Welcome to traveling in affordable, safe, luxurious, exciting and unique ways. We believe that travel should be a lifetime source of enjoyment and not just ruinous two-week vacations.
Before we get started, you should ask yourself these two questions…
- How much time can I spend traveling in the next 24 months?
- How many miles & points do I already have accumulated?
Now let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- 1 Get a Mighty Travels Premium Subscription
- 2 Figure out where you’d like to go
- 3 Review my best redemptions
- 4 Make use of ‘special fares’
- 5 Open up an account with a program you plan to accumulate miles with
- 6 Come up with a credit card strategy
- 7 Learn the redemption tricks
- 8 Refine your travel strategy – Get airline status
- 9 Refine your travel strategy – Get hotel status
- 10 Have fun & stay safe
Get a Mighty Travels Premium Subscription
A Mighty Travels Premium Subscription will give you peace of mind that you won’t miss important offers, including super-low fares from your airport and beyond, plus extra-crazy miles & points deals.
Figure out where you’d like to go
Not every destination is for everyone; some travelers (like me) like urban environments, while others head for the outdoors. Browse through my destination guides a bit to see what inspires you and make a broad list (e.g. by continent).
Review my best redemptions
Match the destinations you selected with my favorite flights and miles redemptions. It’s more fun to get a good deal with a great airline to see the places you want.
Make use of ‘special fares’
There are just so many fares every day in economy and business that I’d summarize as ‘special fares’. We send them out as soon as they happen to Mighty Travels Premium Subscribers and they are often only bookable for a few hours (and are usually honored by airlines). These are especially helpful for a quick ‘vacation run’ or a flight 4-6 hours from your home base. They are unpredictable, albeit exciting!
Open up an account with a program you plan to accumulate miles with
Many loyalty programs have restrictions for new account holders, so you need to get an account going with any program you may want to accumulate miles and points with now. Almost all these accounts are free to sign up for, with the exception of Qantas – although New Zealand residents can use this link to enroll for free by December 31st, 2016.
Come up with a credit card strategy
Point redemptions are also needed for the more adventurous destinations that have fewer flights (e.g. Africa ticket prices can be sky-high, even in economy).
If you have miles already, start redeeming them (I try to redeem all miles within 24 months of earning them) and make a strategy to earn more from credit cards. I strive to apply for credit cards every 3 months and ‘hit’ each bank the same day with one personal and one business card application.
We have a list of great credit cards in the sidebar and through our partners. Familiarize yourself with ALL the offers and apply for one credit card (one business, one personal) from each issuer every 3 months.
With a huge stack of cards comes significant minimum spend requirements. If you have a business then it should be easy, but if not, see our guide to manufactured spending that allows you to spend as much as you wish.
Learn the redemption tricks
Most redemptions are straightforward these days. I usually book one-ways and, if possible, combine several one-way trips to a 3-4 week round-the-world trip. There are some basic but important things you should know…
– As a general rule, you can redeem on ANY partner within an alliance with miles from any partner, but you CANNOT transfer miles between programs.
– Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Starpoints and Citi ThankYou have transferable miles, which is fantastic, since you can use them in a flexible way for one of the partners.
To look up availability for each alliance, I use:
You should usually search segment by segment – for example, a flight from San Francisco to Novosibirsk should be booked separately – e.g. SFO-IST and IST-OVB. Keep in mind that not all partners are usually searchable; some just show up for the agent when you call.
Also, keep in mind that many programs levy a fuel surcharge (essentially a random extra charge). There is almost always a way to avoid those, so don’t get stuck with them!
Most programs have an online redemption option these days, but most do not cover all partners and/or itineraries, so call in and read the agent your itinerary. Don’t give up; it takes a while to figure this out and the airlines intentionally make it hard (plus not every agent will be having a good day).
Refine your travel strategy – Get airline status
Airline status with a US-based carrier is difficult and expensive, so find an international airline that makes it easy to get status and then ‘status match’. This year, I’m an elite member of Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam – all through status match.
Refine your travel strategy – Get hotel status
The easiest way to get elite hotel status is to get a credit card like the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card (IHG Platinum status) or the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve (which comes with Hilton Gold status).
Once you have that, you can match to other chains. Note that status match opportunities come and go and often only last a few days or weeks.
Have fun & stay safe
Depending on how much time and effort you put in, you will be able to travel for very little for at least two years (when the banks will make it harder to give you credit cards again). Bring your friends along, too – you can guide them through the process once you have done it.
I hope to see you out there!
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]