How to Travel For Free

It’s no secret that Alex and I take a lot of trips. I feel so lucky to be able to go on several adventures with my best friend. Traveling is one of our favorite things to do together, so we continue to prioritize this in our lives.

I sometimes get asked, “How do y’all take so many great vacations?” This is a great question. If I had paid for all of these trips with my own money, we would be completely broke or in debt.

Most of our trips have been free or partially free. Now you may be asking, “How was your trip free?” The top 2 reasons for one of our trips being free is because (A) I already had to be somewhere for work (San Francisco), and I just decided to stay the weekend – thus my flight was covered as a business expense. (B) We used points.

So, how can you travel free? I am here today to share my tips and tricks in order to maximize the amount of free vacations you can take!

  1. Find a job where you will be traveling 50% of the time.
    • This may seem obvious, but if you have a job where you are always on the road, you are going to accumulate points and miles very quickly. Not to mention, you can tack on weekend trips all of the time and get a free flight!
    • In 2013, I took over 40+ business trips, so that helped me to accumulate a TON of miles and points.
  2. Sign up for all of the rewards programs
    • Do yourself a favor and go sign-up for all of the rewards programs right now. I am serious – Marriott, Hilton, Delta, American, United, Hyatt, etc.
    • Even if you think you don’t travel enough for this to be worth it, you will be surprised at how you can accumulate points over time. Even a few flights a year can add up. Or a few hotel nights.
  3. Credit Cards are your friend – your best friend
    • Now, I know what some people are thinking, “What! No. Credit Cards are bad!” You are right – credit cards are very bad if you don’t know how to manage your personal finances. However, if you are a responsible adult and pay off your cards each month, there is no issue with it.
    • In March, we stayed at the Hyatt Ziva in Cancun for 5 nights for FREE…..all because we signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card when they had a 100,000 point bonus (it is 50,000 now).
      • It was 25,000 points a night for 2 adults and we used Hyatt points for our 5th night.
    • There are several other amazing credit card offers out there, so just be on the look out for when they are offering a big bonus.
      • The Hyatt Card automatically gets you 2 free nights at any Hyatt.
      • The Marriott Card gets you 1 free night at a Marriott plus 80,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
      • The Delta Card can give you 70,000 miles plus a $100 statement credit.
  4. Southwest Companion Pass
    • Would you want to get a free airline ticket for your spouse every time you travel? That is exactly what the Southwest companion pass is. You have to name your companion and then you can take them with you on your trip for free. It is basically like a buy one get one, but for as many flights as you want.
      • To get this you have to fly 100 segments on Southwest OR acquire 110,000 points in a calendar year.
      • Once you earn it, you earn it for the rest of that calendar year PLUS all of the following year – so the best time to earn it would be early on in the calendar year.
    • How in the heck do you acquire 110,000 points? Credit cards! Southwest has a couple of different credit cards and you can get a 60,000 bonus with each card.
      • You can also just spend a crap ton of money on your Southwest credit card, but that is a lot of money to spend. 🙂
    • This is something we don’t currently have, but we looking to acquire next year.
  5. Take advantage of business trips
    • Even if you don’t travel a ton for work, you might still get to take a few business trips each year. If you are going somewhere neat, why not just stay the weekend? If the price difference is equal or less to fly home a few days later, I would go for it!
    • We have been able to get free airfare to Napa/Sonoma 90% of the time because of this reason. We were fortunate enough to do a decent amount of business in the Bay Area, so we stayed the weekend more often than not!
  6. Loyalty to a specific airline/hotel
    • If you can, try to stick to 1 airline and 1 hotel brand. Your points and miles will add up faster if you are always flying the same airline and staying at the same hotel chain.
    • For several years, Delta and Marriott were our go-to brands. Now, we fly more United (*regrettably*) since we live in Houston.

So, those are my not-so-secret travel secrets. I am sure several of you already knew about this, but I thought I would put it out there in case you didn’t know.

At this point, I would say ~60% of our points and miles have come from business and the other ~40% have come from credit card bonuses. Seriously, those credit card bonuses can really add up!

If you liked this topic and want to know more travel secrets, I would start following The Points Guy. I follow his blog pretty religiously, and that is how I am able to find out about special promotions and credit card offers. He has a Facebook page and Instagram account, so give him a follow – it’s also fun to follow his adventures!

What are some of your travel secrets? Have you found other tricks when it comes to traveling for free? Leave a comment down below!

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