How I Stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Taipei (& Hotels Everywhere) for Free

How I Stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Taipei (& Hotels Everywhere) for Free

My parents recently had a wedding near in Taipei. Being that we live over an hour and a half north, my mom wasn’t fond of the thought of having to travel all the way back home late after the wedding. If the wedding ended at 10:00pm, they would get home at around midnight exhausted.

But my dad wasn’t also too fond of shelling out $200-300 for a hotel room nearby the wedding venue either. The area around is very expensive.

Since it was recently Mother’s Day and Father’s day, I had an idea for a small gift.

In this post, I discuss how I’m able to stay at 4-5 Star Hotels for free.

I always start with the big 3 expenses in traveling. To travel for cheap, you’ll need to save on Flights, Accommodation, and Transportation. The better deal you’re able to find for all 3, the more money you’ll be able to save.

Hotel Mileage:

Staying in hotels for free basically comes down to just having points and knowing how to utilize it. Note that this is a very basic (for newbies) discussion on Hotel Mileage and point. Really, it could get a lot more complex but I’ll keep this discussion simple and for the everyday Joe who doesn’t want to spend hundreds of hours studying points.

For this booking, I looked through my Hotel Mileage inventory to see what I could find. Lo, and behold, I found I could book a night at the Hotel the wedding was held at – The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei with rates starting at nearly $7,000NT ($250) a night.

The total mileage required was only 15,000 Hyatt points, which is a pretty good redemption rate. Additionally, had I not had Hyatt points, I could have also transferred from Chase Ultimate Points.

If you don’t have Hotel Mileage, it’s quite likely you may have Chase Ultimate Points if you use any Credit Card with Chase. You could also transfer those points over.

How to Acquire Hotel Mileage:

The easiest and quickest way to acquire a lot of hotel mileage is through Credit Cards.

I know different questions immediately come into play…

Will this affect my Credit? Short answer is very minimal so long as you pay off your balances on time.  Feel free to do more research if you don’t believe me.

Now keeping track of cards is a different story.

Is there a minimum spend? Yes, but with some planned spending this is actually very simple and even more so for hotel Credit Cards since the minimum spend is anywhere from $1,000 – $3,000 in 3 months.

Isn’t there an annual fee with the Card? This is definitely a valid question and under most circumstances, I would say to avoid Credit Cards with annual fees as they can really stack up at the end of the year!

However, here is where I only recommend certain Hotel Credit Cards. These are the Cards that with a free anniversary night, which basically means you can stay at one of their hotels for free each year.

That perk in it of itself makes the annual fee well worth it. But on top of that, there are usually other perks such as upgraded rooms, status, freebies, etc.

What are the Credit Cards with free anniversary night?

IHG Card

Marriott Card

Hyatt Card

SPG Card

There’s also the Hilton & Ritz-Carlton that I know of. However, I would recommend those as the annual fee or spending requirement to get a free night is way too high for it to be worth having the Card (in my opinion).

Why Get Those Cards?

In addition to the free anniversary night you get each year, the sign-up bonus itself is usually quite lucrative and can get you up to 5-6 solid nights at one of their hotels (depending on the category and location of where you redeem your points).

If you have four of the card I mentioned above, you’ll have nearly a month worth of hotel night stays from just the bonus alone.

But I think the best perk is being able to stay 4 nights at any hotel for free each year after the first year.

Even if you don’t travel often, you can gift it to friends or family, you can take a fun staycation near home, or you can just have a backup at your disposal when you need it like what occurred recently for us.

How Was Grand Hyatt Taipei?

Enough of the talk about Credit Cards! So how was the Grand Hyatt Taipei?

It was incredible! The room was very spacious. I was upgraded since I had one of the status levels from the Hyatt Credit Card. I didn’t get a photo of the room but our room had a large sofa set near the window. The amenities were awesome and had green tea infused soap.

