How to travel for free or travel luxuriously for very little money:
1. Join a frequent flyer program even though you're not a frequent flyer. One can easily visit the the airline's website to sign-up for a frequent flyer membership. Airlines and banks have partnership and alliances. So the best way to sign-up is through a credit card company because of the initial/bonus point incentives. For example, Chase has a special offer for United Mileage Plus card starting with 30,000 miles – enough for a free roundtrip ticket to anywhere in the continental United States, after you spend $250.00. To find the best frequent flyer award values, visit: http://www.flyerguide.com
2. Join a hotel reward program. Visit a hotel website and you'll find a link to a partner credit card company. For example, you can earn up to 25,000 SPG (Starwood Hotels) points from American Express for opening an account/credit. SPG property includes Westin, St. Regis (most luxurious), Sheraton hotels to name a few. At this time I would recommend opening an AMEX Hilton Honors card. HHonors got a bad rap in the past as one of the worst hotel reward programs. I think Hilton Honors has redeemed itself because I just joined in October 2009 and received bonus points upon bonus points in a very short time period. By May, 2010 I was able to redeem my points for 3 nights at a category 7 hotel in New York. Hilton property includes Waldorf Astoria, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inns to name a few.
3. Upon credit approval, get ready to use your card to accumulate points. Use your credit card as a CHARGE card. Charge that frappucino, latte, your I-phone/TV/Internet and other household bills. But use your credit card responsibly. Pay the entire balance within the billing cycle/period so not to incur interest charges. Never ever use your credit card to pay your mortgage to accumulate points. Your mortgage company may accept your card and not tell you that they would use it as a cash advance. The goal here is to take advantage of the initial point or bonus offers to accumulate hotel points and not lead you into a debt problem.
WARNING: Credit cards can lead you into a debt problem if you do not use them responsibly.
Another suggestion is the 'Total Rewards Program" offered by Harrahs Hotel and its affiliates (Cesar Palace, Rio, Paris, Bally, Planet Hollywood Casinos). Turn-off by the word, "casino"? Yes this program may not be for everyone. But if you have great self-discipline, this is really a total rewards program. For example, someone who signed-up for the program in October 2009 and gambled very little (a limit of $100), received an invitation in February 2010 for 'totally' 3 free nights at Harrahs or Harvey's Hotel in Lake Tahoe or Reno in March, and 3 free nights each month of April, May, June, July and August in Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. They also offer to fly you on a semi-private jet (MD80) to a Harrah's property. My theory (and this is just my theory) is that the less you gamble, the more invitation for free hotel nights you'd get to suck you into the casino. So play and gamble responsibly and take advantage of the free premium/executive hotel rooms and enjoy the surrounding place like Lake Tahoe.
Some would argue that it would take them years to accumulate miles/points good enough for travel award. Well, the average American worker only gets 15 vacation days a year. So by the time you're ready to take your next vacation, you should have accumulated enough points to take that trip to Rome. But if you want to go to Europe this summer, visit for best summer deals to Europe.