As frequent travelers, we are often asked how we are able to travel so much. Most people view travel as a luxury, something that only the rich are able to partake in. Well I’m here to tell you, that is not the case! The key is to finding deals, and there are a ton of them out there! If you notice just by being on social media, there is a huge boom in traveling these days. Everyone and their mother is going on trips and that is because not only is it more accessible, it’s cheaper than ever to go to that destination you have pinned on Pinterest! And with all the different cash back apps out there, it’s easier than ever to save money for travel.
HOW TO FIND CHEAP AIRFARE
My favorite sites to search for airfare are Google Flights and Skyscanner. You can download the app by clicking here. It’s not only for flights, but also hotels, car rentals, making this a great tool for researching your trip. One of the best features of Skyscanner is the everywhere search. If you put in your home airport into the from field, you can then select everywhere in the to field. If you are flexible, instead of selecting specific dates, select the whole month. You will get results of the cheapest flights all over the world from your home airport. We rarely have a destination in mind, we book based on what’s cheapest, allowing us to travel more frequently. To give you an idea, our airfare to Thailand cost under $500 per person Costa Rica was under $300 and our upcoming trip to London was under $400. Hard to beat that! Try it yourself, just type in your info in the box below and it will search Skyscanner’s website for you.
There are also what are called glitch fares. These generally don’t last long, but if you are lucky enough to score one, your flight or hotel can cost as little as a penny! The best way to be notified of current glitch fares and travel deals from your home airport in general is to subscribe to Secret Flying and The Flight Deal emails. They come daily to your inbox, with lots of great deals to places all over the world. Some deals are last minute, but many are not, giving you time to plan. You can also follow each on Facebook. I highly recommend switching notifications to “see first” that way you are notified first when these deals come up. We have booked quite a few glitch fares using these sites!
Since these are glitch fares, they are often removed rather quickly. The one thing you don’t want to do is call the airline, inquiring about it. This will definitely make the fare disappear and ruin the deal for everyone. Basically, if you see a fare that’s too good to be true, purchase without thinking too much because chances are it will be gone within the hour!
Scott’s Cheap Flights is an awesome service and well worth the $39 annual cost. If you live near a hub, you will get 2-3 deals a day to destinations all over the world. Most of these fares are under $400!
Similar to the above is Travel Pirates. Their emails don’t come as often, but when they do, there are some great deals to be found! Subscribe to their emails and follow them on Facebook for some great travel deals.
Another great app is Hopper. They will track your desired route and notify you when the airfare drops. Hopper combines millions of daily, real-life prices to find the best airfare. It also predicts what future airfare might be, and whether you should buy now or wait. So far, it’s been pretty accurate for us!
If you are traveling with just carry ons, Skiplagged is your best friend! Developed by a 22 year old college student, this website will find the cheapest fare using a trick that’s been around for years. The key is to book one way flights. Say a flight from from LAX to DAL is $350 but a flight from LAX to AUS is $150 but it includes a stop in Dallas. You book it, get off in Dallas and don’t continue to Austin. The trick to this is, you can only travel with carry ons, otherwise your luggage will continue to the final destination. And, book one ways because many airlines will cancel your return itinerary if you don’t complete all flight segments. Like I said before, this works best for people without kids or those who don’t pack much, since many people with children have checked luggage. And of course, there is always a risk when doing this so proceed with caution!
HOW TO FIND HOTEL DEALS
One of the best sites to find hotel deals anywhere in the world is Hotels Combined. You can search many different brands and their prices are unbeatable!
Booking.com is also great with some amazing rates, all over the world!
While we haven’t used Priceline for airfare, we have used their bidding feature for hotels and car rentals. Examples of awesome hotels we’ve gotten (all for less than $100 a night) are Grand Cayman Marriott in the Cayman Islands, Sir Francis Drake, A Kimpton Hotel in San Francisco, Renaissance San Diego downtown hotel, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, Hotel Nikko in SF (one of the best scores!), SeaCrest Oceanfront hotel in Pismo Beach, La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, Intercontinental in Miami, Hyatt in Monterey, Silverado Resort in Napa, NY NY and MGM in Vegas during very peak times, Grand Hotel in Krakow Poland, Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, Sheraton on the Falls in Niagara Falls, Sheraton Le Centre in Montreal, Intercontinental Boston, and Aruba Marriott Resort. Just to name a few! Priceline is awesome if you know how to work it. I suggest you study up and read Better Bidding and Bidding for Travel to learn how to work the site and to see what people have paid for hotels in the area you are looking to travel to.
OUR FAVORITE TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
There are so many travel reward credit cards out there! Everyone will have an opinion on the best, but the best card will be the one that earns you points to get you to where you want to go. These are ones our family personally uses.