Supposedly the buffet was pretty renowned but would have cost $990 NT (around $33). And since I’m on a diet, I opted not to eat at the buffet.

Location-wise, it was right next to Taipei 101. It was about a 5 minute walk. For tourists, it would have been an even nicer perk to have but for us it was a good place to grab a quick dinner at the food court in the basement.

The highlight of the stay was actually the hotel gym. It featured 3 large rooms for Cardio, Weights, and Yoga/Stretching. The views were nice and the equipment was awesome.

Honestly, the only downside of the hotel was everything would have been expensive to buy outside of the room itself. For example, the buffet was over $30. If you wanted to bring more than 2 people in the gym, it would cost $1500 NT a person (or over $45).

Fridge snacks/food and Room Service were all very expensive as well. But I guess it’s normal for hotels catering to people spending on a Corporate dime.

Would I come back? Heck yeah! But only if it’s free 🙂

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How I Traveled to Los Angeles, Taipei, & China for $4 [Travel Cheap]

How I Traveled to Los Angeles, Taipei, & China for $4 [Travel Cheap]

In this post, I discuss how I was able to travel cheap to Los Angeles, Taipei, and Xiamen for less than a cup of Starbucks. $4 included flight, accommodation, and transportation.

I went to Los Angeles for a site visit for work, then to Taipei to visit family and see my dentist, and then Xiamen for a business meeting.

Yes, the itinerary is certainly going to involve points but it was very minimal.

I always start with the big 3 expenses in traveling. To travel for cheap, you’ll need to save on Flights, Accommodation, and Transportation. The better deal you’re able to find for all 3, the more money you’ll be able to save.

Flights:

This begins to get pretty messy. For a lot of people, it’s probably not worth the hassle. For me, I love it. And believe me, I’ve had worse where I had to wear half my clothes onto a 14 hour flight (I did save a couple hundred bucks, mind you).

I started with an extensive search on Google Flights. Flying out of Dallas would have cost close to $1000 at the time for a crappy United flight.

The main airports flying with lower ticket prices to Taipei are usually LAX, SFO, JFK, HOU, and CHI.

Sometimes you can also snap super cheap tickets to HKG, BKK, SIN, PKG and then find cheap budget tickets around Asia from there.

When finding cheap flights, be weary of budget airline luggage policies, shady sites that have non-existent customer service, and weird transfers to other airports.

There are actually several other things to look out for to prevent you from having to go through hassles that aren’t worth a couple hundred bucks. And there are even some mistakes if you don’t know about can even backfire to where you end up paying more.

(Unfortunately I only know through experience. In the early days of my startup, I had to travel almost every week for meetings. We weren’t funded so I did whatever I could to save money).

Last thing is you always want to pencil in your trip in totality (at least the flight, accommodation, and transportation part of it). From start to finish before you book anything, you want to have all the pieces you need available and at a good price. Otherwise it’s going to cost you…

So after a bit of a search, I found a flight through LAX to TPE for $540. There was someone I was working with in LA that I needed to visit anyways so I could kill two birds with one stone.

LAX is notorious for poor TSA security and customs agents. However, the lounges are quite nice and the airport itself is quite comfortable, particularly if flying International.

(LAX Lounge)

It’s always risky to book separate domestic and international flights. I normally wouldn’t recommend it.

But in my case, I had some flexibility. I also checked flights from and back to DFW prior to booking my International flight and gave myself plenty of time on the transfers.

In these cases, lounge access does help quite a bit. That way you can shower, eat, and rest during the long layovers. I discuss how you can get lounge access in this post here.

From DFW to LAX, I found a $50 flight on American Airlines. It was an economy saver seat that normally allows you basically nothing but a seat and a backpack.

However since I was an AAdvantage Premium Card holder, it allowed me one check-in for free with priority boarding.

One luggage was all I needed anyways…

From LAX to TPE, I found a flight through Xiamen Airlines for $540. I’ve been to Xiamen a handful of times so I asked some people there about the airline. Overall, they had pretty positive experiences. And I could book directly through the Xiamen Airline site instead of some shady site. Good enough for me!

