Travel Hacking your DJ Tour
This post is meant to be a guide for both traveling DJ’s & those who would like to start a small DJ tour on the cheap (If you’re in a touring band, this post can help you too. You’ll just need to get everyone on board for this to really work well for the whole band). If there is anything synonymous with the successful DJ, it’s a lot of travel. For those those who aren’t getting paid enough to cover your travel expenses for national & international gigs.
As much as we would all like to be signed up to a great booking agency & have all the financial stuff worked out for us, that is not always possible right away. In fact, you probably won’t gain much interest form a booking agency until you’ve already been around the block (of course, having some successful tunes under your belt never hurts).
What it comes down to, is that your going to have to figure out ways to get to some big cities & show what you’ve got while staying within your current budget. If playing shows outside of your local area is a passion of yours, you’re going to have to learn some travel hacking secrets.
Now I’ll let you know upfront that the rabbit hole can go pretty deep when you dive into this, but I’ll do my best to keep this post as practical & easy to follow as possible. If this post interests some of you, I may go deeper in future posts.
For the past several months, I’ve been pretty obsessed with this subject & have learned a lot about how this all works and I’d like to pass it on to you.
What is Travel Hacking?
Travel hacking is a way to play by the rules while having them bend in your favor to get you cheap or even free travel. This can include flights, food & hotel costs. The way it works is by collection enough frequent flyer or bonus miles to afford you travel & hotel stays. It turns out that every dollar you spend & the way you spend it can have a dramatic affect on your traveling flexibility. So let me get into how to get these bonuses.
* If you are not responsible with your credit or have a spending addiction, please don’t put yourself at risk with these techniques*
By far, I’ve found the greatest way to rack up points is through intelligent use of credit cards, but not just ANY credit cards, the right ones. Finding cards that offer Flyer miles is pretty simple, however the offers vary pretty far & wide. With the right card you can get upwards of 50,000 bonus miles if you snatch the right promotion. These are either cards I use myself or would use if I could get approved for them (more about getting approved later.. trust me, you’ll like what I have to say). At the moment I have plenty of cards to keep me busy for the next 6 months.
Certain cards will give you a big miles bonus while others with offer up to 5x points per dollar spent on certain everyday things you are already spending money on, so there are many opportunities to earn points.
Cards I suggest
One of the big deterrents for getting credit cards with minimum spend bonuses is, well, the minimum spend. This can be anywhere from $500 in 3 months to $10,000 in 6 months. Most of us trying to travel cheaply do so because we don’t have a lot of spending money to throw around, so the idea of putting thousands of dollars on your credit cards to receive your bonuses seems a bit scary.
Luckily there are many ways to reach your minimums without digging yourself into a hole. One of the easiest ways to meet your minimums is to put everything you spend money on, on a credit card. Monthly bills, car payment, insurance, groceries, gas, taxes, entertainment, restaurants, you name it. You’re spending the money anyway, so you may as well put it on your credit card first & then pay it off in full each month. This way, you aren’t spending any more money then you usually would and you’re earning miles while you do it.
For many more ways to meet your minimum spends, go Here.
There are several ways to get approved for quite a few cards pretty easily. The important trick is to apply for all the cards on the same day. The forms are pretty simple to fill out but your credit score, income & employment stability play a pretty big role on getting instant approval. If you make above $45,000/year, things will be easier for you. It also helps to have been in the same residence & employment for a few years (although I’ve been approved right after moving to a new place as well). Just look at your application from their point of view & common sense will tell guide you most of the way.
Some have had success getting approved for both personal & business versions of the same card but signing up on 2 separate browser windows (I suggest chrome incognito mode). At the end of the day, the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work.
Getting approved even if you get denied
If you get denied on some of your cards, and we all do at sometime, all is not lost. In fact, you’ve got a pretty good chance of turning this around.
What many people might not know, is that credit card companies have “reconsideration” phone lines specifically for the purpose of allowing you to make your case for being approved. You can usually google the phone number of you don’t see it on the site. Even if you get a message saying they will get back to you within 10-14 days, you can call the same day & still get approved.
The rule is to be nice on the phone while sounding confident that getting this card isn’t a big deal but that it would benefit your lifestyle. They want to know that A) You’ll actually be using the card and B) You project greater earnings for your business (or your place of employment). They will ask you about the work you do, and the more upbeat & detailed you can be about how you make your money & how you foresee that improving over the next year, the better chance you have of being approved. Remember, there is only this 1 person between you & your approved credit card.
My approach is to point out my current standing with all bills & credit & that I had been a bit conservative on the application as far as my income, as I expect to have quite a bit of growth in the next year. I then get into how I actually plan to do that. If they can visualize your projected future & you sound like a stable confident & friendly person, you have a very good chance of being approved. I had an 80% success rate and that is with a bankruptcy on my record (don’t ask). If I can do it, so can you.
Switching to rewards plan on cards you already have
In one case, I was denied on a discover credit card. When I called, I realized it was due to my already having a discover card with a balance on it. I was in good standing but they didn’t want to extend that to a 2nd card. The way around this was that they offered to change my current account to a rewards card, this way I was earning bonus miles on my current card. Within a week I have a new card in the mail with the same account number to replace the current card I had. Try this, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Signing up for free rewards programs
Signing up for rewards programs is free & there is really no reason to not take advantage of them. Many of them offer their own rewards programs as well.
Here are some good resources
Another thing to consider when traveling on the cheap is Couchsurfing. It’s a fantastic way to meet cool people & get an insider’s view of the cities you are staying at. Sure, you’ll have to sleep on a couch or the floor, but if you’re the adventurous type, this cuts the cost of staying at a hotel or even a hostel. It might even cut the cost of a cab ride to your gig!
Like I said earlier, this subject goes pretty deep & I can’t possibly cover everything in 1 post, but there are some great blogs to keep you in the know on all things travel hacking. Below are some of my faves:
Blogs to follow
If you like this subject & want to hear more about my travel hacking adventures, just like my post & leave me a comment.
Here’s to a travel filled 2013 and beyond!
Happy Music Traveling,