If you’re at the point where you want to travel more but don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it, this post is for you.
Below are 3 steps that you can take right away to start spending less on travel:
1) Apply for credit cards with significant sign-up bonuses
If you’re based in the United States, you’re living in the golden age of credit card sign-up bonuses. It’s not uncommon to see sign-up bonuses of 50,000, 100,000, or even 125,000 points, which can be worth as much as $2,000 (or more, depending on how you redeem the points).
There are plenty of blogs that track these credit cards offer and the worth of these points (such as The Points Guy, who offers this helpful point valuation chart, which is updated monthly).
For example, just today, after reading a post on the Boarding Area, I was able to sing up for a Chase Ink Business Cash credit card that has a 50,000 point signing bonus, which is valued at $1,000 based The Points Guy’s valuation. These points can be transferred directly to United and other airlines on a 1:1 basis (as an example, a one-way ticket to Europe is 30,000 United miles), or can be redeemed for cash or travel at varying rates.
2) Subscribe to cheap flight newsletters
There are a few websites that are dedicated to showcasing amazing flight deals — my favorites are The Flight Deal and Secret Flying.
Both of these sites have daily newsletters which are worth signing up for. Even if you’re not in the market to book a trip, keeping track of these flight prices can help you later determine what constitutes a good deal and can give you ideas for future travel.
Remember that these deals are usually only live for a few hours or a few days, but that American airlines are required to give you 24 hours to cancel penalty free. So if there is an incredible fare that you’re interested in, it’s sometimes worth booking it and then cancelling within the 24-hour deadline if you’re not able to make concrete plans.
3) Look into flights from nearby airports before booking trips
Traveling from a nearby airport can sometimes save you hundreds of dollars on airfare. For example, I was recently looking up a flight to Hawaii and the cost from SFO was roughly $200 more than the cost of leaving from Oakland (OAK). Although OAK airport is actually closer to the city of San Francisco than SFO, based on conversations I’ve had throughout the years, I’d wager that most San Francisco-based travelers won’t even look up airfare at OAK before booking a trip.
When it comes to international travel, the difference in airfare between two cities can be substantial.
As a result, whenever you book travel — particularly international, long-haul trips — you should use Google Flights to check the price of flights departing from nearby airports. If you’re based out of Philly, for example, you should look into flights departing from JFK, EWR, IAD, and LGA, and if you’re in SF, look at flights leaving from LAX and Portland.
What are your favorite tricks to saving money on travel?