I love to travel and really enjoy planning all the aspects of travel. The only issue is? I do not have an unlimited travel budget. As a result I have to plan carefully my travel plans.
I have found that it is very beneficial to belong to various airline reward programs. I currently to belong to several including American, Frontier, Southwest, Delta and US Airways. I pretty much limited my airline traveling to a couple of airlines in order to maximize the miles that I earn. I have found that American has the most robust travel program with Frontier having a very good one as well. Southwest awards free travel according to the dollar amount that you spend so the less expensive the ticket you purchase the less points you earn.
Another way to earn airline travel miles is to have a credit card where every dollar you spend awards you with a mile of travel. Be careful with this as with any credit card. Pay off that balance every month!
A hint about air travel - Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays are usually the least expensive days to travel. If your schedule is flexible - this could be the way to go! Another hint? Look at the red-eye flights...they are normally cheaper as well.
Are there multiple airports in the city that you are flying into? You might be surprised that one airport offers better flight prices than another one. For instance - I found that it is less expensive to fly into Ft. Lauderdale than Miami! They are only a few miles apart. Of course the Miami airport offers everything under the sun as far as amenities but I would rather pay less and fly into Ft. Lauderdale!
I have also discovered a great way to get hotel rooms at no cost is to belong to hotel reward programs. My favorite has to be Hilton! They not only award you for each dollar you spend thus resulting in free rooms, they also offer "specials" several times a year including periods where you can earn double and triple points for hotel stays. Another great benefit of belonging to the HiltonHonors reward club is that they from time to time offer double dipping...this means that you can also earn airline miles for your stays as well. WHAT? You think that the Hilton Hotels are too expensive? This is the great news - you can also stay at a Hilton Garden Inn or a Hampton Inn and still earn those points. My favorite has to be the Hampton Inn...they offer a free breakfast buffet each morning (save money you would have spent on breakfast for something else) and often times they have Happy Hours where you can get some good food...that means you could save $$$ for both breakfast and dinner!
Speaking of meals...how can you save on all those restaurant meals? It can be done...trust me. At dinner - ask if you can order off the lunch menu instead of the dinner menu. Order appetizers instead of an entree...both of these can save some major dollars. Also ask the front desk at the hotel if they know of any good and expensive places to eat. You know that they will always have the inside track on these good places! Read up on the restaurants where you are traveling to. Look online for coupons for specials each day. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you can find online!
Happy travels to you all...next on my travel bucket list? Alaska, Oregon and Wyoming...I should have enough travel award miles to fly to all three of these states for free! I have enough of Hilton points to get some of my lodging at no cost as well!