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“How Do You Travel so Much?” A Refresher Post!

Tony, “How do you travel so much” or, “How do you do it?”, I get asked this ALL THE TIME!  As a matter of fact, the reason I started this blog a few years ago was because of this exact question!  Sometimes people are rude about it, other times people are genuinely curious, well , in the post I will try to explain, again how I do it!

No Travel is not cheap, per se, but one can travel a lot cheaper than others with a little bit of work and strategy!  Its all about what you choose to spend your extra “mad money” on, and for me, its Travel and Jewelry!   Everyones situation is different of course, but I am a single person, with no house payment and a decent income, I just choose to INVEST in travel , others choose to eat out all the time, or go to bars and drink, etc.  Whatever you choose is fine, its your money, but remember when you spend five hundred dollars on a wild weekend, you could have used that to take a trip.  Or, do you really need 3 iPads?, maybe skip one or 2 and take a trip, again, its all about your priorities.


Finding cheap travel is not all about just FINDING it, its also about finding ways to save money or earn miles or points during your everyday life in order to use when a good deal comes up!  One thing I do I earn points or miles on EVERYTHING I buy online if at all possible.  There a few ways to do this:

Credit Cards

If you are at all serious about traveling cheap and well, then you should hardly ever use cash or a non points credit or debit card, PERIOD!  You are throwing money away!  We all buy stuff everyday, pay bills online, but if your use cash or a regular card, you are JUST spending money.  Get yourself a good points or miles credit card, one that fits your needs, and put as much spend through it as you can.  “I hate using credit cards so much, they charge interest “, well, no they don’t if you go online and pay the bill before the post date.  I pay on my cards daily sometimes.  “Thats such a hassle to have to do that”,  well, if you want to make money you have to put in a little effort.

“What Credit Card Should I Get”

This is a relative question and it depends on many factors.  If your interested in getting free hotel nights, get a hotel credit card, if you want free flights, get an airline one.  You then may ask which hotel chain, or which airline, well, again it depends on your situation.  If you live in an area that American Airlines doesn’t go to or request much, it would make sense not to get one of their cards, and if you usually stay at SPG or Marriott properties it makes sense to get one of their cards, again, it all depends on your circumstances.

Now, the serious points and miles people, myself included have MANY cards across MANY banks, and MANY programs, this IS a lot of work and is only for the serious , diehard miles freaks like me.  With that said, one or two strategically chosen cards that are used properly could really give you a head start and a boost to your travel budget.

Here are a few other bloggers and sites that might be interesting to you about choosing the best cards. (keep in mind most get paid to push certain cards so keep this in mind, and look around for the best offer when opening a new card).

Shopping Portals

I have written about this before a few times (look here for old posts about this),  but the gist of it is, if you buy something online, , always try to go through a shopping portal.

Shopping portals are sites that are partnered or maintained by airlines and hotels, in which the retailer gives them a commission , thus you points or miles for going through their site.  Most portals send you directly to the retailers site, and its all tracked on the backend through cookies, etc (hint: always save email receipts when you go through a shopping portal in case the points don’t post).  For example if you need to spend (or want to) a thousand dollars at Nemain Marcus , right now , as you can see below, Delta and American Airlines are giving 6 miles per dollar spent.

Online Shopping Portal Example
Online Shopping Portal Example

What does that mean, its simple, if you send $1000 going through the portal, you will earn at LEAST 6000 miles with one of those 2.  Again, choose which program you are building up, and sometimes its not the highest but if you won’t use Alaska miles for example, but they are offering 10X, that will still only Gove you 10,000 Alaska miles and what will you do with them.

Please read my article(s) about shopping portals here, to get all the tips and tricks on how to use them.

Double up Points / Miles

We’ve talked about running your everyday spend (gas station, groceries, bills etc) through a points or miles card, and we’ve talked about shopping portals, don’t forget , if you use a miles and points card for your online shopping, you not only will earn those miles or points from the card, but you will also earn them from the retailer / shopping portal.

For Example:  If you spend $1000 at Neiman Marcus through the delta shopping portal, you’ll earn 6000 Skymiles.  If you use a Delta credit card  that pays you 1 mile per dollar , you’ll earn a total of 7000 Delta Skymiles. ( No , shopping at shopping portals does NOT count as airline or hotel spend, so you won’t get the bonus, i.e, 2  miles per dollar spent on delta, etc).  You can also mix and match, if you are gathering both Delta miles and SPG points, you can use your SPG card to shop through Delta Shopping Portal.

