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Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Lesson 26 of 32

How to Track Your Miles

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

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Lesson Info

26. How to Track Your Miles

Lesson Info

How to Track Your Miles

Welcome back for five weeks we have been talking all about making your dream trip a reality from thirty days from where you are thirty days, five weeks has that work? I don't know six weeks, six weeks about five weeks thus far we're going into week six way we've been doing for five weeks we've been helping people like identify their dream destination and figure out how to get there earn all the miles and points they could possibly need and maybe even some more booking their flight, their hotel, putting all kinds of great experiences together speaking and put it together this week we're gonna put it all together this is week six yes, putting it on the end that's right? If you got to work but we gotta section there for week six and we're going to talk about handling all of your travel a distinct logistics talk about tracking all the miles and points that you've been earning you probably have been earning a lot so far. How do you keep track of them? Plan your on the ground experience? We ...

talked about that a bit last week and some more we're going to talk about families couples travel a bit making travel in ongoing lifestyle so all kinds of stuff and remember the whole goal is to equip you with everything that you need for an incredible adventure we've got two special guests joining us in studio not even from skype in studio both this week we have upgraded our special guest appearances exactly we've got a special guest today and a special guest in two lessons from now on couples and family week okay awesome so today we're going to talk about tracking your miles this is something that something that I actually aren't always so good at ourselves that's what we brought way outsource that that's exactly really important it actually matters so everybody's been asking about it so we're like we're gonna get you some help from someone other than us so with that in mind our three goals of the day avoid mileage overwhelmed keep up with all your points and prevent miles from expiring something people ask about a lot so we'll tell you all about that and to join us for this we're super excited to have a special guest with us his name is tyler too boring he is an adventures are he's an adventurist he's a lover of adventure he's done all kinds of things including famously running a marathon on all seven continents right including antarctica so we'll talk about that among other things he's the community manager in the travel hacking cartel if you have been at all to travel hacking dot org's slash dream trip during your experience with us thus far if you signed up for that special offer thirty days for a dollar you may have actually already interacted with him or you may have actually had some emails with them he's been helping all of our people ask a question there is a link there to ask specific questions chris and myself and tyler were the ones answering those frying maybourne even talked mostly tyler actually frightened that's great. So we have invited him here we want to talk a little bit about his story on then he's going to educate all of us stephanie and I included on how to track our miles. So please join me in welcoming tyler to board well, take a seat at this table. Thanks for coming up and if you say anything that the airlines don't want you know you have did you run a marathon on your way here today? Actually, I had to walk to the bus station. Yeah, I do want you to stop. Okay? That's great. Okay, so tell us a little bit about how you got started traveling let's start with uh actually, I got started traveling when I met you in two thousand nine you inspired me to to do some travel hacking myself and I started earning some fricking flyer miles and doing the credit card game and like, figuring out all these little like strategies and tactics for, like, padding out my mileage accounts and pretty soon I was like, really addicted to the idea of of traveling the world, so I made this goal to travel on do a marathon on all seven continents, and I just started and figure it out as I went, did you? Did you have that go right from the beginning? Or did you take a big trip first? And and did you, brian, like your first marathon and your second, and then decide or do you like from no marathon to seven? How'd you do that? Well, so I ran my first marathon at home in oregon, and after that, I was such a good experience, and at the same time I was getting really answer to do some traveling, I thought, well, how can I marry these two ideas and do something fun and big and interesting and keep myself interested in maybe do something worth telling others about? And, uh, and I came up with the marathon on every continent have you traveled very much before I traveled a little, but no, I would say, like, ninety percent of all the travel I've done has been just over the last four or five years, so most of my life, yeah, I'm curious. When you met kris and I talked to you about trouble, were you skeptical about any of this trouble hacking because we've had some questions about like, I'm a little skeptical hood yeah, you know actually I wish I could say I was but I but I want because like kind of my whole life I've been the type of person that's always looking for like loopholes and my interesting ways to do things that people don't normally do so like when I heard the idea of travel hacking it wasn't like it wasn't the first thought that came ahead wasn't scepticism it was like oh my god how right you are professional risk ologists rights of way we'll come to that so what was the what was the first big trip then what was the second marathon? Uh the second marathon and something to talk about later actually is er was was a trip to africa to run a marathon on a wild game reserve which also coincided with way record dedication we have to stop for the will that be still across the trail