When I first started to travel as frequent as several time a year, my main strategy was by booking my flights with airline points and miles I had acquired through credit card spend.
This was easy to do as on top of my personal spending the marketing budget for my insurance agency at the time was about $10,000 per month and so I would charge all of that spend to my credit cards that gave me the best miles and points. To top it off I would take advantage of big sign up bonuses that most banks would offer and in those days, with the economy being in a slump (2007-2010) they regularly offered 50k-100k just for signing up. Coupled with the decent award charts that many airlines had and that was really the only strategy I needed to travel the world in class.
It’s 2017 now and if you want to travel the world often and in Business Class you had better develop a better strategy. The good news is that I have one, and I don’t mind you peering over my shoulders.
Why a new strategy? Well the economy is stronger so the banks have tightened up, the airlines are thriving so they have devalued their award charts heavily and are restricting many business class seats for frequent flyer travel not to mention the many mergers that have taken place. These days I find myself not even bothering with miles and instead paying outright for my flights. Another why? The simple answer is business class travel has become very affordable especially if you pay attention to promotions and mistake fares and let me simply say, the airlines are very mistake prone (on land).
Qatar Airways, my favorite business class airline routinely runs promotions and you can sometimes get business class fares for a little more than you would pay for economy. The trick here is to be flexible and constantly on the hunt. Let me explain.
1. Destination List: One of the more costly mistakes that many travelers do is that they set the destination first and then look to seek out deals for that destination. The reason why this strategy is flawed is because you have essentially limited your scope of bargains. Let’s say that you have zeroed in on Seychelles as being the place you want to visit and you scour the Internet for flight and hotel deals but you don’t find any blockbuster bargains. All the while there was a flash sale to the Maldives at the time that you didn’t even bother to recognize since all your focus was on Seychelles.
The reality is that there are many deals to be had both for flights and hotels but you need to develop a list of places you want to visit. A decent size list of 6-10 destinations is perfect. That way your scope is much larger and although you may not find a deal to the one spot you want to go to on your next trip, you will likely want to visit all the places on your list at some point and by using this strategy you will have the best shot at visiting all your desired destinations with a much greater shot at getting great value.
2. Timing Your Booking: Another costly mistake is waiting until you have decided to go on your trip to start planning and booking. The fact is that the world doesn’t revolve around us, as much as we like to think it does. So if you are waiting until all your stars align to start planning the booking than you are once again limiting your scope and you’ll probably overpay for your trip.
The better strategy would be to constantly be on a lookout for travel packages, deals and bargains. You can do this by subscribing to blogs, getting on email lists of airlines and hotels and setting alerts on airfare sites, not to mention spending 5 mins a day checking travel blogs and forums. Once you find a deal you can then confer with your other duties such as family, work, school etc and if all works out you can make your booking. To give you an example, I booked most of my 2017 trips between Jan 3rd and Jan 14th. That is, a trip to Peurto Rico, Maldives, Bali, Tokyo, and Seychelles. Sure, I spent more than I wanted to in January but I also got some insane deals like $645 business class roundtrip from Osla to Tokyo on Qatar Airways and $1,426 business class roundtrip from London to Bali that includes 2 nights at the 5 star Ayana Resort. So now I’ll spend very little on travel for the rest of the year.
As mentioned in tip #1 I hadn’t planned on going to Maldives, Seychelles, or Bali this year but they were on my list and when I saw the deals I jumped at them. So, if travel is important to you and you want to get to most out of your travels then start changing the way you plan you trips. Subscribe to this blog as I will get more detailed into what blogs and forums you need to be paying attention to to find deals like I constantly do.
3. Starting Point: When I’m traveling somewhere nearby like the Carribean I’ll often use the standard method of searching flights from my home city, DC. However if my journey is taking me to a far away land like Fiji, Maldives, Shanghai etc then I more than likely won’t care where the journey begins. Case in point, my trip to Seychelles later on this year starts in Oslo. Why Oslo? Simple, because there was an amazing business class deal from Oslo, it’s not rocket science folks. I can very simply find a cheap economy ticket to Oslo from DC for around $400, add that to the $700 business class roundtrip deal from Oslo to Seychelles and I’m only paying $1,100 with the majority of the trip being in business class.
To give you a comparison, it would have cost me $1,663 in Economy class if I had simply searched Washington-Seychelles and $6,667 in Business class. So I’m paying a few hundred dollars less than the cheapest economy fare simply because I’m flying to Seychelles from Oslo. The added bonus is that I can spend a night or two in Oslo where I can make a pit stop to at my favorite juice bar/ Cafe, Joe & The Juice.
So, by combining tips #1,2, and 3 you can usually find amazing airfare deals because your scope will be far and wide.
If you are wondering about my hotel strategy, it’s fairly simple as there are usually great bargains to be had in every city so most times I tend to focus on finding the airfare deal and once I do I can usually find a good deal at a hotel or Airbnb. Also Cheaptickets.com almost always has a 16% coupon code they advertise on the deals section of their main page.
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