One of the most common questions I get about our world travel plans is how much all the hotels and airfare for a family of five are going to cost. Well, so far we’ve spent $511.16 for all the flights we’ve booked to date. Between the five of us that’s 20 one way flights, seven of which are in business class.
How did we manage that?
I have to give a bit of background before I can answer this question. About three years ago, I was researching how to stretch my travel dollar for our year abroad and was specifically looking for tips and tricks to getting the most bang for my buck.
That’s when I first heard about travel hacking. It was certainly an education and once I was up to speed I quickly became obsessed with sweet spots!
I’ll get back to this in another post but it’s no secret I love credit cards and the lucrative sign up bonuses that come with them. But you must know I never carry a balance and am careful about how I use credit. Credit card sign up bonuses are simply the easiest and quickest way to free travel. Though there is certainly much more to it than that.
Hotel bonus promotions are also another really good one that I’ll delve into as well.
Loving the Sweet Spot
There are a ton of award programs out there. And I’ll bet every one of them has a sweet spot. It’s just a matter of finding them. And I love finding them and then working them to the max.
Consider the airline tickets I’ve booked for the five of us so far:
Boston to Hanoi Vietnam with a FREE stopover in Tokyo
$331.24 and 325,000 Alaska Miles – 5 Business Class tickets
Tokyo to Kyoto Japan roundtrip
$31.92 and 50,000 British Airways Avios – 5 Economy tickets
Chiang Mai Thailand to Rome Italy
$148.00 and 270,000 Aeroplan points – 2 Business Class and 3 Economy tickets
That’s a lot of flying for $511.16. Not even considering that a large part of it is in premium cabins.
But those mileage amounts sound huge. They’re really not.
The Fastest Way to Free Flights
Take our five business class tickets from Boston to Tokyo. I booked those seats on Japan Airlines using Alaska Miles. Tokyo was just the free stopover and we’re continuing on to Hanoi Vietnam on the same airline and cabin in the Sky Suites again.
But you think 325,000 Alaska Miles is impossible to earn! At first glance it certainly looks that way until you use a few sweet spots. I’ve earned way more points than that. Stay with me here. This sounds confusing until you think about it.
You can earn Alaska Miles many ways including actually flying on Alaska Air (which I’ve never personally done). But the easiest way to get Alaska Miles or most any other airline mileage is through credit card welcome bonuses.
Miles and Points are Fungible
Most hotel points transfer to airline mileage programs. The only two that are worthwhile for airline mileage, and they are stand outs, are the reward programs for Marriott and Starwood group of hotels (Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest ). To boot, Marriott Rewards and Starpoints can transfer back and forth – another sweet spot worth talking about later.
When you combine credit card welcome bonuses, regular everyday spending that you charge to one of few worthwhile cards, and hotel bonus promotions then we actually have a super charged sweet spot!
So if you’re interested in some free travel or just want to cut down the cost of your next vacation, stay tuned. I’m crazy about travel hacking and can’t help myself sharing.
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Thanks for reading, Colleen