There was a layover in Xiamen, but it was perfectly fine too. I checked that I did have access to their lounges and could visit a manufacturer I’m working with in Xiamen.

Lastly, for my flight from LAX back to DFW, I found a cheap flight through Virgin airlines. I quickly checked my Virgin Elevate points balance against the cost to see if I could use points to save $70. I had enough to fly back on Virgin for a mere 2500 Elevate points plus $6 in fees.

Had I not had those elevate points, I would have definitely transferred my Chase Preferred Points over to snag the deal. Airline and Credit Card points are different. I discuss the difference in my post here.

My total cost from DFW > LAX and LAX > TPE, then TPE > LAX, and LAX > DFW with layovers in Xiamen so far was about $596.

I had found out a few months ago I had an old American Express Blue Sky card that had just over 45,000 points. The transfer value to cash was bad. But using it to reimburse travel credit was extremely valuable.

So the 45,000 points was just enough to cover all my flights ($600).

If you read through all of that, you’ll see how complex this quickly became. But for me, it’s become a pastime I enjoy. And I still think $1000 is quite a bit of money.

Plus, it didn’t take as much time as you’d think. I got to see more places, and do more things I needed to do.

 

Accommodations:

(Where I live – Taiwan)

 My parents have a place in Taipei so it was free.

Here’s a shameless plug: If you’re ever traveling to Taiwan after July of 2018, I know of a place here you can stay at for cheap.

Unlike the weird flights, the place will be pretty nice. It’s a newly built building by the beach in Northern Taipei with metro access to it by 2019.

Transportation:

The great thing about Taiwan is transportation is very convenient, easy, and cheap. You can get to most anywhere you need by the Metro Rail Transportation system (MRT). If you need to take a cab, it’s not too expensive.

At the airport, there’s a new MRT that takes you to the City. From there, you can take the MRT to wherever you need to go.

In Xiamen, it’s similar. Public buses are very convenient and cheap (around $1 a ride). Taxis are also very cheap to take as well.

In LA, public transportation isn’t as popular as driving. Note that I did rent a car for about $40 at LAX but I took advantage of a 5,250 points bonus offer with my United Card which has about a $70 valuation so I actually made money from the car rental. I didn’t include that in the travel cost.

Summary:

Overall, I had a really productive trip. I visited a site I needed to visit in Los Angeles, I saw my family in Taiwan, and had my meeting in China… all for less than a Grande Latte at Starbucks!

Would I do it again? Heck yes! Though mileage may not always work out the way it did, there’s certainly a lot you can do with transfers and various policies of both airlines and Credit Cards.

What are some of the ways you’ve saved money on travel?

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How I Booked my Family Flights to China for $16 [Travel Cheap]

Recently, my parents wanted to visit Hangzhou and Suzhou. When they were young, they had studied literature that illustrated the beauty in both places. On top of that, there were a lot of rich history in the Cities that were thousands of years old.

In my mind (having been there over 10 years ago), I just thought of a huge lake (West Lake in Hangzhou) and lots of silk factories in Suzhou.

There was also a church they had wanted to support. The church ministry had impacted them over the years with their radio broadcast.

In this post, I discuss how I was able to help my parents and sister travel for cheap to Hangzhou and Suzhou. Total cash spent was less than $1000 which included flight, accommodation, and transportation.

I always start with the big 3 expenses in traveling. To travel for cheap, you’ll need to save on Flights, Accommodation, and Transportation. The better deal you’re able to find for all 3, the more money you’ll be able to save.

Flights:

Flights at the time were around $600 a person. For 3 people, cost would be about $1800. But being the great son I am ;), I got to work on finding a better deal.

I knew my parents had some inventory of miles because I’ve been proactive in telling them which Credit Cards to sign up for.

