I’m now sitting at the airport in Austin, TX waiting to start my ten-day trip to Seattle, Vancouver, BC and Victoria. I am looking forward to enjoying those beautiful cities and getting out of this Texas heat for a while! And of course it practically goes without saying that I got my flight for free, this time via airline points that I accumulated with Continental from one of my debit card plays (more on that in a later post!). Shelley actually got to Seattle last night, and yes, she got her airline ticket using miles as well.
It still baffles me when I occasionally hear people say that airline points aren’t worth the trouble. Really? The only possible way I could imagine that being case for someone is if they were SO wealthy that the $300, $700 or $1300 savings for a few hours ‘work’ just isn’t worth their time. And those dollar figures that I just quoted are the amounts of money that I have saved on the last three airline tickets that I have ‘purchased’ for myself – $300 for the ticket I am using for the trip I am taking now, $700 for my ticket to Nicaragua this coming January that I recently acquired, and $1300 for my ticket to Thailand last fall. That’s $2300 of tickets, and I still have plenty of more miles left for future trips. Life is sweet!
And our accommodations in Seattle will also be free. Shelley did a home exchange with someone there, so our two biggest potential expenses, airfare and places to stay, are completely covered. And our food costs will be greatly reduced as well, because while we are doing the home-exchange we won’t be eating out every single meal. And for at least some of our meals that we plan to eat out we’ll be taking advantage of Restaurant.com, Groupon.com and some great happy hours that often include delicious food for cheap as well. So in reality we probably won’t be spending much more money than if we had actually just stayed at home. Check out Shelley’s tips featured in the Sacramento Bee, for visiting Seattle on the cheap!
But like we wrote in our book, How To Travel For Free (or pretty damn near it!), we did have to put some thought and time into planning out our trip in order to keep our costs so low. Here are a couple of examples. We accumulated the airline points ahead of time by signing up for and taking full advantage of the right mileage programs. And we used only a relatively small number of points when we actually reserved our tickets, because we got them several months in advance (for availability and the most efficient use of your points, the earlier you get your tickets the better). And Shelley did a great job of keeping in touch with a few potential home-exchange prospects in Seattle via HomeExchange.com, so that she was able to time the home exchange for the exact four days that we needed in that city.
Sure, these things took a little time and effort, but for us it was more than worth it. We are getting to travel to and thoroughly enjoy a really great city for a very minimal cost. Our attitude and approach to travel is that we are willing to think outside the box and work with the tools that are available to us in order to maximize the travel experiences in our lives. And of course, because we have made our work location independent we are able to travel much more frequently because we can work on the road.
And with the knowledge from our book and a little effort on your part you can easily do the same!