Travel hacking is a fine art. It’s one of those things you can only learn over the course of a well-traveled lifestyle, or by following someone else’s lead.
Essentially, travel hackers use their smarts to travel for free or mostly free.
The hacking thing turns into bit of a game for many players. It’s like a challenge. A quick Google search will bring you an endless supply of travel hackers that love playing the rewards and mileage game to score free flights and hotels. Ever see “Up in the Air” with George Clooney? Yeah, kinda like that.
But it’s not an elitist game only for business travelers and folks with lots of cash to throw around. In fact, travel hacking doesn’t even have to be about rewards and mileage…it’s also about finding the best bang for your buck. These travel hackers tell us how to get it done.
Nomadic Matt is one of the most prolific travel hackers on the Internet.
But what I love about Matt’s site is that he’s continuously sharing new travel hacking strategies in a really well-written, easy-to-follow way. His honesty is refreshing, and he often explains the science behind his hacking methods.
Plus he’s been doing this blogging thing now for longer than anyone I know, and so he’s got an endless stack of resources. His guide to traveling with no money is a good place to start, but he’s also got excellent sections devoted to saving money before traveling and while traveling. You’ll get lost in there all day.
The Canadian duo at Thrifty Nomads has been travel hacking their way around the globe for more than three years.
Jen and Ted from Thrifty Nomads are two Canadian travel hackers who sold everything and have been traveling for more than three years.
As the name of their blog suggests, Thrifty Nomads is all about traveling on a tight budget…but without sacrificing comfort. In their Budget Travel section, they’ve got a huge stockpile of posts about how to fly, drive, and sleep cheap. Their guide tobooking the cheapest hotels anywhere includes information on how to find discount codes and coupons, and why using destination specific search engines is always the best option.
Plus they’ve got more obscure travel hacking tips too, like how to travel by RV for $1 a day.
Want the best and cheapest flights with an assist from the experts? Flystein has your back, and you pay nothing if they can’t beat your price!
Go to any upscale hotel in the world and the concierge will be there to hook you up with the best deals and white glove service. Want that same time and attention to book your next flight?
That’s exactly what Flystein does. Travel industry experts – real people – will work to find the best flights for you. They check dozens of websites and apply secret knowledge and creative strategies to save you big money on your next flight. If they can’t beat the price you found before coming to them, you don’t pay anything.
The Professional Hobo
Nora Dunn from The Professional Hobo is a former financial planner turned budget travel blogger and hacker.
It’s surprisingly hard to come across female budget travel hackers, but Nora Dunn of The Professional Hobo is the queen. Back in 2006, she sold her financial planning business and hit the road. Yes, she’s a former financial planner – it’s safe to say she knows what she’s talking about.
A lot of Nora’s blogs focus on the financial planning side of things. She runs a really great Financial Case Study series, which involves in-depth interviews about the careers of world travelers. They’re usually really candid and eye-opening.
But she’s a travel hacker as well. In “6 Travel Hacks You Haven’t Thought Of,” Nora outlines tips (with the aid of another travel hacker) that you might not otherwise know. For example, did you know that Costco has the best car rental rates in Canada and the United States? Me neither.
Here’s another: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to travel. That’s because vacation goers usually only have one week to get away – so they leave on the weekend, and return a week later.
Clint from Triphackr knows that travel hacking isn’t just about collecting rewards and mileage.
Clint is the American behind the fabulous Triphackr website. On his About page, Clint points out that travel hacking isn’t just about points and mileage. “It is about getting the most out of your travel experiences, using travel hacks, and finding the best resources available to book a great trip.”
Clint’s also really handy with the technology advice. His guide to using your iPhone for free abroad is one of his most successful blog posts.
Chris Guillebeau has traveled to every country in the world, so he knows a thing or two about travel hacking.
I’ve been loyally reading Chris Guillebeau’s website for years now, and I even once met him at a book signing. While his website isn’t specifically aimed at budget travelers, it really does break down the points and rewards schemes in an easy to understand way. (Trust me, if I can get it, anyone can.) He’s got a great collection of e-books and a free course you can enroll in.
I’m wary of a lot of those points collectors guys, but Guillebeau is more relatable. If you’ve got a competitive streak and you really want to give this points collection thing a go, I’d say Guillebeau is your guy to learn from.
His website is a plethora of travel and life hacking stories. If you don’t want to read about earning extra points on everything you buy then perhaps you’re more drawn to his Work and Life sections, like “If Plan A Fails, Remember That You Have 25 Letters Left.”
Here are some extra packing hacks for your next trip.
Candice Walsh is a freelance writer and travel blogger whose work has been featured in the BBC, AFAR magazine, Westjet’s up! Magazine, SOAR and more. When she’s not busy travelling the world, she calls St. John’s her home.