okay messes up your time okay so and so then basically from there you had three, four, five and six and going all over the world presumably to every continent absolutely at australia europe yes any any highlights from those running a marathon running the athens marathon? The original marathon from marathon honest taf ins was really awesome there are greeks dressed up like traditional garb and carrying like twenty pound shields that ran the whole thing thinking of upgrading your experiences that way we'll come to the last marathon and in a moment, but but how did you how did you pay for this? Do people ask you that people say, like, how do you how do you afford to fly around the world? And these kind of things I paint for ninety percent of it with miles? Yep, almost completely with miles. So, uh, it only took I think maybe eight or nine, maybe ten different actual itineraries to make seven trips happened, I would say, you know, probably in total, I spent maybe a thousand dollars one thousand dollars. Yeah, for all of the trips, yeah, for all the travel portal travel portion of all the yeah, something's I couldn't book with miles, but for the most part, like everything was paid for with miles ok, that's amazing ways that so so that doesn't doesn't doesn't count the last marathon, I'm guessing or does it wait? Maybe you travel to where you travel teo, tell us about that last year. So the last marathon was a trip to antarctica, where I flew and had like a thirteen hour layover in chile uh flew to the very bottom of south america, where I got on a ship and took it all the way down to antarctica, and then we parked in a bay and I ran two hundred forty three laps around the ship to complete a final marathon that's amazing completion of the marathon quest which was what year was that that you completed? It was just last year two thousand fourteen two thousand fourteen that's incredible still just thinking about the one thousand dollars to do all of those things plus your miles and points roughly maybe a little bit more like a dead. Definitely definitely less travel too to any of these locations. Like for one person to go to athens and run that or where was the asia marathon? He was on the great wall. Oh, great one. I bring you that. Ok, that's great. Even even one flight alone like we were just we call difficult airlines a couple lessons go exercise difficult. Airlines that fly between buenos aires and y o, which I imagine is that you probably took it from santiago to its wild, but that ticket alone can sometimes cost seven hundred dollars. Until andi, I think you gave a talk about this as well. I just wanted to mention that you have this whole philosophy about risk and adventure you taught us, I think three lessons in your text talk. I remember being there and listening to and enjoying that talk. What were those three lessons about adventure? That's. The adventure makes you smarter, stronger and surreptitiously more attractive, stronger, smarter and surreptitiously more attractive ok, I love that so we started working together as well in the trouble hacking cartel has been a couple years now and maybe more formalized last year we brought tyler in to be the community manager to be like the main person who's engaging with people because in some ways like seventy nine I know I know a fair amount a cz you see through the course but there's other things that were not so great out and so we were talking about this this particular lesson like tyler could do this and tyler even ask this I think you you ask us and said like how how are you currently tracking your miles you have a conversation I think tolerance stephanie and eyes in my head you know I just like actually I do the same thing I do not actually have a system for tracking my mind you have what's up you can have the miles you have like if I said with, uh you know, forty thousand seven hundred and fifty one hilton honors points zero okay here's his his head exploded when when he when we told him we couldn't track her miles so we went to position ourselves his learner's ahs well there's so many things that we still have to learn about miles and points, eh? So we brought him here today because first of all, the marathon quest is incredible and amazing but he's got gonna educate all of us here so I would advice you to feel free to take the stage I know you got a couple of slides and tell us a little bit about how we could track our miles ok? All right so like you know, I think when you're just getting started like one of the first things you ask is like white track them because you actually don't have that much going on, but the first reason you'd track miles is because like, you know, you realize that their currency right just like your time or money that you spend a lot of effort to make sure you're using in the best way possible tracking your miles you know is just another thing you want to pay attention to um also as you get better at travel hacking as you, you know, chase more strategies and do more things can get pretty complicated and like having one place where you can go and look it like your entire travel, hacking the world all of your myles and points in one place makes it a lot simpler and actually takes away a lot of the overwhelm so like when you start feeling overwhelmed, having this like one, places like you're safe haven to know where all your stuff is this somewhat calming it also makes you a more creative travel hacker, right? So like when I'm looking at my like award wall account which I'll tell you about a second and I see all the numbers for all my different accounts in one place makes me feel like a character that russell crowe played in uh what was that movie where he was like a super genius and he was like looking out the window and like, yeah, a beautiful mind, a beautiful mind right where he's like washing the football players he's like drawing like the picture drawing the equations on the glasses I like picture myself doing that in my head while I see my number's in the in the award wallet account, but what it does is it actually allows me to see different opportunities, right when you have all that information in one