About

Hi, my name is Mike. I am from Oakland, CA and I love to travel.

In the past few years, I have managed to fly to a lot of exciting places and stay in some really pricey hotels. Since I’m still relatively young and I work a humble nonprofit job, many people ask me, “How do you afford it?”

Well, I made a table showing exactly how I have done it:

(Almost) Free Travel: 2010-2012
Trip
Retail price of flights (+hotel)
Cost (est.)
Flights and class (business or 1st)
Program used to purchase flights:
Free Hotel with points?
Australia + Thailand
$4,500
$110
SFO-BKK-SYD-CNS-SFO (2 legs bus. class)
United+American
Aloft Bangkok, 3 nights
Tokyo / Kyoto, Japan
$3,200
$338
LAX-TYO-SFO
Mistake fare
Conrad Tokyo, 4 nights
Machu Picchu, Peru
$1,800
$241
LAX-LIM-CUZ-LAX (1 leg 1st class)
Mistake fare+British Airways
n/a
Nationals, Sarasota, FL
$1,760
$35
SBA-SRQ-SBA (1st class)
US Airways miles
n/a
New Orleans Jazz Fest
$1,400
$5
OAK-MSY-OAK
Southwest+companion pass
Hilton St. Charles, 4 nights
WCBU, Italy
$1,200
$80
SFO-BLQ, VCE-SFO
US Airways
n/a
Paganello 2012, Italy
$1,100
$80
SFO-MXP, BLQ-SFO
United
n/a
Paganello 2011, Italy
$950
$80
SFO-MXP-SFO
United
n/a
Paganello 2010, Italy
$900
$50
DCA-ZRH-DCA
American
n/a
St. Andrews, Canada
$900
$5
SFO-YSJ, PWM-SFO (1st class)
United miles
Courtyard Toronto, 1 night
Louisville wedding
$900
$5
EWR-SDF-OAK
Southwest+companion pass
Springhill Suites, 1 night
Nashville wedding
$900
$5
OAK-BNA-OAK
Southwest+companion pass
Residence Inn, 1 night
Atlanta and Charleston
$800
$5
OAK-CHS, ATL-SFO
Southwest+companion pass
n/a
Turks and Caicos
$700
$55
SFO-PLS-SFO
American
n/a
St. Andrews, Canada
$600
$10
SFO-YSJ, BOS-SFO
United
n/a
Albuquerque weekend
$600
$5
OAK-ABQ-OAK
Southwest+companion pass
Sheraton Uptown, 1 night
Montreal
$450
$55
WAS-YUL-WAS
American
n/a
Jackson Hole 2011
$400
$10
OAK-JAC-OAK
United miles
n/a
Steamboat 2012
$400
$30
SFO-HDN-SFO
US Airways miles
n/a
Tahoe weekend
$350
$5
OAK-RNO-OAK
Southwest+companion pass
n/a
Leiout 2012
$300
$5
OAK-LAX-OAK
Southwest+companion pass
n/a
Sonoma getaway
$240
$0
n/a
n/a
Sonoma Lodge, 1 night
Portland weekend
$200
$5
OAK-PDX-OAK
Southwest
n/a
Seattle Regionals 2011
$200
$5
OAK-SEA-OAK
Southwest
n/a
Leiout 2011
$150
$5
OAK-LAX-OAK
Southwest
n/a
Totals:
$24,900
$1,229
–> 95% savings

Since 2010, I have saved over $23,000, or 95%, on my travel expenses while spending roughly the amount that most people would blow on a single flight to Europe. Learning about points/miles has allowed me to explore new places, meet new people, and get absolutely wowed by novel experiences. I am very thankful to be able to see remote corners of the world with my family, friends, and my awesome girlfriend Louisa.

I talk about this stuff so constantly that my parents, three siblings and many friends have caught on and are now traveling for (almost) free. I created this blog to share both my knowledge and my thoughts about traveling.

More than a name:

The name “Points for Good” means that this blog has a mission that goes beyond just you and me and travel products. First of all, I will donate at least 10% of this blog’s proceeds to volunteer projects with the 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations Voces y Manos and Kids’ Care Everywhere.

Second, I want to share my travel philosophy. While luxurious getaway vacations are fun once in a while, they stop being cool if it’s the only kind of travel you do. Many travel blogs don’t recognize this fact. If you isolate yourself in resorts all the time, you’ll end up a grouchy snob addicted to luxury. Happy traveling can only be sustained for a lifetime if it includes experiences of personal and cultural connection.

I encourage and challenge everyone to bring more purpose to their travel experiences by seeking meaningful volunteer experiences, which are sure to give fresh perspective, awaken empathy, and may even leave you with some of the best memories of your life.

Points for Good’s Mission:

  • To show you how to travel for (almost) free, and
  • To empower under-resourced communities in Latin America, Africa, and Asia with improved education and health services by donating at least 10% of this blog’s proceeds to volunteer projects with the 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations Voces y Manos and Kids’ Care Everywhere. And since proceeds increase with site visits and readership, you are giving back right now!

My Methods for Free Travel:

1.) Points/Miles redemptions. The purpose of this blog is to show you how to earn maximum points/miles with these methods (and then redeem them, of course!):

  • Credit card sign-up bonuses (most lucrative and most difficult)
  • Everyday credit card usage
  • Airline and hotel promotions
  • Point/mileage accrual on paid flights and hotels (business, etc.)

2.) Mistake/Promo fares. You need time, patience, and flexibility to do this. I recommend keeping your eye on the following links and reacting quickly, because the best mistake fares usually last only a few hours, at best.

Good luck and happy travels! Remember to smile and be nice 🙂

-Mike

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