Looking for cheap flights to Australia? How about an almost free one?

I recently had you all guess where I snagged an international flight for $21 on Instagram. I received dozens and dozens of questions from you asking how it was possible once I revealed I was headed to Australia.

Australia?! For $21? Aren’t they usually $3,000?

Yes, yes they are.

How this spur-of-the-moment trip became one of my cheapest:

About five years ago I went to Australia. It was my first big trip and I irresponsibly dropped my life savings and graduation money on a ticket to “down under” that cost $3,000. No regrets, but it definitely wasn't a cheap flight. 

I knew I wanted to return and when I suddenly had a gap to go in a couple months I started researching. Three days later I booked my tickets and deducted the $21 from my bank account.

Once I tell you how I did this, you have to promise me to read further. Don’t stop at something that seems impossible because you “don’t fly a lot”.


I booked a ticket for $21 using air miles from mile American Airlines account.


“I don’t fly American Airlines!”

“I’ve never even flown before!”

Whatever your excuse is, I don’t care. If you have bills or if you spend money (which I’m assuming you do) you can fly to Australia, or nearly anywhere, for nothing more than the booking fees.

How many times have I flown with American Airlines in the last two years? Maybe twice. Maybe.

What you will have to do is 1) get the American Airlines Credit Card and 2) Not be stupid with your American Airlines Credit Card.



Credit cards that offer reward miles, like American Airlines, usually offer bonus point potential when signing up. When I signed up for my credit card, American Airlines was offering 40,000 miles if I spent $3,000 in the first three months.

Rent, bills, groceries, travel expenses= all on my credit card and paid off within the month. After three months, boom 40,000 miles. A one-way ticket to Australia is 40,000 miles.

That was nearly three years ago when I got my credit card, and I put everything (and I mean everything) on it to this day. If you fly that airline, you also get points for flying with them.



Three years later I’ve hoarded my points up and taken advantages of promotions and deals to gain me enough points for two international flights or 10 domestic flights. Not bad.

If you actively use your card and meet minimum requirements you’ll receive other perks like free checked bags, possible upgrades to first class, and passes for the admiral clubs where I’ll be spending most of my 12-hour LAX layover taking a shower, eating buffet food, and enjoying a couple relaxation drinks before the flight. None of which I paid for.

So in February when you see me jump on my cheap flight to go explore Australia and New Zealand, remember that it cost me less than a meal at your local steakhouse.

Travel on and Happy New Year!


Outdoor travel blog

Soulful adventurer. Probably lost. Definitely eating ice cream.

In her late-teens, Shalee drove out of her small hometown watching the sunset behind her along the two-lane highway. Her ventures began in Michigan, where she taught herself to travel on a budget. Today, Shalee shares her tips and stories to thousands of readers interested in adventure, budget, and outdoor travel. Learn more about her here.

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  1. Lisa Ngugi on December 28, 2017 at 5:26 PM

    You’re awesome and I love your page!!! I’ll be getting an AA credit card now. I wish I saw this before I signed up for a different one last week 🙁 I will get this in the new year and have 2! Traveling is in our DNA!! ♡♡ Lis

    • Shalee on January 2, 2018 at 4:29 PM

      Thank you, Lisa! Two is definitely not bad, either! I plan to start utilizing a second travel card this year.

      Happy Travels!

  2. Emma Smith on December 28, 2017 at 5:51 PM

    Awesome post! I plan on getting a credit card soon and you’ve convinced me that an AA one might be best 🙂

    • Shalee on January 2, 2018 at 4:30 PM

      Woohoo! I’m so glad! I’ve also heard great things about the points with Capital One. 🙂

  3. Johanna M Wellwood on December 28, 2017 at 6:51 PM

    AWESOME way to go. Enjoy. Please post the trip.

    • Shalee on January 15, 2018 at 10:01 AM

      Thank you! And I can’t wait to share the adventure with you all!

  4. Matt on December 29, 2017 at 12:26 AM

    Great job, Shalee. Like you, I put everything possible on my credit cards (but I pay them off in full each month). I have one card that gives double points for groceries, so I use that one for groceries. The last four cars in our family I have put the down payment on my cards. I have life insurance premiums that come out of my credit card.

    And, what has that gotten me? A free ticket to Spain, a free ticket to Japan, a freebie to England, three free trips to Mexico, and at least half a dozen free trips within the U.S. In addition, I get free baggage on every trip.

    Have a great second visits to Australia. I’ll be looking forward to reading about your adventures when you get back!!!

    • Shalee on January 15, 2018 at 10:02 AM

      Aren’t travel credit cards the best?! Use them right and they can take you around the world. Love seeing all the places they’ve taken you!

      Thanks for following along!

  5. Jill on December 29, 2017 at 2:48 AM

    Whoooa! This is such a good hint, girl. I havent thought of that before. Wish I could hop on that plane with you. I will have to get me one of those credit cards, too 😉

    • Shalee on January 15, 2018 at 10:03 AM

      Yes, take advantage of it! You’d be amazed at how easy it is 🙂

  6. The supers on December 29, 2017 at 8:21 AM

    Great read Shalee! So excited for your next trip!

    • Shalee on January 15, 2018 at 10:04 AM

      Can’t wait to tell you guys all about it!

  7. Amanda Carnagie on December 29, 2017 at 11:20 AM

    Wow, what a STEAL! $21 bucks?! For AUSTRALIA?!
    I’m ashamed to admit that despite having 3 travel rewards cards, I’ve yet to take advantage of the points/miles I’ve accumulated. Is AA the only card you use? I don’t have that one. Perhaps this New Year’s Day I’m going to play around with my points…. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration as always!

    PS – can’t wait to see the site reno!

    • Shalee on January 15, 2018 at 10:05 AM

      AA is the only card I currently use but I am debating getting a Citi Card sometime in the future. You better start using those points, lady! Colombia maybe?! 😉

  8. Court on December 29, 2017 at 2:56 PM

    We do this with Delta & Hawaiian.

    • Shalee on January 15, 2018 at 10:06 AM

      Ohhh I should look into Delta’s reward program! Thanks for the hint!

      • Matt on January 15, 2018 at 12:54 PM

        Shalee, the card that has taken me to Japan, England, Spain and numerous times to Mexico is a Delta American Express Card. Another perk is that by using that card I don’t have to pay for luggage either. All I pay is taxes on the plane ticket. Delta rocks!!

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