How to Make Money Traveling

100-PDMany of us had the desire to make money traveling the globe.  Most of us had had menial jobs in the past.  Working for minimum wage, or doing a hard job for not much money.  This post is about saving money, which in effect is actually earning it.  Here is a recent example of how you can pick a cheaper way of traveling and you can actually get ‘paid’ for your time traveling.

I recently booked some airplane tickets to Florida.  I was able to accumulate 15,000 miles by applying for the airlines credit card, and a few additional miles from the actual flight itself.  Tack on a few miles from the actual purchase amount, and I was nearly to the amount of miles I needed for a second set of round trip tickets.  I was short just less than 3,000 miles to get the free tickets I needed.  Of course, this means I have to manage my property from a distance for a week.

I received a few texts from my tenants while I was gone.  One was wondering about garbage pickup being delayed due to labor day.  the other was a tenant letting me know her rent was dropped in my rent box on the 5th.  There were no maintenance calls.

I was able to do some travel hacking by purchasing three $500 Visa gift cards, for $2.00 each.  That was worth 3,000 miles.  That gave me enough miles for two free round trip tickets, MSP to FLL.  I booked the tickets on Spirit Airlines to fly during the slow (i.e. cheap) season.  This airline is known for its cheap pricing, so it was right up my alley.  They advertise it is a low cost airline, and they charge for everything under the sun.  On my last flight with them, the flight attendant even made a joke about how they charge if you push the flight attendant button overhead.  Spirit does have one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the business, so the planes are not (hopefully) going to fall apart when I am on it.  They are also one of the most profitable airlines, so hopefully they do not skip maintenance (Southwest?) to avoid losing money (or maybe that is why they are profitable?)

Nothing is Actually Free

So I booked the tickets, using my miles.  The total cost of the trip, using miles, was $195.  That included two round trip tickets, one bag per passenger, a $12.50 per ticket booking fee, and joining their $9 fare club for $59.  The $9 fare club saved just a bit of money on bags, but still made the trip cost slightly more than not buying it.  If I fly again in the next year, or added another bag, it will be well worth it.

When you book an airline ticket, fly on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Those are the cheapest airline ticket days.  Any other days typically cost more.  I probably would saved $50 for each ticket by flying these days with Spirit, compared to other days.  I know I saved 7,500 miles for each ticket, each way, or 30,000 miles.

The total length of the trip down is about nine hours.  There is a stop in Detroit for about 5 hours, and then it’s just flight time.  I could have upgraded seats so I would have more room, and that would have cost a bit on each leg of the trip, so I skipped it.  A person should be able to be a bit cramped for three hours to save about $40 per person.  That’s almost a savings of $10 per hour for doing nothing more than sitting in a seat.  Or I can even sleep on the flight, which is real easy money.  No other job would pay you to do that. (I won’t go into some other jobs I have had…)

I received a bit of grief from the other ticket for having a 9 hour total flight time, a lengthy layover, and wasting so much time on the trip.  The trip back was comparable to most other airline options, and only had a short layover.  So I compared the other options to reduce the first layover.

Getting Paid $62 per Hour

The next cheapest flight was a major airline.  That price was $235 for each ticket, and also cost another $25 per bag.  For two people, the total cost would be $570.  It was faster with a six hour total flight time, because they had a shorter layover.  Saving the six man hours for both of us would have cost $375.  That is like getting paid over $62 per hour, just for sitting in an airplane.  EASY MONEY!!

Evaluating the fastest airline is even a better use of my earning power.  The quickest travel time is just under 5 hours.  That still has one layover, but it was a short one.  There are pros and cons to a short layover, especially when you have to get to the next plane, in a different concourse, and the plane you are arriving on is late.

So a short layover could turn into a very long layover and a landing on a different day if you miss the connection.  Assuming that all goes as planned; the cost of this ticket was a whopping $664.  That’s $1,328 for both tickets.  Saving $1,128 but spending just a bit over 8 man hours to do it.  That’s $141 per hour.  I will take that wage any day.

