So let's get not-so-personal. The unfortunate truth is that I've traveled to new countries almost exclusively when I've been abroad to begin with. Studying in Italy, I took cheap trains and terrifying RyanAir flights all over Europe. And in China, I had access to countries like the Philippines for something like a $300 round-trip flight.
Now that I'm in Chicago and planning to go abroad again, I'm looking at flights and wondering, like my friend, how on earth I'll afford to go to a place that is warm, sunny and not Florida. At an exasperated loss, I turned to my good friend Google for help. Thinking that my search "fly abroad for free" would be futile, I actually ended up learning of a new trick: travel hacking.
Sounding more complicated than it is, travel hacking involves simply using your collected airline miles. How groundbreaking
But if you're like me, this actually is a bit of a novel idea because you've thought of your miles like you've thought of your change jar. I have a motley assortment of reward miles with all kinds of random airlines, and none of them amount to anything. So I don't think about those miles. Let the them gather. Or not. Whatever.
But miles actually can be worthwhile. And here's how: partner a miles-accruing credit card with an airline that you can bear to fly semi-regularly. I know the concept of getting a credit card can seem like you're getting scammed. But do the research before you stop reading. I got myself a United Explorer card because I already had 8,000 miles from a flight to Europe and if I spent $1,000 on the card in three months, I'd get a bonus 30,000 miles. That's amounts to a roundtrip flight in the States, or a one-way trip abroad.
And you can keep the expenses minimal after that. Next time I post, I'll tell you a few tricks for alternatives to standard hotels. Here's to keeping the travel dreams alive!