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Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Lesson 25 of 32

What Else Can You Do with Miles and Points?

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

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Lesson Info

25. What Else Can You Do with Miles and Points?

Lesson Info

What Else Can You Do with Miles and Points?

Listen twenty four other options with points in miles all week we've been talking about upgrading your experience going beyond flights and hotels. Yesterday we talked about a lot of different different experiences, activities and excursions things you can add to your trip since you're saving so much money on your flight and hotel how you have a great experience on the ground got it really fun lesson here today we're gonna focus most of the most of the lesson on a conversation with a couple who has been living in hotels full time. I forget exactly how long, but we'll find out from them living in nice hotels paying twenty to thirty dollars a night on average, we'll hear how they do that, and as part of that were basically warning about creative long term travel, how this couple and others have made it a lifestyle for them, we'll talk about hotel categories a little bit how do these lower hotel categories to save points and brief mention of cash back cards for additional wards? We've talk...

ed a little bit about that but haven't really said much about it, so we're going to jump right in to the interview with these guys, I think they have a fun video that we're gonna start with that shows drew and carry as part of their adventurers around the world there it iss it started when we were dating even then I had carrie signing up for rewards credit cards just for the miles and by the time we were married our closet was rarely stocked with one dollar coins that we bought in our miles running credit cards and we took to the bank on the weekend no no fast forward now are full time travelers living on miles points if I could sum up our sight for even our lives be earning miles for free and using them to sia's much of the world as possible no wait s so inspiring drew and carrie or carolina you there yeah yes going it's good yeah thank you so much for joining us you know we're on lesson twenty for this whole like thirty lesson in boot camp and throughout the whole process we've been kind of like telling people a little bit about your story it's been one of the most popular stories and the course people have wanted to know like you know, how is this possible? How have you guys done it? Uh why don't you just start saying like where you guys live? Actually yes. So at home right now I don't say like wherever I am that night so if I say I'm living at the radisson which is which is true we're in d c we just got back from beijing um so I'm still little jet lag my body thinks it's like one am but uh yeah so we live out of hotels we've been doing that uh for four years four years okay, so you're at the radisson in washington d c thanks for getting up at one am body clock time where did you get this idea to make where did you make this get this idea to make hotel is your home uh we actually briefly in that for your period we kind of experimented with the normal stationary life thing it just seems like what we should do and it just didn't really fit us at all. We both got really restless way started crunching numbers and sort of decided that with hotel points we way figured you know we're spending a thousand dollars a month rent surely we can get that same uh monthly amount or less using hotel points so we thought we'd go sorry how did you guys actually get started? No. How did you um how were you introduced to points and miles and how did you go from knowing nothing teo earning a million miles a year in doing this? Uh well, actually it's kind of funny I trust that I could be uh parlay this into a success story from his art of nonconformity book but you don't have to do that it's no go ahead, go ahead, but uh yes so I heard about the one dollars in the book and the even part of the reason that I came across an article that he wrote in all that was we were getting married and I wanted to, uh be able to keep traveling but I couldn't afford it I mean really I just could not afford it we kind of did a gap year um I guess that's what you would call it although the gaff just have never ended we collected tons of miles it was very hard corn that we didn't do a hotel points right away it wasn't until uh we looked at the numbers and said if we did the initial investment of doing a few hotel stays and got tons of points from the promotion then it would be worth it but at first it was just the one dollar coin thing where you could you could get ton to those and we had tons of airline credit cards so it's just very easy at the time to just keep getting credit cards just getting one dollar coins on those credit cards and uh yeah, millions of miles is really easy right away how do you decide which hotels you're going to stay? I do you play this out like a month in advance a week in advance or further or not at all? Uh almost not at all although occasionally if there's some kind of special deal or something than you know it's kind of like pulling teeth omit anything if a promotion comes around or something for instance, this cloak carlson uh kind of buy one get one burke is going away so we're kind of like, well, we really shouldn't book things with those points. Otherwise we just sort of decide maybe, like sometimes on the