I personally use the Chase Sapphire Reserve for almost all travel and dining. The perks are the best and we have the Priority Pass that came with it, which gives us lounge access all over the world at airports. Layovers and delays are so much better when you have a comfortable place to hang out in! The downside is the high annual fee, recently changed to $550 but for us it’s worth it and we utilize all the perks.
Don’t travel enough to warrant the annual free of the CSR? Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred! The sign up bonus is higher (60k) and the annual fee is $95.
My most recent is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card from Amex which earned us 5 free nights at our Marriott in Hong Kong!
I also have the Southwest Chase (both personal and business) and earned the companion pass in February this year. That means that Milana flies for free as my companion on every flight for the rest of this year and all of next! This is one of the best perks of travel, I highly recommend earning the companion pass if you plan to fly SW at all in the future!
Hilton’s new Ascend card offers a 150k sign up bonus, which is the highest they have ever offered and you will also get automatic gold status which comes with a ton of benefits. You can only get the 150k with a referral from an existing customer. To apply for the Ascend, go here: Hilton Honors Ascend Card
Other cards I have and utilize points/miles from on a regular basis are the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card . We stay at Marriotts pretty much every single month for free! Once you reach Titanium, the perks are amazing. We get upgrades to huge suites for free, free breakfast and much more. Marriott is my favorite hotel chain and offers by far the best perks! Our rooms are always ready by 10am and we get late checkouts of 4pm, can’t beat that!
One of the best hotel chains is Hyatt, they truly reward their members and their hotels are top notch. The new World of Hyatt Credit Card can earn you up to 60k points, which is enough for several free nights at some amazing properties worldwide.
Chase Freedom is a must in your wallet! They have 5% bonus categories where you can earn lots of UR points on those specific categories every quarter so you can really rack up the UR points! Sometimes it’s supermarkets, other times it’s gas stations but it’s always easy to rack up the points with this card.
If you want a card that’s not brand specific, I can’t recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve enough! You can transfer these points to other airline and hotel programs or book travel using the Chase portal. We used Chase points for our hotels in the Cook Islands (which are so expensive!) and had free accommodations for our entire stay. Yes, the annual fee ($550) is hefty. But you get $300 of that back every year as a travel credit, $100 towards Global Entry (which you should have if you travel internationally) and so many more perks! PriorityPass comes with your card, and that gives you access to airport lounges all over the world. Your airport time will be spent in a comfortable lounge, with free food, snacks and drinks instead of at the gate. My daughter loves this perk and is sad if an airport doesn’t have a lounge!
If you have a legitimate business, then the Chase Ink Business Preferred is for you. It has the best bonus, much better than the CSR! If you get both, you’ll have a ton of UR points to work with.
There are also a ton of airline specific cards and I have them all. Let’s face it, it’s not smart to be loyal to just one with the high bonuses that pop up. We have flown free all over the world using miles from the sign up bonuses. The Delta SkyMiles Blue Card gives you 10k points as a sign up bonus if you meet the minimum spend.
If you go to any of the Disney parks even once a year, you must get the Disney Rewards Visa! You get a $200 statement credit after spending just $500!
CASH BACK APPS
My favorite cash earning app is Dosh. This is the best app in my opinion because you simply add your credit cards, and when you shop or dine at participating stores or restaurants, the cash back is added to your account within seconds! I have gotten so much money back from dining at restaurants while traveling without even knowing they participate until I paid the bill and was instantly rewarded with cash back
I use Rakuten constantly. I’ve gotten a ton of cash back just for shopping and lots of travel sites (Priceline, Marriott, Hilton, etc.) are on there too! All you need to do is sign up, search for the store you want to shop in and that’s it. Easy way to get even deeper discounts on travel and every day shopping!
Another awesome cash back site is Ibotta. Once you get the app, you simply take pictures of your receipts from supermarkets, pharmacies, etc. and earn cash back. You can also shop online through their portal to earn even more. Everyone grocery shops, this is a super easy way to earn money for something you already do! They recently added a travel section, so not you can get cash back if you book hotels, airfare, car rentals, etc. through the app link.
I started using Fetch Rewards just recently because I was skeptical. Scan receipts and earn points, which get you thinks like hotel and airline gift cards. Well 2 month later, I had a $50 Southwest gift card that I redeemed for an upcoming flight. Just from scanning store receipts. I wish I had signed up sooner! Use code D2DJC when you sign up to get 2k points for just signing up!
And Top Cashback is great as well. They have Marriott, Booking, Expedia, Priceline, Hilton-to name a few. Don’t pay full price for anything, get some cash back for things you are already booking!
As you can see, there are a ton of travel deals out there. You just have to be on the lookout and you too will find them. Happy travels!
Do you have any tips for finding travel deals? Share them in the comments below!