Design Your Life

How I flew to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — for $60

By Zim Ugochukwu

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A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to get away. I had been longing for a beautiful beach, amazing scenery and warm weather. So, I logged into united.com & booked a ticket. In less than five minutes, I was now on my way to Brazil. My grand total?  $59.63.

How is this possible, you ask?

There is an incredible system of earning frequent flyer miles without spending any money. By studying the art of travel hacking (including hunting for cheap flight fares), I’ve been able to book a $130 roundtrip flight from to Milan & spot a $285 roundtrip flight from Houston to Mumbai, India.

What’s required? A single credit card and a love for online research. If you want to get in on the excitement of the 2014 FIFA World Cup (or any event, really) here’s how to do it:

1) Join a Frequent Flyer Program

My rule of thumb is to join one airline’s frequent flyer program in each alliance. If you fly multiple airlines within one alliance, you can bank all of those miles into one airline’s frequent flyer program. Centralization is key.


2) Sign-up for a Rewards Credit Card

With the Chase Sapphire & United Mileage Plus cards, I’ve earned 90k miles (one international roundtrip flight & one domestic roundtrip flight). I later signed up for a few more cards to earn nearly 120k more miles.

3) Fare Glitches

If credit cards aren’t your thing, try using The Flight Deal to spot insane travel deals. It’s where I recently found a $200 roundtrip flight to Japan from Los Angeles, a $285 roundtrip flight from Houston to Mumbai, India and it’s how I booked a $130 roundtrip flight from NYC to Milan, Italy.

Have you scored any to-die-for flight fares? How did you do it?

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Travel Noire

Zim Ugochukwu

Zim is an avid photographer, visual storyteller, classically trained pianist, junk foodie, vegetarian, and occasional building climber. She is the founder & CEO of Travel Noire.

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