By Sarah Francis
A thrifty couple have travelled the world for FREE with their two kids using a travel hack that saved them $54,000.
Pedro Pla, 35, and his wife Grace Cheng, 36, have visited five continents with their sons Ramses, 4, and Ranefer, 2 since January.
The co-founders of US credit card comparison website GET.com, which helps people maximise their credit card air miles and rewards, racked up one million air miles in just 12 months prior to their trip.
Their fun-packed itinerary included dog sledding in Lapland, seeing the Big Five in Kenya, swimming in the Caribbean, as well as Disneyland in Tokyo.
Envy-inducing photos of the family, who are currently in New York, have been shared on their Instagram: @roundtheworldfamily to over 20,000 fans.
Pedro said: “As credit card geeks, we had been using our credit card points and miles to redeem for cash back and for shorter trips, but we thought there must be some way to ‘hack the system’ and allow us to go around the world on free round-the-world tickets.
“Ramses and Ranefer couldn’t be having more fun than this. They love traveling.
“They’ve had no problems being continuously nomadic the past few months, sleeping in a different place every few nights, eating food from all over the world.”
Having toured the world in 2007 for a year, the adventurous couple had a taste of travelling and decided to do the epic trip again, but this time using air mile points.
Pedro added: “It was one of the best things we had done in our twenties and we wanted to experience it again.
“Grace and I had this conversation about 2017 marking the 10 years since our first round the world trip.
“When I suggested to her we should travel around the world again, but this time with our two little boys in tow, she thought at first I must be joking.”
The savvy couple set to work acquiring daily air-mile points on their credit cards.
Pedro added: “We aren’t super frequent flyers, so the main hack to collect miles was to earn them as credit card points or miles, through a combination of signing bonuses and on-the-ground spending.”
They reached their million mile goal in September 2016 and redeemed four business class round-the-world tickets, saving US$54,000.
Since then they have visited America, Europe, Africa and Asia with their sons.
Pedro said: “Traveling with two rambunctious toddler boys isn’t for the faint-hearted.
“They have toddler-specific needs such as needing to rest or to run about, burning off energy, so we have to keep that in mind while being on the go.
“Life is a juggling act and we have to be flexible. Some days we work more hours, some days we spend more time exploring a place.
“We both work when the kids are resting or playing by themselves.”
Pedro, who was born in Puerto Rico but traveled to three continents before turning three, launched GET.com (www.get.com) in 2014 and claim ‘traveling hacking is for everyone.’
Pedro said: “You don’t need to aim for a million miles.
“It really all depends on what your travel goal is, and your individual spending habits. You can aim for a short or long haul award flight, or a free upgrade to premium cabins – that’s up to you.
“Different airlines have different amount of miles need for award redemption.”
For more thrifty travel tips check out Get.com and follow the families journey via @roundtheworldfamily (https://www.instagram.com/roundtheworldfamily/).
GET.COM TOP TIPS FOR SAVING MILES
1. Apply for credit cards with attractive signing bonuses
Many credit cards in the US offer signing bonuses for new sign-ups. While there are some credit cards which give you free bonus points or miles when using your card for the first time, most require you to spend a certain amount within a certain period of time after you get your card. Because of this, it’s important to time your card application carefully so that you can make sure you will be able to meet that minimum spend and get the signing bonus.
2. Use the right credit card to earn more than 1 mile per $1 spent
If you’re getting 1 mile for every dollar you spend, you will need to spend the massive amount of $1 million to get a million miles purely through spending, excluding signing bonuses. If you’re earning 2 miles per dollar, that goes down by half to $500,000 of spending, and if you can get 3 miles per dollar, that goes down to $333,000 worth of spending. Of course, when you factor in signing bonuses, the amount you need to spend to earn the rest of the points and miles will go down. You get the gist.
The trick to earning more than 1 mile per $1 spent is to use the card that rewards you the most miles per dollar for each type of spend. While this sounds like perfect common sense, not everyone takes the time and effort to get acquainted with the different earnings rate of their cards. And when you don’t do that, you can’t maximise the earning of your credit card points.
3. Shop through sites that give points or miles There are quite a few shopping and travel booking sites that reward you with miles or points transferable to your preferred loyalty program.
Doing so will allow you to earn additional miles to what you will be earning through your credit card for the purchase. That means you will earn twice – once through your credit card and once through these sites.
4. Pay for everything using a credit card
When you use cash, you lose cash. It’s the same for a debit card. Cash and debit cards don’t give you any additional savings or rewards when you pay using them. I try to use a credit card to pay for everything, ranging from everyday spending to big-ticket purchases. As I pay my credit card bills in full and on time each month, I don’t incur any interest charges and I get to earn points and save more.
If you have a big-ticket expense coming up, such as renovating your house, buying electronic equipment such as a computer or signing up for a gym or spa package, consider timing it with the signing up of a new credit card, or using a card that gives the most miles per dollar for that type of expense. It’s very important that if you do this, you either pay your credit card bill in full by the due date, or put it on a 0% intro APR card to avoid hefty interest fees. When used wisely, credit cards are just a mode of payment which rewards you on your spending.
5. Putting business expenses on high earning cards
Whether you are a sole proprietor or small business owner, you can try applying for business credit cards, in addition to consumer credit cards. Some business credit cards in the US have pretty attractive signing bonus offers which you can take advantage of.
To see more of the families adventures follow: @roundtheworldfamily
QUOTES TO FOLLOW
ROUND THE WORLD ITINERARY
Cape Town, South Africa
Arctic Circle, Finland
Sao Paolo, Brazil
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Turks & Caicos
New York, US
Quebec City, Canada
Seoul, South Korea