One of the easiest ways to get closer to that exotic destination is by accumulating airmiles and hotel loyalty points. You primarily gain airmiles/loyalty points by flying directly with an airline/hotel, but their are other ways to obtain airmiles/loyalty points such as:
- Signing up for a credit card, and spending money on that card
- Staying at hotels and converting those loyalty points to airmiles
- Earning airmiles/loyalty points on car rentals, and online store purchases
To earn airmiles/loyalty points at a faster rate, keep looking out for double / triple earn point specials, completing surveys with your airline/hotel, etc. Look at sites such as flyertalk.com, where they regularly post and discuss ways to accumulate points.
You can either spend airmiles/loyalty points directly with the airline/hotel that you have subscribed to, or on any of the airlines/hotels that the airline/hotel has partnered with. There are 3 major air alliances, that allow you to earn and spend airmiles on a specific partner:
- Star Alliance,
- BA Executive Club – a personal favorite as points never expire!
Keep a look out at air taxes and surcharges, which you have to pay on top of the miles you redeem. In theory, you get a better deal redeeming airmiles for longer international flights, instead of short domestic flights; or on seat upgrades to a better class.
There are a number of popular hotel loyalty programs, such as:
- Starwood Preferred Guest (e.g. Hilton)
- Gold Crown Club (Best Western)
- Club Carlson (e.g. Radisson, Park Inn)
- Priority Club (e.g. Inter Continental,Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn) – was a personal favorite until they quietly changed their terms (from a never expiring points policy), did not advise me, and I lost more than 100000 points.
- If you are not staying in a hostel, try staying in a hotel with a loyalty programme. You will be surprised how easy it is to earn free nights, after just staying a few nights
It only takes a few minutes to sign up for those loyalty programmes, but you will be surprised on how rewarding it can be!
Check out http://thepointsguy.com/ for further info on earning and spending loyalty points.