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Travel Hacking: A Beginner's Design

After my post about starting to travel hack, a few of you reached out requesting tips on how to get started:

Define Your Goal

It is important to define your travel hacking goal because it will determine your travel hacking design.

My travel hacking goal is to expand my exisiting travel budget to enable me to take a luxury vacation at least four times a year (more, if possible) & to visit all of the places on my travel bucket list.

A friend of mine wants to take an annual one week all-inclusive vacation for less than $25.

Two different goals, two very different travel hacking designs.

Travel Hacking Design

This is my favorite part! Choose a destination & start researching potential hotels and flights for that particular destination. Determine how many points are needed for the flight, the best method for booking the flight (because it isn't always directly with the airline) and how many points are needed to stay at your chosen hotel/resort.

Remember, it will likely take a few months to a year to accumulate enough points for your trip. It may even require more than one credit card sign-up bonus. So, plan accordingly.

Select Your Card & Apply

When you are just getting started, your travel goal & design will determine the credit card you select. For instance, if you know you want to fly United Polaris to Amsterdam, you need to open a card card which will provide you with United points or the option to transfer your points to United.

My first card was the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card is known as one of the best “starter” travel credit cards due to the low annual fee, stellar transfer partners & frequent high point sign-up bonus.

I, specifically, chose the Chase Sapphire Preferred because at the time I started hacking, it had an all-time high sign-up bonus & allowed me to transfer points to the luxury hotel I wanted to stay at (yes - of course it was a Hyatt).

To help you select your first card, check out my Instagram favs mentioned in this blog for suggestions on today's best cards.

Hit the Spending Requirement for the Sign-Up Bonus

Once you have been approved for your new card & receive it in the mail, put all of your spending on that card to ensure you hit the threshold for the sign-up bonus. Put that debit card away & use your new credit card. Just make sure to pay off your credit card each month.

Book Your Vacation

Once you have accumluated the points you need, book your vacation. When I first started, I kept it simple & booked directly with the airline and/or hotel chain. In some instances, there are more efficient ways to redeem your points by booking with partners, but it can be cumbersome & is not beginner friendly. For now, keep it simple.


If you are like me, after you take your first trip, you will be hooked.

Simply repeat this process as often as needed for your travel plans.

Words of Advice …

Start Small … This a very quick and simple overview of how to travel hack. It is the approach I took when I first got started. I had one small goal … a romantic weekend in DC.

Start with one trip, learn the process, learn the ins and outs, see if it something that is sustainable for you, and then decide how to move forward based on your travel goals.

My Journey …

Since starting travel hacking a year ago, it has become a passion for me & has completely changed the way I travel.

Stay tuned to see where my journey takes me.

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Hello! Thanks for stopping by.

I'm Kim, a NY based life designer (passion & purpose) and career coach (professionally for over 15 years).

In this blog, I am sharing my life design stories and invite you to join me on my journey.

My hope is you find some inspiration & start designing the life you have always wanted. 

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