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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 since about 2015, we’ve traveled about 12 to 16 weeks each year. We’ve visited more than 30 countries and overseas territories (some several times), traveled extensively throughout the U.S., and brought our kids along too.
Here’s the kicker: In most cases, we’ve done it for pennies on the dollar.
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 travel off-peak.
Here’s a nifty little secret that most people don’t know about: Traveling off-peak can often save you up to 50% off the price of flights and hotels…and yes, I’m serious.
If you’re flexible with your travel plans, scheduling a trip during the low season can literally save you thousands. On top of that, if you can leave and return midweek, you can often save even more.
Generally speaking, traveling to Europe is cheaper from October through April while Caribbean travel is cheapest during the summer.
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.
Want to know which cards are best suited for your travel plans? Ask us! Check out our free rewards travel advice to get personalized advice for your next trip.
You can also compare our favorite rewards cards here.
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.
Before we book, we always compare listings at sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway. In some cases, we can find some pretty great vacation rentals that aren’t just cheaper, they help us save money while we’re there too. Because most of these spots have kitchens, we’re able to prepare a few meals to cut down on food costs. (We typically eat breakfast at “home.”)
We have a travel fund.
Chances are good you already have the money you need to travel more often, you just need to use it more wisely. Starting a travel fund can help.
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.
Even more importantly, a travel fund helps you pay as you go. That way you aren’t coming home to a mountain of bills and credit card debt every time you book a trip.
One of the best ways to start saving is to use a simple trick called a “sinking fund.” Long story short, you determine how much money you need and how long you have to save it. Then, simply save enough every month to meet your goal.
If you need more info, here’s a step-by-step explanation of how to start a sinking fund. Honestly, this tool is so effective that it could literally change the way you live your life!
We save on things that don’t matter to spend on things that do.
Here’s one of our most important money rules: 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 junk, you’ve got more to spend on travel!
Honestly, it’s amazing how much money we waste on things that don’t really matter. Then, when it comes time to buy something we really want (like a trip to Europe or a vacation on the beach), we struggle to make ends meet.
Don’t believe me? Try tracking your spending for a few weeks to see where your money is going. The results could be eye opening!
Want to learn how to travel more for less? Get our free guide “10 Essential Travel Tips to Save up to 50% on Your Next Vacation” and start building the life of your dreams!