The Drawbacks of Travel Hacking I Hate to Admit

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Originally published on Fempotential.com.

I love saving, especially when it comes to traveling. If you’ve read my book, Traveling Without the Costs (in the Simplest of Terms), you know that I went to Spain last year and only spent $480 on my flight, train, and hotel stays for the entire 10-day trip. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.

For the last few years, I’ve been teaching myself how to travel hack, or the process of using travel credit card rewards programs, travel deals, loyalty programs, and other tactful ways of getting the best deals possible when it comes to travel aspects like booking flights, transportation, and accommodations. So far, I’ve been really successful on saving hundreds of dollars when I vacation overseas. And though this is something that I’m absolutely passionate and excited about, especially when it comes to teaching others, there are some definite drawbacks to travel hacking.

1. I often have to travel in the off-season.

To get the best deals on flights and hotels, I often have to travel to places during the off-season. This means those times of the year around summer and winter breaks. I usually take a trip in March which tends to be “off-season” for most destinations, and this isn’t so bad in the fact that March is my birthday month and I love to take a trip for my birthday (plus, I work from home so it’s no big deal to travel in March).

However, this can be a drawback in that sometimes the places that I visit are quite cold and haven’t really welcomed Spring in their area of the world. Take Ireland for instance. When I visited two years ago in March, I was freezing the entire time! It got down to 30 degrees during the day some days and that doesn’t always make for great sightseeing when you’re walking around to see major attractions.

On the other hand, traveling in the off-season doesn’t usually allow for others to join me on trips because they can’t take off during the off-season. Though I love solo traveling and encourage every woman to try it at least once — I sometimes do want travel companions.

2. I don’t always get the most ideal accommodations.

When it comes to traveling, I like to save in any aspect I can, so I often book Airbnb stays that are between $20-$50 if it is just me or between $80-$100 per night if I’m traveling with others. Though I can sometimes find fantastic deals with this kind of budget, that isn’t always the case. I’ve rented private rooms for $20 a night and the rooms didn’t have heating or air-conditioning, or maybe they were extremely cramped. Other times, I’ve booked places that were much farther from the city center and attractions than I originally expected and I had to walk much farther or take public transportation when I didn’t really want to. Yes, I save money on accommodations, but sometimes that comes with sacrifices, and though I’m always cheery about it and I really haven’t had a “horrible” experience with my bookings, sometimes (if I had the money to), it would be nice to stay fancy-like in a hotel with plenty of amenities or a luxury-type AirBnB at any price or location I wanted to.

3. Sometimes my flights are super crazy.

If I may brag, I am becoming the queen of booking cheap flights. My flight to Ireland from Los Angeles was $500. My flight to Spain from Dallas was $750, but with some travel points, it ended up being completely free. Now, I’m traveling to Bali this year and I just booked my flights and they total to $694, however, with some travel points, I believe it will only cost me about $90. Though the prices are fantastic and I saved hundreds of dollars on these flights — the situations around these flights aren’t the greatest.

For instance, the trips to Spain and Ireland, I had to book Economy Class and I didn’t have the choice of where I sat on some of those flights — which was not fun when you’re flying 14 hours. But, I won’t lie — this trip to Bali will probably be my craziest flight experience of yet, and all because I wanted to save hundreds on my flight. I will fly to Los Angeles from Dallas, with one stop in between, and stay over one night. The next day I will fly to Bali from Los Angeles, but I will have one layover during that leg of the trip. I will then do the same coming back. Essentially, I will be in the air for 24 hours on at least three different planes for both legs of the flight. Yes, that is a little crazy and I’m sure I will be cursing myself during the flights for booking such an insane flight itinerary. But in the end, it was spend $1,100 on a flight from Dallas to Bali or spend $90. Not too shabby.

4. I can get a little “savings-obsessed.”

Now that I’ve gotten into the travel hacking lifestyle, it’s kind of hard not to get obsessed with getting the best deal possible, which sometimes means I miss out on good travel deals in the hopes that a better one will appear in the future. Other times, it means that I get really frustrated or anxious if other people book trips with me along for the ride and they don’t do it in such a way that saves us the amount of money that I know we could be saving. I know that’s silly, but when you’ve discovered the secret of saving hundreds on travels and vacations, it’s hard not to want to do it all the time!

Though I can provide these drawbacks to travel hacking, I think in terms of the big picture — traveling hacking is so worth it. I’ve been doing it for four years and my mind automatically looks for savings and I’ve accumulated a wealth of travel knowledge that allows me to help others save hundreds on their trips. And without having learned all of this I can’t honestly say that I would have been able to visit the world like I have been for the past four years. I don’t make enough money per year to travel without travel hacking and for that, I am so grateful, because I get to experience the world in beautiful ways, and that to me is truly living.

If you’d like to learn how to travel hack, check out my simple guide on Amazon: Traveling Without the Costs (in the Simplest of Terms).