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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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How to Spend $46 and Receive Up to 9 Free Hotel Nights

envelopes1 Want to do something fun that will help you travel for free? Just want to make fun of me and a couple of friends who are out to earn points? Here’s a chance to do either or both of those things.

On December 4, I'll meet up with some travel hacking friends to stuff 94 handwritten index cards into envelopes in hopes of receiving at least 47,000 hotel points that we'll use for free stays. If you’re as crazy as we are, you can do this, too.

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One Free Ticket, 18 Hours on Amtrak, and Many Interesting Passengers

Amtrak1 Greetings from the Coast Starlight! I’ve been riding Amtrak 18 hours through Oregon and California, while traveling to San Francisco and eventually (by plane) to San Diego.

A few years ago I took a long train journey from Chicago to Portland, riding the Empire Builder just in time for the launch of the Empire Building Kit.

Aside from some short journeys, though, I haven’t been on “real” Amtrak for quite a while.

So why now? Well, to be honest I don’t think I was aware of how good the points redemption opportunities have been. Amtrak divides the country into zones and charges the same number of points for travel within any particular zone. In other words, there are some great values to be had when booking with points.

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How to Rack Up Frequent Flyer Miles Using Shopping Portals

231707836_8ee1c6cb3d_z This is a free excerpt from Upgrade Unlocked: The Unconventional Guide to Luxury Travel on a Budget by Stephanie Zito.

The easiest and most lucrative way to maximize point earning on the things you already buy is to use a magic service online called a shopping portal. Shopping portals are simple websites run by your favorite airlines and hotels, and contain links to nearly every online store you can imagine (and probably already shop at).

When you use a portal as a gateway to access your regular online store, you earn points in a mileage program for whatever you buy. It's easy!

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Would You Pay $60 to Sit in a Hot Tub? First Look at the First Class Al Safwa Lounge in Doha, Qatar

IMG_0001 Yesterday I had the opportunity to be one of the very first passengers in an exclusive airport lounge that finally opened after a year’s worth of delays. This was the Al Safwa lounge in Doha, Qatar, operated by Qatar Airways.

I didn’t go on a press junket or anything ridiculous—I just happened to be staying in Doha for a few days this week. When I heard that the lounge was actually opening (it’s been rumored for months, but with many false alarms), I changed my outbound travel plans a bit and was able to spend four hours hanging out before hopping over to Dubai.

Despite not being a real travel blogger, I thought I’d share a few impressions from the perspective of someone who flies more than 200,000 miles a year, typically 70% international, and who’s been to just about every premium airline lounge in the world.

In other words, this wasn’t my first time in a nice lounge, and I’m not easily impressed. Do keep that in mind, as well as the fact that I was there on literally the first day it was open. I’m sure some things will change and (hopefully) improve over time.

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The Best Travel Hacking Advice for People Who Can’t Get Credit Cards

13043841253_43b3e37e81_z I write about travel hacking a lot on the blog (and much more in the Cartel), and I always try to point people to the best available deals and opportunities. Some of these opportunities are for credit card signup bonuses, something I’ve been experimenting with for years, ever since first applying for 13 cards of my own on the same day way back in 2009.

Of course, not everyone is able or eligible to get these bonuses—so what else is out there? There’s actually a ton. Credit cards are an easy way to earn a big boost of miles and points in many different programs, but they aren’t the only way.

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Q&A on the British Airways 100,000 Point Bonus Offer

Link: 100,000 Point British Airways Bonus Offer

Since I first published the news about the updated signup offer for the British Airways Signature Card, I’ve received a bunch of questions from readers.

The first thing to note is that this is a really good offer for a lot of people, but it will definitely help if you know a bit about how to best use British Airways points, also known as Avios.

fromthesky

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The Best Place to Be Is Somewhere Else

14169021075_25892e09d7_z On the road is where a traveler feels most at home. Sure, you can take it slow for a while, staying in one place to save up funds or work on a project or do whatever you need to do.

But secretly you’re like a junkie, thinking ahead to the next hit. There’s always somewhere else to go and another way to get there.

You find yourself getting to the airport several hours early.

You go to the airport and look at the departure signs, reminiscing about previous trips and daydreaming of destinations you’ve never seen.

You can live in the moment, but that moment exists in another place. And you have to get there!

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