How to Hack Your Next Vacation with Chris Hutchins – EP 284

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Planning your next trip? If you want to save money on your next vacation and don’t want to use credit, you’re going to love this episode with Chris Hutchins! We’re going to talk about some simple hacks that can help you save huge on your next vacation that goes beyond finding cheap flights, travel reward points, and hotel costs.

Don’t buy stuff you don’t need to meet the minimum spend. That’s never going to help your budget or financial situation.


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Chris Hutchins is an avid life hacker, financial optimizer, and host of the award-winning podcast All the Hacks, where he shares his quest to upgrade his life without having to spend a fortune. Previously, he was the Head of New Product Strategy at Wealthfront (after they acquired his company Grove). Before that, he was an investor at Google Ventures, co-founded Milk (acquired by Google) and built an organization called LaidOffCamp.

Travel Hack Without A Credit Card

Chris thinks travel hacking does not have to be synonymous with credit card points and miles. You will need better research skills. If you’re searching for flights, Google Flights is the best search tool. If you’re going to a less common destination outside of the country, you might only find a couple of options, which are usually the most expensive. Try getting into a nearby major city which can be much cheaper. If you booked directly with a hotel, email them and tell them you’re excited to be staying there, they might offer an upgrade or gifts! 

The Truth About “Free Vacations”

Chris wouldn’t say there is an actual “free vacation.” If you use a credit card and don’t have to pay an extra fee to use it, you will be able to use a card that gets you cashback or points. If you compare a debit card to earning points, there could be a free vacation. Still, Chris caveats that if you’re using a card that gives you a 2% cash back, you’re not getting a free break if you’re taking it on your points because you could have earned money back and used that cash to pay bills, pay off debt, and more. 

Common Mistakes When Travel Hacking

Most people optimize the trip around getting the best deal rather than going where they want to go and doing what they want to do. It’s always awesome if the stars align, but don’t beat yourself up over not getting the absolute best deal that you hear from everyone else regarding the dollar value you’ve got from a certain amount of points. 

Volunteer To Pay For The Next Trip

No one likes planning a group trip because it requires a lot of work and time. Try to volunteer to pay it first and ask your friends to Venmo or transfer their share. If you do this with many people, you might earn thousands of points from planning the trip, which is a meaningful contribution to your points balance. 

The toughest situation we've been in while on a vacation and how we solved it

  • Chris: Bus en route to Kuala Lumpur never showed up and had to travel in the back of someone’s truck
  • Jill: Experienced the worst Airbnb from their Jamaica trip
  • Jen: Forgot their phone and wallet in the middle of the Bali trip and even had debit cards stolen 

Bill of The Week

Thank you Chris for sharing your bill about car insurance!

Thanks so Much for Listening!

Thanks so much for listening. Many of you know we have a private community where we do monthly money challenges and offer accountability groups. We want to congratulate one of our new members, Michelle, and share her recent gratitude post.

I am SO grateful to Jen & Jill for faithfully showing up for us every single week over the last 5+ years, and for creating this amazing community.

I remember back in the day of the OG Facebook Frugal Friends Community when it seemed like every other week someone was like: is there an accountability group for this?!??! And now there is!!! You did it ladies!! You’re doing such an amazing job, and your passion and perseverance really inspires me.

Other things I’m cheersing to today:

🥂my fiancé - his kindness and sweetness and generosity

🥂 I am finally in a financial place where I can spend money on things I want to do (like FFC)

🥂 my pets! Bernie the bunny and Rodney the gecko

🥂 The opportunities available to me/us in our world today to earn income that didn’t exist before. Specifically, the opportunity to create digital assets and make money online. I have chronic illness so this opportunity means everything to me and my financial stability.

🥂 amazing supportive community and friends like you all! Like-minded people who support me in pursuing my goals.

Congrats and thanks for listening! If you want to check out our membership where we have all kinds of courses, interviews, challenges, and more head to to check it out.

And keep leaving us reviews on iTunes or Stitcher, and sending the screenshot to And don’t forget to share your favorite quote from the episode by using the hashtag #FrugalFriendsNote. 😉

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