Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Have an Inexpensive Vacation

So I am always planning trips and seeing how much it would cost to go to places that I want to visit. While I plan vacations that aren’t happening anytime soon I often wonder two things 1) what is the best way to get free or nearly free flights (because I read about people doing it all the time) and 2) how can we stay in a nice place for not a lot of money. I find this is a topic that is discussed in MANY blogs out there (some even wanting to charge you to let you in on their secrets) but I think I have found some realistic ways to travel cheap.

Airlines
The first way to get some SUPER cheap flights would be to work for an airline. I was reading the finance blog budgetsaresexy.com and learned that the blogger use to work for Continental Airlines. In his post he talks about how employees can get round trip flights in the US for $10-$30 and international flights were about $50-$100. I can't imagine getting a flight that cheap! He did say working for them had some drawbacks; you need to be awesome in customer service (which I am not) and you better have a sofa to crash on in your final destination because they don’t  paid well.

Another way to get discounted or free flights would be to use an airline credit card to earn your points. United Airlines boast on how you can earn 40,000 points in the 1st year (which I believe is enough for a domestic round trip flight). You also get the perks of priority boarding and two tickets a year to a United Club of your choice (kind of worth having the card just for priority boarding). It took me a long time to convince my husband that this was something we needed to do. It was a hard fight (because we don’t live in debt; therefore using a credit card is the devil). But after taking his first big vacation (to Hawaii) and his first long flight he realized I might be right. We got our card shortly after that and have been using it on EVERYTHING ever since! I mean everything just to get those points, hoping that the year and half of spending will help us get a free flight. And we just pay it off at the end of each month so we don’t carry a balance J

Lodging
After taking our trip to Hawaii we decided that we would rent a house the next time we go anywhere for a long period of time. That way we could save some money by cooking for ourselves and not pay resort or parking fees. With this on our minds we found HomeAway.com. You can get really good deals from people renting out their vacation homes and condos (some for less than $50 a night). Then a few days ago I stumbled upon this article about these retires that were doing home swaping as a way to save money and get to travel at the same time!

This US couple owned their own vacation home in San Diego, California and had never traveled outside the US until they were 60. They started taking short, one week trips to Europe and caught the travel bug! Then they found homeexchange.com and homelink.org. Now what they do is they house swap for a few months at a time with other people around the world. They have been able to live, breath, and take in so many cultures by doing this…can you tell I am SO jealous! After reading this story we decided that this was something we were going to do too when we can purchase a vacation home (I don’t think any ones wants to visit Houston, TX). Check out their whole story here.
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