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This is a question I find myself asking a lot lately. I am not one prone to envy because luckily, there are very few things that l like that are out of my economical reach. Nonetheless, more often than not lately, I have been asking myself that very question. This makes me wonder if there are others with the same inquiring minds. Let me try and explain why l think we just might be, and I am looking into input from you.

are we leaving money on the table while traveling rooftop view

The roof top view of the hotel, complete with a bar!

Leaving free money on the table whilst traveling? Guilty!

Most of the long time readers of this blog might remember that it actually started out as a finance blog and quickly shifted over to travel related posts. The major reason being that l realized that l didn’t want to write just about money saving and early retirement stuff. I also didn’t feel comfortable discussing our net worth. I have admiration for people who do, but it just wasn’t my thing. That being said, I love watching upward ticks of net worth because..well..yeah.. I am a nosy bugger! :-).

This post came about because l kept seeing more and more bloggers, especially FI (Financially Independent) or Early Retirement (ER) writers talk about how they manage to take all these trips for little or no money using airline frequent flyer miles and points. In the old days, you had a credit card or two and earned points when you use the card for eligible purchases. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but l kind of remember something like you spend $2 and earn an airline mile. You had to spend quite a bit, but if you did, you could trade your miles for free flights. 30,000 points for instance would get you a one way ticket within the U.S. My points on my Amex kept adding up, and truthfully l never paid much attention to it. I  finally did while researching a flight for Federico’s family. The ticket prices were through the roof and I was looking for ways to save money. Lo and behold, I had accumulated enough points to fly them from Rome to Houston for their first ever trip to the U.S. We were so happy to make their life long dream come true and not end up out of a crap load of money.

leaving free money on the table while traveling

My in-laws checking out hats at the Galleria. He died not too long after this, so dream fulfilled.

Our last up close event of seeing points being used was when we spent the weekend in Florence, Italy. We met up with our wonderful friends who were visiting from the U.S. They used their frequent flyer miles to stay at this jaw dropping, beautiful hotel while we stayed at some horrible studio apartment. The suite was big enough to sleep 10 people comfortably. I noticed the price on the way out, €1200 a night!!!!

leaving money on the table fed with florence view

Their view of the Duomo, while we had a view of the street from a cold basement studio..yikes! Their trip was funded with frequent flyer miles.

Reading some of the blogs nowadays, I keep seeing the words Travel Hacking.  My first thought was that it was something illegal, like a scam, hacking into the Pentagon files or something equally nefarious. I looked it up and saw that lately, hacking is actually a smart thing. Travel Hacking is defined as the art of collecting frequent flyer miles in order to earn free travel. It seems that there is indeed a whole set of skills needed in order to succeed. I think the main one for sure is financial responsibility. From reading, you definitely need to be on top of your game and pay off your total balance due on a monthly basis before racking up interest charges which will of course eat into any perks that you might earn. I’ve seen people talk about spreadsheets and stuff like on J. Money’s site to keep track. That sounds way too much work for me to do. I like and have been reading Justin’s blog for a long time (use the first link to find his blog) because he seems to have mastered it marvelously and has traveled extensively by travel hacking.

leaving money on the table san gimignano view

View from San Gimignano. We took them there the frugal way. By bus which was a new experience for them. He wanted to order a private car ;-)

We travel on a budget luxury basis. I do my research and try to find us the best deals as l hate throwing money out the window. This is why l wonder if we are indeed leaving money on the table when we travel. We fund our trips with treasured savings. We also closed our credit cards when we moved. In Europe, cash is still king. Credit cards carry really high interest rates, so I’m not sure it’s something that would work here. Travel hacking seems to me like a good way to save money while traveling. Just being able to upgrade from economy to business class or use an airline lounge during a layover sounds awesome, and it kind of stings when you see some toffee nosed git talk about flying first class or staying at a five star hotel for free on a backpacker budget. ;-). I love it, and l want some of that!

I don’t claim to know much about travel hacking, but take a look at any article about it, and you’ll see what l mean. If you want to find out about which cards give you the best travel bang for your buck and save a bit of moolah, be my guest. I am writing this to see if anyone in or outside the U.S has had any success travel hacking. Were you able to get new credit cards after you moved out of the country? I mean, we have no recent job history and l doubt if they would accept “professional travelers” as jobs :-) . I want to make sure we are taking advantage of every possible loophole available :-).

Pin it for later:

Have you ever used frequent flyer miles accumulating credit cards or are you leaving free money on the table as well? If you have, what have you used your miles on?

 

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