Why I Travel Hack

Meaning behind the things we do

As with everything in life, there is reason or meaning behind every single thing that we do. Even if you haven't consciously thought about why you brush your teeth the way you do, or why your daily routine is the way that it is... if you sit down and think about it, without a doubt, I am sure that there is some purpose to the way you do those things.

When I first married my wife, I would often chide her for being so rigid in always packing her lunch the night before, rather than the morning of -- the way that I've been doing it most of my adult life. My very single-male mentality was that I could hastily pack my lunch in the mornings and be done with it, saving my evening time for more surfing the interwebs or watching television. However, when I asked her why she did it that way, it completely changed my outlook on lunch packing. Her response was, "If I pack my lunch at night, then I have more time in bed with you in the mornings." *cue the awwwws* As a single guy, that didn't apply to me, but now that I'm married, it now makes complete sense for me to pack my lunch at night -- to maximize quality time with my wife.

The same is true for travel hacking. There are reasons behind why I do what I do -- sign up for credit cards on a regular basis, make sure I'm taking advantage of certain card bonuses for purchasing in specific categories, constantly keeping tabs on what's happening in the travel hacking community through social media, etc. But like those everyday habits, sometimes I get caught going through the motions of these travel hacking routines, and forget the reasons behind why I do these things.

As most advisors will advise, the best way to reach a goal is to work backwards from the goal. If you're saving for a specific retirement amount, you would divide that amount by the number of years you're away from retirement, and then divide by 12 to get an idea of how much you should save each month to meet that goal. If you want to lose 50 pounds by September, you would start with trying to lose approximately 17 pounds per month starting in June, as well as plan out the nitty gritty details of how many days a week you'd be at the gym, cardio or weight lifting, etc. Anyway, you get the idea. So what is my travel hacking end goal? 

 

Mission statement

I recently had a friend ask me for some credit card/travel advice, and we talked back and forth until we got to a point where he stated, "I need to really know the end goal before doing this." I kind of chuckled inside, but it also forced me to come up with a mission statement so to speak, or end goal, on why I do what I do when it comes to travel hacking.

My goal is for us to be able to travel whenever (planned or last minute), wherever (domestic or international) and however (train, plane, automobile, business/first class) with little to no out of pocket costs.

So let's delve into my reasons why I, do what I do...

 

I travel hack because...

It affords us more options - I know I hit on this multiple times over multiple blog posts, but truly, this is THE biggest reason why. If not for travel hacking, we would not be able to travel AT ALL, as we are still dutifully paying off student loans worth more than a home mortgage. I wouldn't have been able to only pay a $150 close-departure fee for a flight to Hong Kong to see my dying mother, while my siblings shelled out $1000 each for their flights. We wouldn't be able to hit pause, take a long weekend vacation somewhere, and come back refreshed, ready to tackle this crazy thing called life again.

It is a different way of thinking about life - This is true on more than one front. In travel, I've been able to experience how other cultures live and prioritize their lives differently than I do. This has given me more perspective on my own life and has helped me question what "normal" really is. Also, travel hacking continues to show me that SO MUCH IS POSSIBLE! You don't think you'll be able to go to Fiji for your honeymoon? Boy, you are so very wrong. Oh, this method of earning miles and points has been shut down by the banks? Well let me introduce you to the street-wise and resilient travel hacking community that will always find another, often times, better way!    

It brings into my life small slivers of hope - I say this lightly, as I do not want to make travel/travel hacking out to be all that I am striving for in this life, it is not. However, in light of the often times hum-drum-drag-em-out-40-hour-work-week-unending-laundry-folding-house-cleaning-bill-paying that can describe many of our lives, it is a breath of fresh air. Meeting that credit card minimum spend and waiting for those bonus points to hit. YES! Planning and researching that next trip, poring over the various reviews on TripAdvisor. EXCITING! Seeing the beauty of another country, people, or landscape. INSPIRING! The quiet glee of knowing I spent less than $50 for our entire vacation. ULTIMATE SATISFACTION!

 

Conclusion

I felt compelled to share these thoughts, not only to further clarify for myself the deeper reasons behind why I travel hack, but also to help those of you who are fearful of starting or have already begun to dip your toes into this hobby, to more clearly solidify your reasons for starting and continuing on this journey.

If you are fearful of starting, I highly suggest that you rationally think about why and what you're afraid of, and then list out the pros and cons to remaining in that fear versus stepping out and seeing where this hobby takes you (sorry not sorry for the pun).

If you have recently just begun travel hacking, or have been doing this for many years, I still highly suggest mission statement-ing a travel hacking goal for yourself, and listing the reasons why you started to do it or continue to do it. Doing this will help you weed away all the fluff -- applying for every increased credit card offer, pursuing every deal or promo, redeeming simply because of award devaluations, etc. -- and allow you to focus on satisfying your end goal, while making sure you're doing it for all the right reasons.

Happy travel hacking!

What is your travel hacking end goal? What are your reasons why you play this game?