First, I searched Google Flights, a few travel sites, and then thought of all the possibilities of using mileage.

I know United Awards can sometimes have pretty good deals traveling within Asia so I searched there. Lo and behold, there was a Saver Award at just 8,000 miles each way to Hangzhou. 16,000 miles RoundTrip was a steal!

I checked with my parents and they had about 40,000 miles left which was enough for 2 tickets and they would just need 8,000 miles more.

That wasn’t a problem as Chase Ultimate Miles transferred to United so I transferred 8,000 miles over for the 3rd ticket for my sister.

Total fees were about $16. The total mileage used were 40,000 United Miles + 8,000 Chase Ultimate Miles.

48,000 miles was a fantastic redemption rate, given my parents would have had to shell out $1800 for the flights.

Accommodations:

My mom had a friend who had a cousin who owned an Airbnb in Hangzhou. Each night was a little less than $100.

The only downside was the place was far from the airport (1 hour+) and there was less privacy as the landlord lived in one of the bedrooms of the Airbnb. Hangzhou is so huge though, so 1 hour rides weren’t too out of the ordinary.

The upsides of staying at the Airbnb were we got a more local experience. We learned more about the local culture and food and we got to understand more of Hangzhou through a local’s eyes.

In Suzhou, we booked a 5-star hotel for about $70/night which is pretty cheap for a 5-star hotel!

The breakfast wasn’t all that desirable but Hangzhou and Suzhou are notorious for having less-than-par breakfasts. I’d recommend just going out on your own and finding a bite to eat.

On our last night back in Hangzhou (as we were flying out from Hangzhou), I used 10,000 IHG points to book a Holiday Inn Express.

The hotel itself was new and quite nice but the “Express” booking was for a smaller building right next door that did not have the amenities of the main building.

The Holiday Inn Express building did not have a gym, the lounge I had been looking forward to as a Platinum Member of IHG, and some of the other amenities I don’t normally use like the Spa or Office.

While I was disappointed, it was hard to complain having only spent 10,000 IHG miles (which is very little for IHG).

Transportation:

Transportation in Hangzhou and Suzhou varies greatly in price.

While there are certainly much cheaper options using public transportation such as their buses, it’s difficult to try and plan that with my sister, who has a disability. So we usually opted to take taxis.

Taxis in Hangzhou were pricey, namely because the City has become so huge that getting anywhere requires a longer distance travel. On average, our rides were around 70-200 RMB for a 30 minutes – 1 hour ride.

Most taxis are regulated very well by the government so there shouldn’t be issues of taxis ripping people off. However, there are still the “black cars” to watch out for as it’s not regulated by the government.

My parents took one of those black cars near West Lake and were charged about 30% more than they should have paid.

The nice thing about traveling between Hangzhou – Suzhou – Shanghai are the high speed trains. They’re fairly cheap at around 100 RMB for a Roundtrip ticket. However, they are very difficult to book if you’re a tourist and not from the area.

It’s usually best to book tickets online since tickets sell out very quickly and likely may not be available for a while if you just show up at the station. They will require passport and other information. The websites are in Simplified Chinese.

Overall Thoughts from the Trip:

China has vastly expanded and rapidly developed since the last time I visited about 10 years ago. It’s insane to see how huge and wealthy the country has become.

China also has progressed technologically and has one of the most efficient systems for payment – WeChat. You can literally pay for just about anything using your phone. Cabs, restaurants, stores, friends, you name it.

Skyscrapers, highways, public transit systems are incredible and vast.

The only downside?

Despite how advanced China has become, I would definitely still label it as one of the dirtier places. Unfortunately, it’s just hard to change culture and certain behaviors.

There’s smoke & cigarette butts littered just about everywhere, bathrooms are filthy, and overall it’s just not pleasant walking out and about in public.

It was still cool to see how China has developed though. Would I visit again? Possibly… I’d just be sure to bring a mask the next time.