People, myself included, can get very creative with this, (I hate when people call it gaming the system), but if you like to strategize and get the most bang for your buck, and want to travel a lot and cheap, then do your research and learn ways to use the right card for the right thing t the right time, etc.  Don’t be afraid to be creative, its money / points / miles for the taking!


I have also written about finding cheap airfare, Look here.   But again, I will say there is not magic site or place or time, it takes work and strategic planning!  Sometimes deals just fall in your lap others you hunt them out, but there are many ways to find good deals.

Most of my trips are planned based on a good airfare deal I found.  For example, if I see deal to Croatia and I want to or have never been, I book it and fill in the rest later.  I always do a preliminary search of hotels and other things to see if its affordable to stay and BE there, and if it is I buy and go from there.

In the next 4 months I have 7 international trips planned, and ALL 7 , the airfare was booked, in many cases, months, before I even started to book hotels, only because the airfare was too good to pass up.  Remember, always check the average hotels prices, etc before you commit, but you can always fill in the blanks later.  Also, if you buy airfare in the USA, the airlines are required to Gove you 24 hours to cancel with a full refund, even on NON-Refundable fares, so if you find a really hot deal buy it and , then do your hotel, and safety search, and if it turns out its not feasible, just cancel before the 24 hours.

Here are a few sites, lists I use:

  • Google Flights – This is where I do all my searching when I see a deal or want to go somewhere, as it allows you to see prices on several dates, etc,
  • The Flight Deal – They put out several alerts daily that you can set up on twitter to get text messages (I do)
  • Secret Flying – They list several deals from all over
  • Scotts Cheap Flights – this is a email list, that offers both free and paid subscriptions.  I use the free and its great!

And remember , always try to use a points or miles card when buying airfare, as you will get even more miles / points.



Hotels are a different story, you don’t really get that many “deals” or “Mistake” rates, although it does happen from time to time.  The thing with getting a decent hotel rate is to really search.  I stay loyal to SPG / Marriott , so I ALWAYS search their hotel portfolios first.  If you stay loyal to a brand, you get elite status and get upgrades’ and more points, etc.  But if you are not an Elite member with a particular hotel, and want to stay at the highest rated or somewhere in particular, still search the web for the best rate, and almost ALWAYS BOOK DIRECT on the hotels site!  The reason I say book direct is for a few reasons, the main one is of you go through say and book a room at a Sheraton, then you will NOT earn any points or Elute credits for that stay. “but was cheaper” you say… I say GREAT I still book direct, THEN immediately use the hotels Best Rate Guarantee ? Look No Further program to not only match that rate, but take an extra 25% off. Really look into the particular chains program details , as there are a few terms and conditions, but in most cases I have been successful at price matching plus saving an extra amount.

Another option for hotels is also points!  I use points as much as possible if the rate is high, but if the rate is low I pay cash in order to earn the points. Again, its strategic. Many hotel chains offer the 5th night free when redeeming points ( my stay starting tomorrow at the Marriott Bangkok Surawongse is on points and I only paid for 4 nights but am staying 5, its a fabulous way to save points.

Marriott Bangkok Surawongse
Marriott Bangkok Surawongse

There is also, always the discount code, like AAA or AARP, or maybe your company has a discount code with Marriott or Hilton, its worth a shot and I ALWAYS search multiple rates when looking on the hotels site.  Sometimes AAA is less other times its more, so always check!


Wrap Up

As you can see, you didn’t have to be rich to travel so much, you just have to be very strategic about it.  Just how much work you put into it is how much results you’ll get out!  If you always spend and shop on a miles card and use portals, and always search hotel sites and use price match policy, and keep your eyes peeled for flight deals, you can travel as much as me, and not be wealthy, Im not!

But if you just want to save a few bucks or get a few extra miles or points you can do that also, its up to you!

So to answer everyones question again, “Tony how do you travel so much”, I work my butt off being very strategic and thoughtful when I plan, you can too!

If you have any questions please post them below!


Thanks for reading and PLEASE, TRAVEL MORE!

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