I’ve spoken up in the past about how I define travel hacking, and it got me thinking about the approaches other people take to saving money on travel. What I found surprised me: some people use miles and points for free travel, some use them with cash to make luxury travel more affordable, and some don’t use miles at all. This interview series was intentionally left open-ended to allow people to share what’s really on their minds. ~Scottrick
Fellow blogger, Geoff Whitmore of Noobtraveler, shares his approach to travel with us today.
When Scott reached out to me and asked if I’d like to share my approach to travel, I was all for it. I had an idea of what I thought my approach was, but after bouncing some ideas off of Jordan (my better half), I realized that my idea wasn’t quite reality. In my own mind, my travel goals were all about making her happy. But she quickly let me know that that idea was all in my head.
I have a craving for luxury. There, I said it.
Turns out our travels aren’t all about making her dreams come true (even though she happens to enjoy the luxury, too), but they’re really about scratching my itch for luxurious value.
When I was a young guy, my family would travel every summer. But it wasn’t luxurious or glamorous in the least. I’m talking cross-country trips in a station wagon with a big tarp on top. So, now that I’m older and have a nice balance of miles & points, I’m all about finding ways to experience lavish travel for as cheap as possible.
For many, the goal is to travel on the cheap, period. Their strategy is to stretch out their miles & points, and if that means staying at a 2 star hotel, they’re all about it. And hey, that’s awesome. But I’m making up for the station wagon days. Hence, why I’m a loyal Hyatt guy. As far as I’m concerned, those Andaz complimentary (Diamond) lemon poppyseed, ricotta, or butternut squash pancakes will make any location seem killer.
I get ripped by friends, family, and sometimes my wife, for seemingly not caring about the destination when I make travel plans. That’s because for me, traveling is really about getting away, trying new things, and experiencing top-notch value. And I can do that just about anywhere.
So, since I’m the kind of guy that likes to indulge – I will often base a trip on a hotel deal, or even aircraft experience.
For example, after the Hilton devaluation, I booked a trip to the Maldives. I wasn’t necessarily dying to go the Maldives, and even with the deval, it wasn’t necessarily cheap. But I knew it would be an incredible trip and one I may not be able to take down the road when rates are higher.
In January, I flew all the way to Thailand, mainly so I could fly back in Singapore’s Suite class. Yep, I just admitted that. Originally, Jordan and I were going to go together, but it’s a long story. Still, I went on the shortened 5 day trip and enjoyed every minute of it (even though I got travel sick and my body didn’t know my a@# from my face). The service was out of this world, and something I would never have been able to experience without miles. Of course, I wish Jordan was along on the trip to experience everything with me. Trips with the wife kill.
But it’s not always First Class for me. Domestically, I often fly Southwest. And even though they herd you in like cattle, the Companion Pass is just too good of a value. When it’s a short lived experience, like a 2 hour flight, I’ll go the cheapest route every time.
My approach to earning miles and points and finding deals is like playing a game, and I’m definitely the competitive type. I love leveraging my credit to earn miles and points through rewards cards. And finding ways to maximize deals, and manufacture spending has become a high I can’t get enough of. I’m addicted.
I love loyalty programs, and even though I don’t travel much for work or pay for airfare, I can still find ways to earn status through cards or status trials that let me reap the bennies.
The travel experiences I’ve been able to have just seem to be to good to be true sometimes.
I know my way of traveling with miles & points earned mostly from credit cards isn’t for everyone (I still tell everyone I know). And I know that my method of using miles and points for mostly Business or First class tickets and top end hotels isn’t for everybody, either. Value is relative, and it’s all about how you want to see the world. I’m just happy to be going anywhere, as long as I’m comfortable.