Not everyone has the ability or the desire to travel like we did this summer. But if you have the desire, I am a huge fan of 'travel hacking.' Simply put, it is the art of maximizing credit card points to earn points that can be applied to travel. If I can do this, anyone can. Here are two real life examples from this summer.
Outbound flight - BWI-OAK [not direct but 1 stop in HOU, same plane]
Transferred 43,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points to Southwest account. I already had about 3,000 points from some travel for work. Bought 9,000 points for $192.50 plus I paid for $50 for early bird confirmation and the fees were $22.40. Overall cost - 55,000 points.
4 tickets = $66.22/person
SFO<->SYD roundtrip flight
Transferred 280,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points to United account. Fees were $409.44 plus I bought travel insurance for $90.32.
4 tickets = $124.94/person
Inbound flight - SFO-BWI [1 stop in PHL]
I had about 80,000 American Airlines points and used all of them. Fees were $22.40 and $60 for travel insurance. Most of these points were on the Citi AA card and for a few years, I had put automatic payments for smart phones and Internet on this card. I've since started using the Chase Ink for these fees since it's 5x points at least right now.
4 tickets = $22.10/person
Total flight cost:
335,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points
80,000 American Airline points
$846.40 - $211/person
In addition, when I read about the the IHG index card sweepstakes, our family wrote 94 index cards. We received around 60,000 IHG points from this sweepstakes and was able to book two hotels in San Francisco on the outbound as well as the inbound for $0 except the $46 in postage for the contest. Lodging in SFO is extremely expensive so this was totally worth it, even if no one got any sleep all night long in the hotel on the way back to Merryland. Thanks jet lag.
+ United Arab Emirates
Direct round trip on Emirates. IAD<->DXB. 90,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points bought through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal brought the fare down to $1097. Two tickets = $548/person.
So if you really want to travel, you too can do this. Most of this, as you can tell, was done with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Ink cards both of which are great cards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve was just released a few weeks ago and I'm not sure about that one yet. But between those two other cards, a good bit of time and some intentional planning, you can save a huge chunk on airfare, anywhere around the world.