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How to Travel to Myanmar for Less [Travel Cheap]

I recently traveled to Myanmar to visit an orphanage my friend was helping out for 3 months.

To save money on travels, I employed every trick up my sleeve.

I always start with the big 3 expenses in traveling. To travel for cheap, you’ll need to save on Flights, Accommodation, and Transportation. The better deal you’re able to find for all 3, the more money you’ll be able to save.

Flights:

For Flights, I found my flights using a simple Google Search on Google Flights. I input the dates and destinations I needed. The only thing I did outside of what Google Flights can do was I played around with different possible destinations and is how I ended up finding a deal a lot cheaper with a layover in Singapore.

Of course, the cheapest deal I was able to find involved a number of Budget Airlines.

I utilized 5 budget Airlines in Asia to fly to where I needed to go. This was my first time flying on Budget Airlines in Asia. I’ve traveled a lot on Spirit in the U.S. before so knew a bit of what to expect. But nonetheless, I definitely still encountered things I had to learn.

For this trip, I flew:

AirAsia from Taipei > Yangon

Yangon Airways from Yangon > Lashio (Note** local flights in Myanmar required a local travel agency to help book the flight so I was NOT able to use Google Flights for this)

Air KBZ from Lashio > back to Yangon (Note local flights in Myanmar required a local travel agency to help book the flight)

Jetstar Airlines from Yangon > Singapore (I was meeting up with family in Hangzhou and it was cheaper to fly to Singapore first)

Scoot from Singapore > Hangzhou

Air China from Hangzhou > back to Taipei (I used just 8,000 United Miles + ~$7.00 USD)

The last flight required a bit more advanced knowledge of mileage usage and the inventory of miles I had. I knew United had good short flight deals and from Hangzhou > China was the most expensive ticket.

I had some United mileage left but could have also transferred Chase Ultimate miles.

Lo, and behold, there was an award flight using United Mileage that saved me around $300!

 

(In case you were wondering what my flight map looked like)

Total cost for 6 flights to 4 cities and back?

A little over $500. $250 of that was from the local Yangon > Lashio flights.

AirAsia was around $70

Jetstar was $60

Scoot was $150

Air China – I snagged a deal on United Awards for just 8,000 miles, which is an incredible redemption rate. Again, I could have transferred Chase Ultimate Miles if I needed it but I had just enough United Miles left!

Not to mention, I also used the same redemption for my family (parents + sister) to fly to Hangzhou for 16,000 United Miles. For them, I had to transfer a bit of Chase Ultimate Miles but it was cheap!

What’s the Catch with Budget Airlines?

The BIG catch… was not being able to bring much (in essence, not having anything but a backpack).

I actually brought a carry-on initially, having thought there was a 7kg limit.

The policies for these budget airlines, I learned though, was 7kg INCLUDED the weight of everything in your backpack. If you only have a backpack, they don’t bother weighing it.

At the airport, I found out about the carry-on + backpack weight limit policy. To add a carry-on, it would have cost almost $100 USD. I ended up opting to ship back my carry-on to where I lived. Fortunately, at the airport there was a shipping service.

The funny story was I actually tried putting on a bunch of clothes and even threw away some of my food… unfortunately to no avail and ended up still having to ship back the carry-on.

Lesson learned: If you want to travel budget airlines and actually save a significant amount of money, be prepared to only have a backpack.

Accommodation:

At Yangon, hotels are very cheap. I used Priceline to search for good hotels with good reviews.

It’s important to look for hotels with not only good user reviews but location. Even not really knowing Yangon well, I looked for a place not too far from the hotel and not too far from some of the sites I had wanted to possibly see.

Often, traveling is a more holistic thing where you want to account for as much as possible before you book everything.

Hotels in Yangon were anywhere from $20-40/night. And if you find the right hotel, they are quite nice. The one I booked was about $40/night. Most come with breakfast, decent wifi, and pretty clean rooms.

