Credit card sign-up bonuses are your fastest way to free flights. The breadth of credit card offerings, promotions, currencies, and redemption options is head-spinning. In addition, there are the myriad rules and regulations associated with the airlines and hotels.
I am a proponent of working backwards in life. Decide what will make you happier, then take the requisite steps. Travel makes me insanely happy. International travel makes me even happier. Doing it for free is even better. Due to the importance of travel to my overall life happiness, I am well versed in all types of travel hacking and arcane industry knowledge.
Your goals may be specific: a summer trip to Europe, a round-trip ticket to San Francisco, or flying anywhere new for as cheaply as possible. With a concrete desire, it is much easier to know what to be knowledgeable about. Your job may require mathematics, but you may not need the academic standards of world-class physicists.
Similarly, there are many details that can make you world-class, which are helpful for the individual who has ample time and freedom to travel constantly. If you are targeting a couple of international trips per year, then you need only learn a few tricks. Eventually, the guidance you absorb from this site will become second-nature. If you have any questions or comments, then contact me via Twitter or email!