One of the main reasons people feel they can’t travel or vacation often is the cost. For so long, the idea has been that traveling the world was expensive, and it was a luxury that was only reserved for special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays. But we want to let you know, travel can certainly be budget friendly if you plan accordingly. And by budget friendly, we don’t mean skipping out on the things you enjoy or settling for a ‘cheap’ experience.

As you begin to plan out fall and winter travel, or even look ahead to your 2023 vacation plans, we wanted to share some tips and tricks to help you cut down on cost. From flight deal websites to using frequent flyer mile to your advantage, here’s how you can save on your travel expenses. 

Image: Vlada Karpovich

Sign up for free miles accounts with airlines your fly frequently

This may be second nature for frequent travelers, but it is always great to share it again. Depending on your home base, you likely will have an airline that has a hub at your local airport. For instance, Atlanta is a Delta Air Lines Hub, Charlotte is an American Airlines hub, and New York airports typically have hubs for nearly every American-based airline carrier. If this applies to your city, signing up for a frequent flyer account with that airline (and any others you may use) is an easy way to rack up miles that can be applied to or exchanged for flights in the future. Did we mention that signing up for an account is typically free?

Also, by joining the email lists for airlines like Southwest, Alaska, and JetBlue— you’ll be notified when there is a special fare sale going on. Southwest is notorious for dropping a 2-day flash sale with flights as low as $39 one-way. So, if you’re already subscribed, you’ll likely be among the first to be notified of the sales. 

Get in the habit of checking designated flight deal websites daily

This may sound simple, but it can be a little confusing. Beyond airline websites are third party websites that find and share unusually low flight (and hotel) deals daily. The websites are typically free to view or join the email list, but there are some that offer paid subscriptions to have customized deals sent to you for your specific region. The best flight deal sites to check are: The Flight DealSecret FlyingAir Fare SpotFare Deal Alert, and Scott’s Cheap Flights

Flight deal websites get confusing in the fact that deals posted— especially the super rare deals like New York City to Dubai for $189 roundtrip— typically only last up to 48-hours, if that. So, that’s why it’s best to check the websites daily and have an emergency travel fund available so that are you able to lock in a deal that is of interest. Also, you should know that deals posted will likely have a specific date range that the flight will be available at the price, and there’s no way around it. What usually happens is an airline blocks off a certain number of seats on a specific route, and they drop the price to get those seats sold. Once they are gone, the price will usually shoot back up immediately. 

Take advantage of in-flight credit card offers

At the end of a flight, you’ve likely heard the flight attendants announce a special in-flight offer for the airline’s respective credit card. The offers usually include tens of thousands of frequent flyer miles— enough to buy roundtrip tickets almost immediately— as well as a waiver on the card’s annual fee. With any credit card application, though, we highly encourage taking your time to read the fine print before turning it in for approval. 

Airline and travel credit cards are also popular for international travelers because they waive international transaction fees that are assessed when using your standard debit card abroad. Finally, you can also use points toward hotel stays as well, so even if you want to do a local getaway without flying, you could still save money in the end.