Ex-Waitress' Guide to World Travel

How to earn frequent flyer miles even if you are not a frequent flyer

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

The intro says that I am an international marathoner. Guess what I used to do before that. I have probably served you a meal at one of the restaurants where I've waited tables in Houston. I know your next question….How does a waitress afford traveling to places like China, Africa, and Iceland? Sometimes more than once a year. I have three words for you….Frequent Flyer Miles! They are your best friend and if you are not a rich, but you want to travel, they should be a priority in your life. Few people know this method, so I'm going to do better than tell you. I'm going to show you.

All major airlines have a rewards program. I fly United Airlines because I like all of the airlines they partner with in Star Alliance. Their rewards program is called Mileage Plus. It is free to join. The big question is: How do you earn enough miles to afford an international trip?

To come up with this answer, we need to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. If I could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? (Sky is the limit, literally).
  2. Who am I as a person? Describe my lifestyle.
  3. What do I spend my money on every single day?

We are about to turn the answers to these questions into miles into the dollars we will save off of our trip. I'm going to use myself as an example. I've always wanted to see Machu Picchu. There is a marathon this year on the Inca Trail. What's the first thing I do? I go the United.com to look up how much the flight to Lima, Peru would be. Lima is the closest international airport to Machu Picchu. After looking the cost of a round trip in October, I find that the price is $2275. Do I want to pay this? No way.

Let's redo the details of this trip, but using a reward miles search instead ofdollars. Now we know that this trip will now cost 40,000 miles and $73.36 in taxes and fees. Wow, from $2275 to $74. Can this be true? Yes, it can. Next Question.

Who am I as a person?

We are all different. I do not spend money like you and nor do you like me. I am a woman who does not like to shop for expensive clothes. I don't like trying them on in the store. I rent, but I do use services like electricity under my name. I spend money on maintaining my older car, light makeup and hair products, but I love going out to eat at restaurants (restaurants are in my blood). I also own my own business, so I have business expenses like marketing materials. We will stop there. I think that is enough information. Next question.

What do I spend money on every day?

With this in mind, go to the earn rewards section of your rewards program. Start researching on how you can earn as many miles as possible. We are looking for miles only. Here are a few things that jump out at me that I can begin implementing in my life.

United GoBank Card:

Without even taking out a new line of credit, you can use this card to purchase everyday items, like gas, groceries, and whatever. You earn 1 mile per $2 spent up to 2500 miles (15,000 miles for six months)

Change your energy provider to Reliant using the Milage Plus promo code:

This action gets you 27,000 miles. There a couple of conditions: You will only get 21,000 by October and you have to sign a two year contract with Reliant at .15/kwhr. It's kinda high, but you decide how bad you want to go to Machu Picchu.


Milage Plus Shopping:

You can earn points by shopping online at the places that you shop all of the time. I'm looking at the stores. I need contacts, business cards and posters, running shoes and clothes, hair products, tires for my car, and a brake job.

1800 Contacts $4/mile

Saucony Running Shoes $3/mile

Auto Zone $1/mile

Kerastase shampoo $2/mile

Vista Print $2/miles

Discount Tires $2 mile (just as long as don't send tires to my apartment.

If you add everything together, these items could mean 3,850 miles. You can bump that up by making all these purchases with the GoBank card and increase your miles to 5,775.


Gift Cards

You can purchase gift cards through the rewards programs to your favorite places. This could also help you budget your spending better or could be gifts that you were going to buy anyway. These are the places that I use:

Buffalo Wild Wings $4/mile

McCormick and Schmicks $5/mile

Hello Fresh $4/mile

Saltgrass Steakhouse $5/mile

Charming Charlie's $3/mile

After doing some figuring, I could easily earn 4,004 more miles by the gift card method.

Downloaded Apps

If you download certain apps to your mobile devices from the United Plus website, anything you order from them have automatic miles attached to them. Groupon jumped out at me. I'm always looking for a deal on oil changes, massages, and other stuff. You can earn $11/mile. So, the eye exam I needed that could cost $120 or more, will cost $60 and I'll earn 660 miles and so forth. Looks like I'm going to be on that Groupon app often. Let's say, I'll spend $400 on Groupon. That's 4400 miles.

Grand Total

So let's add it up and see what we have miles we will have by October I'm so excited!

GoBank 15,000 miles

Reliant Switch 21,000 miles

Shopping 5,775 miles

Gift Cards 4,004 miles

Downloaded Apps 4,400 miles

Total: 50,179 miles

Guess What? I'm going to Machu Picchu with some miles left over. You can also use miles to make hotel reservations, too. There you have it. Now you can be a world traveler too.

Ex-Waiter's Guide To World Travel

How to save money while booking international travel

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

Everyone should experience travel to another country. Sure, Houston is really diverse and has a representation from most countries. There is nothing like being completely submerged in a different culture. There are many people who can afford any trip that they want many times during the year. However, there a lot of us who have to save our nickels and dimes to see the world. Still, there are many people who have just given up on the hope to leave the country. Here are some tips on how to save money on international travel.

For starters, make sure you do these two things before anything else.

  1. Make that sure your passport is valid. It has nothing to do with saving money, but, it would suck to plan and pay for a trip and you have an expired passport.
  2. Research thoroughly and start early. Travel.State.Gov, Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, and Google.

Use frequent flyer miles.

Most people think that you have to be an executive or an old to have frequent flyer miles, but this is not true. I fly United everytime I leave the country, I find each and every opportunity to earn some frequent flyer miles.

Use Travel search engines.

This seems like the obvious answer. Search engines like Kayak, Travelocity, and others give you the unique opportunity to prices from many different airlines at once. Do this in an incognito search. There are cookies on the webpage that track when and how many times you have searched these flights. They will never give you the lowest price after the first search.

Avoid straight flights

Leave the shorter flights for when you are a celebrity or an executive. Use flights that connect in hub cities. What is a hub city? Airlines use certain cities as hubs for their flight traffic. Frankfort, LAX, and Houston are hub cities. Flights that connect through these cities can be cheaper than a flight that connects in other cities.

Book flights on off times.

Book flights to fly out on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Flights are cheaper than traveling on Friday or Thursday. Don't be afraid to fly the red eye. These flights need to be filled, so the tickets are cheaper.

Book hotels with airport transfers.

If you are staying at a hotel, make sure they have airport transfer included. This will save you upwards of $60 and a lot of time and worry.

Book hotels with breakfast included.

While you are booking your hotel, make sure that breakfast is included. That accounts for one meal of your day that you don't have to spend money on. When I went to Iceland, I packed energy bars and other snacks that I could eat while I was sightseeing. It was a great way to save money.

Stay at hotels with an in-room kitchenette or a refrigerator/microwave.

You can eat cereal or make sandwiches. This opens you up for more savings. These places are great, not only to save money, but to stay on your diet. If you are traveling for a race, you need to know what is going in your body. The best option. Guesthouses and Airbnb's offer entire houses with kitchens and laundry rooms. This makes your traveling experience extremely convenient.

I'm sure there are many more ways to save while traveling. While planning your next trip, implement a few of these suggestions and see the savings. Next we will take a closer look at these frequent flyer miles and how you can rack them up.

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