Home » Travel » Almost Free Travel: 8 Steps

Almost Free Travel: 8 Steps

You really can get almost free travel. We’ve done it, so I wanted to share tips that you can take advantage of to save big!

Our family loves to travel, and we do it a lot! Friends are always asking me how we manage to go so often, so I’m sharing my top tips so you can take advantage of them, too.

In the past few years, our family has been to Mexico, Costa Rica, California, Belize, Utah, and all over Florida, where we now live.

Most of the hotels and almost all of the airfare was paid for with points.

In fact, I was at a conference, and because my husband was a Gold member at the hotel family I was staying at, I got an upgrade to the presidential suite!

Many properties will upgrade you when you get to a certain level. If they don’t have a regular upgrade (like from an inside view to a pool view) they will upgrade you to what they do have.

Inn on Fifth living room

In my case, they only had the presidential suite! This is why it’s important to try to stay with one brand of hotels as much as you can. 

My hope is that your family will travel more with these 8 Steps to Almost Free Travel.


How do we do it? There are a 8 simple steps that you can take that will start you on your way to traveling (almost) for free. 

Join Rewards Programs

Join the rewards program for the airline you fly most. Southwest Rapid Rewards program is my favorite. Between my husband and I both traveling a lot, I fly free with him now with the companion pass.

Southwest airplane in sky.
Processed with VSCO with kp8 preset

Apply for the Credit Card for your Preferred Airline

Apply for a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card, or the card for your preferred airline.

Google it and see if you can find a promotion. Most offer sign up promotions, and sometimes do double points.

Why do I love Southwest Airlines? 

  • They are always wonderful to fly with.
  • You get 2 free checked bags.
  • They’re make funny announcements.
  • You can earn free drink coupons. (The announcements are even funnier after you use the drink coupons. Just sayin’.)

We plan our vacations based on where Southwest flies. I will add here that we flew to Costa Rica with Jet Blue last year and loved them, too.

Once you get the card, use it for everything. *Please see the note below.

Apply for Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

Apply for a hotel rewards credit card. My favorites right now are Marriott & Hilton.

You can use the Southwest points for air and the Marriott or Hilton for the hotel.

Many people rule out Marriott & Hilton thinking they are too expensive, but there are many lower priced hotels in the Marriott & Hilton family.

Always Sign Up for the Hotel Rewards Program

Always sign up for the hotel rewards program anytime you book a reservation. It’s free, and they add up! Always use it when you register at the hotel.

Sign reading Earn Points.

Though they can look you up, it’s best to keep your rewards numbers in your notes.

Use your Rewards Credit Cards for Everything

Use your rewards credit cards for everything you can. This means groceries, gas, utilities, even doctors!

Getting gasoline.
Pumping gas at gas pump. Closeup of man pumping gasoline fuel in car at gas station.

*Here’s the key; pay it off each month! If you cannot discipline yourself to do this, stop right here. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Seriously.

You can get your family in a lot of trouble by running up credit cards and not paying them off each month.

Eat at the Hotel Restaurant

Provided it’s not awful, when staying at a hotel, eat at the hotel restaurant at least once. Many let you acquire points for that, too! Be sure to ask!

Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina pasta dish

Don’t Pay for Anything with Cash at the Hotel

Don’t pay for anything with cash at the hotel. If they have a gift shop and you buy something, put it on your room. Get coffee and a bagel in the morning? Put it on your room. Those points add up!

Subscribe to Hotel Newsletters

Subscribe to the newsletter for the hotels you like best.

They frequently have specials where you get double points if you can stay with them during certain times.

The Luminary swimming pool on the roof.

I hope this guide to almost free travel was helpful to you. We are able to travel so much because we do all of the above.

You might also want to grab this FREE Printable packing list set with a list for every season of the year!

I’d love to hear about how it’s helped you! Please come back and share in the comments.

More Travel Tips

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Hi =D

    I haven’t started doing this yet but I am planning to in the near future.

    The “Credit Card Fly” is a good place to subscribe to, if this is exactly what you want to do. It give you the latest offers from different credit cards and it tells you exactly how to gain points.


    I hope my post was helpful

  2. One of the things I do is sign up on the actual airline and hotel websites, not things like Travelzoo or whatever. The actual airlines and hotels tend to give a better discount than those sites do. Also, depending on the city you will be visiting, contact the local visitor’s center, or Chamber of Commerce, and ask if you can have guides or if they have coupons or deals you should know about. I did that when going to California, and got major discounts on park admissions and other things.

  3. These are great tips. Never really thought about the points system but I will have to start looking into these things.

  4. We are retired and got into a mess with credit cards over our head they are almost all paid off now less than &5,000 so No Credit Cards we still have 1 but we don’t use it All this sounds great but most people can’t do it

  5. we are planing big trip to california to universal studio,we dont travel much.But this info will be very helpfull to us,thanks!

  6. I just signed up for Hilton Honors Points and they email specials to me all the time! Unfortunetly we dont fly much, but we are going to Cozumel next December! Thank you for sharing all your great tips!

  7. Any way I can get points if it’s free I subscribe as my money is hard earned as well. I might as well get the most out of it that I can.

  8. Great tips for saving on those vacations. Everyone needs a vacation and you might as well take advantage of the reward programs

  9. love this post=I’ve been trying to score free travel since I’ve been trying to go on one big trip every year.

  10. if i could afford a vac, i would use these ideas. when i have to fly i am also checking the many diff websites