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A Better Way to Think About Traveling for Nearly Free

16572590216_0d1b6a2665_z Readers who are learning about travel hacking tend to have lots of questions about what their miles and points are worth. I’m the first to say that I’m not the best at determining a specific valuation. I have a CPA to help with my taxes, I hardly ever check website statistics or any other analytics, and math isn't my strong suit.

So when it comes to valuation, I tend to look to some general rules instead of getting hyper specific. By far the most important rule is: travel hacking helps me have amazing experiences.

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2016 Dining Dash Coming Up! Visit 12 Restaurants, Earn Miles for the Rest of the Year

If you aren’t tired from stuffing envelopes for hotel points, there’s an all-new travel hacking adventure coming up on Friday. You can join us from anywhere in the U.S. for this one.

Two years ago, I co-created the "Dining Dash." We went to 12 restaurants in a single day, all in pursuit of “running the table” on earning all the qualifying stops we’d need to earn extra Frequent Flyer miles when dining at many other restaurants for a whole year.

Last year we repeated the adventure together, and ended up in a bar (our 12th stop!) with a dozen other local friends and readers.

Well, a new year means it’s time to qualify yet again ... so the Dining Dash is coming back!

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I Flew in an Apartment in the Sky… and It Was Awesome!

EYapt - 1 Earlier this year I identified a new travel goal: to fly in the Etihad "Apartment,” a full-on suite that’s included on their A380 aircraft on certain routes.

Well, as of last week I can now say “mission accomplished”—I flew in The Apartment from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, a 15-hour journey. The short version of the flight is: it was amazing.

Here’s how it all went down.

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Should You Earn Hotel Points if You Don’t Usually Stay at Hotels?

7916189566_7ffe197494_z Recently I’ve published a couple of posts about how to get free hotel nights. Among others, you can learn:

A lot of readers have taken advantage of these deals and are busy earning lots of free stays. Others, though, question whether it’s “worth it” if you don’t usually stay in hotels.

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Get Two Months Free in the Travel Hacking Cartel

JapanTHC Link: Get 2 Months Free in the Travel Hacking Cartel

A few years ago I started the Travel Hacking Cartel, a service that has now helped more than 20,000 people travel for nearly free.

The reason I started it was simple: lots of you wanted to learn how to earn miles and points (and then use them to see the world), but felt overwhelmed with an abundance of information from forums, blogs, and other resources.

The Cartel is still going strong with this mission, and we regularly hear success stories from members who have been able to travel places they had only dreamed of before.

There was just one problem...

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New Offer: Earn 80,000 Marriott Points (Enough for 8 Hotel Nights!)

9565462783_bd249dae0a_z Link: 80,000 Marriott Points (!)

Last week I mentioned how to earn free hotel stays year after year. But here’s something new—a big bonus to earn at least 80,000 Marriott Points.

Until a few days ago, the bonus was 50,000 points, so this is basically a 60% bonus for doing nothing different. Of course, Marriott isn’t just being generous here. They want to compete with other offers! But since the requirements to earn the points haven’t changed, there’s not really any downside for you.

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Watch This Haneda Airport Timelapse Video for a Glimpse of Tokyo Travel

Several years ago I came to Haneda airport in central Tokyo for the first time. As I wrote then, it's an interesting place that feels very different from the larger Narita airport where most international travelers arrive.

A few weeks ago I came back, and spent an hour watching the runway traffic from the observatory, which is conveniently open before security to all travelers and visitors.

Then I found this video, which provides a great perspective of flights arriving and departing at all hours of day. So pretty.

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How to Earn Free Hotel Stay Certificates Every Year

22806487722_3699991be8_z Hotel stays should be part of your strategy even if you don’t usually stay in hotels. Just as you should earn airline miles in a few different programs (usually one in each of the three alliances), so too should you earn hotel points from a few different sources.

If you’re not immersed in this world, you may not realize that some hotel cards offer both an initial signup bonus and an annual renewal bonus that usually comes in the form of more free points or nights. This post includes a few of the best current offers.

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Why the Best Way to Earn Miles & Points Still Hasn’t Changed

3489951440_7edeebd79e_z Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred (50,000 Points Bonus)

I’m always on the lookout for new travel hacking opportunities. Even though I don’t need to earn as many miles & points as I used to, it’s still fun.

This year I’ll be flying in The Apartment at 30,000 feet. I’ll be going back to my favorite country, Australia. And I’ll be heading out on a 30-city book tour. (You can come, too.)

… and I’m sure there will be many other adventures along the way. For all of these experiences and more, I’ll be using the same credit card.

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Adventures in Envelope Stuffing Update: There’s Still Time to Earn 9 Free Hotel Nights

17202588426_41210e313f_z Last fall I mentioned a special travel hacking adventure available to pretty much everyone capable of handwriting their name and address over and over on an index card:

If your hand hasn't fallen off yet, there’s still time to do this. The deadline is February 15 and it will probably take some time to get organized, so if you’re up for it, don’t leave it until the last minute.

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My New Travel Hacking Goal: Book an Apartment at 30,000 Feet

16256196535_84d50ed2e1_z It’s a brand new year, and that means it’s time for change—both in life (because why not?) and in travel.

Every year I earn more than one million miles and points, which I then use for free travel all over the world. For a long time, travel hacking was my primary tool for going everywhere.

These days, I don’t jet off to Kinshasa or Katmandu very often, but I’m still in the game. Even without paying attention all the time or doing crazy things like making a hair-loss appointment to earn miles, I’m still able to get more than enough miles and points to have experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible.

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Vampire Living in Jakarta

It’s a new day in Jakarta, Indonesia. The sun rises at 2pm—or rather, that’s when I manage to get out of bed. No, it wasn’t a crazy night drinking green tea at the local mosque. It’s just that I arrived at 4:30am this morning, after a 15-hour flight from New York to Hong Kong, followed by five more hours of flying further south.

Thankfully my hotel raised no concerns with the super-early check-in, and I was in bed an hour later. As I closed my eyes the sun was beginning to rise. Earlier today, at least according to the calendar, I watched it set as I landed in Hong Kong after that long transpacific flight. Each time I remembered thinking: is that the sunrise or sunset? Each time required a few seconds of thought before I had the answer.

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2015 Annual Review: 240,000 Miles of Travel (But to Only 11 Countries!)

And… the Annual Review continues! Today’s post is a travel roundup: everywhere I went in 2015, along with a few lessons and comments.

Previous Posts

Here’s where I went in 2015 (preview: zzzz).

Hong Kong (x3), South Korea, South Africa, Qatar (x3), France, UK, Australia (YESSSS x2), United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Germany, Canada, and ... it looks like that’s it
You guys, now that I’m retired from going to every country, I think I’m going to stop writing a travel roundup every December. This list is boring. No big tour, no new countries, and mostly I went to the same places over and over.

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Adventures in Envelope Stuffing: Weekend Update

Yesterday afternoon, I headed to Office Depot for an important mission: I had to buy 100 envelopes, stamps, and index cards. I then spent the next several hours diligently writing the same information over and over and each of the cards, before stuffing them in the envelope and affixing a stamp.

It was actually a lot more fun than it sounds.

As detailed last week, if you’re up for your own envelope stuffing adventure, you can receive at least 47,000 IHG hotel points for your time and trouble. These points can then be used for up to 9 free hotel stays anywhere in the world.

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