“It’s dead. What’s next?”
A phrase that we hear increasingly these days in the world of travel hacking. But what is this world, and how do you fit into it? Over the years I’ve found many people overlapping into travel hacking and into other things, certain people have an eye for a deal. I’ve heard from enough corporate world frequent travelers who commit federal crimes like Structuring, and I can only imagine that there is the credit card fraudster out there who learned about the (soon to die) free one way on United.
It’s a melting pot, a microcosm of the world you live in. Different folks, different strokes. So when your world ends, is it game over for everyone, and everything, or is it time to look at what the others were doing and you discounted?
Travel Hacking is dying!
I know the phrase travel hacking annoys some people because it isn’t really hacking, but those people probably aren’t the most fun folk to hang around with in the pub anyway, so let’s ignore them, and embrace the term.
What is Travel Hacking?
It isn’t MS. And MS isn’t Churning. And Churning isn’t Reselling. And Reselling isn’t creating a service company that fits a pain point. Travel Hacking, is simply reducing the price of travel to make it more affordable. Sometimes it is insane, like being able to sign up for 6 BOA Alaska cards on the same day, and then redeem them for Emirates First Class with Limo. Obviously enough attention to each of those influence points will close them, but it doesn’t end Travel Hacking. If all points and miles went away tomorrow, and all that was left was a 10th night free from Hotels.com, a savvy travel hacker would be all over it.
There’s too much regret, and bitterness out there right now. A few things died, and people are frustrated and angry.
It’s all about perception
If you truly loved the old ways, it is hard to move on, to evolve. But if you want to continue reaping the benefits of that time, you need to adjust. The best solution to being able to adjust to change is to inoculate yourself from the downside risk. I talk about this constantly with people who are invested in the stock market. It is fine to have exposure, but you should never allow enough risk to touch your portfolio that can harm you in the event of a downturn. People naturally focus on the benefits of a bull market, and don’t set up the boring, less rewarding, defensive positions. Sometimes these actually cost money, or lost returns, for a while, but they protect you when you need it.
For travel hacking, my inoculation advice is to reduce your need for it. At the last two presentations I spoke at I discussed the mLife gig. It’s not that this gig is magic, it is just that if you wander into Vegas and don’t create like this, you miss opportunities. That gig, along with a couple of similar ones I built over the past 3 years, plus a little ‘twist’ I put into it recently mean that I have cruise offers from 5 companies at any one time. This means that if we took an epic cruise every 3 months, we’d be good for the next 18 months of travel, just needing a positioning flight to get there.
Earning more than ever
Despite these gigs working out really well (if you like cruises that is.. and if you do, one of them is on Crystal starting at about $12,000 and going up from there) I’m finding that I’m earning more than ever with points and miles. It might be that I never really went balls to the walls like the heavy hitters, but this year I expect to earn about 500K-1M in TYP, MR, UR, without doing very much in the way of new applications. That should cover the flights.. so I’m good. And last year was good, because, again, all my travel was covered. So it’s all good, and one, day, when it stops being good, it will have been a great time, and I will consider myself blessed.
There isn’t really a secret to what I’m doing. For the cruises and whatnot, I’ve explained it all. I was willing to invest $4K to test a theory, I’ve explained it, and it worked. Really well. In addition to all the other travel, I’ll likely be heading back to Vegas for an accounting conference later this year and while I’m there, I’ll get the airport Limo, Penthouse, and the tasting menu with wine pairing plus some change (change being more than the best signup bonus on a card out there, with none of the fuss).
In terms of earning more than ever, I’m exploring reselling. All I can tell you is that it is far more lucrative than MS, even for the heavy hitting crowd. My edge here is automation and efficiency, since I need it to take up the smallest amount of time, hopefully I’ll be able to explain more about that in some future posts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m working my backside off overall, but that is how it should be if you want to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
So is it really all dead?
Most of the crap you read is dead. But opportunities abound. Personally, I’m continuing my streak of not paying for travel, and I’m actually earning more than ever before, which means that devaluations are acceptable. Additionally, for the first year (the worst year?) I’m getting to experience seriously high end travel and life experiences, for free. So, yes, the King is Dead. Long Live the King.