I think the only thing to note in Asia is generally beds are smaller… particular if you book a double room. They typically use Twin Beds instead of Queen Beds.

Also, I’d recommend just paying for hotels in Asia since they’re relatively inexpensive. Had I been traveling in the US or Europe, I’d definitely consider Airbnbs, using Hotel rewards, or other alternatives.

Transportation:

Transportation in Yangon is convenient with GrabTaxi. Most cab rides should cost you around 3,000-10,000 kyat which is only a few bucks.

It’s best to use the App GrabTaxi to lessen the chances of getting scammed.

At Lashio, where I spent most of time at the Orphanage, transportation was a lot trickier. Luckily, we had a local contact who brought us on motorcycle or their local pick-up trucks.

Total Cost & Savings:

The total for my trip including flights, accommodation, transportation, and food/miscellaneous costs came to about $900 (including the $50 Myanmar Visa required) for about 7 days which is considerably lower than what most people would have to pay. Under normal circumstances, the trip should have easily cost more than $3,000.

The last thing I wanted to do was to be a “burden” for the orphanage so I made sure I had everything squared as best as I could.

It was awesome to be able to give more money than my travel expense to the orphanages I visited. They really had such a dire need. Many of the children ate only rice and hot sauce or noodles and hot sauce. They owned 2-3 pairs of clothing. And they lived in a shack where any inclement weather could blow their shelter down at anytime.

Personal Thoughts from My Trip to Lashio, Myanmar:

The ultimate twist though… and what really touched my heart to see was amidst the poverty, those kids genuinely believed they had the good life.

Though they did not have parents, they knew of their Creator who loved them. Though they didn’t have much, they had much more than other kids around them who lived in mountains and truly had absolutely nothing.

And out of that outflow of gratefulness, they shared what little they had with the kids who lived in even more remote and poor places.

I think more and more I’m drawn to be able to go and see things like this happening around the World — Particularly in a place like Myanmar that was closed to the outside world for so long.

While vacationing is fun, I really believe there’s also a lot of deep joy to be found traveling to places like this. And for that, I can’t wait for my next adventure…

An Opportunity to Give:

My friend, Tim, who lived at the orphanage for 3 months recently started a GoFundme 

I’ll let his summary provide more details but in short, he felt it’d be a good use of money to provide some of the disciples in Bible School a $50/month stipend for basic necessities (such as food, medicine, school supplies) as they study and learn more of God’s Word so they can be better equipped for ministry.

$50/month is equivalent to about a month’s salary on part-time wages in Myanmar.

I’ve personally seen the incredible love these disciples have for the Lord and the people around them. So much so, they went up to the most remote villages and came back sick, malnourished, and physically ill – all so that they can share the hope and love of Christ with people who have literally nothing.

I know these days it seems everyone’s asking for money and there are needs everywhere… but I truly believe God gives us not only the opportunity but the blessing to give.

After all, I believe all that we have is God’s anyways. Yet somehow we’re given resources to manage, share, and be a blessing to others.

I do believe these funds will make a lasting difference in the lives of not only the disciples but of the people in Myanmar whom the disciples plan to give their life to serving one day.

Let me know if I can answer any questions. And as always, I’d be happy to help you save money on your travels (for free) so perhaps one day we can give more and be an even bigger blessing for someone else!

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10 Ways to Save Money On Your Next Flight [Travel Tips]

10 Ways to Save Money On Your Next Flight [Travel Tips]

Having booked over 100+ trips in the last 7 years out of my own pocket, I know how important it is to be able to find and book cheap flights anywhere.

This is part of my series 101 Travel Tips & Hacks to help you travel cheap and save money.

Here, I show you my best methods to finding the cheapest airfare tickets anywhere.

1. Gauge Flight Costs:

I always start with Google Flights just to get an idea of how much flights are on certain dates. I like Google flights because you can easily adjust dates & locations and it aggregates the best prices from all the different airlines (with the exception of a few like Southwest).

