The LEE Method of Travel Hacking

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Dec 2022 Lee and Anna
Anna and me at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun in December 2022.
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Many travelers are intimidated by earning and redeeming miles and points. They figure it’s too much of a hassle, so they avoid using them. Or they redeem their rewards for basic trips with below-average value. With the LEE Method of travel hacking, I simplified the strategies you need to book the vacation of a lifetime.

The LEE Method of Travel Hacking

Instead of overwhelming you with an abundance of information, the LEE Method breaks it down into three basic steps. You learn about where you want to travel. Then, earn the miles and points you need for the trip. And, finally, book the trip before starting the process over again.


What miles and points are needed to book the trip you want to take?

Travel bloggers like me are constantly creating content every day. We bombard you with articles, podcasts, courses, eBooks, and YouTube videos highlighting every deal, sweet spot, and strategy known to man. While this information is helpful when you need it… most of it is just noise.

Instead of listening to everything, focus on what’s important to you. Then learn about that. With travel hacking, it all starts with the destination. Where do you want to go? Figure out which airlines fly there and which hotel brands are available. Ignore the rest.

Let’s say you want to travel to Paris. Follow these steps:

  1. Google which airlines fly to your destination. Search for “best way to book flights to Paris using miles and points.” Take notes about which miles they recommend. My favorite way to get to Europe using Air France / KLM Flying Blue. They have multiple transfer partners, and they offer monthly promos where you can save up to 50% off award flights.
  2. Learn how to earn those miles. Search for “how to earn Flying Blue miles.” You’ll learn how to earn enough airline miles to book your trip.
  3. Search for hotels at your destination. Google “best hotels to book with points in Paris.” If you have a favorite hotel brand (ex: Hilton, Hyatt, or Marriott), search for that hotel like this “best Hyatt hotels in Paris.” Different travelers have different preferences. Some want to stay longer using a less expensive hotel, while others want to splurge on a higher-end experience. Your destination may not have the type of hotel you want from a specific brand. For example, during our St Kitt’s trip in 2019, they didn’t have any Hilton hotels. The only options to book hotels using points were Hyatt or Marriott.
  4. Learn how to earn those hotel points. Search for “how to earn Hyatt points” to determine the best strategies to earn those points.

Another option is to use our affiliate partners and Awayz. These subscription-based programs show you what airline and hotel options are available for your trip. I love them both, and we use them regularly to book our vacations using miles and points.


Get the miles and points needed for the hotels and airlines you prefer

Now that you know which miles and points you need for your vacation, it’s time to focus your efforts. There are many different ways to earn miles and points without spending extra money every month. The key is to maximize what you spend to get the rewards you need. Here are a few of my favorite strategies.

  • Credit card welcome bonuses. Signing up for a new credit card is the single-biggest way to earn miles and points in a hurry. Many credit cards offer welcome bonuses of 50,000 to 100,000 miles or more. If you have big expenses coming up, it makes it very easy to meet the minimum spending requirements. For example, home improvement projects, car repairs, insurance premiums, or school tuition. Click here for the latest offers on my favorite credit cards.
  • Maximize everyday spending. Most rewards credit cards have bonus categories where you’ll receive extra points. The key is to get cards whose bonus categories match up with the categories where you spend the most money. Sometimes, you can pair benefits from different cards to maximize rewards on every dollar you spend.
  • Online shopping portals. If you’re like me, you’re already doing a lot of online purchases. Instead of going directly to the retailer’s website, go through a shopping portal to earn additional rewards on your purchase. These points are on top of what you’re earning with your credit card. Plus, throughout the year, the shopping portals offer bonuses based on your total spending during the promo period.
  • Dining rewards programs. Simply register your credit cards once with the airline of your choice. Then, you’ll automatically earn dining rewards at participating restaurants. Airline partners include American, Southwest, Delta, United, and others. Plus, register with Dosh using our affiliate link to stack extra cash back on top of those miles.
  • Transfer partners. Most airlines partner with flexible points programs where you can convert your points into airline miles. These programs include Chase, American Express, Citi, Bilt, and others.

Check out my articles about how to earn airline miles without flying or points without getting a new credit card.


Use the strategies to redeem rewards to book your trip

Now that you’ve picked a destination and have earned the right miles & points, it’s time to book your trip. Honestly, I think a lot of airlines and hotels make this step seem harder than it is. Sometimes, they implement rules to discourage travelers from using their hard-earned rewards.

Like before, you can easily search for travel experts like me who show you how to book trips step-by-step. Or, if you’re still unsure of the best uses of your miles & points, we can help you there as well.

Here are a few example searches to get you going:

My friends at (affiliate link) make it incredibly simple to book award flights using your miles. During the search process, you can let its software share all airline programs or filter the results for the loyalty programs you have the most miles & points.

PointMe BNA to MAD booking options from Atlanta - Step 6
Example of search results from Atlanta (ATL) to Madrid (MAD)

The Bald Thoughts on Travel Hacking

Traveling using airline miles and hotel points has opened up the world for me and my family. We love creating awesome memories without breaking the bank. At first, I was like many of you, intimidated by the complexity of some of these loyalty programs and unsure how to use them in the best way. While you may not always get the absolute maximum value from your rewards, these tips will help you get above-average value and make aspirational trips possible. If you have questions, please share them in the comments below.

For more information, consider taking our free email course “7 Days to Your Dream Vacation For Less.” We talk you through these steps in greater detail to make it easier for everyone to travel more, spend less, and live better.


  1. Fathiss method of buying an ice cream:
    1. Determine which flavor I like.
    2. Google ice cream shops in my area.
    3. See on line menus to determine which have my flavor.
    4. Drive to desired shop.
    5. Make purchase.
    6. Eat ice cream.

    Wow! My method of buying ice cream is of equal value as writing something like this.

    • You can trash it all that you like, but this article is to help beginners and others who are intimidated by miles & points realize that it isn’t as hard as they think it is. Yeah, will experienced miles & points people find a lot of value in it? Probably not. These steps are what most of us do already when we’re planning a trip. My basic point for “newbies” is that you don’t have to memorize award charts or read every travel blogger article to participate in “the game.” Read the articles when you want to in order to get a basic understanding, but follow these steps when you want to go someplace specific or use certain rewards that you’ve earned. It’s pretty simple and exactly how it should be.

    • Ummm… you do realize this is meant for people who are beginning with points and miles, right? I hope you feel a lot better after typing all that. Sorry you gotta hide behind your keyboard to feel tough.

  2. I think this makes sense. For someone getting started you are overwhelmed with all these posts about aspirational redemptions and sweet spots it can get confusing. It is important to step back and first think what you are looking to do. Then search specifically for that before doing the transfer and booking the trip!

    I think it also can be helpful to target at least two transferable point currencies such as Chase and Cap One Venture X if you can qualify to apply for those cards. Cap One tends to be really hard to get approval on Venture X unless you have not had any applications in a long time. In my experience they do not like upgrading the Venture to Venture X either which makes no sense because they get more revenue from higher card fee without having to pay out the new account bonus. But that is another story!

    • I agree, John. Flexible points are very valuable for all levels of travelers. They’re good for beginners because they can be used like cash to book travel. But also for more experienced travelers because they can be transferred to maximize their value and take advantage of those sweet spots.


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