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This is part one of two part guest post from LeAnna Brown from WellTraveledNebraskan.com

After living abroad for 6 years and exploring over 40 countries, my passport is well loved, my walls filled with memories of adventures across the globe and it’s not uncommon to get a text from my Mom asking “Where are you this weekend!?”

But besides that one question from my mother, there is still one nagging inquiry from pretty much everyone else I know:

But how can you afford it!?

It’s true, I do spend (minimal) money when traveling, on things such as food or on adventures like bungee jumping or doing a wine tasting. But when you look at the AMOUNT of travel we do in regards to how much we spend, it is SHOCKING just how LITTLE we actually spend on travel ( as little as a few thousand dollars a year to travel almost monthly- many of those being internationally…and yes that includes hotels and flights!).

Even here in Nebraska, I have been able to have some amazing experiences like seeing the breathtaking Sandhill Crane Migration or Glamping under the stars.

Ok, Ok, so how do we do it?
Easy: Points and Miles….to the extreme, called Travel Hacking. And it’s actually no secret because you can easily learn how to do it as well and start traveling on pennies.

What Is Travel Hacking
Most people know that they can earn points and miles with credit cards or booked nights at hotels.

What a lot of people surprisingly don’t know is that you can earn upwards of several flights and/or numerous nights at a hotel from applying from just one (well thought out) credit card. So what have my husband and I been doing for almost the last decade?

You guessed it! With now over 60+ credit cards to our names (and scores of over 750, thank you very much!) and no credit card debt, we pretty much never pay for flights or hotels and won’t need to for years to come.

Who Is Travel Hacking For
1) People who want or love to travel but don’t think they can afford it
2) People who know how to pay off their monthly credit card statements
3) People who spend an average amount of money a month (typical groceries, bills, etc) Hint: You DON’T have to spend any more money than you typically would!

Who is Travel Hacking NOT For
1) People who have a difficult time paying off debt
2) Someone looking to get a major loan (car, mortgage, etc) in the next 1-2 years

What Has Travel Hacking Afforded Me
I’ve always had a bit of a wanderlust bug in me, and like most Americans, I used to do only one big trip every few years, as that was all that I thought I could afford. However, once I started having free flights and free lodging to pretty much anywhere I wanted to go, the world’s doors opened up for me.

Thanks to travel hacking, my husband and I are able to live off an annual income of less than $40,000 combined while taking first class flights to places like New Delhi, India or stay at the world’s most expensive Hyatt with a harbor view of the Sydney Opera House in Australia!!!

Outside our (free) hotel at the Sydney harbor

I’ve sipped (probably too many) rum and cokes on the beach of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean as well as gazed up at the Northern Lights while camping next to an Icelandic glacier.

But the crazy thing? We don’t spend any more money in our day to day lives than anyone else. In fact, we are notoriously known as frugal (do I dare say, “CHEAP”) people to our close friends and family.

  • We only just recently bought a second vehicle (so that we could have something to tow the 20 year old Pop Up Camper we bought last fall to travel throughout Nebraska in!).
  • I cut my husband’s hair just to save the mere $10 a month it takes to go somewhere (Hey! $10 over time adds up!!!)
  • I only got my first smart-phone literally 2 months ago, and it felt like tortue to do so!
  • I’m not embarrassed that I put my son in pink (hand me downs, thank you very much!) cloth diapers (although he might be upset when he sees the photo in 15 years!)
  • I couldn’t even tell you the last time I forked up the money to go see a movie at a theater (shoot, we didn’t even have a tv until we moved back to Omaha last year).

It’s as though my husband, son and myself live this hilarious juxtaposed life. A life of frequent (and often even luxurious) travel in contrast to living below our means on purpose at home more often than not.

I love being able to show others who thought that they couldn’t afford travel that if WE can do it, so can you.

How to Start Travel Hacking
1) Pick a dream trip. No, really. Make it ANYTHING. Get as fun, crazy and out of this world as you’d like.
2) Do even just the simplest bit of research on Travel Hacking. By doing this, you’ll quickly learn about what credit cards are the best for your type of travel (airfare, hotels, what part of the country or world, etc).
3) Join some forums. Ask around. The Travel Hacking community is an amazingly friendly group of people, all just wanting to share our love of affordable travel. One of my favorite groups is Travel Hacking Study Hall. There are people ranging from absolute beginners all the way to experts, all who have questions as well as answers.
4) Apply For a Credit Card. It’s honestly not as scary as many people believe. As long as you can pay off what you put on it and don’t spend more than what you typically do, it’s no different than paying with cash……except you get free flights and hotels! Can’t say THAT about your green moolah! After you’ve met a minimum spending amount within a designated period of time, you’ll automatically earn enough points for that dream trip!
5) Go on the Vacation Of Your Dreams.
6) Rinse and Repeat if you so choose!

Some people want just one trip that they never thought was possible and are done with credit cards and travel hacking after that. Others, like me, get addicted to the free travel and learn more and more each day about how to maximize points and miles to continue to travel the world!

Your Life. Your Travel. Your Choice!

Enjoying a chai tea overlooking Taj Mahal in India

Quite honestly, that was the quick and easy version of points and miles, but the point (no pun intended) is that I want to show others the reality of affordable travel. You don’t have to be rich to have amazing experiences both domestically and/or abroad.

You don’t have to make a ton of money to travel with your family.But what you DO have to have is an open mind. Both to thinking outside the box of HOW to travel but also WHILE traveling. It’s a beautiful opportunity if you only take the chance.

So there you have it my fellow wanderlusting friends. Traveling is such a beautiful, eye opening, and memorable experience that I love sharing how affordable it actually can be (with a bit of forethought and planning, of course!).

But now I’m curious….where is your dream vacation to???

About LeAnna:
As a born and raised proud Omahan, LeAnna has had the opportunity to live and travel throughout the world. But even through all the amazing adventures, she still calls Omaha her “Homaha!” After learning so much about travel, it is now her passion to help fellow Nebraskans see that amazing travel, experiences and memories are right here in our own backyard of Nebraska. She shares these experiences and how-tos at Https://www.WellTraveledNebraskan.com where you’ll be shocked and inspired with what is possible right here in the Cornhusker State!

Get your daily dose of Nebraska Travel Tips at the Well Traveled Nebraskan Facebook Page or get inspired with their Pinterest boards.

If You Like This Post, You May Also Like To Read More From LeAnna:
Omaha Staycations: 12 Reasons To Stay In Town Rather Than Travel Out and Affording Only The Essentials For Camping.

If you love this, check out more posts:
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