When people ask me how I afford to travel, the answer is actually quite simple. It’s important to me. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive and if you want it bad enough, you will make it happen. For my husband and I, we love to travel. It’s what makes us the happiest and it’s what we choose to spend our money on. We both work normal full-time jobs just like most people. We have a mortgage to pay, a car payment, and student loan debt. But aside from those things, we live a relatively debt free life and the rest of our income we spend on traveling.
With all that being said, here are my tips and tricks on how I afford to travel. Hopefully, some of them are useful to you, too!
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Stop any Frivolous Spending
This may sound like a silly suggestion, but you would be surprised how fast a $3.00 latte from Starbucks every day adds up. Think about it, buying a cup of coffee five days a week can cost you upwards of $800.00 a year. To put it in perspective, my roundtrip plane ticket to Paris cost less than that. Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t drink coffee, but buy it from the grocery store and make it at home. Besides coffee, do you really need a new pair of shoes every month? Or a new fancy handbag? I don’t think so. Instead of spending money on material things, put the money you were going to spend in a savings account set up just for funding your travels.
Utilize Travel Reward Credit Cards
I think this is the best way to rack up airline miles and get free plane tickets. I personally have the Citi AAdvantage credit card and my husband has the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red credit card. There are tons of airline reward cards out there, but we prefer American Airlines which is why we chose those two cards. I use my Advantage card like a debit card so I earn a ton of miles every month. In fact, the plane tickets for two of our trips in the last year – Barbados and Costa Rica – were paid for using airline miles. The only thing we had to pay were the taxes associated with the tickets which were about $120.00 total. We recently returned from a trip to the Virgin Islands and those tickets were also paid for using airline miles.
Now, I know some of you are probably thinking, ‘but I don’t want a credit card’, and that is totally fine. Having a credit card is a huge responsibility and I completely understand why some people avoid them. If you don’t want to take the plunge and sign up for a travel reward credit card, I would suggest flying exclusively with one airline and signing up for their frequent flyer program. These programs are free and you will earn miles when you fly with them. I did this with American before I got my AAdvantage credit card. Check out this post if you want to see what my favorite travel rewards cards are.
Avoid Staying in Traditional Hotels
My husband and I really love Airbnb and chose this route while we were in Paris. We spent less than $500 for an entire week, which is pretty unheard of in Paris. Another great option for some people are hostels. I have never stayed in a hostel, but I have heard there are some pretty amazing ones throughout Europe and they are really well priced.
If we are traveling somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of Airbnb options, I look into locally-owned hotels because they are usually cheaper than a bigger named hotel. Even though I don’t stay at big named hotels all the time, I still recommend joining a loyalty program for one. I am a loyalty member of Marriott (I also have a Marriott credit card) and have earned quite a few hotel points from it.
Open a Travel Savings Account
I briefly mentioned this above (in tip #1), but I can’t stress enough how important it is to open an account meant only for funding your travels. This is probably the most important step for how I afford to travel. You are less likely to spend money that is sitting in a savings account versus money you have stashed around your house. Go over your budget and determine a dollar amount that is suitable for you to set back each pay period and then on the days you get paid, transfer your pre-determined dollar amount to your travel account. Even if it’s $25.00 – no amount is too small and $25.00 is still better than $0.
Did you find my tips and tricks for how I afford to travel helpful? What are some of your tips for affording to travel? I would love to hear them so leave me a comment!
**The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and is based on my personal opinion. Always remember to read all fine print before you sign up for any credit card.