place, you can start to piece together more creative travel itineraries where you know you're just doing it in your head, but if you're like, you know, feel like stuff and you have like uh, a memory like a steel trap, then you can get away with that. I cannot my mind is like is more like a like a sinking ship eso having that that one spot to go, I can look at all of the different options I have and piece together like really complex itineraries much faster uh and then also probably the most important reason why you would want to track your miles is to prevent just simple stupid mistakes that like we make all the time and the number one mistake is letting miles expire when you're just getting started you don't really think about like miles you know mileage expiration because you're only tracking a few different things but as you get like more and more into it it's so easy to like have you know, fifty thousand miles seeing account that you got two years ago and not realizing that they're gonna expire pretty soon and when you use a miles tracking system then you're going to get a notice that that's gonna happen right no one should ever let their miles expire not with how easy it is to get around it these days every time like a freaking fly argued loses miles to mileage expiration I think that like an airline accountant in a suburban office building somewhere gets a bonus so the uh one of the top ways to track miles is I mean the way that steph does I think sometimes is with a spreadsheet I think you keep some of your information and spread sheet you can use a spreadsheet if if you can keep those kind of numbers in your head and you're okay with checking into all of your accounts all of the time but you're probably only going to track you're like balance is right and maybe like your account numbers s o when you want to get like a little bit more advanced you might want to use something like award wallet which is a cool um, cool program you can use like they track all of these different uh, programs I think they have, like, four hundred fifty different programs it's not just airlines they track hotels uh basically anything that housing a loyalty account you can track it in a word while it this is what I use primarily there's also a really cool new player in the game called track so and they're, uh they're kind of trying to do some more new interesting things in ways tio ways to show your data and more useful ways so that you can make better decisions with your miles um but what's really uh what's really important is that when you use a system like this, you're going to get like all of your mileage expiration dates so you'll get alerts to you'll know when your mileage expirations air coming up so you can do some things you can't take action not to lose things you have all of your account numbers in one place all of your mileage balances in one place you'll see all the alliances that you have in common and the different airline accounts that you have so you can start to really piece together really complex itineraries it's just for the average minded of us like myself is not possible to do in my head um but maybe the best way to demonstrate this is with an example and I want to show you a slide from my current award will account you can see I have just under five hundred thousand miles and that's kind of like the baseline I've been really lazy with collecting miles lately I have to admit I half a million is when I start to like panic about like going broke so start panning out um so one when I was just getting started travel hacking I had all these accounts and I had pieced together this really complex itinerary with american airlines miles and I was using them to g o from the west coast of the united states all the way to south africa make another little pit stop in east africa and then on to europe and then back to the united states and I was doing it all on one itinerary and about a week before I left and anybody who travels a lot knows exactly this happens all the time one segment just got like canceled, right? They just cancel it and so I got my miles back right? But all of a sudden my entire award booking was broken and I had to think really really fast like what am I going to do and so I didn't know, so I came to like my little safe haven of my ward wall account here and at the time, I think I only had, you know, I had miles in my account that they credit me back, but I couldn't use them because the flight that I could book him on was now gone forever, or at least for the day that I wanted to fly. And so at the time us airways was its own was his own airline had his own program, and I was able teo, to see that of all my accounts, I had just enough miles in my us airways account to book one extra segment using those miles it would that allowed me to piece the itinerary back together and basically save what would have otherwise been, you know, a ten or eleven thousand dollar trip that almost got lost because of this one little problem that, you know, that wasn't even my fault. So, like, as I was like, stressing out about all of this, being able to track my miles allowed me to kind of see that solution a lot faster. Another great way to use a mileage tracking program like award, wallet or even track so is when you're looking at all of your balances, I was thinking recently, like, I've never taken a first class flight to europe uh and I would like to you or even a business classified I've always flown economy and as you can see right now I have plenty of miles in my british airways account to do that but usually teo to fly british airways to europe you have to go through london it's really hard not to and have to pay a lot of money for fuel surcharges on things so how else can I get there? I don't really have enough miles anywhere to get to europe and back in business class, but you'll see that actually have I have about ninety thousand miles in american and I have uh which I probably can't use because of british airways uh but maybe maybe another partner uh I've got fifty five thousand in lufthansa I've got fifty one thousand united airlines uh somewhere between these three options there's