I have secretly been working with budget travel expert Nomadic Matt for the last few months on his new book, The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking, and it’s finally here! Matt Kepnes reached out to me last spring when I showed up at a signing event for his last book — just another reminder that building relationships with people is one of the best ways to learn more and better tips on travel. 😉
There are many books on travel hacking out there by a number of well-known travel bloggers. So why should you buy this one when there is so much other competition, let alone free blogs and other online content?
Here’s My Pitch
Obviously Matt’s book is more recent. Things change so quickly in this game that it isn’t hard for content to go out of date. I already want to revise the section on manufactured spend after a few months, but those other books are years old.
More importantly, Matt’s made a very clear effort to teach by example with just the right amount of current detail. If you come something no longer true, well, it doesn’t really matter. Category bonuses change and some cards disappear entirely. But by learning by example means you can take these lessons with a grain of salt and apply the results to whatever opportunities you find on your own. Forget about specific sign-up bonuses. You will learn more by understanding how to evaluate a signup bonus against other offers and planning how you’ll use it.
I’ll be blunt: If you are a FlyerTalk junkie with your secret forums and handshakes, you won’t learn anything here. I think this book is more for beginners and some intermediates, but it approaches that audience very well. If you need to explain what you do to your family — or if you are that family member who wishes you knew more — then this book is for you.
My Big Break
I was asked to provide early drafts of sections on manufactured spend and strategies for redeeming airline miles. My first thought was that Matt should probably ask someone else, but he really didn’t want the Frequent Miler level of detail, as useful as FM’s blog may be to the rest of us. My mom doesn’t want to know what Plink is. She probably shouldn’t be buying Vanilla Reloads, either. But she might be tempted by Amazon Payments.
For the same reasons, I explain in this book the differences between programs like British Airway’s Avios, United’s MileagePlus, and Southwest’s Rapid Rewards. I didn’t cover every hidden gem in their award networks because. But I gave a few examples so you can read this book and come away understanding which program to use in different circumstances and why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. You don’t want to be like my dad who looks at his account balances and says, “100,000 is too many. Time to stop earning miles.” Maybe too many Avios, but he could focus on diversifying.
Finally, I gave Matt permission to reprint copies of my comparison tables, which show you how airline and hotel loyalty programs compare — either different tiers of the same program or similar tiers of different programs. I love my top-tier Diamond status with Hyatt Gold Passport and soon-to-be Platinum status with Starwood Preferred Guest, but their mid-tiers aren’t so great. Less frequent travelers should check out Hilton and Marriott.
Take Advantage of a Limited-Time Sale
This book really does try to cover the whole gamut for those new to the concept of travel hacking, which allows people like Matt and I to travel more often and in better comfort. Matt offers great advice throughout, including tips for international readers who don’t have access to the bevy of American credit card offers. And not a single affiliate link! Well, if you buy this book I’ll get a cut, but Matt didn’t write this to push cards. It’s to help people and covers more than just credit cards.
For a limited time you can buy The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking for $37. And Matt is offering a 180-day guarantee that if you don’t earn enough miles for a free flight, he’ll refund your money. So look at it as paying $37 for your next ticket …with bonus returns on every free ticket after that!
Disclosure: No, I do not receive a commission if you buy Matt’s book, though I did at the original time this post was published.