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🏨 How I travel so much (hotel edition)

Plus, our friends over at FareDrop have some exciting news for you!

Estimated read time: 5 minutes and 20 seconds

🌎 Did you know there are six popular tourist destinations with waitlists right now? Some locations include Machu Picchu, Havasu Falls, and more. Read the full list here

Good morning from the land “down under,” and welcome back to another installment of Daily Drop.

We’ve got all the staples of a good newsletter today, so let’s get straight into it:

✈️ Major FareDrop update (and 50% off the Pro Plan)

I think we’ve all embraced a new look a time or two in our lives… and I’m happy to say that FareDrop is no different 👀

The app has had a major facelift (in a great way), and we’re celebrating by offering new members 50% off FareDrop Pro for their first year!

WE’RE SO EXCITED, and here’s why.

You all already know that FareDrop scours the internet looking for the cheapest airfares to destinations all around the world.

Based on your travel preferences, you’ll get notifications when that ticket price drops, giving you a chance to scoop up a killer deal before it’s gone.

At its core, FareDrop is still the same workhorse, but now…

You’ll get a freaking new beautiful display whenever you open a deal alert 😍

Screenshot of new faredrop userface with additional dates and route info

Just look at her. She’s gorgeous.

You’ll have a more user-friendly experience in understanding exactly what the deal is, when it’s being offered, what airline and route you’ll be flying, and just how good of a deal it is.

We hope that you’ll enjoy this easier navigation and will have the absolute best experience in finding a deal that meets your needs 🤗

Oh, and did I mention this new format is available both online and in the FareDrop app??

If you’d like to save up to 80% on flights to your next bucket list destination, give FareDrop a try—there’s no better time than the present.

🏨 How I stay in so many hotels every year

One of the questions I get asked all the time is:

How do you travel as much as you do? Do you just sign up for a million credit cards…? How is that sustainable over the years?

Most people are surprised to learn that I don’t really sign up for many credit cards these days… in fact, I’ve only signed up for one new card in the last year.

One of my main strategies for long-term travel is conserving my points - specifically when it comes to hotels.

So today, I’ll give you a few tips that I use on a regular basis to stretch my hotel points and get the most value possible from them.

Let’s start with the most obvious… free night perks.

A handful of programs offer a perk that will give you one free night for varying amounts of nights booked on points.

For example, Marriott and Hilton offer every 5th night free (essentially, book five nights with points, and one of them will be free).

Marriott 5th night free perk

An example of Marriott’s “fifth night free” perk

IHG does something similar with every 4th night free, but only if you hold this credit card (which you should).

I try to batch my travels into four and five-night stays whenever possible. In a given year, I end up booking DOZENS of “free nights” from this perk alone.

One of the other benefits of using hotel points and having elite status is the additional value you get from hotel stays.

For example, I have the following elite statuses:

  • Hilton Diamond

  • Marriott Titanium

  • IHG Platinum

  • Hyatt Globalist

  • Best Western Diamond (lol)

Basically, every hotel I stay at will offer me some additional value, whether it’s bonus points toward a future stay, free breakfast, food and beverage credits, and sometimes much, MUCH more…

For example, I just finished up a stay at the Westin Hotel in Jakarta. Costing just 15,000 points per night, I booked a 5-night stay here for just 60,000 Marriott points thanks to their 5th-night free perk.

Westin Jakarta for 15,000 points

Not only did I get an amazing room upgrade to the 59th floor and a 4:00 p.m. late checkout, but I also got free breakfast, lunch, AND dinner every day.

You see, many 5-star hotels also have lounges for guests staying in premium rooms or guests who have elite status.

In these lounges, they’ll often have snacks, drinks, and sometimes full meals.

Westin Jakarta Lounge

Westin Jakarta Lounge

As a Marriott Titanium elite, I got access to the lounge and didn’t need to pay for any meals for five days straight.

If you’re traveling in an expensive city, this kind of perk could be a huge game-changer for saving money on your trip to put toward other things… or a future trip.

It also means that you can be strategic about when you do or do not get access to such perks.

For example, my IHG Platinum status does not earn me free breakfast… womp womp…

When I have an overnight layover or short stay with an early morning flight, I’ll try to use IHG points.

I don’t have time for breakfast anyway, and thanks to Priority Pass and other lounge access, I can eat in the airport lounge for free.

Airport Lounge meme

If I were to use Marriott or Hilton points, I’d be missing out on some value by not taking advantage of the many benefits I get with my status.

If you don’t have loads of elite statuses like me, that’s okay - you can still get perks like this without needing any.

For example, there are some brands that offer free breakfast to every guest (though this varies slightly depending on where you are in the world), including:

  • Holiday Inn Express (IHG)

  • Hyatt Place (Hyatt)

  • Hampton Inn (Hilton)

  • Fairfield (Marriott)

So, by using your hotel points to book a stay at brands like those, you’ll already be getting extra value from your points without having any elite status.

As budget brands, you’ll also save points compared with the higher costs of more luxurious brands.

Comparison of expensive vs. cheap IHG hotels in Osaka

Expensive points hotel vs. cheap points hotel w/ free breakfast

Don’t forget that some hotel partnerships allow you to access even more elite-like benefits without needing status, as I explained in the following newsletters:

Finally, there’s one other tip you can use to conserve points, save money, and extend your trips: Combining points AND cash.

Most hotel programs allow some form of paying with cash and points for the same booking.

While it doesn’t always offer the best value, it allows you to stay in chain hotels that would otherwise be pretty expensive without needing to burn all of your points (or money).

For example, many Hyatt hotels offer a way to “Pay My Way,” which lets you use a combination of points, money, and free night awards to book a stay.

Hyatt's "Pay My Way" feature

I recently booked a stay at the Hyatt Regency in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, a couple of months from now.

Since the award costs varied from night to night, I chose to use points on the nights that were priced lower and cash on the nights that were priced higher.

Example of using Hyatt's "Pay my way" feature

This way, I’m conserving my valuable Hyatt points and supplementing them with my travel budget while still staying at a nice, 5-star hotel.

As a Hyatt Globalist, I’ll also get free breakfast, late checkout, lounge access, and other perks at this hotel, adding even more value to my cash and points.

And if you don’t have elite status with any chain, there are tons of cards that offer meaningful status as an annual perk.

For example, each of the following cards will give you a “sweet spot” level of elite status with its corresponding brand:

These are just a few tips that allow me to travel constantly, so I hope you found them useful…

If you want a flight version of this newsletter section, let me know:

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🤣 Meme

Meme

Basically the conversation I have with my therapist every week…

Lounges are dope. It’s a great way to unwind and get some free food before your flight… even if that flight is a $13 Spirit Airlines flight.

Seriously, airport lounges are great… but understanding who can access which ones can be tricky.

So, in this week’s Daily Drop YouTube video, Brendan will take you into two of the most famous lounges in the U.S. that are only accessible by holding premium credit cards.

He’ll compare the two lounges and tell you how you can do the same. 👇

YouTue Video Thumbnail

That’s all for today, friends!

I hope you enjoyed my tips and strategies for stretching your hotel points to the limit, and I look forward to sharing more travel tips and deals with you tomorrow.

Take care,

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

37.8136° S, 144.9631° E