Usually when I talk about travel hacking, I talk about the benefits of accumulating points as a couple. A strategy involving two clearly pays more dividends than going solo, but what about families? Is it possible to become an expert family travel hacker, and if so, how? How does a large family, for instance, make the most of travel hacking to fund their travels?
Thankfully for you, I know just the person who can help!
How to become an expert family travel hacker?
I first came across Dan and Points With a Crew when researching my top travel hacker article. I was instantly fascinated by Dan’s huge family and how he had been able to enjoy more travel by utilising airline rewards (the 17 pieces of luggage had me particularly captivated). This family could teach Victoria Beckham a thing or two!
Dan proves that it is possible to be an expert family travel hacker and here he shares a few of his secrets. So fear not if you are a family and think travel hacking isn’t for you – it simply isn’t true. You CAN become an expert family travel hacker!
Without further ado, lets hear from expert family travel hacker, Dan.
Are you rich?
Uhhhhh no :-). Though I guess a lot of that depends on how you define “rich”. While I consider myself more “middle-class”, I guess I am more well off than some (many?) folks out there. I actually did a whole guest post on Budgets Are Sexy about my budget.
Anne: this really is a fascinating read and I admire Dan and his family for their budgeting powers. I consider myself pretty good at managing my finances but Dan makes me look downright frivolous.
How did you discover travel hacking, and where did you go on your first long haul trip using rewards?
I had heard about the concept of an “App-o-Rama” (signing up for a bunch of credit cards) 10+ years ago, but it wasn’t until late 2013 that I did my first big credit card churn. We had our bi-annual family reunion in Lake Tahoe, and I knew that eight cross-country plane tickets were going to be expensive, and might make the difference between us being able to attend or not.
We ended up accumulating and spending 170,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points to fly the eight of us there and back. A typical roundtrip in the US costs around 25,000 miles, so 170,000 points for 8 (about 21,000/person) isn’t a SCREAMING good deal, but it is a bit above average. The flights were in economy and the taxes on US domestic tickets are pretty standard at $11.20 for a roundtrip, so we paid a little under $100 total
Anne: now that is a pretty sweet deal.
How long did it take you to accumulate the points, and using what methods?
For that trip it took me about 6-12 months and it was mostly due to credit card spending, with some shopping portal spending as well. We also used the Southwest Companion Pass which paid for one ticket.
Anne: I’m jealous, this pass sounds amazing!
Your top tips for others wishing to do the same?
I have a whole beginner’s guide that attempts to walk people through the basics. If you still have questions, I’m always happy to help answer questions at email@example.com.
What’s the best thing about travel hacking in the U.S?
The best thing about travel hacking in the US is the plentiful credit card offers out there. Credit card sign-up bonuses (for those that can get them) remain the easiest way to get a bunch of credit card miles and points, when done responsibly.
Any top tips for redeeming points for families?
As far as redeeming miles for multiple people, it gets tricky. A few things that you can do is look for deals on flights where the miles are tied directly to the cost of the flight (like Southwest Airlines in the US), or also be willing to split up your party (so mom and some kids go on one flight, dad and other kids go on a flight a few hours later).
For us, finding 8 tickets on the same flight is tricky, though we have managed it a few times.
Become an expert family travel hacker with Dan
Anne: some great tips there from Dan. I really encourage you to check out his blog if you are a family trying to become expert family travel hackers. Not only will you have laugh out loud moments (I particularly loved his daughter’s reaction to the Disney trip) but you will gain honest insight into how Dan manages the family finances to make travel affordable for such a group. He really is a genius at this!
I know how difficult it can be trying to find affordable travel for five, never mind eight!
Become an expert family travel hacker in the UK
Admittedly in the UK it may take a little longer than for our friends stateside but you can still become an expert family travel hacker in the UK. You simply need to follow as many of the tips in our luxury for less series as possible. It sounds ridiculous but it is usually cheaper to fly business than economy using travel hacking in the UK. Read more on gaining the best value from your redemptions in long haul v short-haul redemptions.
Don’t forget also that you have household accounts to help you on your way, meaning that flights for all the family count towards the same pot.
Have your say…
Perhaps you have experience of travel hacking as a family in the U.K. and would love to share your tips. Feel free to pop them in the comments below. We love to hear from you.
Alternatively if you think you are an expert travel hacker and would love to share your stories, ease get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credits: Dan of Points With A Crew unless stated
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