4 Reasons I Love Travel Hacking

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Awesome Tips   Let's Save Some Dough  

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Photo credit: Sergey Novikov via Shutterstock

By Matthew G. Bailey

Travel hacking is the art of creating free and low-cost travel. It’s establishing a mindset geared towards lucrative credit cards, frequent flyer mile promotions, loyalty programs, glitch fares, elite status, and anything that deals with experiencing more travel for less money.

After travel hacking for more than three years now, using frequent flyer miles to take my family to Mexico and starting a travel hacking membership site called Canadian Free Flyers, I’ve developed a serious love for travel hacking and the added experiences that it brings to the table.

These are four reasons why travel hacking is awesome.

FREE FLIGHTS

Okay, this one is a given. Why pay for a flight when you can use frequent flyer points to get there. Once you get into the world of travel hacking, the opportunities for travel are endless. When you have hundreds of thousands of points, multiple vacations become normal. International flights for less than $100 in taxes…Yes, please.

FREE STOPOVERS

This is one of the best things when booking trips with frequent flyer points. As if one free trip wasn’t enough, why not toss in another. It’s entertaining to learn all the possibilities for creating different itineraries using points. For example, it takes 40,000 Aeroplan points to go to Mexico from Canada. However, you could use the same amount of points to go to Costa Rica and enjoy a one-week stopover in Mexico on the way there. Two trips for the price of one! You could also stop in San Francisco and catch a cable car to your favorite restaurant or visit New York to see the Statue of Liberty.

The choices are endless. My parents decided to take a free stopover in Las Vegas on their way to Mexico, enjoying a Cirque Du Soleil show and a couple of nights on the strip.

FREE LAYOVERS

In addition to free stopovers, it’s also possible to take up to 15 layovers depending on the destination you’re heading to. Personally, I’m not sure why anyone would want to take 15 layovers but a couple of them can sure add to the excitement and adventure. On a recent trip down to Mexico City, we decided to take a free 23 hour and 57 minute layover in Chicago, which was more than enough time to see some famous sites, catch the Christmas parade, take a ride on the Ferris wheel and have a romantic dinner down by the Navy Pier. We then continued on to Mexico, but not before taking a three-night stopover in Houston so that we could visit a friend in Austin, Texas.

It was like getting three trips for the price of one, although we did pay an extra $60 in taxes.

FIRST CLASS LUXURY

One of travel hackings star features is being able to enjoy certain kinds of travel that you may never have had access to. I would certainly never pay $5000 for a first class ticket to the same destination that a $1000 economy ticket would get me to but when it comes to points, it’s a whole different story. One of the best ways to utilize reward miles for maximum value is on business-class and first-class tickets. Sometimes, purchasing miles can even make sense for this type of travel. For example, U.S Airways had an offer a while back to purchase 90,000 miles for $1900. At first glance, this might not seem like a very great deal since 90,000 miles is equivalent to three round-trip flights within the continental U.S.A and Canada but if you look at Europe, 90,000 miles will get you there in business-class. A ticket like this can run upwards of $5000 but using this deal, you would be paying just $1900. This is where a “travel hacking” mindset comes into play.

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