If you’re wondering how to travel more for less money, you’re not alone. There are so many beautiful places to explore in this world! Unfortunately, it costs money to get yourself to these places. (Darn it!)
Hang with me though, and I’ll show you ways you can travel more and pay less so you can start booking those trips!
Where would you go if money wasn’t an issue? What bucket list trip would you take? When we say “travel more” what does that mean to you?
Do you want to:
- Simply travel more in 2023 (don’t we all??)
- Figure out how to travel more with a full time job?
- Travel more luxuriously?
- Travel for free or travel the world on a budget?
- Be able to travel more with kids?
- Get free hotel stays and free airline tickets?
Whatever your goal is, I want to encourage you that it can be done!
How I Learned How to Travel More While Spending Less Money
Let me share a bit of our story and how I got into researching how to travel more often and pay less. We all have a story, don’t we? I mean, you didn’t land on this page willy-nilly, so I’m sure there’s a reason you’re here. Maybe your story sounds like mine.
Rodney and I have traveled a good bit, and some of our destinations have been pretty amazing. We’ve also been to some places while adopting four of our children that we would never have imagined going to.
However, one of the places I always wanted to go and never seemed to get to was Hawaii.
We were going to go for our honeymoon (34 years ago!), but he was in the military and couldn’t get enough time off for us to go after the wedding.
Then, we were going to go for our 5th anniversary, but by then, we were pregnant with our first child, both working full time and working on our degrees at night.
Yet again, we were going to go after he graduated with his Masters Degree, but decided to adopt a child and traveled to Russia instead.
Why Don’t People Travel More Often?
There’s always something, isn’t there? Good, bad, or otherwise, something like a bucket list destination can be hard to actually make happen.
We did finally get to Maui for our 25th anniversary. It was wonderful and magical and everything I ever hoped it would be. I loved it so much!
We both agreed we wanted to come back, but since it was pretty expensive, we decided to wait for our 30th anniversary.
Is There a Way to Travel More and Pay Less?
It was on that 2nd trip I started thinking, “I wonder if there’s a way to travel more and pay less?” We were in a beautiful condo, literally right on the beach, but it came with quite a price tag.
How can we do things like vacation in Hawaii with the kids or travel the world on a budget, but still stay in places like that beautiful condo on the beach?
I came home and started researching and was super excited to learn it is totally possible to travel more for less! There are definitely ways to book hotels for free, get free flights, take advantage of travel deals, and travel more often for less money. It can be done!
There’s a stunning fact that states the average American has only been to 12 states and has never left the country.
Friends, there’s a big, beautiful world out there, just waiting to be explored! If money is keeping you from exploring it, I’m here to show you some ways to remove that hurdle.
Ready to get started? Read on, because that’s exactly what this blog is about…sharing ways you can travel more for less.
Where Would You Go if You Could Travel for Free?
- Do you want to take a bucket list destination vacation? Visit that once-in-a-lifetime place you never thought you’d actually get to go to?
- How about planning several fun family vacations a year? Places like Hawaii and Disneyland, and the Grand Canyon?
- Maybe you want to get the whole family together for Christmas, but airline tickets have always seemed out of the question.
How to Get Free Hotel Stays
Until I started researching, I had no idea it was possible to get free hotel stays. Here are some of the most straightforward ways to stay at hotel for free.
Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses (see our best recommendations here)
One sure way to get free hotel stays is to sign up for a hotel branded credit card and receive points as part of the sign up bonus. You can then use the points to either stay two or three nights in an upscale hotel, or you can use it for lower point properties that could get you a week or more of free hotel stays.
Here’s just one example of the kind of bonus you can get. As of this writing, Chase’s IHG Rewards Club Premier Card has a 140,000 points sign up bonus. Here are some examples of what you could do with those points.
Want to take the kids to Disneyland? You could stay at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Anaheim for only 12,500 a night!
How about a trip to Europe? You could stay four nights at the Holiday Inn Lyon- Vaise for 12,500 points a night and three nights in London for 22,500 points, totaling 117,500 points.
That’s seven nights of free hotel stays for a European vacation that you didn’t have to pay for, my friends. You simply signed up for a credit card, met the minimum spending requirements and earned your bonus points.
Are you seeing how easy it is to get a free vacation? You can do this, too!
Keep reading for more ways to travel free for less money.
Stay plugged into sites like this, and make sure you don’t miss out on sales like Fairmont’s BOGO sale. They’ve run this one twice in the past year. The next time I see it, I’m going to jump at the chance to stay a night at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC, and get a second night free!
Get Your 3rd, 4th or 5th Night Free
Familiarize yourself with different hotel programs so you’ll know which ones can give you the most value. For example, if you’re staying four nights in the same place, IHG, Hyatt and Marriott each offer a fifth night for free. You can even redeem that if you’re using points for your stay. This is a great way to stretch either points or dollars so you can travel more for less money. We used this feature to book four nights in Oahu with points and got the fifth night free. That’s ZERO out-of-pocket money for us for five free nights in Oahu!