plane literally at like, if we have wifi on the planets, sometimes we'll book it just before we land, sometimes a week in advance, not your something that so how do you guys decide where you're traveling to long term? Well, I would say we just pick where we want to go get a long list like, yeah, I'm trying to go everywhere e I would like to do every country but, uh, you know, it's just kind of whatever is inspiring at the time and, uh, you know, with with hotels it's just picking which hotel makes sense for that city or that place, you know, you want to go to kenya, then you know, there aren't that many options or points hotels and, you know, if you're going to poland, pick the one that's a category one hotel and we used those points there, but otherwise we'd just go where we want just going, maybe you could talk us through an example because you said you just got back from beijing how long how long were you in china and how did that process work? Why'd you choose china to begin with and when you went there where where did you stay? And then maybe like where where is this leading to why'd you come back from china to washington d c well, that's actually that's a good example, but I mean there's, lots of things in there I don't know how much of the nuance we want to go into, but first of all, there was a mistake fair to beijing, okay, I don't know if you saw that one, but it was four hundred forty dollars for american airlines uh round trip from d c and that's the most actually we've ever paid for a flight for hundred forty dollars because this class okay was willing to pay a little bit more for business class s o that's how we got there was also a short trip for us. It was, uh, one week of seven nights, so that was the airline okay, hold on just one second. Let me just explain this to the audience to you mentioned a mistake fair. I don't think we've actually talked about them a great deal on the course thus far mistake fair is when the airline makes a mistake basically on prices affair like far, far lower than it should normally be so this this particular example you're able to fly an american airlines from the united states all the way to china and back in business class right? Okay fair not it is a paid fair not a mileage ferris he's earning elite status you know miles all the way for four hundred forty dollars you said which is pretty amazing you know to begin with it's only like a four thousand dollar ticket but you also said that's the most money you've ever spent on a plane ticket right yeah that's right okay actually e was like I don't think we should this much we got tio okay okay I think it was a great decision so tell us more about the trip okay, so uh I'll just mention also that we earn like forty thousand alaska miles on it so that's enough for a round trip to europe is well but um so that there's a number of hotels in beijing that early category ones or category two hotels so I looked at it and said there's a hilton that's only ten thousand point which is a lot better than you know the other uh the conrad there that's also building points that's a sixty five thousand or sixty thousand rather so we stayed there one night and also there is a promotion so I don't know how much of the nerd points stuff with the ites to you but there's a promotion where we if we did three paid stays, we would get fifty thousand points as bonus points that will probably get sixty, seventy thousand points from our three paid stays and you could get three paid stays in beijing for pretty cheap. And, you know, sixty thousand points could easily be six nights, maybe even twelve knights uh, at later hotels. That's fantastic that's. Really great. Amazing example. I think maybe our audience might have some questions here for you guys. Kind of blowing my mind. So I know I've been doing this a little while, so maybe our audience has some questions over here. Men biggest just hearing the success. You guys have one of my biggest like hold ups. Is that decision fatigue or like trying to make that decision or trying to be the most efficient and find the perfect I feel like, well, this one's sixty thousand yuan extra ten k we get seventy thousand. Like what? Is there any kind of like, mantra? Zor like things you have to be like? No, you know what it's been five minutes. We just gotta make a decision or whatever it is. Is there any actionable kind of things that you can give help people like me who just have too much going on well, actually it's really helpful that we for the last two years I've been keeping track of absolutely everything we spend and then as much as we can what we earn so we can actually kind of look back and like maybe we would have said oh, we want to try to spend this much on hotels and then we looked back through our stats and realized that okay, we actually do benefit a lot from this promotion rather than this one and so we've kind of come out to deciding that if we can get a stay for around thirty dollars then that's a good benchmark press um we we have a few things we prioritize in our decision making for instance we want to be downtown on dh so that will make a decision sometimes that will make or break a decision of like do we want to spend the extra points or not? So we do put some thought into it I mean probably not as much as we definitely don't do that like we don't do too much planning ahead or trip advisor surfing are like like you know we'll be fairly spontaneous so and if you make a mistake it's it will help you learn what to do next time it's not like I think we take