What is your travel goal?

If you are like most folks, you can easily complete this sentence:

“We would love to go to _________ (fill in the blank) someday, but we can’t afford it right now.”

It is my goal to change that for you!

When I talk to people about this amazing hobby of Points and Miles collecting, most of them don’t understand, think it’s somehow illegal, or simply don’t believe me.  And I know that it does seem incredible, but once you learn the basics, you will be able to do this in minutes.

I started this blog because I’m obsessed with Points, Miles, and travel…specifically, earning Points and Miles to pay for travel! I love to talk (and talk and talk) about this exciting hobby to anyone who will listen (or at least nod and smile). I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours online searching for travel deals and trips…and more hundreds searching for Points and Miles earning opportunities.

I’m always excited to share my Points and Miles earning strategies, because it gives me such a thrill to hear folks say things like this:

“We just got back from the most amazing trip to ________ (fill in the blank), and the best part was that it was virtually free!”

If you are reading this post, you probably are wondering how to get started.  The easiest way is to take it one step at a time.

  1. Get out your pencil and a notebook, and write down a list of all the places you would like to go.  Dream big!  Include “someday fantasies” as well as trips to see Grandma.
  2. Now select on the trip that you’d like to do the most.  The one that’s been calling your name for as long as you can remember.  That’s the one you’re going to focus on.  You are going to use this to guide your planning. What you are able to achieve depends on a host of factors – how much time you have before you travel, your current spending habits, the number of people in your family, and your credit score, to name a few.  One thing is for sure – you will definitely be able to save big money on your next trip, and I am going to show you how.
  3. Your next step is to break down your trip into its components.  As an example, let’s say that the trip you’ve circled is  a trip to Disneyland for your family of four.  You want to fly to Los Angeles, then enjoy the park for several days before you fly home again.  So what you’ve got so far is: roundtrip airfare for four, four nights in a hotel, meals, and incidental spending money.
  4. Now you’re going to take it one step further.  Let’s look at the first item – roundtrip airfare for four.  Take some time to do a flight search on Kayak or Bing and figure out the best flight option for you.  Ignore the cost of the tickets; simply focus on the convenience and schedule.  Make a note of the top two airlines.  For our example purposes, let’s say they’re American and Southwest.
  5. Next move on to the hotel.  Again, if cost were no object, where would you stay?  Perhaps you’d like to stay on-property at the Grand Californian in a Concierge Level suite.  Or maybe you would prefer to stay off-property in a hotel rated in the top ten on Trip Advisor .  Whatever you decide, write down your top two choices and write down how much it would cost.  Again, for our example purposes, let’s estimate that staying on-property would set you back $400/night, and staying at a top-rated hotel off-property would cost $250/night.
  6. Meals come next on your list.  Do a little research and add up what you would anticipate spending per day on meals.  Do you want to eat in the park the entire time?  Or would you prefer to check out some local hot spots?  Look at a few actual menus. We’re going to estimate that your family of four will spend $250/day on food, for a total of $1,250.
  7. Last but certainly not least, we’ve got incidental spending.  This can be difficult to pin down, but it’s usually safe to say that this category always ends up being higher than you think it will be 🙂  Let’s call it $100/day, for a total of $500.

So, to sum up, here’s where we are:

  1. You’ll be flying roundtrip to LAX on either American or Southwest.
  2. You’ll stay in a hotel for 4 nights.
  3. You’ll need a grand total of $1,750 for meals and incidentals.

In the past, this is where you would have said, “We’re planning a trip to Disneyland this summer, but it is so expensive!”  But not anymore!  Read on to find out how you will soon be saying, “We just got back from the most amazing trip to Disneyland, and the best part was that it was virtually free!”

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