BY: SINEAD MULHERN
A 28-year-old American journalist is proving that travelling the world doesn’t have to leave your wallet feeling light. In fact, he’s going to 13 countries for nearly zero cost reported Business Insider.
Scott Keyes is a magazine journalist from Ohio who has written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post and has been a staff writer for Think Progress. Currently he resides in Oaxaca, Mexico but before he heads back to the U.S., he’s going to take two months to travel. Keyes will visit the 13 countries travelling over 20,000 miles on 21 separate flights. He’s paying only the taxes on each plane ticket.
This is something that Keyes has managed to do by skillfully using the rewards points on his collection of 25 credit cards. To do this, he keeps a spreadsheet so he doesn’t use any of the cards incorrectly and so that he can keep track of all of his points. He used the cards slyly, not violating any of the rules and all the while being mindful of wanting to plan an epic trip. This kind of planning is cousin to the extreme-couponing world. But all of that research has paid off. Each of the flights is covered by points. So are the hotels. The booking and planning for his upcoming travels took a total of 15 hours he told Business Insider. In the booking and planning, Keyes used 136,500 frequent flyer points for the 21 flights. He even managed to raise his credit score too.
His itinerary includes visits to Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Grenada, Germany, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Lithuania, and Finland. It’s going to be an epic two months until he has to go back to his desk. According to Elite Daily, by the time Keyes has finished his adventure, he will have been to 42 countries all before his 30th birthday.
This is Keyes’s travel itinerary. He will be traveling to Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Grenada, Germany, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Lithuania, and Finland over the next 2 months.
But Keyes isn’t exactly new to scoping the deals offered by credit card companies and travel agencies. He has taken this approach with planning his stays in Milan, Galapagos, Belgium and Norway. He even wrote a couple of e-books surrounding the topic of knocking down the costs of the dream vacation. Those are titled “How to Fly for Free” and “How to Find Cheap Flights.”
To complement his approach, Keyes used Awards Wallet to track his points/uses for credit cards. That’s essential in keeping organized when you’re dealing with perks and rules for 25 different cards. He also recommends using theflightdeal.com.
Working the system of several card companies can be difficult for a first-timer he admits. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. While a newbie might not necessarily be able to score an around-the-world adventure for free, getting to know the ins-and-outs of points systems is a smart way to go to make travelling an affordable option. That’s especially true if the money situation is the only thing currently holding you back from hopping on a plane and seeing the world.
Keyes, enjoying the slopes in the Matterhorn in Italy.
Other advice Keyes gives: Be open to airlines bumping you onto another flight and speak up if there’s anything wrong. Keep eyes peeled for new travel deal sites as well and stay on top of scouring the postings.
But most of all, be open-minded in terms of where you want to go. Don’t look through the deals with one specific location in mind or you’ll never be satisfied. If you’re looking broadly, an offer will come up and you can be more inclined to take it and experience a place that you wouldn’t necessarily have chosen.