous Frequent Flyer programs.
(Membership is free so it doesnt matter how many you join.)
Once you have joined these concentrate your points earning activities into these programs. (For example put all your One World points into American, and so on. You can then use these on any of the One World partner airlines when booking an award flight, it doesnt have to be American )
The main way to earn miles is of course to fly, however you can also earn miles through many non flight activities.
If you live in the USA you are blessed with massive sign up bonuses for credit cards which hurl you into the stratosphere of points earning. However if like me you live elsewhere these signup bonuses are not available. Despite this you must get a points earning credit card that either earns you miles directly or points that can be converted to miles. Then put all your spending through the card, but make sure you pay it off at the end of each month otherwise the benefits you are gaining from points earning will be cancelled out by your credit card interest. Even though I live in a country where the cost of living is low I still manage to earn at least 2000 miles per month just by doing this.
It is also worth joining Hotel loyalty programs and accumulating points to be used for free hotel stays or converting them to airmiles. Again these points can be earnt by staying in the hotels or by non- staying activity such as surveys etc. Sometimes also, the Hotels have a promotion giving free status upgrades. Accor Hotels does this regularly and both
my wife and I are Platinum members despite only staying a couple of nights. The higher status affords you upgrades and double points so is definitely worth having. Plus it’s an ego boost to be greeted upon checking in and thanked for your valuable custom. (Doesn’t take much to make me feel important!)
Subscribe to Frequent Flyer blogs such as The Points Guy, View From the Wing, Million Mile Secrets. These guys are experts and will email you everyday with tips and news on Loyalty program promotions and special offers. They also have much more comprehensive guides to travel hacking than this.
Many of the Loyalty programs give free miles for completing surveys or even liking their Facebook pages. I have earnt over 5000 miles in the past 6 months just by doing this.
(Copy all your membership numbers and passwords into a Word Doc so that when needed you can just copy and paste from it and you don’t have to remember all your numbers.)
Lastly sign up for a program like Award Wallet (it’s free) to keep track of all your loyalty programs in one place.
Set yourself a travel goal and work towards it. Just like money, miles are only useful when you use them.