budgeting · Earn Money · Lifestyle

Easy Travel Hacks Anyone Can Use

We’ve all heard about those people that travel the world for free or next to nothing using a ridiculous amount of airline mileage and hotel points. But if you’ve actually looked into it, it can be as complicated as trying to figure out your own taxes or calculating the next digit in pi. Even so, there’s still plenty of ways to travel hack that the common non-mathematician can easily do without having to spend hours reading or watching online tutorials.

Everyone that knows me knows that my favorite thing on the planet (next to cats and wine, of course) is traveling and exploring new places. In fact, I side-hustle and work several extra jobs just so that I can afford to travel (read my previous article about side-hustling here). Even though I haven’t figured out how to completely beat the travel system like those crazy awesome travel hackers, I’ve still managed to earn plenty cash back and even fly to Hawaii twice for free.

My favorite way to get free flights is by signing up for credit cards that offer airline miles. Seattle is Alaska Airlines’ home city, so naturally Alaska Airlines is my airline of choice. I signed up for their credit card several years ago when they were offering 40,000 miles just for enrolling mid-flight. That got my Hawaii trip #1. I regularly use my Alaska Airlines credit card as my debit card (paying it off every month, of course) so that I can earn one mile with every dollar I spend. It’s an easy way to rack up frequent flier miles without doing a damn thing.

I signed up for a credit card with Delta Airlines once when they were offering 50,000 miles after spending a certain amount within x number of months. They also waived the annual fee for the first year, so it didn’t cost me anything. Because I used the credit card for my every day purchases, I easily hit that mark and earned free Hawaii trip #2. Side note, just remember to cancel your credit card after your trip but before your year is up so that you don’t have to pay an annual fee.

Most recently, I’ve been saving to splurge on a big family vacation for my mom, brother and I. (I won’t say where though, because it will be a Christmas surprise for them). Once I had the money saved up, I looked online for cards offering airline miles with purchase, and found the American Airlines AAdvantage card with Citibank which was offering 60,000 miles when you spend $3000 in the first three months. (Again, please keep in mind that I will pay the balance off in full once I receive the statement in the mail.) So while I paid full price for my tickets this time, I’ll be able to take another free trip again in the near future. I’m sorry to say there won’t be a free Hawaii trip #3 though…I’m ready to explore somewhere new!

In addition to earning miles, most airline credit cards offer other perks for travel, simply for participating in the program. For example, many airlines will give cardholders and their travel companions free checked bags, complimentary travel insurance, complementary auto insurance for car rentals, and discounts on food and drinks while on your flight. Make sure you check your card’s website so you don’t miss out on any awesome perks like these!

I also will never book any type of travel online without using Ebates. I just go to the Ebates website, then click on the link to Expedia or hotels.com, my two favorite websites to purchase travel on, then it reroutes me to those websites. The websites look exactly how they would look if I had instead typed in the URLs, but somehow Ebates keeps track of my purchases and gives me a percentage of cash back. For example, I spent around $4000 purchasing this big trip on Expedia yesterday, and Ebates gives me 10% cash back on purchases made at Expedia. Voila! I just earned $400 for booking a vacation. The only downside is that they won’t send me the check until after I’ve completed the travel, but I’m still totally OK with that!

So there you have it! Super easy ways to earn free trips and extra money without doing anything too crazy. Happy travels!

Lifestyle

Work Life Balance: When There’s Too Many Plates Spinning

Have you ever been to a circus and watched someone spin plates on a stick? Of course it’s quite impressive, and it certainly took the performer plenty of practice (and many failures too) to get their personal plate to spinning ratio perfect. But even he or she will reach a point where they just cannot add any more plates without all of the others crashing down.

My plates recently came crashing down to the floor.

Thankfully none of them shattered. I did learn, however, that I, the crazy lady that thrives on constant side hustling and very little sleep, do have a tipping point.

Adding the Final Plate

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I enjoy side hustling and I constantly have several gigs going on at once. I have my full time job working in the senior living industry, which consumes over 40 hours per week (not including the 2-3 hours I spend commuting each day). I work at an espresso stand several times during the month on my days “off.” I’m doing some freelance writing and also trying to keep this website updated for you. And I also recently completed a 2 month stint working as an usher at the circus in the evenings. I usually have no problem managing my time, and actually feel pretty energized by the amount of work that I do.

Until I decided to cater overnight high school graduation parties. I just spent the last three weeks working all week long, then working from 9pm-6am serving pizza and donuts to newly-graduated high school seniors 3 nights on the weekends. The company I worked for was created out of a mission to keep seniors safe from drinking and driving on what is statistically the deadliest day of the year for teenagers, and I highly value their vision. Unfortunately, these parties were almost deadly for me.

The multiple, consecutive days of sleeping just an hour here or there left me feeling worse than terrible. My concentration was nil. My social life was non existent. I couldn’t get anything done at home. I gained a few pounds when this pushed my Weight Watchers diet out the window. Plus I ended up calling in sick twice at work because I physically felt so ill. And what do I have to show for it? Five hundred measly dollars.

Don’t get me wrong, $500 is absolutely nothing to sneeze at. But everything comes at a cost, and to me, my physical, mental, and emotional well-being is worth way more than $500.