Pay a monthly fee, learn the secrets week in and week out, and score four free plane tickets a year through mileage programs and bonuses. Sound like a deal for you?
That’s the promise of The Travel Hacking Cartel from Chris Gillebeau. Coming from most other writers or marketers, I would dismiss this as a plan that’s going to crash and burn in less than a year. He’s got the credentials to make this bold claim though, so I think it just might work.
I’ve talked about Chris before. He’s been a blogger for many years, teaching people on his Art of Non-conformity site how to chuck the stupid job they hate and get what they really want out of life instead. He’s also an avid traveler, having set himself a goal to visit every single country on the planet within a few years. His Art of Non-conformity book that I reviewed earlier continues to be a hot seller and his e-books and seminars provide him with a comfortable living.
He writes a lot on the blog about travel hacking: the idea of getting lots more free flights than you are now by gaming the system. Not by doing anything unethical, but by taking full advantage of all the promotions, loopholes, and bonus mileage situations out there. For most of them, you don’t even have to fly to earn the “mileage.”
The cartel will provide a steady stream of video tutorials, deal alerts, and tips to help you rack up the miles. The idea is, it doesn’t take all that much time and effort to earn twice as many miles as you’re earning now: you just need some guidance.
I’m trying this cartel myself for the first time—it just launched today—so I can’t yet speak for how effective it is apart from my initial peek. Looking through the deals posted so far, I would guess that you could dig up much of this info yourself if you had the time and motivation, but it would require a lot of both. You’d have to read all the relevant mileage scoring blogs daily and spend a lot of time reading threads on the FlyerTalk message board. Plus some of the sites that have the best info on mileage deals tend to be paid sites anyway, like ExpertFlyer. Here you get it in a very pretty package, with lots of hand-holding tutorials.
The price on this Travel Hacking program is $15 to $39 a month depending on which tier you choose. That’s not cheap for sure, but if it does indeed result in you scoring a plane ticket each quarter, that’s a worthwhile investment. At the $25 tier, after three months, that $75 turns into $300 or more in plane ticket value—a lot more if you can amass enough for international tickets. (The top tier is mostly for mileage junkies and road warriors looking for upgrades.)
The math isn’t that simple of course. You’ll need to spend money on specific credit cards and get bonuses by doing actions like renting a car, eating at “dining for miles” restaurants or staying at a specific hotel chain on your next trip. But if you were doing those things anyway, it’s just behavior modification to attain a goal. In other cases you can just fill out a survey or do some other action that takes time, but not money.
I’m currently sitting on a free ticket from Southwest and enough for a Central American ticket from Delta—both partly achieved through my own travel hacking. So I know this stuff works. But I’m shy of that on several other airlines. So I’ll use this cartel a while and report back. Here’s what I’m trying: 1) Getting enough on Continental for a domestic trip at least and 2) Scoring a few free hotel nights through miles/points. Before the year is out, I also want to finally hit elite status on one of the three alliances. I’m joining up with this program to help get me there.
Join me and sign up for the Travel Hacking Cartel here. Right now there’s a free trial. If you don’t like what you see, just bow out. If you do, pay up and let’s all travel more on the cheap.
[Disclosure: I’m in a zillion affiliate programs, including Chris’ World Domination one. If you sign up through me, I make a small commission. You do not pay any more, however, than if you just went to his site and ordered direct. He just shares with me for spreading the word.]