2017 Travel Hacking Report

2017 Travel Hacking Report

What is Travel-Hacking and Should You Try It?

Travel-hacking means strategically collecting frequent flier miles and points in order to travel for free or cheap.

Reasons you should try travel hacking:

1. It’s fun.

2. It’s a way to go to cool places for little to no money.

people in plane windows

Reasons you should not try travel hacking:

1. You will need to learn how to do it properly and keep incredibly careful track of things.

2. You will screw up your credit and get hit with a bunch of high interest charges and credit card fees if you do not keep incredibly careful track of things.

So now that we’ve got that sorted let’s move on to…

Our Family’s 2017 Travels

With the exception of a house-building trip to Mexico with 1Mission, we limited our travel to Stateside adventures in 2017.  This was due the arrival of a baby and due to the fact that we were still recovering emotionally from the Iberian Blitz at the end of 2016. I don’t usually keep track of food or gasoline purchases during smaller trips (one week or less) unless we are spending more than what we would have spent on those things at home.

We typically do not travel-hack work trips or continuing education trips, because those are tax-deductible anyway so the overall savings is not as great if we use points or miles.

A note on airport parking (which adds up fast if you are not paying attention): we typically book a “park and fly” hotel with hotel points, leave the car in the hotel lot, and use their free airport shuttle.

For the record, these are not the only trips we took in 2017. These were just the ones involving some respectable amount travel-hacking.

Chicago, Illinois

One of our favorite cities in the world, and also a place where we get to see lots of family and friends. We try to make it to Chicago at least once a year.

Airfare: $33 (airline points plus taxes for 2 adults and 1 child)

Lodging and car transportation: free (stayed with family)

Seattle, Washington

A wonderful trip full of gorgeous rocky shorelines, fresh summer markets, and local cider tastings.

Airfare: $33 (airline points plus taxes for 2 adults, 1 child, and 1 infant)

Fancy rental car for 7 days (upgraded for free because they were out of the car we reserved): $250

Lodging: free (stayed with friends)

Tucson, Arizona

Desert sunset.

We have found ourselves in Tucson a lot over the years to visit friends, eat Mexican food, and enjoy the amazing desert sunsets.

Airfare and rental car: not applicable (car trip)

Lodging: $0 (fancy hotel all on hotel points)

Islesboro, Maine

This island town turns out to be harder to get to than many international destinations we’ve been to, but via two flights, one long car ride, and one short ferry ride, we made it!  We walked through some gorgeous coastal towns and ate some delicious food and watched some good friends tie the knot.

Airfare: $33 (airline points plus taxes for 2 adults, 1 child, and 1 infant)

Lodging: $400 (private vacation rental home)

Transportation: $328 (rental car, ferry rides)

Random bonus money: I have to give a major shout-out to Southwest airlines here, who despite having some delays and losing our luggage and J’s car seat on our way home (we got all our stuff back a few days later), got us a loaner car seat immediately and gave us $400 in Southwest Air credit without us even asking. Several of the customer service reps we worked with were on their second or third straight shift. Way to make it happen, Southwest.

Total Costs

Some quick addition of the above numbers will tell you that we traipsed all over the country last year – with kids in tow – for a grand total of $1,077.  Factor in the travel credit we got on the way back from Maine (although not technically the result of travel hacking and only good for future travel), and the total cost drops to $677.

If you are feeling inspired and thinking travel hacking might be for you, check out this free course at Travel Miles 101.

You can read our 2018 Travel Hacking Report here. 

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