Why I need ten travel hacks
I have a confession to make. I am a complete and utter travel snob. My days of sleeping in a Bure with 100 other people are well and truly are over. These days I am more at home sipping champagne in business class or enjoying afternoon tea at one of London’s luxury hotels.
Now before you start assuming that I am a trust fund brat or some little rich kid, I can assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. Born into a working class family in Yorkshire, after university I entered financial services as a sales professional. It’s a job that has paid me well but it doesn’t fund five-star hotels and business class flights. Not for the amount of trips I try to squeeze into my annual holiday allowance anyway.
Top Ten Travel Hacks for Snobs
Hell no, that’s where travel hacking comes into the fray. Using many methods involving airline and hotel rewards, I get to indulge my travel snobbery. Today I’m going to share my guilty pleasures with you. So here’s my top ten travel hacks for those who prefer a little luxury to long queues.
Travel Hack number one – Meet and greet car parking
Nothing says less hassle than purchasing the dedicated service of a meet and greet driver at your chosen airport. Thankfully we can book meet and greet parking with Holiday Extras from our local airport for around £30 for the weekend.
It saves time and hassle and means you waste less time before and after your flight. We rarely book car parking now that doesn’t include this facility. Why would we when it is such great value?
Travel Hack number two – Airline loyalty clubs
Now many of you may mistakenly believe that you need to be super-rich or a frequent flyer to benefit from joining an airline loyalty club but this isn’t true. I’ve earned around 90,000 points in the last three months and not one of those points has been for flying.
Earning loyalty points really opens up a fast-track route to cheap business class flights. By following this step by step guide and making some changes to your spending behaviour, you can soon be flying business class for less than economy too.
Travel Hack number three – Airline alliances
Unfortunately, it is easy to get distracted with airmiles, signing up for every program in sight and repeatedly seeing points expire. Finding that you never have enough points in the program you wish to redeem is annoying right? This is where it pays to get savvy.
Many airlines are members of an alliance meaning that you can fly with any of the member airlines BUT combine points into one loyalty scheme. You will accumulate points for flights much quicker than if you try to amass points in each.
This infographic shows you which airline belongs to which alliance but if you are British based like me, you could start by signing up to the British Airways Executive Club and then applying points from all your flights with Cathay, Qatar, American Airlines, Iberia and more to your British Airways Account.
To do this, you simply book your flights as normal and then add the booking code to your flight details in your loyalty account.
Travel Hack number four – Credit Card Travel Perks
Depending on which credit card you have, you may be able to benefit from a bunch of travel perks. The AMEX Gold card in the UK gives you access to two free Lounge Passes a year, allowing you access to many of the business class lounges around the world. There you can enjoy complimentary food and drink, free Wi-Fi and a calmer place to chill between flights.
Relaxing in the lounge definitely beats fighting for standing room in the over-crowded airport bar!
Credit cards sign up bonus
Those perks are actually the least exciting aspect of what credit cards can offer the self-confessed travel snob. Credit cards are your passport to business class without ever leaving the ground. Many offer huge sign up bonuses and points which will fast-track your collection.
For instance, the British Airways Premium Plus credit card currently offers 25,000 points once you satisfy the minimum spending requirement in the first three months.
In addition, if you recommend a friend, you can earn an additional 9,000 points once they sign up. So here’s a neat little trick…
You apply for the card yourself, fulfil the minimum spend and earn your sign up bonus. You then recommend your partner and ensure your referral points are credited before cancelling your account. This way you can earn 65,000 points assuming two sign up bonuses of 25,000 each.
Travel Hack number five – Credit cards ongoing benefits
It gets even more exciting however once you have your credit card as every £1 you spend on it (think, diverting all your household spending, any bills allowing credit card payments etc.) can earn you additional airmiles.
Putting business expenses and all our household shopping and expenditure on cards requires a little extra admin but you can start by taking note of these tips and resources to make life easier.
Travel Hack number six – Lounge Access
A true travel snob has no place sat in overcrowded coffee bars and restaurants trying desperately to get served. Instead they should head to an airport lounge for a more relaxed environment of complimentary drinks and food, Wi-Fi and relaxation areas.
If you haven’t yet bagged your business class flights using airmiles or applied for a credit card that gives you free lounge access, you can always cheat and simply purchase lounge access. SSshh I won’t tell anyone!
The costs vary across airports but for around £20 per person you will be able to stay in the lounge for up to three hours. If you consider the cost of a few drinks and food at the airport, it doesn’t cost much extra to pay for the lounge and ensures you start your trip off on the right footing.
Travel Hack number seven – Fast track access
If you have yet to bag your first business class flights, the only way you are skipping the queues at check-in and security is if you have pre-paid for fast-track access. I have to confess I am far too tight to ever take advantage of this but when I’m stuck in endless, unmoving queues I sometimes regret not spending the small fee to bypass the masses.
The current cost at Manchester airport is just £4!
Travel Hack number eight – Hotel Loyalty Clubs
If you are regularly staying in hotels, it is surprising how quickly you can rise through the membership tiers. I even secured a fast-track to Gold last year with Hilton and tier membership definitely pays dividends.
It can offer room upgrades, free breakfast, access to executive lounges and free Wi-Fi which can be worth upwards of £50 a stay.
Of course,if you opt for a hotel credit card, instead of an airline card, then you can earn additional points in the same way as you would for airlines. This means you will soon be enjoying the benefit of free nights as well as enhanced benefits from your tier membership.
Travel Hack number nine – Other FREE hotel nights
If you regularly stay in smaller towns or off the beaten track destinations, you may struggle to remain loyal to one hotel chain in which case you may prefer to sign up to the hotel.com rewards program (or do both!). Bookings made through this site all add up to free nights.
For every ten nights stayed you earn one free night, equivalent to the average price of the ten nights. This is a great scheme if you are travelling in areas where it is harder to come by large chain hotels.
Travel Hack number ten – Statusmatcher
My latest find is a godsend. If you have status with one hotel chain and don’t really want to switch allegiance, due to the loss of those lovely extras (free wine, upgrades etc.), then visit Statusmatcher. The site gives advice for making a successful application for a status match (i.e. if you are a Gold member in Hilton, being upgraded to the same tier of membership in the alternative chain without earning the points) to entice you away from your existing loyalty program.
What are your best travel hacks?
So there you have it, ten travel hacks to help out discerning travellers seeking a little luxury on their travels. I’d love to know if you have any other travel hacks that you use to upgrade your travel without necessarily increasing your bill tenfold.