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Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Lesson 17 of 32

How to Stay for Free - Hotels

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

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Lesson Info

17. How to Stay for Free - Hotels

Lesson Info

How to Stay for Free - Hotels

Today's howto stay for free yesterday we kind of began this process of talking about big hotel groups, all the brands within them, how we can actually get a lot of value from them, even if we normally stay in hostels and guesthouses or budget accommodation. Independent properties that's totally fine, but it's, great to kind of add this tool to your portfolio, you are going to go for a long trip, maybe you have a couple of nights, you know, one of these places, maybe you have your other accommodation with whatever else you plan there's all kinda stuff also say one of the reasons this is a great tool is if you're traveling and you don't have a lot of money. One of the worst things to do is to get stuck somewhere and not know where you're going to stay. And for me, as someone who travels by as a solo female it's so nice to know that if I'm stuck, even if I don't have money, I can always I have this, like think of points and resource is that I can, you know, find a place to go wednesday ab...

solutely great point, thank you for sharing that so every lesson has three goals, and if you want to write this down, either in your workbook or your notebook at home, today our goals are to build your hotel points earning strategy so that you have that bank of miles and points teach you how to use credit cards for free nights, which we've touch down a little bit yesterday we'll go into more detail today and then lastly, no one to use points and when to pay. So we began with this question yesterday we were talking about different options for lodging, and the question was, you know, if you're planning like a big trip, maybe you're comfortable in all kinds of different options, which is great it's great to be backpacker happy with flexible accommodation, but if price wasn't a factor, would you choose the same accommodation? Or would you do something different, especially if it's for this special trip, something that you've always dreamed of? And, you know, we like nice hotels even though we can be flexible. S so that's, what we're trying to help our in studio audience with as well as our online audience and when it comes to free nights, there's a few different ways to make it happen, you can first of all, pay with points, how's that work? How does that work? Well, you get points and you were doing them basically it's very similar to it's very similar to what we talked about with airlines, but there's a lot of there's a lot of very similar ways to get points for hotels you can get them through credit cards and like the airlines, you can also get them by actually staying at the properties but you don't usually get them like when you fly if you're flying on a free ticket, you don't usually get points and when you're staying at a hotel for free, you don't usually earn points either there's lots of promotions and bonus offers and things as well on then when you go to make appoints booking well actually cover that tomorrow and how to make a reservation and basically just kind of looking through the same website and you say here I'm gonna choose my points you know instead of the money that's the first option and most obvious option and then a lot of programs provide free night awards if you're an elite member if you have the credit card for some other reason like you get this certificate or a bonus that's like a free night award, sometimes they're restricted by categories you know, meaning that you can only stay and maybe mid range properties you can't stay in all the luxury properties you know of that brand, but very often they're not restricted and we touch taste a little bit yesterday on how you know if you have a free night certificate for somewhere that's valid throughout, you know the network of properties you know, why would you use that certificate at a really cheap property? You wouldn't you would want to just, you know, pay to stay there and then you would use that certificate for something much, much better. There's also a bonus offers that come out, you know, several times a year to earn more points. Hotels usually have quarterly bonuses are seasonal bonuses, they're normally based on north american seasons, but you can take advantage of them, usually almost anywhere in the world, no matter if it's the same season there or not. But a lot of these time, a lot of times it will be something like, you know, you get double points for any stays sometimes starwood recently had one where during a season you got five hundred extra points. If you made your hotel booking through their iphone app, you know, there's all kinds of different seasonal bonuses, and normally they require you to register and you find out about these bonuses in a very similar way to the way that you find out about all the airline mileage deals you know, you can look for them on these different forums, a lot of bloggers right about them. We send out hotel deals as well, and these kind of promotions from the trouble hacking cartel so there's all kinds of ways that you can find out about these hotel bonus deals right and all of these these big brands are truly global thes these air kind of promotions that anyone can participate in so it's not like some certain credit card products or certain airline things what people say on maybe I can you take advantage of that the credit cards you may have to be american or canadian or whatever the thing is but these bonus offers air usually valid for e I think last year I might I don't have my black hat available but I think I might actually have an address in india you remember when you teo teo actually going because there was a big there was a big hotel group deal that you get a lot of bonus miles if you were in india if you lived in india and you were booking hotels in asia and I was booking a lot of hotels in asia great so she set up shop in india with her black hats and in the last one we talked a little bit about cashing points about kind of booking with a blend of you know part points in part cash and this is actually very advantageous quite frequently not all of the time but for a lot of different bookings if you're willing to pay a small amount of money then it will use maybe half of your of the total points usually required to book all the points so that's often a great deal so and I would say just going back, you know, if you're just starting out with hotel bookings, I think the easiest thing to do is to figure out how to get enough points to pay with points where to get one of the free certificates through getting a credit card and a soon as you do that for the first time, you'll figure out the cash and points thing really easily and the deal's once you figure out the hotel in which hotel groups you like, you'll see deals come through all the time I think that not everyone understands the kachin points thing it's actually not that hard once you and I'd go through it but I think this also works to your favor because not everyone