5 Highlights From Travel Hacking My Way To World Domination Summit 2014

WDS 2014Look out world… I recently spent a weekend with approximately 2,999 of my closest friends at the World Domination Summit.

Of course, I’m not looking to actually dominate the world but I do want to share a little bit of my WDS experience with you.

More importantly, I want to share with you how I traveled to and stayed in Portland for WDS for FREE.

Yes, you read that right.  My fiance and I travel hacked our way to Portland and we even stayed in a luxury suite on the 20th floor (Penthouse!) at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower.

Travel Hack Twitter ConversationA little while back this guy on Twitter was really going out of his way (ie. calling it spam) to tell me that travel hacking does not work.

I normally ignore the trolls but for some reason that day I chose to engage.  I shared some resources with him and think hope that I was able to open his eyes to the possibilities of travel hacking.

This twitter exchange and Melanie’s recent post about overcoming limiting beliefs really got me thinking about how else can I help people overcome the limiting beliefs about travel hacking?

What better way then share a very recent example (read: true story) about how I saved $2,645.88 by using travel reward points rather than cash to book two round trip flights and four nights in a swanky hotel in the heart of Portland?!?

Unlike most of my trips, I actually new about this one really far in advance.  I bought our tickets to the 4th annual World Domination Summit during the first round of ticket sales way back when.  I should have booked my flights and accommodations right after buying the tickets to WDS, but I didn’t.  I always had the idea in the back of my mind that was going to book my flights and hotel with points which is maybe why I put it off.

The weeks and months went by and with every email from Chris Guillebeau (the creator of WDS and other amazing awesomeness) I would say to myself “I need to book my travel accommodations.”

Finally, a mere 13 days before we would board our flight to Portland I sat down and started to compare the reward travel options to get from Calgary, Canada to Portland, Oregon.

Since my only loyalties (when it comes to travel) are to price and points, I had to review the reward travel options for Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta, US Bank Flex and a few more.

My Favorite travel hacking credit card right now is the Barlcaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard where you can earn $400 worth of FREE travel when you $3,000 in the first 90 days. If you need some ideas on how to meet the minimum spent, check out this article.

For this trip, it made the most sense to use my US Bank Flexperks points to book both the flights and the hotel.  The flights were 40,000 points each and the four night stay at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower was 100,000.  Total cost for travel was 180,000 US Bank Flexperks points rather than $2,645.88.

Chalk one up for travel hacking!

Here are the obligatory screenshots to quiet the peanut gallery on twitter:

Using Flexperks Points For Free Flights

80,000 Points redeemed for two round trips flights from Calgary to Portland (retail price: $1,370.96)

Using FlexPerks Points To Book Hotel With Travel Hacking

100,000 Points redeemed for four nights at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower (retail price: $1,274.92)

I’ll be the first to admit that the amount of points I spent to go on a short haul flight and spend four nights in a hotel (even if it was a super swanky room on the penthouse floor) was a lot.

I usually try to keep my flights in Canada and the USA to 25,000 points or less.  That being said, I decided to use some of my FlexPerks points for this trip as the total actual dollars saved was $2,645.88.  I could have done myself a favor, and likely saved lots of travel points, by booking a lot earlier than I did.  Oh well, and as a Cubs fan I know that, “there’s always next year”.

After all, travel Points are meant to be used, not hoarded.  There are ALWAYS more massive point bonuses to be earned.

Highlights From World Domination Summit 2014

Potland WDS 2014I honestly went into WDS2014 without any expectations.  Not because I was trying to arrive with an open mind, but because I literally did NOT know what to expect.

I somehow stumbled on Chris Guillebeau’s blog a few years ago and instantly became a fan of Chris and his goal to visit all 193 countries in the world.  I followed along as he visited 20+ countries per year and finally reached the end of the earth when he visited Norway in 2013.

Since I only really read his posts about travel, I didn’t really know the full scope of what Chris does.  I do remember seeing mentions of this World Domination Summit for the past three years and keep thinking to myself “I should check that out”… but never did.

