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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.

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  1. I’ve never really had to opportunity to travel. I always figured I couldn’t afford it. Great idea of using the credit card to get the points and then paying off each month. I think I would be pretty good at doing that. Awesome that you got upgraded to the presidential suite! I bet that wasy fun.

  2. Great tips! Also,I stayed at a gorgeous inn a few summers ago and friended them on facebook.They offer discounts for returning customers and referrals.Something to check out for wherever you may be staying.

  3. We’ve also gotten cards for the cruise line we travel on. We charge everything then pay it when we get home and we always get perks!

  4. I don’t really travel but my brother likes to take a lot of trips. I’m going to share these tips with him. Thanks.

  5. This wouldn’t be very benefitial to me since I’m disabled, but I’ll be sure to pass around the information to others. Thanks!

  6. We use our Disney rewards visa to earn gift cards for our Disney trips. I wonder if the southwest card would be a better deal though.

    1. It can be a part-time job figuring out which points are better, Dede! But ask long as you are taking advantage of some of the points, you are ahead of most. I just feel like it’s free money! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment!

  7. Awesome tips here! Hubby and I are planning to travel every year and these tips will definitely help us save money!

  8. Great tips! I have been traveling for work lately, but I also want to try and find some cool places to take my family!

  9. Great information. I try ot get points for every move I make, no matter how many places you go the points will add up one day.