is doing it actually because it is an availability based thing as well but availability tends to be really good so it's something that's definitely worth looking at so we talked a little bit I think about way back when we started about your very, very, very, very, very first first day fifteen days ago three weeks that's right incredible were like all around the world since then way talked about when you first went to paris and I think you've actually gone back to paris recently yeah, I took this this was an instagram from paris okay summer that's great from my window in ah hyatt hotel so I had a pretty good view and I spent I spent a week there and I did not pay for any of the knights that I was there okay, I'd love to know how that worked but maybe we could actually involve someone else in this process basket our wonderful host can accost herman he's been sitting here the whole time for three weeks he's been sitting in that chair wade actually love to just bring her up to the hot seat give you more comfortable americana all right, I'm just gonna bring this when I say something you have your sippy cup way cool. Great. So you've told us a little bit about some of your travels before you've gone to cuba many times when your favorite countries you've been to forty for country thanks to write but never to france that's right? Okay, so you were right, you know? Well, it's crazy, we're gonna fix that. Okay, great. So why? Why is it that you want to go to paris? Well, I mean it's paris but I mean the reason that I haven't been yet is because I always think it's going to be too expensive and a lot of trouble that I do do has been more on the backpacker and always I have some mental block against spending a lot of money on hotels I do fall into backpacker, I think because I love to stay in nice hotels, but so the fact that you stayed and a high it with a view of the eiffel tower for free for a week is very exciting. Yes, especially as a photographer if you could take this with your iphone, I don't know what magic ugo so you thought at all about, like, where you want to stay in paris or what kind of experience that you wanna have there? I know I doubt you'll be like spending all your time in a hotel, so that's true that's true, I mean, a room with a view, absolutely, but and I honestly don't know a lot about the different areas within paris, but I want to stay somewhere where I'm close to being able to walk around. A lot of times, I do like to be a little bit more where I can see things that aren't one hundred percent. Christine a cz well, that's, that's great, and I just someone comment there, I know that when you're going to us someplace like this, where there's a city and you're gonna be spending most of your day walking around, you know, when seeing things a lot of times, like you're in your hotel to sleep, you know you aren't you aren't in your own hotel to have like a luxury spa experience and so it does make it really hard to spend a lot of money on a hotel and so there's some great options within property groups for places to stay in paris so how I stayed for free in this hotel is I actually had I did have that hayek art that I was just telling lynn about and in the last lesson and I had to free nights there and then I had some high it points from my chase sapphire that I transferred okay, that is the chase sapphire the chase sapphire preferred card is one that I'm planning on getting because we've been talking about going a lot and then those points transfer to hire right? So we've talked before about points of miles aren't always combine noble people always ask us I've got this airlines program points this way most the time you you cannot have my name but in this case you can because you have chase ultimate rewards point to your what you're working on getting them that's a flexible spending programs those will transfer to the hyatt program and we'll just add or whatever balance you have there and in this case I actually didn't plan to spend five nights in paris you could actually got stuck there talking about how sometimes it wasn't we're actually going to talk about misadventures and week six and the last yeah and how to troubleshoot your trip it's actually less in twenty eight twenty eight or twenty nine and believe and so we're gonna deal with some of those things, but I kind of pieced together my awards day I didn't plan it all in advance, but that was another reason that it was great to have a kind of this the's flexible points in the chase program but another thing we're also going to talk about the end of this week is one of the reasons I got this fantastic of you was because I had v I p status, which I also got for free. So yeah, and there was an amazing lounge at the top of this building that had this same view as well and so and this actually this isn't one of the higher and high it's don't remember I think this is the hyatt concord in paris and it's actually in a neighborhood that's just a little bit outside. Um I ran to the eiffel tower from my hotel and I think it was about a mile and a half, so it was another great location. And, you know, one of the things to look at when you're looking for hotels is you know, if you like staying in the center around the tourist area there's often a lot of those and outside of the tourist center usually there's a lot more like the business if you're looking around the business district often the tourist hotels aren't in the business district and there's usually a lot of nice hotels kind of in the business area where it's more of like daily life it is nice it's really nice to be there a part of daily life it's usually quite easy to just commute into the first areas or whatever it is that you want to see right and are those in the business district versus the tourist district in terms of the categories of hotel do you find one? It can vary, but I would say in some really big cities like paris, I would say once you get into the business district it's going to be a little bit more affordable both both on money and with points, so depending on your strategy, right, like how much time we're going to spend in paris, you were going for three nights, I would say, like let's go to the park hyatt and that is the luxury property is very, very similar to my favorite hotel, the park hyatt sydney but if we do that that's going to use a lot of points, right? So if you want to go for a week, then maybe it's something like hyatt regency and maybe you do an independent stay for a while or you can stretch your points I actually when I think about it, more actually didn't stay the whole time in the park I it there is actually a star with hotel across the street so I popped over one day and came back and that was a little bit strategic we're going to talk a little bit more in the next and the next lesson I believe about stays and nights and I did a little bit of what we call a mattress run in on my week since I was just stuck there so mileage run is where you're kind of flying around the world for no reason other than to earn miles and a mattress run is where you're trying to accumulate stay in night credits we'll come to that in a good exactly which it actually had the height lead set us before we say good bye so there's there's a couple of elite