The vast expanse and unbridled beauty of the Alaskan wilderness is a destination that calls to thousands of travelers every year. Not you, you say? Ok, let’s try a few more reminders of why we are doing this:
Ahh yes, glad we are all on the same page now.
So now that you have done your research and are completely up to speed with the basics of airline routing, central hubs, rewards programs and your credit worthiness, now we will get into the top tools that I use to manage and participate in the travel hacking world.
Evernote: I use Evernote for almost everything, but in this case, I keep a dedicated notebook for traveling and travel hacking. This notebook contains notes for upcoming vacations I want to keep an eye on, any research on travel that I am working on. The main usage when it comes to travel hacking is a dedicated note that documents all of mine and my wife’s frequent flyer numbers and rewards numbers with their associated logins for quick and easy access when signing up for promotions or entering in contests to win miles/points.
LastPass: I use LastPass on my desktop and laptop so that no matter which computer I am on, my usernames and passwords are all available to be auto-filled and saved securely. I also use LastPass’ feature to auto-fill forms. This makes it easy when entering contests, applying for credit cards or filling out basic information. Also if I am ever not on one of my computers, I have access to my vault online at http://www.lastpass.com, just like with Evernote.
GMail: GMail is my primary email client. It syncs with my Android phone, my Mac OSX mail client and so much more. It also allows me to use labels and filters to specifically filter out all of the emails I receive from the various rewards programs into a specific label/folder. This comes in very handy as I can dedicate time to sift through the emails from the rewards programs at my leisure, not having every email hit my inbox. This is also good practice with other services in which you get a lot of email from but is not 100% pertinent to your everyday productivity.
Award Wallet: After being turned onto Award Wallet back in January 2011, this site has been invaluable for tracking rewards programs points. The website offers the ability to also track rewards information for more than one person too, so I can track all the rewards programs in my name, as well as those in my wife’s name, all from the same interface. Currently, the site is web-based only, however, Android and iPhone applications are currently being developed as Award Wallet continues to grow and gain more ground as it garners more attention from the media and users.
Google Reader: Like Evernote above, I use Google Reader for a lot of things, but in relation to travel hacking, it is my insight into getting updates and blog posts surrounding the topic in and easy to read manner. Google Reader makes it easy, I don’t have to remember to go visit 3-4 websites and read up on the daily updates, these updates are delivered to one central place and I on;y have to open 1 application or 1 website. Here is a third party guide to getting started with Google Reader for Beginners.
Recommended Google Reader Reading
- RSS Feed 1 - Frugal Travel Guy - Rick is one of the forefront experts in the Travel Hacking/Frugal Travel industry. In his blog, he details his exploits and adventures in travelling frugally either through heavily discounted travel or free, rewards-based travel. He also makes it a point to explain things to “rookie travelers” and those just getting started in the game. He talks about credit worthiness and how to effectively get the most points, almost always drawing on his own experiences to show the success stories.
- RSS Feed 2 - The Points Guy -Brian is another expert in the field. While him and Rick typically offer some of the same offers and promotions that are out there, Brian’s website is straight and to the point. Just the deals and information you need, nothing more, and that is why I consistently read his blog, and why you should too.
- RSS Feed 3 - View from the Wing – Gary is another go-to guy in this field. Recently leaving the ranks of FlyerTalk to start up MilePoint (community based online forums). His blog offers up various rewards that come across his desk, as well as reviews of hotels and flights he is on. The site is more all inclusive reviews and rewards for the traveler, which also makes it a must visit on my travel hacking blog list.
Travel Hacking Cartel: The only tool or tip for travel hacking that I actually pay for. Founded by Chris Guillebeau, a renowned master in this realm, the THC offers 3 levels of membership. I am currently on the Economy plan, $15/mo for email updates the instant that new deals are released. I will spend $180 this year on THC, which is the cost of an off season, round trip, domestic airline ticket. In 4 months with THC, I have already racked up over 200,000 miles. That is the equivalent to 8 round trip domestic airline tickets. Yeah, you get your money’s worth.
With all of these tools in your arsenal, you should be completely up to speed with all of your rewards programs, with easy access to all of them, as well as a straight forward method to track and maintain all the award points you are getting ready to rack up.
The real take away from all of these tools is Award Wallet and the Travel Hacking Cartel. Award Wallet is an absolutely stellar product that centralizes almost everything and honestly I could not live without. The Travel Hacking Cartel is what makes miles/points earning so easy and really helped initialize me into this travel hacking world by providing a constant stream of miles/points earning offers. I cannot recommend their service enough.
Stay tuned for the next installment where I will detail how I have earned over 200,000 miles without ever leaving the comforts of my house and how you can earn EVEN MORE, as the points game is heating up with many new partners offering huge bonuses.
And just for grins, one more reminder. You can go here for FREE:
I hope you are as excited about this as I am, because just talking about this makes me hungry for more miles and more travel opportunities!
Questions about these tools, how they are used or any related questions, please feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to help you get started.