Initially we thought we would be able to visit India in 2013. However we didn’t have enough money or miles until recently. Late last year we finally booked the airline tickets.
We were able to get both round trip airline tickets using the miles we accrued on United. Basically we charge everything including the majority of our down payment for the Subaru. I even went so far as to do a bit of travel hacking by signing up for credit cards based on their sign up bonus. 95% of our hotel rooms are being funded by United miles as well. And I didn’t book cheap hotel rooms.
I’d told a few people about our trip and a lot of people say that they would love to travel internationally but cannot afford it. The biggest expense is the airline tickets. If you charge everything you can on a credit card like the Chase Sapphire you can accrue enough miles for some serious fun in no time. The key is to look at the terms (40,000 miles on sign up and another 5,000 when you add an authorized user and spend $1000 in the first 3 months of having the card.)
I have signed up for United MileagePlus dining program and added all of my cards including my debit card. If a restaurant is part of the program you earn even more miles. Andy and I joked that we would ‘eat our way to India’ and in a way we have.
You shouldn’t travel hack if you have an issue with paying your credit cards off each month. I send a check to Chase every week without fail. I only keep a credit card while it provides me with benefits like no foreign transaction fees, rental car insurance, etc. I also follow blogs like One Mile at a Time for tips on how to maximize my spending.
Andy and I also saved money. For months, every time we wanted to spend money frivolously, one of us would ask the other “Do you want to spend money here or in India?” It was a great way to keep our eye on our goal. I also did a lot of research on India which helped us decide where we wanted to go.