When flying or traveling, the best way to getting cheap flights can be summed in one word: flexibility.

The more flexible you are, the more likely you’ll be able to find cheap flights.

A more advanced tool is the engine that powers Google Flights. The ITA Matrix Software has more features such as finding out fuel surcharges. This is particularly useful if you’re booking flights with points. An example is if you were to book British Airways, their fuel surcharges are usually insane! In fact, a lawsuit was won recently against BA for their notorious outrageous fuel surcharges.

2. Try Using Points:

The two hands down best usage of Points are: Traveling on Premium class cabins (Business or First class) or booking emergency flights. But in general, you can still save your cash by just using points even if not for the two reasons above.

Redemption value for Premium class cabins are significantly better with points. I would’ve never been able to (justifiably) fly Business Class if it weren’t for the use of points.

Generally, last minute tickets get extremely expensive. With points, the redemption usually remains the same which means it’ll save you a lot of money if you can use your points instead of cash.

Points can easily get complicated and if you’re not an avid points follower, here are some general guidelines:

  1. There are 2 main ways to acquire points. By the actual miles you fly on the air or points you acquire from Credit Cards. The latter is usually the easier way to collect enough points for redemption unless you just fly a lot.
  2. There are many different valuations for points but I’d say generally if you’re able to save $100 using 10,000 points, that’s usually a decent deal. Take it with a grain of salt as valuations do vary but it’s a good starting point.
  3. Credit Cards offer large bonuses these days that are basically enough for a flight just with the initial sign-up bonus. To me, it’s a great deal. But with it comes some things you should know about Credit Cards. NerdWallet came out with a really great article on 11 things to know about credit. In short, I think Credit Card bonuses are totally worth getting.

Quite frankly, points can take a lot more time to really understand. The last thing you want to do is use your points through the Credit Card’s points or award travel portal as the redemption rates is usually pretty bad.

The hard part is figuring out the most cost efficient way to use it. I’ve followed the points guy for years before finally having a better understanding of the entire system. Another resource that has a lot of great info on points and travel is Upgrade Points.

However, points have taken me far and saved me a tremendous amount of money. They are particularly useful for international flights that can cost well over $1,000. I’ve easily saved over tens of thousands of dollars using points.

3. Use Deal Sites:

Sometimes Google Flights may not offer the lowest price tickets. As such, you’ll want to check other deal sites (like Orbitz or Skyscanner, or Cheap-O-Air) as sometimes deal sites will be cheaper. I’ve also used Momondo.com.

Note* I would just be careful of shady deal sites (I’ve found some shady 3rd-party sites even recommended on Momondo actually). Always do a quick google search on consumer reports if you find a deal “too good to be true”. Whatever hassle you have to face with bad sites is not worth the money you save.

Also, note that Google Flights does not aggregate every airline. In fact, there are a number of airlines and flights that aren’t covered by Google. Southwest Airlines, Ryanair, Norwegian, Vueling, and EasyJet are some of the airlines not covered.

4. Book a Flight + Hotel Package

If you need a hotel with your stay, these days there are lots of great flight + hotel packages you can find on Orbitz, Priceline, Expedia, Travel Pirates, etc.

And yes, they are actually quite good deals! This is particularly useful if you don’t want to go through the trouble of finding accommodation and flights separately.

Is it the cheapest option? Probably not. Since these days, there’s Airbnb, several hotel credit card options, and even deal sites for hotels.

But it does save you money and is cheaper than booking those flights and hotels separately. It’s also a hassle-free way to book your trip.

The only thing to note is flights offered for those deals often may not have the best flight times. Or the airlines they selected may have certain baggage policies. Just be weary of the possible pitfalls of certain budget airlines that I talk about more below.

 

5. Search Nearby Airports:

If you know how to search nearby airports, you can find cheap flights and save a lot of money as well. The below shows a flight from Dallas to San Jose. The cheapest flight on Google is $486 but if I just flew to Oakland Airport or even San Francisco Airport on those exact dates, I can save almost $300.

