T-Bird Writes Travel Playbook

Red Carpet in Cannes, France, working the Festival courtesy Mark Jackson

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. 

Sunrise in El Calafate, Argentina, studying abroad with Thunderbird courtesy Mark Jackson
Sunrise in El Calafate, Argentina, studying abroad with Thunderbird courtesy Mark Jackson

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?

Red Carpet in Cannes, France, working the Festival courtesy Mark Jackson
Red Carpet in Cannes, France, working the Festival courtesy Mark Jackson

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.

$200 Weekend to Dubai courtesy Mark Jackson
$200 Weekend to Dubai courtesy Mark Jackson

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!

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