Making Use of the Layover

I made some use of the layover while I was in Detroit.  My sister lives about 45 minutes away from DTL, and she works  in Detroit.  So I was able to meet her, and a friend that I had not seen in 40 years, for lunch at the Westin Hotel, which is right in the airport.  We have both aged a bit, and he was one of the people that taught me a bit about carpentry.  He was a carpenter when he was working.  I had not seen my sister in a few years, so it was a great place to catch up and make use of the time.

Money you save, is like money you earn, tax free.

Have you ever upgraded to a better seat or flight and calculated what it cost in terms of dollars per hour?

10 Replies to “How to Make Money Traveling”

  1. “Person should be able to be a bit cramped for three hours to save about $40 per person. That’s almost a savings of $10 per hour for doing nothing more than sitting in a seat.” Because we won our trip to Hawaii (well, discounted not free because we have to pay the taxes on it as if the cost of the trip was income), I was considering upgrading on the flights there or back. I think you single-handedly convinced me not to! Why upgrade when I can get paid to be a little uncomfortable? Heck, most airlines aren’t even THAT uncomfortable in coach. Like you said, you can always sleep during the flight.

    1. Great plan! Just remember to factor in the cost of free drinks and food some airlines offer in first class. If you are going to drink heavily in Coach, it might be cheaper to upgrade for free drinks – if they are offered.

      But I have found that often the upgraded seats are just slightly larger, and not much different. You get there are the same time. All you get is slightly more room, and it’s not even that much more.

      Have a great time in Hawaii!

  2. Spirit used to offer three free plane tickets if you signed up for their card. I did, used it, and cut it up. Although I am not sure if I can become a churner to some extent because of my cc history, but I like the idea and I love the fact that this was from MSP because that means you must be from MN or in the area like me.

    1. That is exactly what I did. I got the 15,000 miles, and earned ~2,000 miles for the first trip plus some miles for charging the first trip on the card. I got another 3,000 miles for the hacking. And I have quit using the card…

      I am in the Twin Cities.

  3. I love it! My wife and I have been getting cashback and travel rewards for years. If you are responsible with using credit cards and rewards systems, they can really pay off.

    I also love how you evulated the airline savings and compared it to earning $62/hour. Great stuff!

    1. Sitting in an airplane is no fun, but it is not like you are getting beaten with a rubber hose. Even with upgraded tickets, you only get just a bit more room. And in first class, you pay a lot more, for only a few hours. Why not save the money, and use it for a nice dinner, or use it for an additional sight seeing tour while you are on vacation.

  4. My parents fly quite a bit and they tend to get cheaper flights if they fly on the 13th of the month. I guess people are superstitious. Cashing in rewards points/miles is the best. This year I have had 2 free hotel stays, free airport parking and a number of car repairs all paid for with loyalty and credit card points.

  5. I spent an extra 60$ per ticket for 2 tickets on my last trip for that spirit high leg room seat. I’m 6’5″ and i can’t begin to describe how much that extra leg room is worth to me!!! I’ll eat raman and drink natty light for a month to make up for it if it means not cramming myself into a sardine can seat. And im sure anyone in a 1 seat radius probably is less pissed to boot. I’d rather stand for 3 hours than sit in one of those coach seats if they would LET me. Not that most planes have the headroom but you know what i mean 🙂

    Could be worse right?
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/17/travel/airbus-saddle-seat-patent/

    BTW i have been very pleased with Spirit. Everyone gets bent out of shape but their rules are very very clear. You pay for what you get. You want less? Pay less. You want more? Pay more. Your bag doesnt fit? Pay more. Wanna bring an overweight bag? Pay more. Don’t wanna bring a bag? Pay less. More leg room? Pay more or less! Seat assignment? Pay more or less! Genius idea for those who can do a pro/con analysis of what they value.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      I think if I was 6’5″, I would buy the extra seat too. There are quite a few that complain about Spirit, but they are the cost leader, and one of the few airlines that actually make money. Flying the seats that are less traveled, you can often get two seats as the one next to you is vacant.

      Let’s hope the saddle seats never make it to reality…

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