most of her decisions pretty lightly um yeah maybe I'm not the best person to ask for making good decisions way sounds like you guys have made some great great any other question okay see an audience yeah, quick question. How do you guys sustain the amount of point? So when you talk about, like, traveling in hotels for, like, over four years, like that's, quite a bit of points and I to remember the whole dollar coin thing, are you still using points from way back when or do you still crew points pretty consistently now way air constantly, like running on empty in terms of miles just because we're always spending. So I have friends who are always bragging. They'll even send me screenshots where their mileage balance is, like thirty million and I can send him back and it's, like ten thousand or something. But anyways, I kind of have ah, of policy where, uh, I only use credit card signing bonuses for airline miles, and I don't do it for hotels. That's just me. I think there are some really great exceptions because credit cards, some of them I have really good passive benefits, like the h g card gives you ten percent of your points back, and when you're spending like millions of points, that adds up. But, uh, so anyways, I do airline miles from credit card bonuses, and then I always kind of, um, just look for a really good hotel promotions for paid states like there's, always hotel promotion every quarter and at least one of them's really good not always but usually one of them is really good and then it's just like a matter of how many times I get this promotion and so like with a g there's been a promotion the last many quarters where if you stay three nights you get fifty thousand points it doesn't exist this quarter unfortunately but the last quarter it did so if you could get three paid stays in now if I do like forty dollars a night holiday inn and liked thailand or jakarta are bangkok or poland or something like that you know I can easily do that for less than one hundred fifty dollars and get fifty sixty, seventy thousand points like I said and then I'm just like conservative on the spending side so like you know one time we spent eight nights at the intercontinental in fiji which is a four hundred dollars a night resort and it was one point breaks with it uh it's just I mean to say it's a sale so their hotel was on sale and for the points cost of five thousand point tonight so we spent forty thousand points which is you know more we had more than enough from three paid night to spend over a week at a four hundred dollars a night resort in fiji so that's maybe a long answer but great and very long good answer other questions from our audience I think they're all going to go back and start reading your block more everybody watching is going to check this out you guys have an amazing blaga travel is free dot com right? Yeah. Is that the same long social for twitter and facebook? Yeah, everything is travel is free that makes you so another thing I love about these guys they actually document carrie mentioned about how they how much they spend, like every single day on it's totally transparent you guys inspired me a lot what's what's next for you oh yeah I guess I'll take that one so next I'm really excited we're going to go with my older sister to ukraine um she's adopting a seven year old girl and we're gonna be sort of like the the helpers while she does that she she hasn't done international travel for a while, eh? So we helped her and smiles things like that s so I'll probably spend a month's in ukraine helping her do that. So I'm really excited about that. But are you going there on miles and points? We haven't decided yet? Because, uh, that ukrainian airline is going out of is like struggling and so they're offering all these cheap flights so we're trying to decide but what we did help my sister earn enough miles that she's able tto go and she's like a total newbie so that was really fun. That's fantastic. You might have to spend more than four hundred dollars. You might have to break your record hundred if we do spend, it'll be like three hundred that's. Amazing pedro perry, thank you so much will encourage everybody to go check out travel is free. Dot com thank you. Great story, you know? And if you remember the there's, some of the bonus is that you can download from the course page during carrie actually wrote the one the forty tips to use your ultimate reward points on and they have a lot of really great resource is on their block. Yeah, they had some fun info graphics. They have all kinds of good stuff, so I'm just impressed with what they've been able to do before I forget I meant to ask them, like, how often do they check in and check out every week and we'll have to tweet them at and that's them that's. So something that drew mentioned briefly or alluded to you talked about hotel categories, and we touched on this the other day I was kind of remind people that, you know, hotel points, bookings are categorized based on low spend all the way up to high spend, so he was giving this example of how he did a lot of page days I forget where he mentioned he didn't eat of these paid stays a lot of asia here. And all these all these points, they were relatively cheap. And then he used those points to book his weak at the intercontinental, fiji or whatever. So when you're looking for hotel categories, when you're looking up for hotel bookings, you can actually search by category. If you have an extended trip somewhere, maybe you want to put that to good use. Question here. You