For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term travel hacking, it can be defined as the following:
Travel hacking is the art of collecting frequent flyer miles to book flights and round the world tickets for free or very cheaply.
The idea is based on traveling for the lowest possible cost. Flights are often the biggest expense in travel, so this is where we’ll start. Travel hacking also encompasses a range of other techniques and strategies such as:
- Hotel loyalty programs and discount hotel stays.
- Discounts on transportation such as car rental and trains
- Airline glitches and/or airline mistakes
- Premium airport lounge access
It is possible to fly for free. It is completely legal and you are not breaking any rules. It will take some work, but if you have about 1/2 hour a week to dedicate to building these travel hacker techniques, within 6 months its possible to book a ticket anywhere for free.
Frequent flyer programs:
To get started you need to start earning points through frequent flyer programs. Here’s a quick definition:
A frequent–flyer program (FFP) is a loyalty program offered by many airlines. Typically, airline customers enrolled in the program accumulate frequent–flyer miles (kilometers, points, segments) corresponding to the distance flown on that airline or its partners.
What this definition doesn’t tell you, is that you can actually earn more frequent flyer miles without even setting foot on a plane, you just need to take advantage of deals and promotions below.
How to get started:
You need to get access to promotions that will give you a large quantity of miles for as little work as possible. The best way to start is to set a goal. Booking a round the world trip will need about 100,000 miles, whereas a domestic flight will require about 25,000 miles.
First off, you’re going to need to open frequent flyer accounts. These are free to open and have no ongoing fees so you should open as many as you can handle (we’ll get into managing your accounts later in this post). You should initially open accounts with the major airlines. This gives you flexibility to redeem your points with their network of partner airlines as well. The links below will take you to the three major airlines:
The four best ways to earn frequent flyer miles:
There are a number of ways to start earning frequent flyer points. The first and most obvious one is by actually buying tickets and flying. I know this is not news to you, but you’d be surprised how many people do not take advantage of this already!
The second strategy is to take advantage of ongoing promotions. This is a great way to earn lots of frequent flyer miles and they’re available all the time. The most common ongoing promotion is applying for credit cards which can sometimes give you 40,000 to 100,000 miles in one go! That could be an international flight for using just one credit card! Though this may sound easy, you will actually have to use the credit card so you have to make sure you’re responsible and pay your bills on time! 😉
If you’d like to read further on finding places to find frequent flyer points, then join the discussion on the following sub-reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/churning
If you can’t sign up for credit cards, then you are at a slight disadvantage, but there are still lots of other ways to earn points. If you need to buy something online then you should check out the mileage shopping mall for your airline to see if they offer the same item. Often the price is the same and you’ll get extra bonus miles for shopping with them. This kind of tactic allows you to build up miles over time without spending money you weren’t planning on spending anyway. Just Google [your airline] milage mall. Restaurant / dining programs allow you to build up points over time if you eat at preferred restaurants. If you’d like to check it out just search [your airline] dining program.
The third way to earn frequent flyer miles is to take advantage of seasonal offers which appear once a quarter or once a year, the best way to keep on top of this is to do some research yourself, a great place to start is the following sub reddit:
The fourth strategy is to take advantage of is special promotions. These are published randomly so it’s very difficult to give advice on where to look. The best place to start is the subreddits above. People post new places to get points all the time so its a great place to start. Another great (but paid resource) is the Travel Hacking Cartel which gives you a feed of all the latest places to apply for frequent flyer points. It’s pricey at $25p/m, but it will save you a whole heap of time and they actually guarantee that you’ll have a free ticket in under 6 months (which is a pretty cool proposition if nothing else). They offer a $1 trial so I’d say its worth taking a look around and seeing if it’s a good fit for you.
Once you start digging a little deeper, you’ll find there are loads of ways to build up frequent flyer points for all sorts of things like applying to magazines or even linking your social accounts to a company. These aren’t going to get you 1,000’s of points but they do build up over time.
Are there shortcuts to getting loads of miles?
It is important to note that you cannot trade your miles in for cash (although there are some shady marketplaces who offer it) but you can, however, exchange them with other travelers through this points.com app. The app allows you to build your miles much faster. Also, as you’ll be opening several accounts with airlines, this app is great for keeping track of your loyalty programs.
This guide is meant only as an introduction to the world of travel hacking. There is a whole load more information out there! To get your free flight(s), you will need to start by doing research in your own time to familiarise yourself with the concept. We’re always happy to answer any questions in the comments. As an added bonus, we’ll be posting places to get frequent flyer points on the Travel Gig Facebook page