Save on Travel When Short on Points

Pam

Alex and I are all over using miles/points for our travels here at Travel Hacking Mom. However, there are some ways to save on your travels even if you are still a newbie and don’t have enough points for free travel yet. I have even used a few when I want to save points and put some spend on a credit card to meet the minimum spend. Here are some of our best ideas on how to save on travel when short on points. Even when we use one of these ideas, we often travel hack part of our travel to save money.

TravelZoo Top 20

Each week TravelZoo gathers and publishes their top 20 travel deals. These are often deals marked up to 50% off or more. I’ve had a couple of big trips I’ve wanted to make that we bought deals on the TravelZoo Top 20. I had a big minimum spend to make and it just made sense to book an African Safari and not figure out all the details. We booked this trip. I had read all the reviews and they were glowing, it covered meals, stays in luxury tents, and was just what I was looking for at over 50% of the usual cost. I have already begun researching how to use miles to get us there and we are planning on going in February of 2022.

One of the nicest things is they are completely refundable. I had paid for 5 nights at a Hyatt Regency in San Diego and Alex chided me about not using points. I was able to easily cancel it and get it refunded in minutes.

I know couples who use this all the time for trips and hotels and rave about it. I recently bought an overwater villa week-long trip in the Maldives that we will use in December of 2021. We will use miles to get there and I’ll let you know how it goes. It was only $1,600 per couple and included 2 meals and several other perks. I have so many places that I want to use my miles/points for that, occasionally, I pay for one of these trips and get more credit card points.

I’m hoping to see zebras during our upcoming safari!

Use Points or Miles

Another way to travel on the cheap but maybe not free is to use points OR miles, not both. If you find a cheap flight or cheap hotel, you may want to pay cash for one and use points for the other. This is certainly a good way to save when you go with a family so you don’t have to save so many points or miles. Sometimes it’s not about making it free, it’s about making it cheaper.

Bank Account Bonuses

I did a whole post on bank account bonuses.  There is a lot of extra money that can be made by just moving your money around to different banks and getting paid to try them out. I have made several thousands of dollars doing that and use that money to lower travel expenses. I just recently opened up a US Bank account and will make $400. My recent London pandemic trip cost me several hundreds of dollars in COVID tests even though the trip itself was virtually free. Thanks to that bank account bonus, my tests will be paid for. It may not be the normal way to travel cheaper but it certainly works and has helped me!

Home Exchange, Couch Surf, Etc

We did a collaboration post a while ago all about cheap ways to travel. You can access it here. Some of these ideas are very inventive. Many of them don’t interest me and I’ll keep collecting my points and miles! However, they have some great ideas of how to travel when you are short on points!

Airbnb

Renting an Airbnb is always a great idea when you travel with family as points can go pretty fast when you need multiple rooms. An even better idea to save on travel costs is to rent out your own home, especially for extended travel. Two of my children have done this and made really good money that has allowed them to travel away from home and spend considerably less. Yes, it is a bit of work to prepare your home for others but it can certainly give you some extra money for your travel funds.

Be Flexible

Flexibility is key to cheaper travel whether you are paying cash or using points or miles. Being able to travel when it’s the off-season finds you cheaper flights and cheaper lodging. Look at the 30-day calendar when booking flights to see the cheapest ones. Plan lodging at off-peak times. Sign up for last-minute deals on the airlines you like to fly with.

Award travel is easier to find when you can book it out a bit. Conversely, I’ve found great deals at the last minute because they want to fill up the plane. Earlier this year I booked a business class seat to London two days before I wanted to travel for almost 10,000 points less than usual just because it was last minute.

Try some of these other last-minute spots:

Travel to Asia

Asia is a cheap destination for lodging, food, and entertainment. Additionally, you can get cheap massages. When I went to Thailand, I enjoyed $7 massages daily. I have traveled to Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, and Bali and was surprised at how cheap the prices were there. I have heard that most of Asia are the same. The people were lovely in Asia and the cheaper travel there coupled with business class seats for the long flights (via travel hacking) make it a great way to save money with travel. Asia is a great place to save on travel when short on points!

Tuk Tuk i Bangkok
Thailand is a cheap place to travel in Asia.

Bottom Line

Travel Hacking has made it possible to travel so affordably. However, sometimes you don’t have the points you need yet or want to save them for another trip you have planned. Try out some of these ideas to reduce your travel costs! What are your best travel cost savers? What ideas do you have on how to save on travel when short on points?

Giraffe in front of vehicle

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