talked a lot about room categories in the hotel. Okay. And so just so there's. Not any confusion. What's the difference between a room category in a hotel category. So glad you asked that a totally different thing. So the room category just refers to the actual room that you get in the hotel. The hotel category in this case is what is that categorization based on the award program and a number of points. So, like the hilton example, they have hotels ranging from category one to category seven. I believe category one is the lowest usually requires very few points to both category seven would be the highest has nothing to do with the room category. A good question. So in our workbook for today, you had a question is welcome. You're good. Our workbook for today is to match the hyatt hotel to a category and then look for the price in money and points. What we're trying to do here is teach people may be the difference in using points and using miles using points in miles versus paying for them. This is something that during carry of kind of master through the system as you see how they're earning a million points a year and continuing to stay in hotels all of the time so you can check that on the practice pay here, stay here, stay here, stay here. Yes, and they play here at the exact time in fiji uh we didn't get a chance to talk with them about this, but we talked about it the other day the best rate guarantee not sure how much they use it. They they obviously know far more about hotel points than I do, but the best rate guarantee is kind of fun it's where a zay said you can find hotel rate that's being offered for a lower price than the hotel group offers it for. And then that hotel group will either comped the room for you or they'll give you twenty percent off sometimes actually give you cash it all depends each program has a different set up for that and I think there's actually a best rate guarantee blogger best guarantee for him where if you really want to track it, you can look and see okay, here are some opportunities people post up on forums whenever there's a deal and you can actually follow that for yourself cash back cards maybe one more big point from this as we're doing our whole wrap up of the weak ah number of people here, I think in the audience said that they've actually had passed back cards and they wanted to know like what's the difference between a cash back hard and you know an airline card or a flexible spending hard or a hotel program card we'll be covering this a little bit in less than seven the biggest difference is akash back card earns dollars back and whatever program you're doing and then when you spend whatever the bank is giving you the cash back for theyjust credit that money back to your back to your count. One of the things I like to do is to help people understand when akash that card is good value and when like a signing bonus is a good value is just to kind of to compare what happens when you get a cash back card when you get like the chase sapphire card, so say you get the barkleys arrival car, which was actually a really great travel rewards cashback card so you get that card and you spend ten thousand dollars on it or you get the chase sapphire card and spent ten thousand dollars on it do you know what the sign up bonuses for the barkleys arrival card it mom I do not know at the moment I actually don't know either but usually it's like three hundred dollars cash back or somewhere there's something something around that range so you get the card and then you meet the minimum and you get like three times points back three times points back in your cash credits for meeting that minimum so you wind up with around four hundred fifty dollars that you can credit towards any travel expense so that's not bad it's really good for certain things and especially good for activities and excursions and all those on the ground things that we're talking about that might not turn extra points for something else perhaps so but just keep this in one side you're thinking I'm going to get you know what it is it's the arrival car park so forty thousand bonus miles when you spend three thousand dollars on purchases in the first ninety days and what was the other thing? We're also though in this case the bonus miles equate to a cash value what we're wanting buys the cash value so I don't know if that's four hundred dollars think it's about four hundred thousand I should done more research before I stood up here to teach this facebook group anyway, it's about four hundred fifty dollars that you can use towards any cashback value. So then think about the chase sapphire card that we talked about when you sign up for that and spend ten thousand dollars or actually you sign up in the minimum spend is three thousand dollars but say that you spent the same amount of money on both cards in that car in that card when you meet your minimum spend, you get fourth at forty thousand miles and you could get an extra five thousand miles if you add someone to your account. So on this end you have four hundred and fifty dollars that you can apply to something. On this end, you have forty five thousand points that you can apply to a mileage program somewhere. Now you guys are more familiar with the award charts. Now where are there some places you can think of where you could get for forty five thousand miles all the way there and you could book a ticket that the value is actually pretty high for forty five thousand miles, so over here on a cash back card, what you can spend