This year, I decided to just go ahead and buy a couple of tickets to the event.  Boy, am I happy that I did.

Highlight #1: The People!

I did not meet a single person I didn’t like the entire time I was at WDS 2014.  Not.  A.  One.

Sometimes as I toil behind this keyboard and screen in coffee shops around the world, I feel like I’m the only weirdo who is chasing his dreams both online and off.  It felt great to be surrounded by so many like minded people who are busy trying to change the world in their own way.

Seriously, if the rest of the event sucked (which it didn’t), it still would have been work it just for the people we met.

WDS Crowd

2,999 of my new friends at WDS 2014

Highlight #2: The Speakers

I have to admit that I didn’t know quite a few of the speakers that were lined up to speak at WDS 2014.  I was slightly disappointed by this going into the event but that disappointment did not last long.

Talking about each of the speakers could literally each be a stand alone post.  Here is a quick thought about each of them:

AJ Jacobs (who is probably my cousin by the way) had me laughing hysterically and treating everyone in the world more like family.

Jadah Sellner put my emotions through the ringer and left me craving a green smoothie.

Gavin Aung Than inspired me with his cartoons and reminded me that, in life, some of our projects might not work out but turn out to be great stepping stones.

Shannon Galpin floored me with some of the stats she shared and she and her work was an absolute inspiration.

Dee Williams had me walking around the closing party with a blanket super hero cape tied around my neck.

John Francis left me speechless after hearing his story of spending 17 years in a vow of silence (see what I did there?!?).

Michael Hyatt left me questioning some of the projects (in a good way) that I have been working on purely for monetary gain.

John Jantsch, in a weird way, reassured me that “I’m not alone” on a few things I have been feeling lately plus made me realize that how we react to things is our own choice.  His famous line is to “make good choices”.

Elise Blaha Cripe had me wanting to get my hands dirty and make more stuff.

Scott Berkun had me reminiscing about the good times I had with my college buddies (which was NOT the point of his talk, but hey… we all feel different things).  

I thoughtfully enjoyed all of the speakers and left the weekend feeling motivated, rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.

Highlight #3: The Vegan Food Scene in Portland

For the past couple years, I have been been eating a plant based diet (well, most of the time anyway).  When I’m eating at home, I really enjoy making amazing plant based meals but when I’m on the road or eating out, it can be really hard to stick with it which can make eating while traveling more than a little frustrating.

Not in Portland.  We could have eaten at a different vegan friendly restaurant every night for a long long long time.  A shout out to Eric for his recommendation of Papa G’s Vegan Organic Deli.  It was delish.

Papa G's Vegan Organic Deli Portland

Highlight #4: Setting A World Record

You might have noticed that I recently updated my twitter bio to include “world record holder”.

On the Friday before WDS officially started, we participated in The Great Namaste where 808 awesomely sexy yogis successfully broke the world record for the longest yoga chain in the world.

Can you spot me in this picture doing my favorite yoga pose?

World-Record

Highlight #5: Meeting So Many Awesome Personal Finance Bloggers at the FinCon Meetup

All throughout the weekend there were these independently organized meets up where smaller groups of people could connect around some common ground

Melanie from Dear Debt, who is a staff writer here at VOSA, invited me to attend the FinCon meetup to mingle with some other great minds in personal finance.

My fiance and I had a great time meeting and sharing so many great stories and laughs with this amazing group of personal finance bloggers.

I was assured that the meetup was only a small sample of what’s to come at FinCon, which has me VERY excited to head to New Orelands later this year to attend FinCon14.

(Bonus) Highlight #6: World Domination Summit Socks! (Seriously)

The swag bag at this year’s WDS was awesome.  There, literally, was a bag plus a t-shirt, stainless steel canteen, tokens for free food and drink, a note book and more.  This was an unexpected surprise.

