So you want to be a travel blogger. Or a social media influencer, whatever you want to call it. You can’t deny the rockstar-level perks this group of millennials is lapping up underneath the superficiality. Thanks to the proliferation of social media and the appeal of microblogs, you don’t have to exclusively look into becoming a Singapore Airlines cabin crew to see the world. That is so yesterday. Even a 12-year-old can do it these days, assuming the following is decent enough to get brands dropping big money on a monthly basis.
Once you have hit your stride, expect to be afforded a suite of VIP luxuries like free non-budget flights, five-star hotel stays, complimentary bottles of champagne, pre-arranged itinerary, limousine transfers, gourmet dining, spa treatments and much more. Don’t be surprised to find Godiva chocolates and a handwritten welcome note on your pillow upon check-in. We know what you’re thinking: “Where do I sign up?” But we also know you don’t have any of the Kardashian sisters’ intergalactic influence via Instagram, so we are going to nudge you towards your new aspirational swerve using another absurdly simple approach: fake it till you make it. Sort of.
Here’s how you can travel like an influencer without actually being a full-fledged one.
Become a digital nomad, what else! While social media influencers are pretty much paid to travel, you can travel while being paid. The differences are rather nuanced, but it is a start. With workplaces getting more and more fluid, it is not impossible to negotiate a flexible arrangement with the bossman. All you need is a working laptop, wifi and the discipline to meet deadlines.
Otherwise you might want to look into a new job that allows you to travel like an influencer. Some of them curated by Lonely Planet include:
Outsource travel woes
It helps to know people in high places. Or just have many, many friends on Facebook. If some of them happen to be professionals in the hospitality industry, make bookings through them to enjoy massive discounts off your accommodation. For those who are not in the industry, pick their brains; given how wanderlust-y the current generation is, there is a good chance they have already travelled to the country you are aiming for. Politely ask them to email you their itinerary and edit according to your whims.
And that is yet another reason why travel agents are going out of business.
Social media influencers don’t have to deal with bourgeois problems like searching for the flight of best fit (budget, timing, likelihood of being bounced out etc.), or figuring out which credit card they should use to accumulate miles and points. They simply just have a seat on the plane booked and handed to them, all without paying a cent. All they have to worry about is what to wear to the airport and the right neck pillow to bring on board. A huge dilemma, it is.
It would be pretty harebrained not to sign up for a miles credit card. You are going to be spending on your groceries, clothes shopping and whatnots anyway, and charging them to your miles card earns you redeemable miles to offset the air ticket. Some miles credit card also offer bonus miles upon sign up alone.
However, we came to understand that these redeemable flights could delay your travel plans, because you can’t fly as and when you like. You might have to wait for months. On airlines, paid flyers still take priority.
If you don’t give two hoots about the waiting period, then by all means, get yourself a good miles credit card. If not, we recommend personal loans for the kick of flying first class. You know, like the one on the Airbus 380 where you have your own flatbed, minibar and shower spa. That would be quite the slobber-knocker for the first Instagram post of your travel career.
Recommended personal loan
HSBC Personal Loan - Annual interest rate is relatively low at 4% and processing fee is waived. Your loan application can be approved in as quickly as one minute, and cash disbursement will take place within 24 hours. The minimum amount you can borrow is $1,000 -- which is great if you’re just looking to supplement what you can cobble together in your savings account. You can borrow up to four times your monthly income or a maximum of $200,000. Under HSBC’s promotion, online applications can get you up to $50 cash back. Premier and Advance customers enjoy lower interest rates at 3.8% and 4.4% respectively.
Free hotel stays
It doesn’t take a genius to tell you social media influencers are perched on a very enviable position. One day, they might be Instagramming themselves frolicking by the resort pool with a strategically placed breakfast platter. The next, they are being put up at a swanky hotel suite 40 levels above ground, replete with high-tech amenities and a gorgeous view of the city’s skyline.
And then, in a silent fit of jealous rage, you question yourself what the heck you are doing at your sorry office cubicle.
What you can do: All hope is not lost! First, let’s go with the scenario in which your travel blog/Instagram is in its infancy. While you invest time and effort to grow your following, it might still be possible to enjoy some measure of luxe hotel vacay-ing at little to no cost. Much like airline loyalty programs and credit card redemptions, big hotel brands have plenty of privileges to bestow upon you the more you stay with them. Take Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) for instance; other than free nights that you can exchange for using Starpoints, you can also get discounts off subsequent nights and complimentary cocktails. Enrolling in the membership is free. Hotel booking portal Expedia also has a membership program, Expedia+. You can get special members-only pricing for hotels, along with other benefits like accelerated points.
And like airlines, you could ask for a room upgrade at the counter. Lead in with an excuse that you specially chose the hotel among hundred others to celebrate an important occasion (e.g. marriage anniversary, birthday, International Friendship Day… whatever you can cook up).
For something that discounts the vagaries of the above ways, try personal loans. They take only minutes to be approved, so you can hit the ground running almost instantaneously. No entangling in some member rewards T&C mess.
The high loan ceiling can also give you a taste of life in royal suites, assuming it is within your means, of course. At some hotels, they might go as far as to enrol you in a higher tiered membership for spending a minimum amount, or grant you a complimentary night.
Article first published on GoBear