So I haven’t seen any family travel hacking beginner’s guides out there, so I thought I might try my hand at one. As my family has grown from two to three to four, our travel needs have changed. Strategies that worked to get my wife and I into first class flights are less relevant now.
On the other hand, strategies for how to make travel as smooth and painless as possible are way more relevant now; as every parent knows logistics go a long way to avoiding the much dreaded meltdown. Saving time and energy has skyrocketed up my priority list and saving (the maximum amount) of money and enjoying maximum comfort has taken a seat on the backburner.
So join me Mondays and Wednesdays (hopefully) as we take a look at tips and tricks to maximize your travel with your family while saving as much money as possible. Each post in this guide will have some kind of concrete action step to take you one step closer to your travel goals. As a bonus, I’ve published the first post in the series already. In the meanwhile, here’s a little FAQ about the series.
What is travel hacking?
For the purposes of this guide, I will be defining travel hacking very loosely as anything that makes traveling with your family cheaper, more comfortable, or more convenient. While the majority of this guide will focus on using miles, points, and cashback to cut down the costs of travel, I also will spend a few posts discussing the things that I believe can make traveling with kids go more smoothly (e.g., emergency bags for infants and toddlers).
Who is this guide for?
In general, I’m writing this guide with strategies catering to people looking for four tickets. Obviously that conventionally can be a family of four, but if a strategy works for four it will usually work for two or one. Things get much more complicated for four people so what I talk about might not be the best practice if you’re traveling solo. I’m hoping everyone can get something out of the guide, whether it’s reminders for veterans or support for people just getting into the game. This is a resource, but it isn’t meant to be comprehensive.
In addition, this is written for people with little time (or at least those not willing to devote all their free time to such things). I am a dad with young kids, so I will be writing about some of the trade offs that I feel need to be made in order to maximize your time with your family while still engaging in travel hacking on the side. If you have tons of free time to devote to this hobby, there are plenty of other blogs that will help you use that time for maximum savings: this is for those of you with limited time and resources!
What is the end goal for this guide?
Ever since I started learning about travel hacking with miles and points, my goal has been to take 2-3 international trips a year with my family. To give the guide a purpose to aim towards, it will be written with a single goal in mind: a vacation for four with your family (or any four people, really) booked and executed using travel hacking techniques. It’s a broad goal, but it should be enough to give the posts a purpose to focus on.
What topics will this guide cover?
My goal is for this guide to cover all the basics you need to know to really get into the travel hacking game. It will be written with the above goal in mind and cover a range of topics. A bulk of the posts will be on earning points through credit cards and utilizing those points to book award travel using the various frequent flyer programs. We’ll cover the basics of those programs, but as I said above we can’t get into every nuance and trick. We’ll also touch upon some hacks for making your actual vacation run more smoothly (e.g., minimizing meltdowns and keeping your kids happy).
Is travel free?
When I started this blog almost four (!) years ago, all the talk was about how you could fly in business and first class for little or no cost. I totally bought into that line of thinking, and in some (vague) senses it’s true. When I first started, my wife and I were able to fly a couple flights in international first class per year without spending more money than we normally did in our daily lives. This was all “free” except for the cost of taxes and fees.
Like all things in life, things aren’t quite that simple. With a family, things are definitely not that simple. The best I can say is that if you follow along with this guide, you’ll get ideas for how you can save money, use the same amount of money to travel more and more comfortably, or something in between. It definitely won’t be free; at the very least you will consume a lot of time. But in the end you will have the opportunity to travel with your family and save some money on the final sticker price – not too shabby!
Family Travel Hacking Guide Index