Optimizing Travel Hacking and Utilizing Miles/Points


Hello Rockstar!

I just got back from two weeks vacation in London and Barcelona. It was amazing! Took my 18 month old baby and my wife along.

The sweetest part was we flew free on first class (award ticket). Still had to pay ticketing fees & fuel surcharge but it was a fraction of what the ticket would have cost in cash. Was also able to scored 4 nights of free hotel stay at a 5 star hotel.

Just curious on how many financial bloggers here are into utilizing points/miles for free travel and blog about them.

I am also aware of bloggers who only blog about travel hacking like TPG.

Do you guys also blog about the financial aspect of traveling/vacation and its impact in your overall financial goal?



Its so great to see travel hacking working. I have not done it in the past but am about to dive head first into research, planning and execution to plan a disney trip for my family of 4. I just saw @RouteToRetire put up a great post on this and I’ve seen several others.

While my blog is new I definitely plan to touch on the financial aspects of traveling & vacation. Being young (30ish) and having a family of four vacations are a big part of our budget and planning.


Hi eatmoney,

Good luck with planing for the Disney trip! I am also in my 30s and we love traveling even with the little one. Vacation can be pricey and can definitely eat into the overall budget quickly. I think travel hacking is a great way to minimize the financial impact of vacation on more important items like student loan repayment and retirement savings.


Thanks, for the shout-out @eatmoney!! :grinning:

Love me some travel hacking! As @eatmoney mentioned, I just had a post come out on this today. We just started down this path in January and have already saved thousands. Super exciting and easy way to save money and give you and your family an opportunity to enjoy trips you might not have been able to do before (or didn’t want to spend that much money on).

– Jim


A huge component to travel hacking is booking the awards points efficiently and effectively. These are a few tools that work for me.

Or there are ways to travel hack without credit cards as well.


I blog about our travels and how it sort of affects our personal finance, hence one of our posts:

We’re definitely not the super frugal type as we spend at least $10k for travel every single year after travel hacking (for 2 people), but we won’t ever give up the lifestyle we love to retire earlier. :slight_smile: We’re also a multi-national couple, wherein our families live in 3 different continents in the world, so trying to visit immediate family can cost a lot of money if we don’t travel hack.

Oh, the number above includes food costs, groceries like water and snacks, airfare, accommodation, gas, transportation, parking, souvenirs, attractions, and the like. Other people don’t include that in their travel calculations, but we do for the purposes of our calculations. After all, if we didn’t travel, would we have incurred those costs if we remained cushy in our home?


Very nice posts Millionaire Mob! Very comprehensive on the tools. I use awardhacker as well to find the best value for my miles. I find that redeeming for first or business class yield the best value per mile.


I agree. You don’t want to be too frugal and give up on the enrichment that traveling provides. Travel hacking is a great way to reduce the cost of vacation. You don’t want to wait until you are too old/sick to do the more physically demanding destinations.


Thanks! I love awardhacker!


rootofgood.com buys his whole life on credit cards and documents pretty well how he translates that into travel.


I have checked some of the people love to make travel videos and blogs as well which gives them real pleasure in good way.I have made Best Travel Blogs with the help of travel site and got some good idea of touring as well.


Anyone have advice for money saving tips or general travel financial information for a trip to Japan in the coming year? I’ve never traveled abroad before, so I’m quite concerned about the cost, conversion rates, and everything else in between.


Hi Misty,

Japan is a wonderful country to visit. It is possible to travel to Japan all with points and a small fee associated with booking. Travel Hacking will help you save money on your travel.

To Master Travel Hacking, you need the to master:

  1. Ways of Attaining Points Efficiently (Churning, Categorical Organic Spends, Manufactured Spending, Shopping Portals, Amex Offers, etc…)
  2. Finding Award Availability (Educating yourself on routes, tricks, booking time tables, airline miles partners optimization, hotel points system)

Getting points is easy but finding Business Class availability is becoming a lot harder. Redeeming for Business class will get you the most value for your points (5-10 cents per point).

I will usually fly ANA, JAL, Korean, Asiana, Cathay, Qatar to Asia,…those are way much better than US metals in terms of service and inflight amenities.

Best US to Japan Sweet Spots for Flights

American Airline Miles = Recommend redeeming AA miles for 60,000 Business Class one way on Japan Airlines. (You can also redeem 32,500 AA miles for Economy Class one way on Japan Airlines). Most available routes SEA-NRT or LAX-KIX(Osaka). You can try checking DFW,LAX,ORD,JFK also for Japan Airlines. Recommend booking 331 days out since that is the earliest you can book. Use Qantas program to find availability but now, AA will also show JAL on their search engine. Currently can buy 250,000 for about $4000 or can use the Citi AA Mailers Churning method. I don’t recommend buying miles unless you found availability in Business class and ready to commit the booking. But buying miles can be worth it (2 round trip J tickets definitely is more than $4K).

Alaska Miles = Alternatively you can also use Alaska miles to book Japan Airlines for a little less (25K one way economy, 50K one way business). Alaska is a bit harder to accumulate though since BOA now limit on how many you can churn.

ANA = can only book roundtrip. can transfer AMEX MR points. 50K economy roundtrip, great value and decent economy availability if book very early. 85-95K business roundtrip harder to find availability. Best route HOU-NRT for business and first class availability.

CATHAY = can use Asia Miles which is accepts AMEX MR and Citi Thank You but you are much better off using AA miles to get CATHAY flights for much better rate. CX can be cheaper but it depends on your airport of origin.

Qatar = will have to stop in Doha but love the sweet Q Suites.

Virgin = very cheap to book first class ANA flight than ANA miles.***

Best Japan Hotel Redemption:

Hotels in Japan are very expensive. This is where using hotel points can be very useful!

  1. Transfer UR points to Hyatt. Hyatts in Japan can be often redeemed for 5000-15000 points per night!

  2. Use Hilton free nights & Points. If you have Diamond status with the Aspire credit card, you can have free access to the executive lounge with is full of goodies. Often, you can save on Breakfast and Dinner by just eating in the free goodies in the lounge.

General Japan Tips:

  1. Connivence Stores like 7 Eleven, Lawson, Family Marts actually sell very good food.

  2. Basement of all Malls are food heavens. (There are called Depachika, a foodcourt/supermarket combo of sort.)

  3. Trains are super efficient but can be expensive (bullet trains). If traveling between cities, flying can be cheaper and quicker especially using partner miles to book domestic JAL and ANA flights.

  4. General Tip over all, use CSR or CSP to book all travel related things since it comes with very good travel insurance including TRIP DELAY. You get $500 per person to spend if your flight is delay by 6 hours with CSR or 12 hours with CSP. I have used this benefit before and it’s great!

Good luck!