Hey all! This post is one I’ve been promising for quite some time now. I have been sharing a lot of travel content over on Instagram for the couple of years or so, and all our incredible trips are thanks to my husband Rob! He has been very into “travel hacking” for several years now, and he’s the reason why we are always on the go. We are both very passionate about seeing the world, and I’m so thankful his hobby allows us to do that together. You guys have had endless questions about how we manage to pull it all off, and today he’s going to share the basics about how we’re able to book luxury travel on a budget! I’ll turn it over to him…
Laura often gets asked how we travel so much or how we afford to stay in luxury hotels. Truth be told, we do not spend that much money on travel. Really, all of this stemmed from how we could save money. The idea came from blogs about FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). All of these blogs talked about heavily subsidizing travel with credit card points. I went down the rabbit hole, and I was hooked. It was (still is?) all I talked about. Luckily, after some hesitation, Laura trusted me to pursue a way for us to travel more often and nicer. I believe I finally convinced her to let me open up the floodgates whenever we flew business class to London for 60,000 United miles + $5.60 per person.
The process is simple.
- Sign up for high credit card offers
- Meet the spend requirement
- Redeem your miles for heavily subsidized travel
There’s way more to it than that but that’s the gist. Whenever we open up a new card, we revolve it around what the sign-up bonus is, and if we have a big-spend item we need to purchase like putting in a fence, a new washer and dryer, etc. We never carry a balance, and we pay the card off in full each month. Do this several times a year and before you know it, you have hundreds of thousands of points in your accounts.
The second step is booking the award travel. The key is flexibility. Both for travel dates and your points balance. We tend to keep our points balances with the “Big 4” banks. Chase, American Express, Capital One, and Citi. Their points are unique because they have multiple transfer partners. You can use these partners to book flights on their own flight or potentially on their partner. For example:
A few months ago, we transferred 154,000 American Express membership rewards to Virgin Atlantic. At the time American Express had a transfer bonus of 30% to Virgin Atlantic. We then used 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles +$5.60 per person for us and 2 friends to fly on Delta One from Atlanta to Frankfurt.
Hyatt is a partner of Chase bank so we transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt to book at the Alila Ventana Big Sur.
I’m sure most of you have heard the term “Black out dates” which is why you have to be flexible when you travel. Sometimes it’s easier to find award inventory during the off season. Such as going to Italy in January and Big Sur in February.
There are several travel and points and miles blogs that can dive deeper into this stuff. I would recommend The Frequent Miler and Doctor of Credit. I find these blogs to be the most honest and less about trying to sell you a credit card. A lot of blogs will try to get you to sign up for a credit card through an affiliate link that may not be the best available offer for the card.
If you have any questions, feel free to run them through Laura. I love talking Points, Miles, and Travel and I am happy to help people travel the way we do.
Next Stop, the Maldives!
Laura here! Hopefully that was helpful. I was definitely skeptical of this whole thing at the beginning, but it has provided us with some unforgettable experiences these past few years. There is no way we could justify paying cash for some of the places we’ve stayed or the flights we’ve taken. Plus, the frequency we’re able to go somewhere is a lot higher than if we were to pay cash.
Rob literally makes our dollars go the extra mile. He puts in SO much time researching and reading up on what’s happening in travel. He was not kidding when he said it’s ALL he talks about. Like Rob mentioned, feel free to reach out with any specific questions. I’m happy to relay information, and I’ll plan to start including booking details with my posts about trips in the future.
Sending good vibes from our next adventure!