If you’re going through a dark night of the soul, you might as well pass the time in a beautiful place.That’s what I was thinking as my hour-long Qantas flight from Melbourne began its descent to Sydney. Australia has long been a place of joy and peace for me, and Sydney in particular. Ever since I first stumbled into town five years ago, when I was denied boarding on a flight from Brisbane to Nauru (long story), I’ve been coming back every chance I get. This time felt different because, well, I’m different. I’ve been judging the days on a 1-10 scale, and I get excited—at least moderately so—when I feel higher than a 3. And so as the flight lands in Sydney and I take the airport train to the city, bracing myself against an onset of anxiety, I begin my self-talk. Read More
I started writing this post from one of my favorite places in the world: the balcony of my room at Park Hyatt Sydney (check out this photo of the sunrise!). I’m staying here with points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, my #1 recommendation for travel rewards cards.
Normally the room would cost $900 a night (!), but naturally my cost is ... $0. I’ve been here over and over, usually at least once a year, and every stay has been “funded” through my points from this card.
And it’s not just here. All over the world, I’ve been able to fly and stay for nearly free, all thanks to the wonders of travel hacking.
All of this is possible for you, too! Or at least it is for many of our readers, who regularly write in to tell me about how they used their points for amazing experiences of their own.
Greetings from paradise, also known as Australia.
If you’re new to this blog, one of the things I write about is travel hacking—the art of having incredible experiences that would otherwise be unobtainable for most people.It’s a bit different from budget travel, which tends to focus on staying on hostels, flying on low-cost carriers (LCCs), etc. Travel hacking can not only help you travel, it can help you travel better. I stumbled on this world by accident. I just wanted to learn to travel for less, and then I got upgraded on a transatlantic flight. When it happened again a year later, I was hooked. Then a couple years later, I began my quest to visit every country in the world. Travel hacking allowed this experience to be much, much cheaper. I can say with confidence that a full third of the 11-year project was either free or nearly free thanks to miles and points. Read More
One time I went to Dubai for my honeymoon, except it wasn’t really my honeymoon. I was traveling with Stephanie, my longtime friend, travel hacking colleague, and frequent travel companion. Even though she is basically a member of my family, Stephanie and I aren’t partners in the romantic sense—which occasionally leads to humorous encounters when we travel.For some reason, our hotel in Dubai had gotten the idea that it was our honeymoon. When they assigned us a luxury three-bedroom apartment as our room, we may have failed to correct their impression. We did, however, express our gratitude for the free champagne they also gave us. Read More
Link: Get 100,000 Hilton Points (with $75 annual fee)
Link: Get 80,000 Hilton Points (with no annual fee) There's big news in the travel hacking world this week: a limited-time offer to earn a lot of hotel points has arrived. To be precise, there are actually two offers, one for an increased signup bonus amount (from 40,000 points to 75,000, which is great), and an even better one that gets you a whopping 100,000 Hilton points. Yeah, no kidding!
Every year I earn well over one million Frequent Flyer miles and points. About 250,000 of them come through actual travel, but the rest come through travel hacking: the art of seeing the world on a budget.One of the easiest ways to earn a lot of miles all at once is through credit card signup bonuses. When managed carefully (i.e., you pay your bills on time), there's no downside and you can keep the miles coming for a long time. We've had a bunch of new offers recently, and it's been a while since I've done a roundup. This post contains the best current card offers. If getting each one, you'd earn 430,000 miles! Read More
On a recent trip, I had to get back to Doha from Paris, a 5 1/2 hour flight. I was transferring via an initial connection from Zurich, and I booked the Zurich flight to arrive less than an hour before the Qatar Airways flight departed.You might think that’s cutting it close, and it was. In the worst of times, Charles de Gaulle airport can be an absolute nightmare to navigate for transit. It’s not unreasonable to walk more than a kilometer between terminals, and some terminals are reachable only by an extended bus ride. Add long security lines (no PreCheck!) to that equation, and it’s not unreasonable to allow 2-3 hours for a connection. Read More
Ediza Ferris is serious about travel hacking, and it pays off. A recent trip took her and her husband from the States through Sydney to Dubai—where they were whisked from the presidential hotel suite to the First Class lounge via private chauffeur. Ediza is truly hacking her way to incredible experiences thanks to the world of miles and points.
I started traveling when I was young, around age 5 or 6. My parents immigrated to the States from the Philippines and we've always made steady trips back and forth to go back and see family. I took the opportunity when I was 16 to study abroad for the summer in a theater program. It wasn't until then where I realized the world was so much bigger than myself, and so much older than how it's described in the history books. Since then, I've wanted to see more, eat differently, and discover anything new so that I can piece together for myself what this world is actually made of.Read More
Sometimes it’s good to live for the moment. Case in point: you’re flying JAL from Jakarta to Tokyo. It’s an overnight flight, but a short one. When a flight like this is blocked for 7 hrs, you know it’s probably more like 6. Then when you factor in takeoff and getting settled and at least having a snack before sleeping and a cup of coffee before landing, you’re looking at a 5-hour maximum sleep window.But then the friendly flight attendant offers another glass of Syrah. This being a Japanese airline, she's already apologized four times for asking you to change your seat upon boarding. Read More
Greetings from the sky, on board Cathay Pacific’s longest flight. There are 16 hours scheduled for my “air world” time today, although it looks like we may arrive one hour early.
I love flights like these. I’ve already taken a three-hour nap (hey, I was tired) and am now up to work for several hours while I drink espresso and Perrier. It’s dark outside now, but eventually the sun will come up in-flight. A few more hours later I’ll land in Hong Kong, a full 12-hour time difference from where I left. Travel is life.Read More
Once again, it’s raining points and miles—a bunch of new travel hacking offers have hit the market all at once, offering you the chance to earn up to 175,000 miles (or more depending on how you count it) and an additional $500.
There's been some confusion about all these AmEx offers, so I thought I’d break down the most attractive ones and also clarify something. Let’s start with the clarification: these are marketed as business card offers, but if you’re eligible for U.S. credit cards, you’re probably eligible to get at least one of these.Read More