The Deal Mommy

4 Travel Hacking Bad Habits I’m Ditching This Year (And What I’m Doing Instead)

It’s New Year’s: the traditional time to ditch bad habits and improve yourself. I’m sure you’ve seen all the FitBit and organization store ads. I’ve even told you about the give back box.  This year I’m taking a good look at my travel hacking habits and have found 4 that I’m chucking to the curb with the recycling. I’m also coming up with a replacement strategy that I hope will help you going forward. 

Travel Hacking Ditch #1: Less Status Hamster Wheel, More BYOE

No more December stays at the local Hyatt for stays 20-25 to achieve top tier status.  Especially not this year since stays would have to have occurred in February to beat the new program.  I’ve toyed with letting status go for years and decided 2017 is the year of Be Your Own Elite. If it’s not earned with a credit card or a status match, I’m letting it go. If I want a suite, club access, or breakfast I’ll pay for it. We could pay in points, cash, or even use the benefits of a friend. Whatever we do it will be less expensive overall than paying for stays we don’t need to earn “free” benefits. 

Speaking of using the benefits of a friend- Deal Girl thinks I’m a hero thanks to all of the Hyatt Mattress runs I’m doing for friends. She’s the only girl who gets on the bus with a tummy full of diamond breakfast. The math might still work for some, but it just doesn’t work for us anymore. I recommend you run some numbers before stepping back on the wheel this year. 

Travel Hacking Ditch #2: Less FOMO, More DGAF

FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) runs rampant through travel hacking and is the chief cause of Vendoming. I’d like to think myself immune but even I fall victim to Instagram envy from time to time. This year I’m especially vulnerable because the travel schedule is light due to the remodel.

I should mention that our “light” schedule means we only have six weeks booked- perspective much?  So this year I plan to fully embrace Matt’s concept of DGAF (Don’t Give A F$@) instead of worrying what everyone else is doing. The best lesson I learned from 2016 came from a poem carved into the wall at an elementary school in Puerto Plata:

things I learned in 2016

Words to live by. Translated (loosely) How beautiful is the person who lets their imperfection show and never pretends to be who he is not.

In other words: You do you. The rest is just noise. 

Travel Hacking Ditch #3: Less Collecting, More Convertibles

The only constant I see in the travel hacking space is change. With that in mind the strategy that makes sense is to stop collecting points in a bunch of random programs and to focus on the convertibles: Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, Starpoints and good old cash. Before you apply for another card, think long and hard about how it fits into your travel hacking strategy. 

I’m especially bullish on cards that give more on flexible travel spend like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I just signed up for that one for both myself and Deal Dad. If you have a Chase branch near you you have until March to get the 100K signup bonus (direct non-affiliate link). $450/year with a $300 travel credit for 100K ultimate rewards points?  Total no-brainer for us. 

Travel Hacking Ditch #4:Less Blogs, More Friends

One of the best moves I made for 2016 was focusing more on friendships in the travel hacking community. By coming out from behind the keyboard I learned much more than I could have reading. So while it’s not in my pageview best interest, I’m going to recommend you also focus on more IRL (in real life) efforts and less time reading the same post written by 10 different bloggers. You’ll get what you need (and if you miss an occasional deal you’ll get the next one) and have more time to do, well, you. 

What travel hacking bad habits are you ditching? Please share in the comments. 

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network. 


25 thoughts on “4 Travel Hacking Bad Habits I’m Ditching This Year (And What I’m Doing Instead)

  1. Becky

    I’ve been struggling with #2 as well this year, with a good example being Cuba. Do I want to go because of the current hype? Because everyone else is going? Or because I legitimately want to visit?

    I think it’s a bit of all three, but choosing where and how to travel should be decided based on your own choices. It’s good to be inspired by others but not to blindly follow them.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      I get it, especially in the context of Tashir’s recent post about Cuba. I have the same feeling about Scandinavia, which I think also challenged you.

    2. bluecat

      In my case, I’ll add a 4th: bragging rights.

      Once I realized what I was doing, I stopped planning that trip. Happy to have a fantastic (for me, anyways!) substitute: China.

    1. bluecat

      I imagine the flipside of Vendoming: that there are French desk clerks at the Vendome who crease over in laughter every time they get an American booking a room on points. (And all of these guys are celebrating an anniversary or something special!)

      They probably have a term for that too! Maybe it’s the translation of “ConnivingAmericanVacationeers” perhaps?


  2. MickiSue

    I especially appreciate the DGAF sentiment, as I’ve been practicing it ever since we got the A+ card. It’s lost a bit of its shine, d/t devaluing to 2.1% for travel. But we would never have stayed at all inclusives in Jamaica, anyway, so why not stay at the family run guest house, with made to order breakfast for two, al fresco, and a short hop to the Blue Lagoon?

    In less than two weeks, we’ll be at the lovely Hotel Irma in Zihuatenejo, with an ocean view room for only 8000 points a night. Of course, already paid for with the A+. The best part of travel, to me, is getting the feel for a place that you just cannot get from the restaurant of an Intercontinental.

    I love your descriptions of the houses, castles and hotels where you stay, because they are places from which to enjoy your destination, not check off a list of “I stayed there.”

    Now I’m wondering if anyone needs any mattress running this month, to get it over with, in the Twin Cities. Starting tomorrow, cooking in a kitchen with remodeling going on will be…a challenge.

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  4. Grado

    Sometimes wanting to do what everyone else is doing turns out well. We didn’t especially want to go to east Asia but wanted to experience first class on those flights. The trip was awesome, beyond the flights. Seeing Komodo dragons, etc…a great “accidental” surprise destination.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Glad to hear. When your goal to fly international first class, it’s all good. You’re right- then the trip is gravy.

  5. Kenny @ And Seek...

    I’m ditching hoarding for hoarding’s sake. My object this year to cover all travels with the miles and points I have stashed over the last few years. Also I want to better balance my excitement for travel and experiences with personal finance, as when I started out a few years back, I was not paying enough attention to the finance part of it.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Great points. We focus so much on earning that it gets hard to spend them. And then we forget that Travel is NOT free- even with miles and points.

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  7. Jason

    Fantastic post! I’ve been following many of these same strategies the last year or so myself, and my travel has been much richer because of it.

    …not least of all because I got to finally meet people like you!

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