status is and you'll get the platinum status immediately from the credit card so if you're if you're just a prince or an enthusiast that's that's great that works with you and your case I believe you actually did some kind of status challenge which we'll talk about it at some point that actually got you to hae a diamond status which is the highest addison gets free breakfast and talk about that at the end of this week okay great so lots of options I'm glad you mentioned the starwood as well you know she also we've been talking about that I offer we did that bora bora, they have hotels core yeah, decor is also a great option for france because they have this. So the sofitel trains also french. They have some really amazing properties. There are many options. Really? So I think, but if you're gonna pick one, I would say you're going to get the height thing going to get chase sapphire, that's a great way to start. Cool. I think one more question is way mentioned breakfast, and that would be something I would be really interested in knowing as well, sort of those amenities. Because breakfast in paris could be twenty dollars, thirty dollars more than way. So we were like snacks and lounges. You know, I have a thing in this case that's. Probably. Why? Why stephanie wanted teo hacker way, or at least work her way toward the higher status with hayate diamond. Then your breakfast is included. You could access to the lounge. You get nice for amenities. All of that with platinum. I don't believe you breakfast, but you will probably get in a room upgrade which will get you that window that faces you. Take away her sign. Okay, five years at least for the next three days until we upgrade you to the I p a couple lessons will get even higher, so thank you for having me so we talked a little bit about the concept of you know, paying teo stay in hotels better chief and then maybe redeeming them for something much better exactly where we're going with that I included the card here solely because we talked about it in the last lesson and you guys are familiar with it but any any points that you have anything that you're any points you have any credit cards you have anything that you're you you have capacity any of your currency that's going to get you free hotel nights when do you choose? We chatted about it a little bit in the hot seat with lynn but when do you choose to pay and when do you choose to stay for free? So when do you pay with money and when do you pay with your points? Um it's always great to not have to pay with money but sometimes is actually smart to pay with money because as we're going to learn in r b I few lesson sometimes you want those credits it's the same as flights we talked about this a little bit with flights if you you know if a flights only going to cost a hundred dollars you don't want to spend twelve thousand five hundred miles to you know get that flight for free and it's the same as hotels if a hotel is only going to cost sixty nine eighty nine dollars a night you want to keep those points toe or those free nights until when you can redeem them. So I just wanted to give you kind of examples of when you should choose to pay and when you should choose to stay. And so here's. A good example of when you should choose to pay. You've got some free night from my h g, whether it's points, whether it's one of the certificate and you need to, you know, fly through minneapolis and you get stuck at the airport there. You could pay eighty nine dollars to stay at the holiday inn express. Or you could use your certificate, which should you d'oh pay or stay? Hey, you guys are smart it's like you've been thinking about this for three weeks now, if you happen to be flying through osaka and you want to you know, you have a day lay over there and you look it up and you see there's, the intercon it cost four hundred and ninety two dollars, and you still have that certificate should you pay or should you stay? Stay your points. You should use your free certificate. So that's a really great option. You should stay here, so stay here versus pay here. Yes, so we kind of alluded to it already. You stay, you use those points when it's expensive properties that's probably the first thing that the biggest comparison is if it's if it's really cheap, then you pay for it. You don't waste those appoints. You do want to turn and burn like throughout your mileage earning lifetime, but for expectant, expensive properties you want to pay for expensive properties. It's great to stay that's just a simple rule. Also, if it's a work trip and you're going to be reimbursed, torque yourself employed it's a business expense, you might as well just pay for that. That could be better and you'll earn earn those elite steak nights and and stays that we'll talk about cashing points if that's if that's available and it's a good redemption, then that's a great time to use those points and maybe pay a little bit. And then also, if you're on vacation, maybe this goes against work like if you're on vacation, that's a great time to use your free night certificates or your point sound. You've kind of save them up and you want to put them to good use, and the only reason you might pay is if you are working on status or bonuses, which we're going to come too. So I also have a I have a third category and this photo is special for jack because she wants to go hear my third category is play here and you know, we talked about some of those places that are really hard to pay for with, um they're not in any hotel group. They're not like it's gonna be hard to get free certificate so you might be able to pay with them pay for them with some cash and some money from a cash back credit card would maybe be one of the only ways you could, you know, pay for it, but in the play here category there's a number of hotels that I've been too and that's in this category um, you know, I would love to stay. This is the marina bay sands in singapore. It is three giant towers and at the top of it there's this structure that looks like a giant ship it's like a ship in the sky over the marina and make sure you google marina bay sands singapore after this is over to see what this hotel looks like it's phenomenal, but at the very top of that tower there's this infinity pool that looks out over the looks out over the ocean and not the ocean over the marina in singapore and you know it costs five hundred over five hundred dollars a night normally to stay here so I haven't actually stayed here but right next to this pool at the top there's a there's an observation deck that cost twenty three dollars to go to I have also not been to that observation deck because there's a bar there called kuchi ka little restaurant and you can go to the bar for free and, you know, buy a drink and they have wifi and you can hang out there all day with the same view and so that's one of my play here places stay here and play here that's great I see everyone running that down they're all running that down in their workbooks and your workbooks you know, every lesson has an activity in our activity for the day if you're following along online is to evaluate a hotel you're considering whether it's for your dream trip or just something else we want to teach you tools that