1. Decide what you need—and what you can live without
The first step in your cheap travel adventure is to prioritize. But you probably already know how to do this with your day-to-day living expenses.
Some people want to live in a nice house, but are willing to drive a beater car. Others squeeze into minuscule living spaces in order to follow their dreams in exciting cities.
The little things count, too. Maybe you splurge on gourmet coffee but buy the store brand for everything else.
The same choices apply to travel. If you want to do it cheaply, you need to think of the experience as the ultimate prize. Everything else is negotiable.
Can you stay in a hostel because you’re going to spend most of your time sightseeing anyway? Will you make breakfast and dinner at home so you can eat out for lunch and enjoy a drink or two at night? Is there a budget airline that flies to your destination? Can you pack lightly enough that you don’t have to check a bag?
2. Join a travel rewards program
You may have heard that airlines are switching to revenue-based loyalty programs, meaning that you earn points based on how much you spend rather than how many miles you fly.
While that may mean it takes longer to earn a free flight, there’s no reason not to start trying. It’s free to sign up and if you’re new to the program, you may be able to earn tens of thousands in bonus points for opening up a travel rewards credit card.
Travel rewards programs aren’t limited to airlines—hotels have them, too. And you can earn points on a wide variety of purchases through the loyalty program’s partners.