When I first started Travel Hacking, I was all about accumulating miles and points without really having a concrete goal on how I want to spend them. About 6 months after I started, I had over 1 million miles/points and continued to work on increasing my total. With the use of AwardWallet, it was easy to keep track of my stash. It was all a game for me and I did not want to see my total dwindle. As I reached close to 2 million miles/points, a revelation happened..
I was coming back from deployment and me and Rac were planning our mini Asian tour. I had planned to buy a revenue ticket from Fairbanks, Alaska to Manila (to get more miles of course!) when I saw that the prices were a little too high for my taste. At first, I didn’t want to spend my miles to secure a flight but then I thought, what is the point of it all? Isn’t the reason I’m spending countless hours trying to hack the system to experience traveling in style? Finally, I decided I was going to use my miles to get the flights. I started my research and after getting tips from fellow Flyertalk.com members, I called Delta to book my trip.
Now, I’ve redeemed plenty of award flights for myself, family and friends but this was the first one that was over 100k and had a complex routing. After countless phone calls, I was able to secure my ticket. The routing was FAI-SEA-LAX-ICN-MNL-CAN-LAX-SEA-FAI. For those of you who are confused, these are the airports that I will be flying into to get to my destination. I was able to try Korean Air A380 Business Class as well as China Southern Business Class along with other products.
After my first major redemption, I finally realized that the game becomes so much more enjoyable when I actually put the miles to good use instead of just looking at my miles/points balance every day. From that point on, I started booking trips/stays left and right. I was constantly working on getting my balance as low as possible. You see, miles/points depreciate each and every year. It’s just a matter of supply and demand. As more people get miles/points, the harder it is to secure flights or stays. Also, the airline and hotel companies continue to increase the number of miles/points required for bookings.
Here are some highlights of what I’ve been able to book so far:
Business Class ticket from Fairbanks, Alaska to Manila trying out the Korean Air A380.
First Class tickets on Cathay Pacific LAX-HKG-MNL-HKG-LAX (over $15,000 value)
2 Business Class Tickets on China Airlines LAX-MNL-LAX (over $6k value)
2 tickets for my parents to go and see Paris, France. Only 60k miles total roundtrip with US Air off-peak award!
4 night stay at Conrad Centennial Singapore. Over $250 a night!
6 night stay at Conrad Rangali Island, Maldives. Over $1500 a night! 😮 (hands down, our favorite redemption)
2 tickets KTM-BKK-SIN-MNL with a night to explore Bangkok for me and Rac.
First Class tickets on an Asiana flight from LAX to Manila and Singapore A380 on the return (over $6k value)
8 night stay at Hilton Northolme Resort & Spa, Seychelles. Retails at over $600 a night!
First Class tickets on Asiana and Thai Airways A380 as well as flights on Brussel Airways, Lufthansa and Swiss in their premium cabins. All this in one award redemption! VCE-BRU-FRA-ICN-MNL-BKK-FRA-ZRH-VCE!
Right now I am sitting at a little over 150k miles/points left on all the programs and can’t be any happier. I keep a spreadsheet of all the redemptions I’ve made and it has a total value of over $100k! I have earned and burned over 2.5 million miles and points in only a little over 2 years. In this time, I have given myself, family and friends trips that they never could’ve taken without my miles and points. Me and Rac are constantly amazed on the trips we can take with this newfound hobby.
Right now, I am constantly looking at ways not only to earn more miles but also, how I can spend them. It’s been a really great 2-year run and I feel blessed to have found this hobby to fund our insatiable appetite to travel and experience new things. I would’ve never dreamed of taking flights that have showers, suites, bars, mini-malls and all the Dom Perignon and caviar I want! Or staying in a 5-star resort in the middle of nowhere that retails for over $1500 a night for free! Or getting a personal chauffeur to drive you in a pimped out Benz straight to the tarmac for your flight. Or getting a Spa treatment in a First Class Lounge while waiting for your next flight.. I think that this is what makes Travel Hacking such an amazing hobby. It takes you to places you’ve only seen in pictures, experience things that you only dreamed about and it makes flying that much more enjoyable. So far, it’s made our travel dreams become reality.