Google Flights actually helps identify nearby airports sometimes but not always…

Oakland Airport is only about a 30 minute drive from San Francisco Airport. And San Francisco Airport is only about a 1 hour drive from San Jose Airport.

It gets a lot trickier internationally and is NOT recommended for families with kids. A lot of times the layover may not be worth the hassle, but I’ve personally saved thousands of dollars flying to a different country first before my final destination. And it’s fun to visit 2 countries instead of 1!

Search nearby airports at both your starting and ending destination. This may take some time and experience but it’s definitely worth it if you find a great deal.

5. Try a Budget Airline:

I’m actually a huge fan of budget airlines as they can save you a lot of money but only if you know how to navigate through their baggage policies.

Budget Airlines in Asia is almost on a different level than Budget Airlines in the U.S. Scoot & Asia Air have been tremendous experiences even with their strict policies and have saved me hundreds of dollars from the major carriers.

Below is an example of a budget airline that is over $100 less than the next cheapest flight.

Again, the key is just knowing how to travel with budget airlines.

Generally, the easiest way to not have to deal with any possible hassles is to only bring a backpack. The next best option is paying for your bag online. You just never want to risk paying for your bags at the airport.

More recently, major airlines have even adopted low-cost seats. It’s usually called basic economy or economy saver. American Airlines, United, and a number of major airlines have followed suit.

6. Be Careful of Airline Policies:

As mentioned, there are caveats to using budget airlines to find cheap flights. The main thing is to be acquainted with baggage policies (e.g. budget airlines like Spirit & Frontier and even budget seats like United’s Basic Explorer or American Airlines basic economy have extremely strict limitations on free baggage).

If you’re traveling with any baggage that you need to check-in, expect to add around $30 for the first bag. If you need another bag, the baggage fees goes up even more.

7. Use a Private VPN for International Bookings:

This is particularly useful if you’re traveling overseas. A lot of times, airlines will offer lower prices for local travelers than if your IP address is from the U.S.

This is why a lot of times people who live locally at a country you’re visiting can find better deals than you can if you’re living in the U.S.

8. Take Advantage of Stopovers:

This technique is slightly more advanced and best for international travel but if you just keep in mind that a lot of airlines offer free or low-priced stopovers, you can look into how you can fly to another destination for almost free.

9. Travel Subscription Plans

If you’re able to travel spontaneously, there’s also been a few subscription sites that have gotten popular really quickly because they scour the web to find really cheap deals!

Sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights or Dollar Flight Club has a dedicated team that searches the web for the cheapest deals and send it to your email inbox.  There’s a free subscription plan and a paid plan where you get all the deals every week. Millions of people have already subscribed so you know they must be doing something right!

10. Use a Special Travel Agent

Last, but not least, use a special travel agent. Note* the special makes it different from just another travel agent.

I’ve used travel agents in the past. The one downside I had with them was just not getting really spectacular deals. And I think perhaps because there are certain limitations of an agent (certain vendors, less flexibility, more hoops they have to jump through to book your tickets).

I find sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights and Dollar Flight Club different in that they don’t book tickets for you. They just find deals and send links for you to book yourself.

However, what they do well with deals, they lack in personalization. They send great deals to mass people but aren’t able to zoom in on individual needs.

That’s where a Special Travel Agent comes in. Basically someone who’s like the travel concierge service you would get with an American Express Platinum ($450 annual fee) or Black Card ($2500 annual fee).

Fortunately, these days you don’t need a $500 card to get that kind of service. Travel the World Box offers that service and on top of it, sends you useful gear every month starting at $20/month.

 

What are some of your techniques for finding cheap flights and great deals? I’d love to hear them.

If you found this article to be helpful, here are some other ways to travel for cheap:

101 Travel Hacks & Ways to Save Money and Travel Well, for Less

How To Travel Round the World For Cheap

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