The Starter’s Guide to Canadian Travel Hacking Part 1: Flights

Canadian travel hacking is great. Not as good as in the United States but still great. That’s because we have the second best travel hacking opportunity in the whole wide world!

Why should you travel hack? Do you want to see the world? Do you love getting travel deals? Want to increase the frequency that you travel every year?

Regardless of your reason, with travel hacking, you can double, triple or quadruple the amount of travel you do per year! How does that sound?

So, what exactly is travel hacking?

That’s a good question and here is the answer: travel hacking is utilizing every loop hole in the system to help you save tons of money on travel. Many of the travel hacking tricks are unconventional which is actually a good thing. If everyone travel hacked, it wouldn’t be as lucrative as it is today. So don’t worry if most people don’t want to do it. It’s not for everyone. It’s for people who will do whatever it takes to travel more often without going broke.

How I got started on Canadian travel hacking

Let me tell you a quick story on how I got started on Canadian travel hacking. When Karen (my girlfriend) and I first started dating, I promised her that I would take her to Harry Potter Land one day. In September 2014, I had just paid off my student loan at that time (September 2014) and didn’t have much left in my savings account.

After coming back from a short road trip between Las Vegas and Bryce Canyon National Park, Karen and I felt that we did a pretty good job budget wise for this trip. So, while hanging out with my friend, I told him how much money Karen and I saved thanks to flying on a budget airline (Allegiant). He laughed at me and said he went to Asia for $90. I was shocked. He then taught me about his Canadian travel hacking tricks.

Long story short, Karen and myself started using the travel hacking strategies. And, by December 2014, we were able to fly round trip to Florida from Vancouver for merely $140! We also did a 5-day Caribbean cruise for $270 per person including tax and stayed at a Marriott Hotel for free. I fulfilled my promise to her despite being flat broke!

All Smiles at Harry Potter Land

FloridaHogsmeade

Learn how you can do it:

Canadian Travel Hacking Topics:

Travel Hacking Flights

The Cheap Way

The cheap way to book your flights would be to use flight aggregate sites such as these two:

If your flight date is flexible, you can certainly find some deals that cost below the average ticket price. And as a result, you will save some money.

The problem is, it might take you awhile to find those really awesome deals. Which leads us to…

The Cheaper Way

The cheaper way to book your flights would be to use websites that focuses on flight deals. They are:

They often have cheap deals, mistake fares, and last minute flights. From my opinion, secretflying and yvrdeals are currently the best option of the four.

Hidden city ticketing

Hidden city ticketing means you fly to a specific destination but you get off the airport at your layover. Here’s a scenario: you live in Toronto and you want to fly to LA. The ticket to LA, for some reason, is more expensive than flying to Honolulu. What you then do is use the skiplagged.com and fly to Honolulu instead. On the way to Honolulu, your flight will have a layover in LA. You will then leave the airport at LA instead of taking the connecting flight to Honolulu. This is what hidden city ticketing means. And, it’s a great way to save money on airfare. Keep in mind that this method is frowned upon by airlines; nonetheless, it is completely legal and there’s nothing stopping you from using this strategy.

Another excellent way to travel for cheap is to use budget airlines. For example, you can get an Air Asia pass and fly around Asia for really cheap.

Here is a list of some of the more useful budget airlines to use world wide:

Here is the link to the rest of the budget airlines worldwide.

The problem with budget airlines is that they are limited to a specific region in the world. For example, Allegiant Air is strictly for Western United States. I can’t use Allegiant to fly overseas.

This is when the cheapest method of travel comes in…

The Cheapest Way

The single best way to Canadian Travel Hacking is to use frequent flyer points.

Back in 2016 while using the old Aeroplan program, I used my miles to book a flight from Vancouver to Tel Aviv, Israel. After taking advantage of Aeroplan routes that charge lower carrier fee, and spending 40,000 Aeroplan miles, the cost of the flight was merely $73.53.

VancouverIsrael

After doing a quick search on Skyscanner, the cost of the exact same flight is $1,046.04. That is over $900 more than what I paid!

VancouverToTelAvivIsrael

The Slow Way and Faster Way to Earn Frequent Flyer Miles

The slow way to earn frequent flyer miles is the traditional way.

