Yesterday, I came across a tweet by Brian Sullivan about lottery winnings that got me thinking about travel hacking. After all, we do all of this insane stuff so we don’t have to pay $20,000 for a first class seat. Brian calculated the take-home of a $1.5b lottery win and the potential investment income it could generate. I’ve had the, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” conversation lots of times and it usually revolves around work. This time, I thought “Would I quit travel hacking if I won the lottery?” The answer was easy: No.
I’m a pretty frugal person and don’t really care about extravagance. Just comfort. If I won $1.5 billion Powerball, I definitely would not give up on manufactured spending. Sure, I like traveling in premium cabins and staying at nice hotels. But would I pay for all of that if I had the means? No. It’s insanely overpriced and there are starving kids in the world. I couldn’t, in good conscience, shell out a huge amount of cash on a short-lived experience. That’s why I’d keep subsidizing my travel with points and miles earned via gift card churning.
I’ve always been a hustler, looking for ways to get a deal on everything. As a kid, I actually haggled with the ice cream man. I refuse to pay for anything full price – there has to be a discount of some sort for me to feel good about new purchases. Paying to fly business class at full price? I don’t think I could ever do that, no matter how many lottery tickets I cash in.
While I like hacking travel as much as anyone else, the main reason I’d jump back in line at Walmart is for the fun of it. Yes, I’ve complained about the things I hate about manufactured spending, but overall I love doing this. I get a rush from buying thousands of dollars worth of gift cards and liquidating them. Paying off big credit card balances accrued from those purchases? Thrilling. Keeping track of my manufactured spending activities? The perfect way to stay occupied when you’re an organizational freak.
I shared my thoughts on Twitter and fully expected to get negative feedback. To my surprise, several followers had the same answer; They would continue travel hacking if they had the financial means to pay for premium travel.
Weird thought, but if you took a lump sum like this would you stop travel hacking? I would miss the rush of buying and liquidating gift cards… https://t.co/Zb14i3iYua
— Ariana Arghandewal (@PointChaser) March 6, 2019
All of this points and miles stuff can get frustrating and feel like work sometimes. But when it comes down to it, it’s a hobby. It’s fun, challenging, and keeps us all on our toes. That’s why I think I’ll always have my hand in the game to some degree. Even after all the devaluations and shut-downs, I stick around. There are times when it’s frustrating and feels like a waste of time. But I still love it. And I can’t imagine many scenarios that would make me quit.
I’d like your thoughts on this: Would you give up travel hacking if you came across a financial windfall? What would it take for you to give up on this hobby?