will help you for all your travel not just this one dream trip on decide if it's a good used to use points or money for that any questions before we do the challenge? No sorry casey quick question so do the majority of the hotels have the cash? I'm sorry points in cash system or is it like a select few hours? Yeah that's a great question I think it's becoming more and more common I don't remember the the hotel group that started it in the beginning. I know starwood has had it for as long as I can remember. There may have been someone that started it before. Now hyatt has it as well. Hilton has it. Hiltons is not as advantageous because there's, this dynamic, it kind of fluctuates so you never know, like like the points actually relates to how much it would cost to pay. So it's not always a good value to use points because it could be an astronomical price in points. But starwood in hyatt are not like that. And any of the others that have that I also think they're kind of static, which is good, so startling has it high. It has that hilton has it it's worth looking up. If there's a hotel, I would start with the exercise you did yesterday where you looked at the brands you know and that you like and then movinto, what property group are they in? And then go to that website and see what kind of what kind of program they are. Look up there, look up their rewards program and check out what the benefits are, what the bonuses are, and it would say in there if they did have the cash in points option and they might not call it cash in point so keep that in mind as well if you're looking, it might be called something totally different but the concept is you're using some of your points and you're paying some money and so what we want to teach you is not just what's best for anyone property but the general concept of value in your points and being able to understand okay, this this is a good deal are no I should do something different here so the main principle is understanding okay window I stay when do I pay or window I play any other questions? Attention I've done mileage funds myself, but what was your favorite mattress run way might actually tell a story about mattress running in right one time I was I was actually in seattle while back doing some other stuff with creative lives remember hanging out with kenna and she was she was asking me like, you know what hotel you staying at tonight? Let me think about what day it is because you know, it might be you know, this hotel last night with this hotel tonight and tomorrow night I'm going somewhere else, so because I was working on my my elite status, so we'll talk more about that and I thought you were nuts now I'm going to get an email from kenna when she goes to paris and she's gonna like I went to four hotels in four days you don't think so you have to do that so don't worry, I will say one thing if you haven't signed up for a hotel hotel awards programs I know in lesson three when we talked about eight actions to get started, we encouraged you to sign up for two property to property groups, probably starwood and, um one other big property group now that you're learning more about them and now that you know what brands that you like and what groups there in all of those programs are free to join, so feel free now that you're a little more aware of all these things to join some more of those groups that match kind of your travel style and, you know, add them to your list of things that you're you're trying to earn miles and in tractors I know that's a really great point was in the beginning we don't want people to get overwhelmed we don't want to send people and say like, going sign up for these twelve things, right? So if you just have a couple of things that's also that's totally fine, but as you learn more, maybe you actually realize that maybe that's something different is going to be better for your needs esso I also encourage people just as we say miles air for spending don't worry if you've begun earning some miles or points in one program and you don't you don't have a whole lot of it's okay? You can just change it up you know those those miles and points are probably not going to expire we'll talk about that a little bit later they're probably going to be good for at least a couple years and there's things you can do to keep them going so it's no problem at all toe to change it up so one more thing sorry one more question because I know that you're provide providing for free when you are speed peter in this boot camp a credit card tracker? Yep. Do you also track sort of these the non credit card rewards so these these types of things with the hotel rewards memberships and so we have a whole lesson on that coming and entirely first lesson of weeks. Six is all about tracking your points and miles tracking everything urine so you can kind of see it in one little master database. So, uh, what's the most important thing you learned today yesterday, uh, that your status at hotels gets you really good perks? Yeah, looking forward to finding out how to get a horse to have it's coming up in two lessons yes ma'am I think the pay versus day things is each foot like to be like okay let's be smart about this like the whole valuation thing that's something that I I get like overwhelmed or like you get anxious like let's just book it's like no you fool so it's nice to like know that that is a conscious choice that everyone has to make like no let's just calm down I'll just pay it's not the end of the world that's cool well I really appreciate being in the hot seat and knowing now like having identified what hotels between sure I'll be staying at is really exciting and knowing specifically I can go from the park hyatt to the store right across the street and you a mattress ryan that's like enclosed proximity versus all over town I can't do that I could do that so it feels really good thank you that's also thank you may be one more person had your hand up to anything I appreciated the safety aspect that you brought up in terms of you know I'm not the kind of person that wouldn't stay in hotels I typically do airbnb but to have points at the ready in case something goes wrong that's so huge is a female single traveller and just one extra point on that one of the things I do a lot when I'm travelling by myself especially when I'm flying into you know destinations in africa and asia and south america in the dark at night by myself. A lot of times I'll book, even if I'm not going to stay in a nice hotel the whole time I'm there. A lot of times I'll use my point to book into a nice hotel. The first night I'm there that I know I can get transport to very easily and that people will know where it is, and then I'll stay there and then move on to my airbnb or hostile or whatever from there because it just gives me the peace of mind. I'm not driving around, you know, streets in the middle of the night, trying to figure out where I'm staying. Excellent. What you went jumping is an entrepreneur. I think we've kind of thrown down a challenge to airbnb. Sooner or later, you're gonna have to come up with some way to actually award logic that's absolutely right. I think I think that something's in the works somewhere here is to see what they come up with.