They were also selling off swag from previous years and in this pile of old swag were World Domination Summit socks for $3/pair.  I bought myself a couple of pairs although I wish I would have bought at least 20 pairs.  I have to say, the way they make me feel when I’m putting them on in the morning is completely awesome.  It’s a great way to set the tone for the day.

We all put our pants on one leg at a time. Some of us just put them on over a pair of #WDS2014 socks!”

~ @BrentVOSA

WDS Socks

How You Can Travel Hack Your Way To World Domination Summit 2015

I would highly recommend attending World Domination Summit to anyone and everyone.  You don’t need to be into blogging, building an online business, traveling or dominating the world to enjoy WDS.

Of course, I would recommend travel hacking your way to Portland for WDS 2015 so don’t have to spend any money to get there. 

Here are the exact steps you can take to pay for your flights and hotel to travel hack your way to WDS 2015.

Step #1: Sign Up For A US Airways Premier World MasterCard (Earn 40,000 Dividend bonus miles) To Cover Your Flight To Portland

I chose this card to cover your air travel because US Airways flies to Portland from a TON of cities in the USA and around the world.

US Airways Routes

When you sign up for a new US Airways Premier World MasterCard you will earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and the payment of the $89 annual fee.

These 40,000 dividend miles should be more than enough to book a round trip flight from the USA or Canada as low cost fares can be 25,000 points and medium priced fares can be 40,000 points as shown below.

US Airways Dividend Bonus Miles Flight Costs

Now that we have your flights covered, lets move on to covering the cost of your hotel while you’ll be staying in Portland.

Step #2: Sign Up For a Barlcaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard To Cover The Cost of Your Hotel

One of the reasons why the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is my current favorite credit card for travel hacking is because you earn dollars that can be credited against travel expenses on your credit card statement.

What this means is that you can use the $400 worth of free travel you’ll earn by spending $3,000 in the first 90 days towards any kind of travel expenses.  Flights, hotels, trains, cruises, etc.  Redeeming your rewards on this card is uber flexible and your rewards dollars never expire or get blacked out.

For this example to work, we need to find a hotel that will be under $400 for the nights of July 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th.  Here is a hotel that is 1.5 miles (a 7 minute drive, 12 minutes on public transit or 31 minute walk) from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall where WDS 2015 will be held.  For these four nights the cost of this hotel comes in at $371 which is $29 under budget!

Hotel in Portland For Under $400The Bottom Line

I’m hesitant to use the phrase “life changing” as I’m not a huge fan of the current trend online where sites use very powerful language to get you to click on a post only to be disappointed that it’s not “the funniest thing you’ve ever seen and had you rolling on the ground in tears” after watching it.

That being said, there hasn’t been a day that has gone by since I left Portland that I haven’t thought about something I learned, heard, experiences, felt and/or witnesses at World Domination Summit 2014.  I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the work I am doing and the priorities in my life.  I have made some big (ongoing) changes because of what I experienced at WDS and for that I am grateful that I attended.

The fact that I traveled there for free thanks to travel hacking is just a bonus.

I would highly recommend that you too experience all that the World Domination Summit has to offer and if you travel hack your way there, more power to you!

Just remember that all you need to travel hack your way to Portland next year is two credit card sign up bonuses.

1.  You are able to cover the cost of your round trip flight to Portland by signing up for a US Airways Premier MasterCard where you will earn 40,000 bonus miles.

2.  To cover the cost of your hotel, you will want to sign up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard where you will earn $400 worth of free travel dollars that you can use to book a hotel 1.5 miles from the concert hall for 4 nights for $371.

That’s it.  Just two credit card bonuses to earn to travel hack this trip to an amazing event that is attended by thousands of incredible people in a vibrant, fun and energetic city.  What’s not to love?

Who’s in?  Leave a comment below if you’re going to travel hack your way to World Domination Summit in 2015 (or if you want to share anything else that’s on your mind. 

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Here are some more pictures from this awesome event.

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All Photo Credits: Armosa Studios