How to Properly Use Airline Miles

How to Properly Use Airline Miles

Airline miles are a great way to save money while you travel. They are especially helpful if you are a frequent flyer. Once you join a membership program, you can begin earning airline miles towards free flights and other rewards. However, there are a few rules and regulations that you need to be aware of. Before you book your award travel, here is what you should know about how to properly use your airline miles.

Earning Airline Miles

The biggest mistake people make when booking airline reservations is not including their membership number. The easiest way to ensure you receive your miles is to book your flights online. Once you sign into your account, your membership number and personal information automatically attach to your reservations. In addition to having your information on file, you have the added bonus of instantly knowing if the fares are eligible for airline miles. My carrier even includes how many miles you will earn for each leg of your trip.

Most airlines also offer dedicated credit cards to help you earn miles even more quickly. This can be a huge benefit to you if you are planning several trips in the coming months. Not only do they come with free miles once you reach their spending limits, but they also accrue every time you use the card. If you use it to book your initial flights, you will usually receive enough for a free flight. Furthermore, most airlines offer double miles for purchases made directly through their company. This is a great way to earn extra miles and flights each year.

Understanding the Terms and Conditions

Learning how to properly use airline miles requires you to read the fine print. Since you are not paying the full airfare, there are terms and conditions that apply. First and foremost, you can only earn miles when you book an eligible fare. This excludes bookings through third party websites like TripAdvisor and Agoda or discounted rates. As a former customer service agent, this was the most common obstacle people experienced when they did not receive their airline miles or points.

Secondly, when you book award travel, the seats are limited based on availability. Just because a flight has open seats does not guarantee that you can redeem it using your airline miles. Each flight sets aside a certain percentage of seats for each reward type. Once they are booked, you will either have to wait for a cancellation or find another flight route. Before you make your travel plans, make sure that you have secured the flights for the dates you need.

Purchasing and Redeeming Rewards

After you find the flights that work for you, the booking process is straight forward. It will immediately deduct the points from your account and issue the award. Most airlines will even allow you to purchase additional miles if you are short of the required amount. Often times it is still cheaper than paying for the full fare.

You can also peruse promotional offers to buy discounted miles for even more savings. Moreover, these offers are not limited to the airlines. Airlines have a number of partners that allow you to redeem rewards by transferring your airline miles. You can use them for hotel stays, car rentals, wine clubs, insurance, and other online vendors. There are numerous ways for you to enjoy the benefits of your airline miles.

Transferring Your Airline Miles

The last point to consider is transferring your airline miles if you don’t intend to use them. If there are no partners that meet your needs, consider giving them to another member. For a small fee, you can give them to as a gift to save someone money on their next vacation. If there is no one specific in mind, you can also gift airline miles to charities.

Airline miles are an extremely useful and adaptable benefit of joining an airline’s membership program. There are a variety of ways you can make the most of rewards program. When you learn to properly use airline miles, you can save a ton of money in travel expenses.


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Free Accommodations While You Travel

Free Accommodations While You Travel

Although we are currently restricted from leisure travel, that can’t stop anyone from dreaming about their next big trip. When all this is over, many of you will probably be looking for a long, extended vacation. However, traveling can be very expensive. This is especially true if you are looking at an international destination. What if I told you there were options for free accommodations while you travel? Here are a few suggestions for those who are looking to stretch their travel budget to reach exotic locations.

Free Hostel Accommodations

Although they are typically referred to as “youth hostels,” this type of accommodation is great for travelers of all ages on a budget. Hostel accommodations are just as diverse as the people who use them. Typically, you will have choices ranging from a bed in a shared dormitory to a private room with your own bathroom. Sites like Hostelworld are a great resource to check out the facilities and reviews before you arrive.

The greatest advantage of staying in hostels is that they are a fraction of the cost for a hotel room. However, if you are a long-term traveler and looking to save money, you may be able to arrange free room and board. Hostels usually employ a combination of permanent and temporary staff members to clean, check in guests, or arrange outings. If you are looking for free accommodations while you travel, you can email management before you arrive or discuss it in person. Not only does it offer free accommodations to stretch your budget, but you will also have the opportunity to meet people from around the world.


Couchsurfing is another excellent option to meet new people and experience the local flavor. This social networking site connects travelers with an easy-to-use platform. Simply set up your profile, and then you can begin connecting with and messaging other couchsurfers. It is absolutely free to join, but you can pay to have your profile verified for greater security.