probably enough miles to piece together a one way business class ticket on one airline and maybe a business of first class on another airline on the way back to separate into separate itineraries which if I was trying to manage it all in my head maybe I wouldn't like piece that together but being able to see it all in one place I can start to like, you know, do my little beautiful mine thing and see opportunities to see those opportunities to put those er to put those different unique ways of flying together so tracking my miles has been really, really important to me in keeping track of all of my different, uh, all of my different itineraries and keeping myself saying when things go wrong, basically when I'm on the road or when I'm trying to piece together a really complex travel itinerary, yeah, can you believe it? Can you write notes to yourself out with that note? Oh, I don't know, maybe you can, I don't know, I have some questions as well, but I want to ask our audience for so so scott yes, I noticed that you've got a balance in lufthansa yeah, and also in united, and I'm wondering, why is that? Since they're both part of star alliance because they both for offering credit cards to give me fifty thousand dollars miles and miles of more credit to sixty four thousand? Lift on smile so so this gets a little bit advanced, but even though you know all the star lines are connected, if you have the miles in lutherans proper, they actually give some priority and opening up first class and business class redemptions before they release it to the rest of the star alliance. They're not actually supposed to do it that way, but that is how they do it that's, why it could be helpful facing with your good point, very good point. This is one you set it and forget it all right like like rump appeal like selling a rotisserie like, set it and forget it put in like you tell it like you tell award water track so what account you have? It asks for some data, usually your user name and password, sometimes some other information and it basically like they've got a team of developers that, like, um integrate with all of these different all these different award systems, you do it once and then automatically updates all of your accounts like on a weekly basis and actually sends you an email anytime like it actually shows the transaction history as well, so like, if you had like, a big redemption or earned a bunch of miles, which can be really, really helpful if you're chasing like a bunch of different bonuses all at once, uh, you might lose track of which ones like have posted in which ones haven't every week or so award wall is going to send you an e mail saying, like here's, the transactions that happened you're counting when you see that you might think, oh, I need to go check on this account because I should have miles in there that I that I don't, you know that you might not realize for a long time if you weren't tracking them otherwise accounts bill is actually found another lost account with e you got a way with the creative live make your dream a reality for stars for you and then this would keep up with I think I haven't been traveling quite long enough to have lost one yet, but I'm hopeful that someday I'll find like hundreds of thousands of missing miles, I think anna has a question question are these? Is this a free service? Absolutely free cool you can pay? I think it's like five or ten dollars for a six month premium subscription to get to you like some extra features but like at that at that cost and you could do it for free and it's awesome where you can pay five dollars were like basically a dollar a month to have it be even more awesome. One thing I noticed was when he showed that truck so slide that track so has an app I don't know if award while only hasn't both do they both have app so you can do this on your phone if you're on the road right? And you only have wifi, maybe you like you're tracking spreadsheet is on your desk top back at home, you wouldn't have access to you like you just log in with wifi and I think that's really helpful I know I keep my even though I keep my mileage account it's in my head, I keep all my plan numbers, I keep them and never know, because I have ever known on my phone and then whenever I'm in an airport and I've forgotten to put my mileage number on my ticket or something, and I'm checking in, I always ask, you know, is discredited my mileage account, and I don't know all of my mileage numbers in my head, so I always check and and make sure that that I can access that one. Checking in at the airport it's really helpful to have it on my phone source outsource your brain to the clouds so you can enjoy your travels, your mileage? I just have one more question. I think we talked about this briefly in a previous lesson, but is it? Is it true that word wallets and all these services, they don't work with every airline? They work with a bunch of them, but from time to time and correct me if I'm mistaking airlines kind of like, you know, take take access away from these services eyes, for example, like your delta account, you know you had fifty nine thousand miles, eight hundred eighty nine or whatever, and then all of a sudden you have zero I'm guessing you didn't actually redeem something an award for fifty nine thousand eight hundred eighty nine miles for a moment's taken I did do something with that, but I can't remember what it wass very specific aboard number, but I think but the point I got they had access to the point I'm making is yeah is correct, so airlines have like, big incentives to, like, control the access to their information themselves so they say it can sometimes get greedy and like do things to break the integrations with these, uh with these websites and these services that try to make it easier for you because they want you going to their web site to check all your accounts, not realizing that like people like us, we need to go to like twenty different websites think keep track of all of that. Um the guys that award wall are super sharp, they're like everytime like the airlines try to break it, they like fix it in like a couple of days and