Do you want to travel more often? So did we. That’s why we started searching for ways to make travel cheaper.
We’re Greg and Holly Johnson, and over the last few years, we’ve been traveling the world for practically free. Over the years, we’ve learned how to find free flights and hotels for almost any destination – including places like London, Paris, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Maarten, and more. In fact, we recently flew 5 people to Europe and back for free (excluding taxes and fees).
Want to know how we do it? Here’s a quick overview of our basic strategy.
We make the most of credit card rewards.
Using rewards cards can completely change the way you travel. While airline and hotel cards are sometimes good to have, our favorite cards tend to have more flexibility. They also offer huge signup bonuses to help you start traveling right away.
Here are a few of our faves. To learn more, make sure to ask us for free rewards travel advice or use the banner ad below.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® – This is our favorite travel rewards card. It offers a 50,000 point signup bonus, good for $500 in cash or $625 in travel booked through the Chase portal. Better yet, you can transfer your points to nearly a dozen hotel and airline partners to book free (or reduced) flights and hotel stays. Just spend $4,000 in the first 3 months and the bonus is yours!
- Discover it® Miles – Earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent, and Discover will double your miles after the first year. Use your miles for statement credits on travel related expenses. There are no blackout dates and no annual fees.
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® – Get a $500 travel statement credit when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days on the card. Then earn 2x miles on all purchases, redeemable for travel or cash back statement credits.
Learn more about these cards using the banner ad below.
We protect our credit.
Although credit card rewards are one of the easiest ways to save thousands on travel, the best travel cards are only available for those with good credit.
We use CreditSesame to track and protect our credit scores. This site provides monthly score updates, alerts when anything changes, and the service is completely free. We’ve used it for years and highly recommend it.
We find easy ways to earn spending money.
Even if the majority of your travel expenses are covered by rewards, you’ll still need some money when you get there. Things like food, souvenirs, and excursions all cost money, but you can make it easier by finding ways to earn spending money ahead of time.
Taking surveys is a simple way to earn extra money while you watch TV. Websites like Survey Junkie, InboxDollars, and Panda Research pay you to take online surveys. You won’t get rich, but the cash helps pay for your trip.
We consider hotels and vacation rentals.
While credit card rewards are an important part of our strategy, they aren’t the only way we save money on travel. The two biggest travel costs we face are flights and lodging. Points and miles can help, but we always consider all of our options before booking a room.
To find the best deals, we compare hotels on sites like Expedia and Priceline. We generally start searching for deals about 9 to 12 months in advance. However, sometimes a hotel room doesn’t fit our needs – especially when traveling with the kids or in a group.
Tripping.com is the world’s largest search engine for vacation rentals. There, you’ll find over 150,000 vacation rentals at destinations throughout the world. In one convenient spot, you can compare listings from sites like VRBO, Booking.com, HomeAway, and more.
We have a travel fund.
Nothing sounds worse to me than going on vacation and coming home to a giant bill. That’s why we save for our trips before we go. Creating a separate travel fund reduces the temptation to spend your travel money on something else. Plus, it’s fun to dream about your next trip as you watch it grow.
If you’re struggling to save, try a free app like Qapital. Direct it to automatically save your spare change by rounding up your purchases, or create other goals to make saving for travel automatic. Use our link and receive a $5 bonus after getting started.
We cut our everyday expenses.
One of our most important money rules is this: Save money on things that don’t matter so you have more to spend on the things that do. When you’re not spending on crap, you’ve got more to spend on travel!
Trim is a great app to help you save money. It finds (and cancels) old subscriptions, activates cash back deals, and helps track your spending. It can even help you negotiate your cable bill!
What did I leave out? Is there anything you do to make travel cheaper?