(You can do it, too and here’s how)
In the Hodge Family, we have a new Christmas tradition. We travel. It’s only been for the past few years but I see this stretching out for years to come. With my two sons growing into young men, Christmas doesn’t have quite the same charm and attraction it did in the past. It has always been about the kids. I would look forward to getting gifts but the fact of the matter is I’d outgrown Christmas a long time ago.
Me, being the out of the box thinker that I am and also being a travel enthusiast, I decided that we should travel for the Christmas holiday. This will be the third year. Year one, we went to Orlando because my wife is a huge Harry Potter fan and she wanted to go to Potterworld at Universal Studios.
We travel often as possible. I try to take advantage of everything I can. That first year, we used our timeshare to stay in Orlando. I admit it. I have a timeshare that I don’t use nearly as often as I should, but, they can be a really good thing for certain people. But, I digress. The next year, we went to Bermuda and I used my Mileage Plus Explorer Rewards from Chase (this is not my first foray into using Reward Points). That’s another story for another time. But, Bermuda feeds into how we will be flying to St. Thomas, USVI for free this Christmas Season.
My wife’s credit is better than mine (I spent a lot of time repairing our credit. Another story for another time). So, she had a Capital One Venture Card and I had a Venture One card. We used the miles from the Mileage Plus Explorer Card to fly to Bermuda and we used her Venture card miles to fly to Mexico over spring break.
In 2018, after much work, I got my credit score high enough to get approved for a Venture Card. At the time they were offering 50K miles after spending $3K in 3 months after approval. I’ve been following sites like The Points Guys and 10X Travel learning the ins and outs of travel reward hacking. So, once I got the Venture card, I knew it would be the driving force to our next adventure.
One of the reasons I chose the Venture card, I would get 2 points for every $1 purchase (after meeting the 3 months $3K goal). This way, the points would add up quickly. The Venture card became my main source for accruing points through everyday purchases. I decided to use the card to set up autopay on all of the accounts I could do it with and I used it every time I made a purchase at Amazon or the grocery store or gas station. The rule here is that you make sure that you pay off your balance every month. That way you get the benefits without having to pay interest and you don’t get bogged down with a bunch of debt.
Once I got the Venture card, I met the $3k requirement easily. Hey, we all have bills to pay. Might as well make them work for us. A good thing is, these cards have offers all the time that will help you accrue more miles. One such offer was Hotels.com. They had a promotion with Capital One where if you used the Venture card at the hotels.com site to purchase a hotel stay, you would get 10x the points. That’s right. 10 Times the points. This is where Bermuda comes in.
I purchased two rooms in Bermuda (for our Christmas stay) for approximately $3k. I earned nearly 30,000 miles from just this one purchase. This was massive. I didn’t know how many miles I was aiming for, but, I continued on my path of using my Venture card for purchases. I remember going to the Safeway and swiping my card and thinking “Mo’ miles, mo’ miles”. Every time I got my card swiped, that was my mantra and over the next few days, I would pay off that purchase. It was a good plan. It took some time, but, I was disciplined and focused.
Fast forward to today, August 2019. I have over 215K miles and I booked a flight to St. Thomas for four adults and I didn’t have to pay a cent. The cool thing is, Capital One has it’s own portal to make your purchases. The thing I like about this is you can find tickets on a variety of airlines. I’m not particularly beholding to any one airline, though Delta and United are my top contenders. In December, the week before Christmas, me, my wife and two sons will be flying to St. Thomas, USVI for zero money out of my pockets.
I tell this story because this is something that is not hard to do. I’ve read many stories of people coming up with millions of SkyMiles and traveling the world for free or very little money. That is a whole different level of travel hacking and requires a lot of work. Everyone doesn’t have time for that. But, for the average person, it is not hard to get one of the travel reward cards like the Venture card and use it for your daily expenses and eventually build up to a nice vacation for you and/or your family.
We all work hard and want what is best for our families. Maybe we all can’t be digital nomads working from exotic locals, but, we can, through just our daily routine, in a year earn a free airplane flight to a nice tropical beach or whatever tickles your fancy. We all deserve a nice vacation from time to time to escape the 9 to 5 Matrix. If you like sitting on a tropical beach drinking a mojito or sitting on a hot spring in Iceland, whatever gets you off, you earn it, you deserve it. Travel reward cards make this a possibility and reality when you employ the proper techniques to take advantage of the system.
I just read an article where there’s a large percentage of Americans who don’t travel because it’s too expensive. This is one way to mitigate that. You take advantage of what you can to do the things you want to do. Travel hacking with reward cards is just one of the many things you can do to escape the 9 to 5 Matrix and get some “me” time in an exotic locale.