Thursday, October 29, 2015

More Miles Than Money

New baby cousin!
Portland public schools sometimes have more days off than on, so for a recent 5-day break I grabbed the boys and flew down to sunny Santa Barbara to hang out with family and a new baby cousin.

We're lucky in that we get to travel quite a bit, often for free.

For a long time I didn't see a collaboration between being crafty and saving money, then I stumbled upon a graduation speech by Chuck Close that made the connection:

"I’d like to say something to the parents of the art majors. This is probably not what you had in mind, you know? You hoped maybe—I don’t know, maybe medical school, maybe a degree in law, but I want to tell you that a life in art can be a wonderful life. Artists live better at near-poverty level income than yuppie bond traders do at much larger income."

For me it's fun to come up with creative ways to do amazing things for free. For example, for the Santa Barbara trip I grabbed two Alaska Airlines credit cards. They each come with a 25,000 mile sign-up bonus, and if you use this special trick they'll even PAY YOU $100 to use them (which covers the $75 annual fee). So we ended up with three free airplane tickets and $20 in my pocket after taxes.

In fact, we've received around a million points/miles over the last several years with similar programs. If anyone is curious, I might write up a longer description of how exactly to go about traveling for free. Or here's a couple of good places to start:

The Points Guy Beginner's Guide
Make Your Dream Trip a Reality (or his free website here)

It mostly works if you have 4-8 hours per month to coordinate different trips and cards, love excel spreadsheets, and can pay your monthly bills off each month. It's definitely not for everyone. Or even most people. But for those with some creativity and a "why not" attitude, traveling and staying at places like this for free is pretty awesome.
Park Hyatt Maldives, where you can stay for free with your Hyatt certificate (photo from The Points Guy).

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