I recently took a dream vacation to the Galapagos Islands. A friend of mine was living on the islands and I had some unused vacation days set to expire, so the timing was perfect. The only thing standing in the way of snorkeling with sea lions: a $1600 plane ticket. And yet, with surprising ease, I was able to fly down for a grand total of $45 in processing fees. My tropical deliverer? Frequent flyer miles.
Nearly every time I tell people about my free trip, I’m met with the same two-step reaction: amazement that I was able to fly to the Galapagos for free and disbelief that they could take a similar trip of their own without dipping into their savings. Their doubt soon turns into apathy, and before you know it they’re back to paying out-of-pocket for expensive flights (or complaining that they never go anywhere).
Swallowing the cost of these flights is easy when you’re wealthy. To the rest of us, for whom a Google Image of giant tortoises is as close as we’ll get to the Galapagos when ticket prices total $2000, reward travel remains a hugely underutilized third option.
Plenty of frequent flyer books promise to teach you how to get the cheapest airfare possible. They’ll give you 350 pages worth of tips like “get an airlines credit card” or “try to fly the same carrier each time.” These broad overviews are about as helpful as teaching someone to play soccer by instructing them to “kick the ball towards the goal.”
Most people don’t want to take the time and effort to become an expert. They just want to take an awesome vacation for free!
That’s why I wrote How To Fly For Free: to give you hyper-practical tips on how to travel for free.
I don’t do this for a living. I have a full-time job that requires some travel. I was skeptical of frequent flyer miles initially; it felt like a scam.
Years later, with free trips to Europe, South America, and elsewhere already logged, I can say without reservation that I was wrong. If an amateur like me who is wholly disconnected from the airline industry can use the system to fly for free, anyone can.
Traveling around the world for free isn’t difficult, but it isn’t intuitive either. It’s not a matter of just searching Orbitz or booking your flights on Tuesdays at 1pm. (That Tuesday tip is complete malarkey, by the way.) You need to know step-by-step how to find cheap flights, how to rack up thousands of frequent flyer miles easily, and how to piece it altogether for your dream vacation. I want to help you travel anywhere in the world for free.
Here’s a shorthand guide to getting the most from this book:
The first section of the book details how to easily earn hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles.
- In Chapter 1 I describe how I earned 885,000 miles and points over the past 18 months through a single source: credit card sign-up bonuses. It includes tips like which credit cards to apply for, how to get business cards, and sample scripts for dealing with agents.
- In Chapter 2, I explain how credit scores are calculated and why having even 17 credit cards like I do won’t drag down your score.
- Chapter 3 gives you three step-by-step guides on how to earn miles based on your comfort level: one for those just looking for a single dream vacation, one for people looking to take multiple trips, and one for aspiring mile-millionaires.
- Chapters 4-6 explain how to travel for free by increasing your odds of getting bumped, how to earn elite status with as little as one international flight, and how to score thousands of extra miles by complaining when anything in your flight goes wrong.
- In Chapter 7, you will learn how to get the Southwest Companion Pass, an extraordinarily valuable item that lets you bring someone else for free anytime you fly Southwest, for up to two years.
The second section explains how to use your miles for free flights.
- Chapter 8 details how to spend your miles wisely, including a list of the top 10 trips to get the most value from your miles.
- Chapter 9 tells you how to construct your itinerary to get additional free flights, such as a free stopover in Paris on your way to Rome.
- Chapter 10 details how partner airlines can let you fly anywhere in the world with your miles.
The third section walks you step-by-step through the free-flight planning process.
- In Chapter 11, I detail exactly how I would plan a free trip from start to finish.
- Finally, Chapter 12 explains how to find super-cheap airfare, including tips that helped me fly roundtrip to Costa Rica for $275 and roundtrip to Europe for $280.
In the end, the reason I wrote this book is because most of us want to travel more. Two things usually stop us: time and money. I can’t give you more time, but I can help you make traveling a lot less expensive. The world’s too beautiful a place to let expensive flights stop you from seeing it.