Travel cheaper or better: what's not to like?
Before I got into personal finance, I was really into travel hacking. Travel hacking is the science (art?) of skillfully using air miles, hotel points, and credit card rewards to travel extremely cheaply, or to travel in luxury without paying more than you would for the basic package.
I even wrote a book about it.
There are two main approaches in travel hacking. One is to try to travel (and stay) for free by using points, and the other is to travel luxuriously. In general my approach was to focus on the second one.
By far the best place to try travel hacking is the US. Unfortunately in Japan there are far fewer opportunities to get free stuff but there are a couple of easy things to do that can make your travel much cheaper or more pleasant.
1. Use point and mile credit cards for your normal spending. It is important not to get carried away and spend more than you would normally in order to get points, but if you can do that and pay your bills in full every month this is a good way to eventually get free flights or hotel stays.
2. Get mid-tier status with JAL or ANA, then get their special credit card to keep it for as long as you pay the fees. Mid-tier status allows you to use airline lounges and business class checkin counters, thus reducing the most stressful parts of air travel.
I lost interest in travel hacking once I had learned some of the basic concepts. I remember posting a question to milepoint (now InsideFlyer):
"If we spent the time we spend on learning about miles and points on learning about money and how to make more, wouldn't be just be able to buy the tickets we need instead of jumping through hoops to get them with points?".
No one really had a good answer to that, so I switched to learning about money instead of airline loyalty programs and haven't really looked back.
If you want to learn more, you could get my book on Amazon for 305 yen. It's not a great book, but it's probably worth the price of a cup of coffee ;)
I'm also happy to try to answer any questions here or in the forum.