How Applying the 80/20 Rule to Travel Nets MORE Free Trips With LESS Effort!

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Lyn writes about how to fly free on Southwest on her blog, and has written a free guide you can download that walks you step-by-step through how to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

We’ve asked her to share her strategy to earn the most possible miles and points with the least amount of effort for her family to travel nearly free.

Lyn:   I’m a busy mom of 2 school-aged boys who runs my own business.  This includes maintaining my blog, writing articles on food and travel for national outlets, and even assisting a few companies with public relations.  My time is limited, and I bet many of you can relate.

Travel And The 80 20 Rule
The 80/20 Rule Helps My Family Travel Free by Focusing on the Most Impactful Methods

That’s why, when it comes to miles and points, I am looking for the quickest and most effective methods that have the biggest impact on my family’s ability to travel for less.  For me, it all comes down to the 80/20 rule.

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule?  If not, get ready.  It’s about to change your life!  This is how I try to approach ALL areas of my life, from faith and work to health and travel.

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule, also called the Pareto principle, is an economic principle that holds that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of efforts, or 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of causes.

In everyday terms applied to our lives, it simply means that only 20 percent of what we do generates 80 percent of our results.  Sooo… if you can figure out what that 20 percent is – in any area of your life – you can focus on those efforts, and eliminate your other efforts, because they’re only netting minimal results.

By cutting out the other 80 percent, you are saving GOBS of time, and you’re only doing the most effective tasks:  The ones that are most likely to generate the best results.

80/20 With Miles and Points

Applied to the hobby of collecting miles and points, here’s what you need to consider.  Of all the actions you could take to generate miles and points, which ones will have the biggest effect in the least amount of time?

I don’t have time to manage 25 cards, do complicated calculations and comparisons on the value of a given mile or point, or fly around the world to collect miles and points.  I like to Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS).  🙂

Travel And The 80 20 Rule
The Southwest Companion Pass Is My Top Method for Getting My Family to MORE Places Free in the LEAST Amount of Time

The most effective way for me to get my family to travel as much as possible, for the least possible, is to focus first on the Southwest Companion Pass.  With very little effort (in my Southwest Companion Pass ebook I explain how you can earn it in as few as 2 steps), you can completely eliminate the cost of flights for 1 person traveling with you.  That is a HUGE VALUE that just can’t be beat, and it really doesn’t take that much time!

You can quickly earn most of the points required for the Southwest Companion Pass by earning the sign-up bonus on one Chase Southwest personal card (Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card) and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card.

Then, because I hold the Companion Pass, I next focus on ways to earn Southwest points or points that easily transfer to Southwest like Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  I do this through spending on cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Because we do occasionally want to fly somewhere other than Southwest destinations, which include the US, Caribbean, and Central America, we do sometimes step away from Southwest, but again we follow the 80/20 rule.

For example, last year, we wanted to go to Europe, but again, I considered:   What’s the ONE THING (20 percent) I can do to most easily get us to Europe on miles?

That ended up being applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve when it had a 100,000-point offer (no longer available) and booking the 4 of us on Aer Lingus during their off-peak season for 26,000 Avios points per person – all from a single card sign-up bonus!

The ONE Thing

A book that does a really good job of explaining this and how you can apply it to your life is “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller.  I explain it in depth and review it in full in this post.

Travel And The 80 20 Rule
This Book Has Changed My Life and My Strategies for Earning and Using Miles and Points

To help you figure out the 20 percent of tasks on which you should focus, Keller suggests you ask yourself what he calls the focus question:

What’s the ONE thing I can do such that everything else would be easier or unnecessary?

This applies to all areas of your life and can literally be used for everything from “what should I cook tonight?” to “which task do I finish first at work?

Example Focus Questions

Here are some sample questions, so you can see how it works:

  • What is the ONE thing I can do (such that everything else becomes easier or unnecessary) to earn my Southwest Companion Pass as quickly as possible?
  • What is the ONE thing I can do to travel as much as possible? (Hint:  Earn the Southwest Companion Pass) 😉
  • What is the ONE thing I can do to travel to Europe next summer?
  • What is the ONE thing I can do to plan a trip to Paris to ask my girlfriend to marry me?
  • What is the ONE thing I can do to lose 20 pounds by summer break?
  • What is the ONE thing I can do to help my child improve their grades this semester?
  • What is the ONE thing I can do right now to improve my chances of getting a promotion?
  • What is the ONE thing I can do right now to relieve my stress?

This book is one of my all-time favorites and has literally changed my life!  I read it every year at the beginning of the year, and am on my 4th read in 2018.  It’s the perfect thing to review when you are starting to feel overwhelmed, as it will help you pare your life down to only what’s the most meaningful and most impactful, reducing stress and giving you back precious time.

Bottom Line

By figuring out the most impactful tasks that will help you meet the goal of traveling for less and eliminating the rest, you will generate better results and save yourself tons of time!  The 80/20 rule has helped me focus on putting in the least amount of effort to earn miles and points to generate the most Big Travel for my family.

My strategy revolves around earning Southwest points and the Southwest Companion Pass.  But depending on your travel goals, focusing on big credit card sign-up bonuses that earn flexible points could make more sense for your family.

How do you keep the hobby of miles and points manageable?  How much time to do you spend on it per week?  I’d love to know!

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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