In addition to a free place to stay, you can also choose to meet locals for dinner or drinks. The site also organizes events for members to meet up in cities around the globe. I personally love couchsurfing because you can experience the city from a native perspective. Instead of falling into the usual tourist traps, my hosts take me to their favorite entertainment spots and introduce me to their friends. Some of my best travel experiences have been because of the wonderful people I have met through the site.

WWOOF for Free Accommodations

The WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF project, is a global movement to connect organic farmers with environmentally conscious volunteers. Local growers and producers offer hands-on learning and accommodations in exchange for free labor. Since no money changes hands, it’s a great way to educate yourself and find free accommodations while you travel. The entire movement began as a way to promote organic agricultural practices and build global sustainability.

In order to join the community, you have to create a profile and pay a small annual fee. Once confirmed, you can browse the forums and directory to find an opportunity that suits your travel plans. Each listing will specify the hosts’ specific needs and description of daily responsibilities. Many farms are located far from the bustling city which is perfect if you are looking to get back to nature. Educational opportunities range from farming and animal husbandry to construction and renewable energy projects. WWOOFing offers a unique and rewarding way to save money while you travel.

Final Thoughts

Although your current travel plans have been postponed, it never hurts to look at your options. These are just a few alternatives to help you find free accommodations while you travel. There are tons of options out there if you just think outside the box. Your next great adventure could only be a click away.

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House Sitting in Foreign Locales

House Sitting in Foreign Locales

If you are the adventurous type, house sitting provides a unique way to travel the world. It’s a great way to save money on accommodations, especially if you have extended travel plans. Here is everything you need to know before you consider house sitting in foreign locales.

What is House Sitting?

House sitting is precisely what it sounds like. A person who is looking for free accommodations can make arrangements with homeowners in need of a caretaker. In exchange for free room and board, the house sitter is responsible to look after the property and any pets on site. Sometimes the arrangement lasts a few weeks while others are more long-term.

This is usually facilitated though a house sitting website which requires a membership fee and background check. Once verified, you can peruse property listings around the world. If you are flexible with your schedule, house sitting provides an insider’s perspective of the life and culture of your destination.

Pet Sitting

Some housing assignments will also require pet care. If you have never taken care of animals before, don’t fret! You can volunteer at a local shelter or sign up for animal first aid course. This can boost your credentials and improve your chances of getting your preferred locations.

Mostly, the pet care involves your average household pets…cats, dogs, fish. Sometimes there are more exotic animals like reptiles or birds. Be certain to discuss the specific needs before agreeing to any assignments. The community is based on reviews, so one bad experience could make you a less desirable choice in the future.

Domestic and Foreign Locales

Most people who are interested in house sitting usually want international properties. It is a great way to cut the cost of your trip abroad or extend your travel. However, you don’t have to go halfway around the world to find a prime vacation destination. There are plenty of places closer to home. Often times these are second homes, vacation, or rental properties that need someone to be physically present. There are dozens of house sitting sites to search, so you are sure to find something that matches your skills.

Things to Consider Before House Sitting

Before you make any agreements, make sure that you read your contract thoroughly. Don’t accept any postings if you don’t believe you can fulfill the requirements. There are tons of different options out there, so consider the following things before you sign up for house sitting in foreign locales.

1. Time

House sitting is not a great option for a weekend getaway. Most homeowners are looking for someone to look after their property for a few weeks or even a few months. Some may even want seasonal caretakers or someone to live on site whenever they are out of the country.

2. Finances

Although your accommodations will be provided, you still need to cover the costs to get there. In addition to airfare, you will also need to find local transportation to get you to the property. Sometimes these are in very remote locations and require you to charter local services. Additionally, you should also budget for food and entertainment for the duration of your house sitting assignment.

3. Documents

If you choose an international property, there will be some paperwork involved. If you don’t have a passport, then that is the first document you will need to get. Furthermore, some countries have visa requirements for entry and limitations on tourists’ lengths of stay. Read up on what documentation you will need to avoid any complications with immigration officials.

4. Communication

Traveling abroad always comes with risks, so it is important to stay in contact with friends and family. Most homes provide WiFi, but you can also look into local data plans or SIM cards to keep you connected. This will also help if you need to contact the homeowner in case of an emergency at the property.

5. Research Your Destination

This last point is probably the most important. Many locations appear idyllic on paper, but sometimes appearances are deceiving. Do some research about the surrounding areas and see what local amenities you have. It is also smart to be aware of any safety concerns in the area. You want to be well-prepared for any situation.

House sitting can be a very rewarding experience, but unexpected surprises can turn the perfect vacation into the perfect nightmare. Do your research, weigh your options, and ask questions before signing anything. Before you know it, you could be planning that exotic vacation that never seemed possible.


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