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Travel Hacking Essentials

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Want to score free flights on your next trip? Learn the essentials of travel hacking!

I've heard about travel hacking from friends who travel often for work – how they were accumulating points from their favorite airlines to get some free flights.

However it wasn't until I discovered Chris Guillbeau from the Art of Non-Conformity that I saw it as a way to save significant amounts of money.

He was someone who mastered the system and used it extensively to literally travel the world.

It sounds too good to be true, right?

Actually, it's not, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone.

How Travel Hacking Works

Before you jump into these deals, it helps to understand how the process actually works so you can decide if it's really the best option for you.

You sign for the card and many times there is an initial bonus along with a limited time offer of extra rewards if you use their card. Sometimes, you can get a huge amount like 50,000 points plus double your earnings the first three to six months.

Why are banks, credit cards issuers, and travel companies so generous with these bonuses?

Simple. It's because they expect to make money from the majority of the customers they acquire from the deals so be aware of that when you sign up.

However, if you're looking to beat the pack and can navigate the rules they have in place, you can get a lot of fantastic deals and free travel.

Does Travel Hacking Hurt Your Credit?

Is this system for everybody? No, but it can be a huge payoff for those who use it systematically and for the sole purpose of maximizing their travel rewards.

Most definitely I would NOT recommend it to someone who currently has credit card debt.

Being a master with credit card rewards takes self-discipline and some amount of organization.

If you're struggling with paying off your cards every month, you will only be hurting yourself.

Instead, I suggest paying off all of your high-interest debt and seeing if you can stay on top of things for at least 6 months.

From there you can test out and try travel hacking.

I don't want you to put your finances in jeopardy.

Maximize Your Travel Hacking Rewards

If you think you want to try it out, there are plenty of places you can try out.

I tend to browse through The Four Hour Work Week and The Art of Non-Conformity since Tim and Chris have traveled all around the world and are familiar with pretty much all the travel hacks.

If you're looking at simply getting better deals on bidding there are some online forums to help you out like BetterBidding, RateDrop and Hotel Deals Revealed.

Finally, if you're someone who is looking at traveling much more and want to drastically reduce costs and have the time to stay on top of things you may want to join a travel hack community.

Thoughts on Travel Hacking

If you're new to this, I would try out the free forums first to see how you much you gain from them. Once you're comfortable, go ahead and branch out from there.

For those who love to travel, please share your tips and stories in the comments below!

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