There’s another way to stay for free at hotels I want to share with you. There are many properties that sell timeshares that use free hotel stays as part of their marketing plan. In exchange for getting a free hotel stay for several nights, you sit through their 90-120 minute sales presentation. If you’re not interested in buying in (most people aren’t), then you simply say no thanks and walk out at the end of the presentation. That’s it!
Here’s an example of how we stayed three nights for free at Tahiti Village in Las Vegas. This was an advertised rate of $750 for three free nights at a hotel that more that fit our needs. Totally worth sitting through a two-hour presentation.
How to Get Free Plane Tickets
Not only can you get free hotel stays, you can also get your plane ticket for free. This can be a huge saving when you’re traveling, and it can absolutely be done! If you can’t get your flight for free, there are also some ways to find cheap airfare.
Here are some of the easiest ways to get started:
Credit Card Sign Up Bonus (see our recommendations here)
Not only can you use credit card sign-up bonuses to pay for hotels, you can often get an even better deal by using those points for plane tickets. As of this writing, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a signup bonus of 60,000 points.
That’s enough for two round-trip flights depending on how far you’re flying and what airline you redeem your points with.
Southwest Airlines Companion Pass
Southwest offers one of the best deals around when it comes to free flights. I’ve written a complete guide on how to earn the SW companion pass. Read that so you can learn how to fly a buddy with you anywhere you go for FREE.
Alaska Airlines Companion Pass
There’s so much that I love about Southwest Companion Pass that is hard to beat. Alaska does offer a companion pass as well, though. However, it’s only good for one free flight per year. Alaska has a much bigger coverage area than Southwest, so that’s a plus in its favor. Pick the right flight and you can really save big on your free companion pass. Alaska also occasionally has BOGO sales.
Watch for Low Point Flights
Get more bang for your buck by booking when points are lower than normal. This works especially well if you can be flexible with your plans. That might mean flying on a different day than originally planned. It might also mean being open to vacation in a new place because you got a heck of a deal on a low points flight!
Although finding ways to travel for free is my favorite way to travel, sometimes you can find a deal on a flight so good it makes more sense to pay cash for it. That way, you save your points for more expensive trips you otherwise wouldn’t have gone on.
Our goal is to travel more for less money, and knowing where to look can make this much easier to accomplish.
Airline Loyalty Programs
Be sure to sign up for any airline loyalty programs you think you may fly with. This way, you won’t miss out on sales that might make sense for you to take advantage of. As I mentioned, Alaska Airlines occasionally has BOGO flights that could be a huge savings for your family.
Other Ways to Travel More While Spending Less Money
You can find some incredible deals here, if you’re willing to take the risk, because they are almost always non-refundable For example, here’s a room for four in Kissimmee, Florida, for $38/night. Check the reviews to be sure you’re comfortable with what you can expect to get. Also, be sure to check the fine print of the deal for any extra charges. If it looks good to you, you can get a decent hotel for cheap and then spend the money you saved on excursions instead!
Always, always compare booking sites when paying cash. Also, learn how to stack deals so even when you pay cash up front, you’ll be getting something (cash or points) back. Expedia is probably the most well-known, but think outside the box and look for sites like Southwest Airlines Vacation Deals or Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel if you have any Chase credit cards.
Here’s an example of a deal you can find that’s a great way to combine air and hotel for a cheap vacation package:
3 nights at Anaheim Marriott, plus airfare on Southwest Airlines from Seattle for only $261/person. Depending on how many people you’re traveling with, this could be a great way to save money on your vacation!
One of the best travel sites is the Chase Travel Portal. You can redeem points at a rate of 1.5 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. That one comes with a hefty annual fee but has loads of benefits that make up for it!
You can still get 1:1 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Preferred which has a much lower annual fee, plus you get miles for using the card itself. (If this seems confusing, be sure to sign up for my newsletter so I can send you money-saving info on how to travel more for less money.)
More Tips on How to Travel More and Save Money
Believe it or not, there are plenty more ways to save money on travel. Here are a few ideas for you to consider.
Book a Hotel or Vrbo With a Kitchen
I’ll admit, there are some vacation destinations where cooking is absolutely not on my agenda. Any time we’re staying at least several nights, though, having the option of coming back to the room and fixing our own easy meals saves significantly on the overall cost of the trip. Especially if the kids are with us!
Stay in a Hotel That Offers Free Breakfast and Free Dinner
Many hotels offer free breakfast, but did you know some also offer free dinners, too? It’s usually Monday – Thursday, and they may call it “evening appetizers”, but it’s usually plenty for dinner.
We stayed at Homewood Suites in Anaheim near Disneyland and took advantage of this each afternoon when we came back to let the kids rest for a bit. We’d nap, eat a quick free dinner and head back to the parks. Not only did it save money, but it saved quite a bit of time as well! Embassy Suites is another hotel that offers free breakfast and free dinner.
How Do You Save Money So You Can Travel More While Spending Less?
There are even more ways to travel free and to travel more for less money, but hopefully, this list gave you new ideas to get started.
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.