One of the hardest things for those of us who have been bit by the travel bug is how to afford to go to all the amazing places on our bucket list all the time. Especially for those of us or have full time jobs, own a house, have a family, and aren't millionaires. Believe it or not though, there are some tricks that can help you to save on travel so that you can go on multiple incredible vacations a year! We're here today to share with you our top 6 tips on how to save money on travel!
Very simple, right? It really is. Sit down with your spouse, family, friends, or even yourself and plan out what trips you would feasibly like to take in the next year. So if you're starting now, plan out anything in 2017 through March 2018. Let's say you want to take a road trip over Memorial Day weekend, a vacation in the summer, visit family around the holidays, and go on a tropical getaway next February; mark down the dates and locations on your calendar or on a list somewhere (we like to use Google Docs so we can share it with each other). So now that you have a plan you can start keeping your eyes and ears open for DEALS. You know you want to go on vacation in July and an airline that you prefer to fly with is having a sale right now, since you already know where you're going and the time frame that works for you, you can pull the trigger right then and there and save a bunch of money.
Buy Airfare at the Right Time
Piggy backing off of tip one a bit, you definitely want to buy plane tickets during sales but you also don't want to buy them too early or even worse, last minute. If you plan ahead, and don't see any sales going on from the time you've picked your destination to when you really should be buying your tickets, here is the rule of thumb that we live by for buying our tickets:
Open & Use a Travel Credit Card
Ahh credit cards. I know they can be scary, but they can also be very very useful. I'm going to put this out there right away though, if you haven't saved up enough cash to out right pay for your vacation ahead of time, then you can't afford to go on that trip yet. I say this because this tip isn't about opening up a credit card to pay for your travel and max it out and then be in debt for the next 10 years. No, it's about using it properly to your advantage. A few years ago, we opened Bank of America Travel Rewards credit cards since we love to travel so much. (There are so many travel cards out there, too like American Express, Chase Sapphire Preferred, even credit unions offer travel rewards cards.) The way we go about using these credit cards is we use them for our normal day to day spending and then pay off what we've spent every 2 weeks when we get paid. It's basically just like using our debit cards from our checking account. We budget a certain amount of spending money every two weeks and only put that amount on the credit card so we can pay it off the next time we get paid. The reason we do this is because we get points that turn in to money that we can use to credit our accounts for travel purchases. We've used our points in the past to pay for small things like rental cars or if we've saved up a mass amount of points we use them on airfare. This is not a lie, I flew round trip and Caleb flew one way to Italy for our honeymoon for free thanks to how many points we had saved up on our credit cards. It made our honeymoon that much better! This is really our biggest secret, use what you need every day of your life to fund your travels.
Don't Stay at the Most Expensive Hotels
We understand the draw of 5-star hotels. We really do, but at the same time, how much time are you going to be spending in your room? If you want to lower the cost of your trip, try staying at a 3-star hotel instead. They're still clean and cozy and serve the purpose you need, a room to sleep in and get ready in. That's it. It's nice to have a jacuzzi in your room and all but you can also hit up the big hot tub in the pool area for some post exploring relaxation. The memories you make outside of your hotel will be far more important to you anyways.
Use Deal Finder Programs
There are so many budget friendly websites out there for so many different things. For travel though, you'd be surprised at how many incredible deals you can find on the internet. Try looking up a destination you've been dying to go to on Groupon or see if where you work has a partnership with YouDecide. You can find deals on hotels, entertainment tickets, amusement parks, etc on these kinds of sites. Also make sure to check if Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com, and other sites like these are having specials on hotels and rental cars. Our best resource for booking international travel or trips to Hawaii? Tripmasters.com - they find you the absolute best deals out there.
Fly with the Same Airline
This tip takes a little bit of time to show it's perks but it really is worth it. Pick an airline you enjoy flying and try your best to stick with it. I know tip #1 said to go for the deals but also try to go for the deals on the same airline because if you sign up for an airline's rewards program and keep flying with them over and over again they will reward you. We typically always fly with Southwest. Because we're so loyal to Southwest and we both partake in their rewards program, we can use the points we get from them to get free flights from them. Our anniversary vacation to Orlando last fall? I once again flew for free and Caleb got one way for free again. So that's two years in a row for our big vacations we barely had to pay for airfare. This last time to Orlando was a bit more complicated though but I want to explain it to you so that you don't think you have to accumulate a ton of points to be able to do this. So here's how we worked the system:
What are your best tips for saving money on travel?
The Cabrera Crew
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