Travel hacking. What is it and what are the two ‘secret’ ways you can do it?

What is Travel Hacking?

You’ve heard of house hacking but what is travel hacking? This is not a new concept as its conception was the frequent flyer program in the 1970s. The basic idea is to take advantage of a travel situation to make it more cost-effective. Especially to earn free flights, hotels, and rental cars.

Of course all the suggestions in this post are all legal! But, you will have to read the find print in everything before you sign up or try implement these with different companies.

How to use credit cards to your advantage

However, it is not only about finding the cheapest ticket or hotel or how frequent travelers almost get paid to travel. To be honest, you might already be taking part of this already without realizing it!

The most popular way of travel hacking is using airline credit cards! This is sort of aligned with credit card churning, where you keep signing up for credit cards to get the promotional sign-up bonuses. Once  the promotional period is end,  you stop using it. Although, it seems that credit card companies are smartening up and lowering the sign-up bonuses. If you are in the U.S., you will have a credit card score. So, consider how applying for multiple credit card will negatively affect your credit score. The more you apply for in a short period of time, the lower it goes. However, once it is open and you have a credit line, it can actually increase your credit score. Since it appears that you have a lower debt-to-income ratio.

Finally, only apply for credit cards that are right for you. Especially when you are considering those with an annual fee. If you plan on traveling so much that benefits outweigh the annual fee then it would be alright. However, if you do not spend enough money or travel enough to make the rewards pay the annual fee, then it might not be for you.

What are some other ways?

If you’re looking for some other low-budget ways to travel-hack, especially for PhDs or those in Academia, then look no further!

1. Take the SCENIC ROUTE

If you are already en route to another location and you have a layover, see if you have enough time to do some exploring. I usually have my long flights booked with a layover so I get to visit 2 places instead of just the final destination. For example: when I was traveling by train to Aarhus, Denmark, I booked my tickets to have some time in Copenhagen to explore a bit. I got to visit two cities in one fell swoop instead of traveling directly to Aarhus.

2. Take advantage of your business travels

Use your business travel as a stepping stone for personal travel. Let us say you are based in the Americas and are headed to Europe for a conference or meeting. In an ideal world, your company is paying for a portion of the flight and hotel. The conference or meeting is only supposed to be a few days. However, you might be able to ‘extend’ your trip by booking a holiday directly after it. So you take a few vacation days  to see the sights. This is one of my favorite ways to travel hack. I’ve booked a holiday right after a conference so I can travel a bit but the bulk of the trip was on the company dime. Since I only had to pay for my holiday food and hotel. Essentially getting a free flight in the process. No credit cards needed

Final Notes

As you can see both of these are taking advantage of a situation, especially if you are already going to travel. If you are able to pair these up with a free flight, courtesy of an airline card then even better. For those who do not want to use a credit card or have sworn off credit cards these are two ways that you might be able to incorporate some level of #travelhacking

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