Recently, everyone’s favorite reporter over at CNN had an AC360° contributor write this post: The Beginner’s Guide to Travel Hacking. To clue you in, travel hacking is not the same as computer hacking, though it is just as cool – and if you bring your iPod, you can listen to just as much ’90s techno music a la some rogue computer programmer.
In short, travel hacking is traveling on the cheap. It’s how people with only a little income can travel first class, and still have enough money to spend after battling the currency conversion. There are a lot of ways to find tricks and shortcuts in the system as well as live a life with a small footprint – and it’s all legal. It just involves a little bit of dedication, time, and a willingness to leave certain habits and behaviors behind. If you have the travel bug, travel hacking means you don’t have to wait until that trust fund kicks in or you get your next raise to see the world. For the experienced but cautious traveler, or even for the beginner, Mr. Cooper’s latest AC360° post has all the tips you’ll need to get going.
First, you can start by budgeting. If you really want to go somewhere, but can’t pull yourself away from “normal life”, follow the blogger’s suggestion and start saving $2 a day. After two or three years, this can turn into over $1,000.
You can also accrue frequent flyer miles – partly by flying, but mostly by looking for other “on ground promotions”. This might mean finding banks that award frequent flyer miles for non-flying, every-day purchases. Also, if you have miles, you don’t just have to sit on the them. AC360° recommends finding “partner airlines”, or airlines that will honor miles from different airlines (like SkyTeam or OneWorld.)
There are also “fare glitches” you can seek out. This takes time, but AC360° recommends following FlyerTalk for ticket-price glitch updates. These come and go quickly, so you need to move before “the system” catches on. This will keep your traveling spontaneous – though you might also need to have luck on your side to really exploit this.
Most importantly, there is the lodging issue. Forums can help you get good deals on travel lodgings, though the less ambitious [Ed note: Fearless?] choose to go with Hostels.com or another recent cultural traveling phenomena, CouchSurfing.org. It’s not traditional, but when you’re traveling, you don’t go to other parts of the world just to sleep there. You go to be there.
If you’re Anderson Cooper, you may not need to “travel hack”, but most people aren’t Anderson Cooper [Ed. note: True]. If you’ve always wanted to go to London or New York or Mumbai, you don’t have to dream. The key is saving, searching for deals, and learning to live cheaply. It’s not so hard; it just takes time and a little imagination.