By: Mark Jackson, Guest Writer
We recently had a chance to speak with Mark Jackson (MS Global Marketing ’14, U.S.) about his new crowdfunding campaign for THE TRAVEL PLAYBOOK, a paperback detailing tips, tricks, and hacks he used to visit over 60 countries.
Das Tor: You wrote a book on travel. How did this happen?
Mark: It’s a hobby that really became a career. I began “travel hacking” in college, when I wanted to travel, but was frustrated by the perceived expense of it all. $1,000 flights to Europe are a lot of money for anyone, but especially for someone earning close to minimum wage with a part-time campus job.
I knew of a few forums that frequent flyers used to earn a lot of miles fast, and started there. They’re pretty newbie-unfriendly, with lots of “in the know” lingo and hard-to-decipher information. When I got through all that, I had a pretty deep knowledge about the best frequent flyer programs to use when I’m flying to a particular place, but I still didn’t have the time (or money) to fly somewhere. That’s when I found out about credit card offers.
Das Tor: Credit cards?
Mark: My whole life, I had seen these amazing offers for thousands of miles, just for signing up for a credit card. At the time, I was a sophomore in college, and had no credit at all. This was trouble when I tried to rent an apartment on my own after freshman year. So I opened a JetBlue card to earn some miles for flying home to Austin from California, and the journey began.
Today, I’ve used these credit card offers to stay at Ritz-Carltons (and dozens of other hotels), fly around the world, and gain entry to many places I have no business being in. Try walking into a 5-star hotel with a backpacker’s pack and a disheveled look to you- it’s a bit awkward.
Das Tor: Ok, so why the book?
Mark: So many people were asking me about how I was funding all of these adventures, so I started a website in October 2012 to teach people about it. That site got my writing career going, and landed me a job at my current place of employment, BradsDeals.com. I manage their travel and personal finance verticals, so I educate consumers about the best credit cards and find travel deals full-time now.
The book is an offshoot of all this. It’s still very hard for a “newbie” to learn all this on the fly, so I thought about putting all my information into one concise thought- this book.
Das Tor: How can we get the book?
Mark: The book currently being crowd-funded on Inkshares. This means you’re putting down your credit card information for a pre-sale of the book, and you’re only charged when I meet my goal, which is 1,000 copies. We launched this week, and the response has been great! 1,000 copies mean the company will print a paperback run of the book. If I hit 750, it’ll be in the form of an eBook for Kindle and iPad. I appreciate all the Thunderbird support!