Rewards Traveling Basics
TL;DR Reward travel can buy you a lot of cheap travel or a little of very expensive travel. It is also not "free" in the truest sense, so it is important to temper your expectations by identifying your goals.
Not pictured: private bedroom and bathroom (on a plane). Image: Etihad
What it is
Reward travel is a powerful way for people to travel A) to many places at almost no cost and B) in luxurious accommodations at a fraction of the actual retail price. With some points, enough planning and a bit of ingenuity, you too can backpack 5 countries on one award ticket or spend 15 hours in your own "First Class Apartment" in the sky.
"Travel hacking" or not, miles and points open up a lot of opportunites to those who would not otherwise have them.
What it isn't
As Lucky of One Mile at a Time says: travel isn't free. How come? You may not pay money to travel, but you will pay in other ways. Embrace the concept of opportunity cost: the time and effort you'll put into reward travel could actually be applied towards other things, like earning actual money. Not to mention, fees and charges and often add up when booking award tickets.
Reward travel isn't for everyone. But for many people (and the team here at AwardAce), reward travel is so worth it.
Identify Your Goals
Would you rather travel at as little personal expense as possible (e.g., round-trip flight to Hawaii for 50,000 points and $5), or would you pay for ultra-lux itineraries at cents on the dollar (e.g., one-way ticket to Europe in Singapore Air's incredible First Class Suites for the same 50,000 points)?
While the above goals are not mutually exclusive, you need to be clear about what you want to achieve. Thinking of specific trip helps.
With that in mind, you flush out your overall earning/redeeming strategy.