As those who know me are aware, I travel nearly nonstop. To do so requires financial freedom, or a job without geographical constraints. But even those with less ambitious travel plans can benefit from getting some basic travel knowledge.
First, sign up for AAA (if you are from the USA) and if you are old enough (50 & from the USA) AARP. You get good discounts and extras which if you travel even reasonably often more than pay for membership fees.
Second, and this requires decent credit, get into the mileage game. I will offer some extra thoughts later, but plenty of advice can be gotten from: www.thepointsguy.com, www.millionmilesecrets.com and travelsort.com. If you want to see the world these sites help.
Mind you, I prefer to use miles exclusively for business class international air travel. The hassle to get a free ticket in coach isn't worth it to me. Esp. if the flight is less than say four hours. But if you want to go to Asia, the Pacific, Africa or Australia, a seat you can truly sleep in makes a huge difference. Forget the "snob" appeal, it is great to hit the road as rested as possible. A tall order on a 12 to 18 hour flight in coach.
Anyhow, there is a start. A little homework goes a long way.
Good luck and safe travels!