We get asked everyday how we can afford traveling in business class to 40 countries this year. Additionally, many ask us how we stay for weeks at a time at some of the nicest hotels around the world and get into premium airport lounges. All of our experiences over the last 6 months amount to more than $80,000. And there’s no way that Hannah and I could have ever afforded forking out this much money. Few people can.
Quick background about Hannah and me: we graduated from college in the summer of 2017 and began our finance careers in New York City until quitting our jobs on August 27, 2018. We’ve been traveling full-time for the last several months, and we will be visiting 40 countries before the end of May 2019. But this isn’t what makes us interesting or unique. Many individuals quit their jobs and begin traveling full-time. No, what makes us unique is that we booked every single one of our flights for free. And every luxury hotel we’ve stayed at is free as well. Enter our world of “travel hacking”.
We wanted to consolidate all of our secrets and knowledge onto one page so that anyone interested could find the information that (s)he is seeking. Let’s start from the beginning:
The first thing you should know is the term travel hacking. Travel hacking is the practice of strategically earning miles and points with the purpose of redeeming those miles and points for free experiences. Most often, miles and points belong to airlines and hotel programs and can be traded in for free flights and hotel stays. In Hannah and my case, we have been travel hacking for years and have mastered the art of getting free flights and hotel stays. If you want to learn more about travel hacking, we have prepared both free materials here and our premium courses here, designed to develop a beginner into an expert travel hacker. Check it out!
From March of 2017 until June of 2018, Hannah and I travel hacked our way to over 2 million miles and points. These points were then used to book business class flights to the 40 countries we will be visiting by May of 2019. There’s a lot more to our story, but much of it has been shared by dozens of news publications from around the world. If you’re interested in learning more: https://www.hannahandchad.co/media
Earning 2 million miles and points isn’t easy, and it took a lot of work, careful planning, and strategic spending. We never carried any debt, and we lived as minimalists to stay in control of our finances. If you’re interested in learning more about our path to 2 million miles and points and how it affected our credit scores, here are a few infographics we created to document our journey: https://wallstreetminimalist.com/2-million-points
Now that we’ve covered how we book free flights and stay at hotels for free, the last remaining big question is how we have access to premium lounges around the world. It’s actually quite simple! There are a few premium credit cards that provide lounge access benefits just by owning one of the cards. Our two favorites are the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum. The American Express Platinum is generally better in terms of lounge access, and we wrote an article here discussing the differences between the two cards and which one we think is the winner. Check out the article here!
We may get our flights and several hotel stays for free, but there are many other expenses while traveling full-time. Some of our biggest expenses have been swimming with the humpback whales in Tonga ($4,400) and bungee jumping in New Zealand ($500). In our senior year of college, Hannah and I were able to pay down all of our student debt before graduating by using our personal expertise in finance and investing. I have an extensive background in finance and created a personal finance course to teach the principles and habits that Hannah and I personally live by everyday. If you’re interested in how we’re creating our own wealth and how you can do the same, check out the course here!
Before leaving in August of 2018, we created a web application that allows users from the United States to search for free flights around the world. We used this application to figure out the best way for us to redeem our points for the highest points value (i.e. this is how our points have saved as well over $80,000). If you want help finding free flights and you’re from the United States, check out free-to-use web application here: https://wallstreetminimalist.com
If you still have questions after reading this page, please let us know in the comments of one of YouTube videos! We read every comment and will do our best to answer your questions there! Here’s our YouTube channel: https://youtube.com/c/hannahandchad