3 Ways to Enjoy Traveling Without Breaking the Bank
1. Don't Pay with Money: Instead Use Points and Miles
Serious savings are available with the miles and points you can earn by signing up for and using certain credit cards. This is not for you if you're in debt, don't normally use credit cards, have a bad credit score or aren't experienced in managing credit. However, if you are a good money manager, understand how credit works and are not tempted to spend more than you have in cash (or more than you need to, period), leveraging credit cards may be a great way to score a travel deal.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Many companies offer huge signup bonuses when you apply for a new credit card. By putting your regular spending on cards, you can easily rack up points to pay for a free flight or hotel stay or get a discount.
Many airlines and hotels also offer perks for people who hold one of their credit cards. Be careful and do your own research before trying this trick for travel savings. NerdWallet is an excellent resource for information on reward credit cards and responsible usage. Google (GOOG) "travel hacking" for more great tips.
2. Visit Friends or Use Airbnb
Missing a friend from college? Do you have friends in different cities you haven't seen in forever? Plan a trip and stay with them. People love showing you around their city. I love being a tourist to in my own town.
The sharing economy is built around the idea that we can share (or rent) the items that we don't use all of the time. Think bikes, cars and even rooms in our homes. Airbnb connects travelers with locals who have a spare room or apartment. Rates are typically much cheaper than chain hotels. Plus, by staying with people who know the area is invaluable. They can point you toward the best spots to see off the beaten path and the tastiest places to eat that no other tourist knows.
3. Join the Club
Not sure how some people seem to travel all the time and pick up great perks from different hotels, airlines or restaurants? It might be because they're part of the club. Anyone can join loyalty programs with a variety of brands. You'll usually receive some sort of card to scan when you shop or member number tied to an account where you can rack up points or rewards.
Jump onto travel mailing lists, too. Companies like Travel Zoo send out a weekly newsletter containing great deals, discounts and sales.
Pick up other helpful tips from frequent travelers who run blogs, such as Nomadic Matt.
Sophia Bera is a financial planner for millennials and the founder of Gen Y Planning. You can sign up for the Gen Y Planning newsletter for more tips on millennials and money.