they finally could work around for it and they're actually pioneering new like agreements and things and track so's the new player is also like they're creating new agreements so that the service is a little bit more stable yeah, I'm actually impressed to see all the airlines that are there because I thought some of those have actually going away in the past, but they've obviously been able this is one, one hundred what you see on the screen of my accounts is one one hundredth of what you can do it that's amazing that's great so let's talk about that that other goal or that question that we have a lot from people and you mentioned it briefly before how to prevent miles from exploring so no one should let their miles expire right now we should make the corporate accountant sitting there you don't get the bonus or whatever. So so what can people do to make sure it doesn't happen? Yeah, so there's a couple things you can do first of all is track your miles right console so you know when they're going to expire, I actually saved myself I was just like a few days away from losing all of my all of my united miles because I haven't spent anything or done anything with united for a long time and so because I got that because I got that notice I uh I knew that I needed to do something and what you can do is like you can use a service like era words, which is like, you take a survey and like they just credit you with miles and you khun transfer those miles and you can choose a program to transfer them into so like, you might choose a program that, like you have miles in but you don't use very often so that when miles are about to expire, you could just transfer them in. And as long as you have activity in your account resets the expiration clock, which is usually like eighteen months to twenty four months. Another thing you can do is anyway, anytime you earn miles in a program or any time you spend miles in a program, it resets your expiration. So, uh, what I ended up doing with my united miles to save those miles from expiration is I signed up for a subscription to the economist. All right, they, uh pretty much all of the airlines have all of these, like mileage malls where you can spend your miles on random things usually it's like not a very good deal, but you, khun sometimes, like, spend really small amounts on really small, insignificant things. And so I got a subscription to the economist for I think, like, twenty, five hundred miles, and I think I've gotten like twelve issues now, and I've read one of them well, I got to keep all my miles you're smarter and smarter if only I remembered that's great. And I would say another way to be proactive is I know, in the travel hacking cartel, we send out deals almost every day and a lot of these air for, like, two hundred miles or five hundred miles and when you're first starting out two hundred miles in five hundred miles is a lot of miles but when you've gotten all these big fish a thousand mile bonuses sometimes you're like is it really worth it for me to like go like american airlines facebook page and get five hundred miles if you're pro actively taking, you know, just taking the steps and doing those small deals and stuff as they come out you know you'll be always resetting the clock so it's really helpful to take advantage of things even if you're only earning you know, one hundred miles time way forgot the most important like a way to keep your miles from expiring is to go on trips exactly right awesome cool I'm gonna go up and join you feel free to stay with us you're tyler we have a have a work workbook and our work quick activity today maybe we should actually change the workbook activity based on your presentation but well, you know we originally said create a simple spreadsheet to track the balances of your points in miles and accounts you might actually disagree with that you might actually say it's better to do something else started starting award while at account start with the spreadsheet when you get a little space in the work sixty two where you can write it down okay, maybe write down your stuff and there's the low tech you know, track so our word wallets on, and if you want to upgrade your mileage trucking experience that's, right? Um, any other questions for tyler? Or for stephanie and I about this topic? Yes, len related the on the rewards I went a couple of days ago to try to sign myself up, and it says as that screen did that you have to be invited. How do you get invited? Uh, typically, you just need to, like, join the mailing list of a number of different airlines, and you'll just automatically get invited by almost everything. One of them, I think it's like united, delta and used to be us airways was one of them, but there's a few others as well that I don't think you have to have that. I don't know if I believe you could just sign up with the miles I know we have rewards deals almost probably monthly in the travel hacking cartel as well. So if you've signed up for that thirty day, one dollar trial, you can search in there and find one of the deals that we've published before. Click on that, uh, the audience what's the most important thing you learned today yesterday when you said mileage is currency. Just keeping that in mind. Biologist currency, like track it, don't let it expire, just keep it for award, wallet, my, my mild all over the place. I don't know where they are and when they expire and stuff isn't it actually uses for these services before? So I've seen it like I heard about a quite some time, and I think it's on one of your resource is paige was only thought it was like a premium fee or something like that, so I'll go back and sign out.

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. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

40 Ways to Use Ultimate Rewards Points

Dream Trip Workbook

7 Habits of Highly Effective Travel Hacking Couples

Dream Trip Credit Card Tracker

Upgrade Unlocked Sneak Peak

10 Tips for Travel Hacking Families

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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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.