The majority of my family and friends live all across the country. In fact, my sister is currently living in England through the Air Force. As rewarding as my life has been to build these relationships after living in so many different places, visiting your favorite people can be really expensive.
Before I book anything, I signed up through Booking Buddy to get alerts of when airfare is on sale. This has saved me a lot of money but it has also sparked a lot of spontaneous trips when flights are just so low. You can even sign up for specific alerts for locations you are looking to fly to/from.
Thanks to a few personal finance blogs, I discovered some serious benefits from using a credit card that provides airline miles. Personally, I use Barclay's Arrival MasterCard that offers 2 miles per $1 and it gave me an additional 40,000 miles as a bonus sign on. Even better, when you redeem these miles, the company gives you 10% of the miles you used back. However, I also learned that a credit card is a tool that should only be handled if you can manage it!
Additionally, I book my tickets through Expedia, which gives me reward points for each flight I book. This takes a while to build up but it's free so it doesn't hurt to use it! Mostly, these rewards are best redeemed for a free hotel stay because it would take so many flights to earn a free flight. Still more than worth it!
If that's not enough, I typically fly Delta so I use a Skymiles account to earn frequent flier miles. Also through Delta, you can register your credit card (any credit card) and when you eat at affiliated restaurants, you can earn additional miles.
I was originally trying to wrack up these miles to visit my sister next year. However, I found out today she's working on moving back to the states within a matter of months so that frees up a lot of miles (and ultimately money) for other travel!
I'm at that age where my friends are getting married. Next spring alone I have a bachelorette party in Vegas, a wedding reception in South Carolina and a wedding in Wisconsin. Travel will be entirely covered thanks to these rewards and the money I have been planning to set aside for these trips can now go towards savings and debt!
I also have a friend that loves to travel with me and we like to go somewhere new once a year, if possible. Myrtle Beach is on her bucket list and I'll be able to do a trip with her when I'm already in South Carolina for my friend's wedding! Even better, I'll have a $50 voucher for a hotel stay thanks to Expeida reward points.
Next week I'm off to Florida to visit my old roommate and in December I'm off to Utah to visit my old nanny friend. I wouldn't have purchased either ticket without rewards making them free! I am certainly a baller on a budget but that doesn't mean I have to stay home and not make the most out of life!