Bucket list travel on a budget: Expert tips for airfare, loyalty programs, credit card perks and more

Nicky Kelvin from The Points Guy dives into ways to save this summer.

April 25, 2024, 8:12 AM

Many travelers have their sights set on summer getaways, but with everything from baggage fees to fuel costs impacting the price of a ticket, "Good Morning America" is asking travel experts to share tips for booking bucket list destinations on a budget and finding savings along the way.

Travel expert Nicky Kelvin, senior director of content for The Points Guy, offered his tips for affordable travel techniques.

Travel experts share tips to save on summer travel
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Where to find the best flight deals

PHOTO: Stock photo of a plane flying over an island.
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Kelvin encourages travelers to utilize Google Flights and other free price-tracking tools to compare fare prices and snag the best deal.

He also suggests using both the calendar and map features within Google Flights to see which airports, dates and destinations how the lowest fare.

From the Google Flights homepage on a computer, click "explore destinations" and select a departure city without adding a destination. Then zoom out on the map to see the best prices for destinations all over the world.

Get the most out of free travel loyalty programs

Travelers should be earning points for anything and everything that they are buying or booking from airline and hotels to car rentals, Kelvin said.

In addition to the points that can can help travelers earn free flights and hotel stays, Kelvin said to look for extra perks just for joining.

Hyatt rewards, for example, offers all guests free breakfast.

For Thrifty Car Rental and Dollar Car Rental, he said you can add your spouse or domestic partner as an additional driver for free.

Loyalty programs are great for airlines too. JetBlue, for example, allows enrolled customers -- even if they don't have enough points for a flight -- to use points for discounts. Plus, with any airline, as you accumulate points to earn status, you can get free seating upgrades.

Travel credit cards with cash back perks

Along with earning points, travel credit cards give you protection for your trip like insurance to help with lost or damaged baggage and trip cancellation protection

Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
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As for credit cards, The Points Guy team suggests the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card as an all-around pick -- you get 75,000 miles after meeting your minimum spend in the first three months. Which Kelvin said is a value of over $1,300.

If you're looking to earn the most miles, he said look to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

"You'll earn the most points on all your purchases with this one," he said.

Finally, if you want a credit card with no fee, Kelvin suggested the Bilt Mastercard, which he said is particularly great for renters because you can earn points on what's likely someone's biggest expense.

Save money on international phone plans for summer trips

If someone's trip is taking them out of the country, using a cell phone internationally can cost $10 to 15 per day. For a family of four, that's more than $400 for a week.

If your phones support eSIM, Kelvin suggested purchasing a data plan for your destination through an app such as Airalo, Truphone or GigSky.

For example, one of Airalo's global SIM plans costs $9 for one week, which could save a family close to $350 dollars, depending on their existing international coverage.

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