Class Description

Who wouldn’t love to know how to earn enough miles and points for two airline tickets and three hotel nights? In Make Your Dream Trip a Reality, Chris Guillebeau and Stephanie Zito can show you how it's done. 

Travel feeds our creative spirits, allows us to discover new viewpoints, and fuels our work. In this class, you’ll find out how you can make your dream of journeying to the world’s most far-flung places a practical and affordable reality.

Chris and Stephanie have made it their life's mission to help others experience all the thrill and adventure that world travel can offer. In Make Your Dream Trip a Reality. 

Chris and Stephanie will help you: 

  • Master the system of Frequent Flier miles and hotel points
  • Set up a personal points-earning strategy – even if you don’t fly
  • Upgrade your dream vacation experience at no cost to you

In short, daily lessons, Chris and Stephanie will cover all aspects of how to plan your vacation including financing your trip. You’ll learn how to set your savings and point-earning strategy so you are armed with everything you need to relax and enjoy your vacation once you depart. They’ll teach you how to book flights and hotels so you get the very best experience at the absolute best rate. You’ll also get insider tips from professional globetrotters on traveling solo and as a family.

By the end of this course you’ll learn everything you need to know to save money, minimize hassle, and make the most of your travel experience.

Your dream destination, and a life of regular traveling, is now available to you – no matter your budget. 



Highly recommended! This is one of the best CreativeLive courses I've ever taken and a great value. There's a lot of excellent information here, presented in a fun and accessible way. The CL "boot camp" approach was perfect for this topic because it dispenses the material in bite size pieces with very doable action steps along the way. The corresponding Facebook group adds even more value and camaraderie. It's a great place to clear up any questions or confusion that may come up. What an amazing resource! By the end of the course, not only will you have learned a tremendous amount, you will actually have something tangible to show for it!

a Creativelive Student

This is a fabulous course. Stephanie and Chris are both so knowledgeable, helpful, and easy going. They clearly love and practice what they're teaching. And they're open to learning from the students too. The course is packed with information, delivered in an immediately useful way. In fact, they emphasize again and again that the point is to USE the information to REALLY take your "Dream Trip" soon! The Facebook group is the best I've ever experienced with an online course. Stephanie and Chris are remarkably present, responsive, understanding, and generous with their knowledge and experience. I highly recommend this course.