The more I traveled, the more I learned that the experience I had on a trip was not necessarily dependent on the amount of money I spent: I toured Krueger National Park from a basic camp, driving a little compact car – but the experience of spotting a pride of lion at the crack of dawn, all by myself was an amazing adventure. Yes, I could have staid at a private luxury lodge at ten times the cost, but I didn’t have to! Hiking the Inka Trail to Machu Picchu, while camping a long the way, was priceless. I could have taking the bus from a luxury hotel, but it would not have prepared me the same way. Your experience does not have to be constrained by your budget. Seeing the world doesn’t have to cost the world!
I also learned from talking to other travelers that the amount people spend for the very same flight, hotel or tour can vary drastically. I have staid at hotels for free that others paid over $1000/night. I have flown in the same business class seat for free that I had paid thousands of dollars before. And I cut the cost of tours in half by asking around. Read on, how to make your dream trip happen for less:
Airline Miles: Most airlines offer reward programs, allowing you to collect miles for flights or purchases, in return for a free ticket down the road. This is a great business for the airlines, because a lot of the miles expire, sit unused or are exchanged for something of little value. They can be great for you – by knowing how to get miles easily and exchange them for something of great value to you – and these posts are here to help you!
Hotel Points: Hotel chains caught on to the reward programs of the airlines and offer much of the same – stay and buy, collect points, get free nights. And many of the same rules apply – use the points or loose them! Make the most of these points and your next dream vacation will cost a lot less.
Reward Credit Cards: As the airline and hotel reward programs turned into profit centers, credit card companies became their best friends. The major card issues now buy millions of points in different programs to reward their customers to spend, spend, spend. You can leverage these programs to help with your travel, without turning it into “work”. As the issuers compete, you can also get many perks that make your travel better, even if you don’t spend with the cards.
Other Ways to Save: In twenty years, millions of flight miles and thousands of hotel nights, I found many more ways to save money on travel – and I will share them here.