My Fellow Gauchos,

Have you seen the movie “Up in the Air?” At one point, there is a scene where George Clooney’s character is comparing his “status” on different airlines with a fellow hardcore traveler.  It’s a great scene and plays into this week’s piece of advice.

Sign up for frequent flier miles and hotels points!  Both will eventually be a fantastic currency that can lead to free trips and free nights at great hotels. Now, there are tons of ways to accrue these points and miles — how involved you decide to get will most likely depend on your obsessive personality and the amount of time you spend traveling.  But joining is simple and completely free.

Why do it? Most programs allow you to keep your accrued miles indefinitely as long as you have activity within your account once every two years.  Even if you only fly once or stay at a hotel for one night, become a part of their rewards program and bank those points.  You never know when you might be back.

The more you travel, the more beneficial these programs become.  While you may not be traveling a lot now, keep this advice in mind if you decide to study abroad (see my previous article) or if you get a job out of college that has you running around the country.  For those of you who want to maximize these reward opportunities, there are a number of Web sites with people who obsess about every loyalty program on the planet and the additional “bonuses” you can earn — is one of the biggest.

Ultimately there is nothing to lose for signing up and joining a program.  While you may get a few annoying e-mails about new opportunities, it will be worth it in the end when you crank your seat back on that free flight to your favorite destination.