Besides traveling where friends and family live, here are my other favorites strategies for traveling on the cheap:
1. I take advantage of credit card rewards. Perks like these can go a long way. Within the first year of signing up for the popular travel credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I saved over $2,000 on travel, thanks to a generous sign-up bonus and rewards points earned for using the card on a regular basis.
Read more about how to pick the best rewards credit card and check out the best credit cards for travelers. And remember, if you're going to rack up points, you'll want to make sure you're using your card responsibly and able to pay off your balance in full every month.
2. I book flights as far in advance as possible. Typically, the earlier you book travel, the less you'll pay. So when I know for a fact that I'll be traveling at a certain time — home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, for example — I'll buy flights months in advance.
Keep in mind that airlines will often charge you more than $100 to change your flight, so you do want to make sure your trip is set before buying tickets.
3. I sweat the small stuff. Little expenses can add up, particularly on longer trips. When traveling, I always skip the overpriced food and drinks at the airport. If I have a long flight or layover, I'll pack protein bars to tide me over and a water bottle to refill.
I also refuse to pay for internet access at hotels or the airport and hunker down in places that offer free Wi-Fi, like Starbucks or other cafes. And, if I'm abroad, I use a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, which can add up fast.
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