your money on is specifically related to how much money you've earned back, and the good thing is you can use it any time, be over here, it's, you can use these miles towards much bigger, much more expensive things, so using a mile in miles and points card is really good when you're trying to get flights and hotels and things that you're trying to get high values for small amounts of money and using these cash back cards is really good when you want things you can't pay for with your points and miles. So any kind of travel experiences, expeditions on the ground transportation, I think there's some examples coming up so there's a lot of information, we don't want to overwhelm the audience, maybe we just say, like, if you are just starting in the role of credit cards is okay, if I say I think it's much better to actually get a mileage earning credit card, if you're only gonna get a couple of products, I think you're actually gonna find a lot more value from that. If you're putting together our whole strategy, there is certainly a our place for cash back cards and your wallet. A couple of examples we just briefly talked about good for reimbursing expenses that aren't covered the miles and points programs, maybe some large purchases that you don't want to apply for miles and points for whatever reason, and there is one point opportunity that should be available for the next year and a half or so, maybe not forever. For a while but there is an opportunity to actually pay your taxes if you're in the u s and actually earn money through it s so you can pay any tax taxes any u s taxes with a credit card but usually it's not a good idea because of the fee that you're charged for it the one exception would be with this discover it miles card which just came out so they're actually rewarding you mohr then the fee that you pay you actually are and I think it's something like one and a half percent if you pay your taxes with this card so that's one opportunity first year they double so you're in one point five first year and that and I'm sorry one point five for any purchase and in the first year they double it so in a sense within your first year you'll be earning three times that's right? So this is one fun opportunity we've been writing about a little bit for people who are interested and this brings us to our dream trip challenge any questions thus far? Yeah um I guess one I have is like kind of on what drew carey said and then kind of on what you guys do a little bit that doesn't need to be super long, but like when you when you hear them they're they're saying all we use points of most but they also use money right and so like if you're if there's some people who were watching this or or some people or a loss that are interested in like doing some of these things is there any like quick way for you to like start they just like are these guys riding and is that how they're earning some income and sharing the stories that they've learned through their travel? Is that her there? Wei didn't even ask him about that that would've been a good question I think they're doing some writing and freelancing I believe one of them is a designer I'm not sure we'll ask him about that it may be that they're all going to be in the facebook group everyone who's joined us a special guest in the program is active in the a facebook group and so feel free if you're at home feel free to ask questions in that facebook group because they're already there responding what's the most important thing our in studio audience learned today I can't believe that they've been doing that for four years like that that is possible obviously that like all these trips way here you guys go on and everybody's like oh yeah that's possible but that that you can continue to do that is like I did not know that amazing kind of putting together the whole pay here stay here just kind of my mind's like going in circles right now put everything together right they called my crew in your points on less expensive hotels and being able to use them on others absolutely sure I want to be, and I'm I'm so inspired by them, I want to be in their meetings, their their daily rundowns of their their documentation and is it how you know is a quarterly is a yearly? How did they do this? And I understand that's why I like their website because they actually provide, like all this detailed specifics about it. So that's great scott, this is one mork ogg in the wheel of the game ification of travel on this grave. I love how's. My favorite thing was, I actually loved how she was like she's talking about this amazing airfare that they had, you know, round trip business class on a qualifying fare for four hundred dollars, and she said it was the most expensive, you know? She didn't want it, she wasn't sure if he should pay for it or not, and, you know, they had to make that, and I thought it was interesting the question that followed up about how do you guys make your decisions? Because one mistake fairs like that come out, you have to make those decisions fast because they're gone in, and usually in the twenty minutes it takes the airline to figure out that they made this steak and they take it down. Yeah, I used to take longer, but now, with social media, things kind of spread so much quicker. So actually remember seeing that when it came out and I was too late for it. Actually, I thought I was, like, that's, interesting, but I thought about it too long, so I didn't get it so that that was really fun.

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.