How to Start Travel Hacking

HOW TO GET STARTED TRAVEL HACKING

Julia Menez
Travel hacking coach and founder of the travel hacking lifestyle website Geobreeze

Download a free travel hacking video course + hotel upgrade email template at geobreezetravel.com/waypointgoods!

What is travel hacking?

Travel Hacking is the art of utilizing loyalty programs set by credit card companies, airlines, and hotels to get free travel. It is 100% legal and becoming an increasingly popular hobby amongst travel enthusiasts. When done correctly, travel hacking can help you save thousands of dollars on travel each year, increase your credit score, and avoid interest payments. 

Why Should You Learn Travel Hacking?

Free Travel, of course!

Escape from the daily routines, hectic carpools, and stressful obligations. Take some time to pause, recharge, and enjoy the life you have worked to build. 


Strong Financial Foundation

Travel hacking allows you to develop an understanding of your credit score and how to leverage your personalized spending habits to optimize points earned for money you were going to spend anyway.


Cross Off Those Goals

Achieve your goals and take control of your surroundings -- whether it’s planning a successful vacation, getting your finances organized, or finding time to catch your breath.


How to Start Travel Hacking

Step 1: Plan Your Dream Trip(s)


Play with Pinterest

Put together pins of your dream trips. Where do you want to travel? Who do you want to go with? How long will you stay? When would you go? The more specific you can get, the easier it is to focus your travel hacking efforts to make your dream trip a reality for next to no cost!


Dream Up Non-Travel Dreams Too!

If you are having trouble coming up with a dream destination, start with brainstorming foods you would like to eat, experiences you want to try, pictures you would like to recreate, and apartments you would like to sleep in. You might be surprised how some daydreaming can lead you to sculpt your travel goals!

Step 2: Determine Your Starting Point


Know your financial picture

Use a free service like creditkarma.com or creditsesame.com to calculate your credit score. Most travel hacking cards require a credit score of 700-750 to be approved.


Know Your Spending Patterns

Use a service like Mint.com to learn about your spending patterns, and which categories (gas, groceries, restaurants, etc.) you spend the most money on. Once you understand your spending patterns, you can target credit cards that give bonus points for spending in these categories.


No Judgment, Just Knowledge

No judgement if your credit score and spending patterns aren’t where you want them yet. You’ll get there! This step is just so you can tailor your personalized travel hacking strategy around your lifestyle, and find cards that give bonus points for the expenses that you would naturally incur anyway.

Step 3: Develop an Action Plan


Research Credit Card Loyalty Programs

Research which card currencies are accepted at the airlines and hotels in your dream destination (examples: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards) and how many points would you need to travel to your dream destination. Additionally, shop around for cards that best align with your high spending categories from step 2. Resources like this Transfer Partner Master Chart can help you decide which programs may be the best fit for your travel hacking strategy. 


Plan Out Minimum Spending

Most cards require a minimum spend of a few thousand dollars in the first few months in order to get a sign-up bonus, which is the fastest way for you to earn a large bulk of points. Apply for cards right before planned large purchases such as kitchen remodeling, holiday shopping, or car down payments to meet the minimum spend without inflating your budget.


 Hire a Travel Hacking Coach (Optional)

If you are feeling overwhelmed with all of the research, credit card terms, and rewards redemption rules, hiring a travel hacking coach service like Geobreeze can come in handy to provide a customized travel hacking plan. Travel hacking coaching services can provide you with a customized strategy that best fits your travel goals and personal spending patterns, so that you can travel to your dream destination for next to nothing!

Step 4: Take Action!


Increase Your Credit Score, If Necessary

No worries if your credit score is below 700!  Credit.com and Experian.com offer some tips for how to increase your credit score, so you can qualify for travel hacking cards and other credit lines. 


Get Travel Hacking Cards

Apply for cards based on your research in Step 3. Once you receive your cards, be sure to set up automatic payments in full each month, or else interest payments will negate the travel benefits.


Optimize Your Spending Habits

Plan out which cards to use for each of your expenses to optimize earning points. Prioritize cards where you are working on a sign-up bonus, then 

Download a free template and tutorial for how to accomplish this at geobreezetravel.teachable.com.


Stay organized

Use a service like awardwallet.com to track how many points you have with each different account as you work towards your travel hacking goals. Additionally, set calendar reminders to use any additional card benefits such as redeeming free hotel nights.


Products to Love

Travel Scarf

Julia is wearing the Oasis Travel Scarf.  

This lightweight scarf is made from Bamboo and Cotton and is longer and narrower than our original travel scarf.  

This makes it perfect for warmer weather travel or petite travelers. 

Travel Journal

The Travel Journal is all about keeping you living in the moment while traveling with quick fill in the blank prompts and questions that get to what really matters. 

This journal is a tool to enhance your entire travel experience, from before you leave, during your travels and when you return home.

Waypoint Candles

Just a smell can take you across oceans in a moment, no passport required!

Go back to a city you fell in love with through a specific aroma...

Dream of far off places you will travel to in the future...

We created the Waypoint Candle as the vessel for invoking travel memories, both existing and yet to be made.

Tags: Guest Blog