In the traditional way, you earn points by spending money. Typically, for every dollar you spend, you will earn 1 mile. For example, it cost 25,000 Aeroplan miles round-trip to fly to Honolulu from Vancouver. Traditionally, you need to spend $25,000 to get 25,000 miles.

Some people are more strategic and will take advantage of points multipliers that comes with certain credit cards. For example, with the TD Aeroplan Infinite VISA, you can earn double the points when buying groceries. That means if you run all your grocery bill onto your TD Aeroplan Infinite VISA, you can double the speed when earning frequent flyer miles. This strategy is not bad and I do encourage you to maximize the points you earn. But as you can already guess, there is a much faster way to earn miles.

Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses 

Taking advantage of credit card signup bonuses is the single fastest way to earn frequent flyer miles. (Aeroplan will be your go-to frequent flyer program in Canada)

Here’s an example:

You want to fly to Hawaii from Vancouver.  You check the new Aeroplan Points Predictor Tool to see how many points you need:

Looks like you need, at most, 17,500 points to fly one-way to Hawaii from Vancouver. The quickest way to get that 35,000 points to fly round-trip is to signup for credit cards with enough welcome bonus to earn you those points.

Here is an example of how to use a credit card to give you enough points to travel to Hawaii:

During promotional periods, you can apply for the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite. With this card, you can earn 10,000 points after your first purchase. Then, you will earn 10,000 points after spending $1000 within the first 90 days of getting the card. Finally, you can earn 30,000 points from exchanging your buddy pass to Aeroplan points. The credit card has the annual fee waived for the first year which saves you more money.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with TD or any other credit card companies. 

If you want to travel elsewhere, simply check the Aeroplan points predictor tool website to determine how many points you need. Then, apply for a credit card during promotions that will earn you the most amount of Aeroplan points.

If you are curious to see how credit card signups will affect your credit score, feel free to read this blog post. The linked article is a guide on how to keep your credit score healthy as you travel hack your way to all your dream destinations.

After earning the points you need, it’s time to book your flight.

Booking Aeroplan Flights

Since the release of the new Aeroplan program, fuel surcharge is a thing of the past. Booking your Aeroplan points has never been easier. Simply go to the Air Canada website, pick your destination, and book away! It’s no longer as complicated as the old program.

 

With that being said, there are more complex routing available for advanced Aeroplan users. Check out this ultimate guide to the new Aeroplan program to learn more how it works.

Canadian Travel Hacking Flights Conclusion

In this article, we came to the conclusion that travel hacking is the best way to save money on travel. Even if you are the casual traveler, you can reap the benefits of travel hacking by simply getting three new credit cards per year. That’s roughly 80,000 points.

Let’s say you budget $2000 per year on buying airfare. With travel hacking, you can easily double, triple, quadruple the amount of traveling you will be able to do. Instead of spending that $2000 on one overseas ticket. You can get three credit cards, earn 80,000 miles and spend around $100-$200 for one round trip flight.

You can then use the remaining $1800 on the other cheap flying methods such as using budget airlines or getting flight deals from the other websites.

Let’s say you find a flight to Asia from secretflying.com for $700. Then you take Allegiant Air to Las Vegas for $150. That still leaves you with $950 and you’ve flown three times already!

In part 2 of the Starter’s Guide to Canadian Travel Hacking, I will be covering accommodations.

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6 thoughts on “The Starter’s Guide to Canadian Travel Hacking Part 1: Flights”

  1. Nice guide Kendrick! I wasn’t aware of the flight deals sites. How I wish it’s easier for people from Singapore and Malaysia to earn miles with credit cards! Recetly I applied one and had to spend $1000 in 2 months to earn 8000 miles for the sign up bonus.

    1. Hi Hazel, great to hear from you. Yeah… unfortunately, the order of countries with a stronger frequent flyer program would be USA > Canada > UK/Germany/???/Australia > everyone else. That’s good that you are trying your best to still earn some points. I heard HSBC can give you some Kris Flyer points, feel free to research that. You can also try RocketMiles and get an American or Canadian address to earn some points. It’s great if you plan on booking accommodations and would like to rack up frequent flyer points, quickly. I bet you can even get Aeroplan points by using RocketMiles. Feel free to shoot me an email after you do some research on those areas and I’ll see if I can help you out.

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