When you think of a travel blogger you probably think of someone who sold all of their worldly possessions and are completely immersed in the world of full-time travel. I am not that travel blogger. I work a normal, full-time job (and so does my husband) and I only have a few weeks of vacation time a year.
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There are people that assume my husband and I are rich. Newsflash, we aren’t. Some people think we must be trust-fund babies and our parents pay for everything. Another newsflash, we aren’t and they don’t. All of our travels are paid for 100% by ourselves.
Every flight. Every hotel. Every meal.
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. As I mentioned above, we both work normal full-time jobs just like the majority of Americans. 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 our passion: traveling.
With all that being said, there are a few tips and tricks I have that can make travel affordable – even if you currently think it isn’t.
1. 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 – my husband is a huge coffee guru and drinks it every single day – 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.
2. 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 these two cards. I use my Advantage card like a debit card – and pay it off every week – 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 are heading to the Virgin Islands in a few months and those tickets were also paid for using airline miles – all thanks to our trusted AAdvantage cards.
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.
3. Avoid staying in traditional hotels if at all possible. 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. I feel I am a little old for a hostel, and I value my privacy, but for someone who doesn’t mind sleeping in a dorm style room, I think hostels are a great option.
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 the Marriott Rewards credit card – see my post about the best travel reward cards) and have earned quite a few hotel points from it. We were able to use the points I earned from the sign-up bonus to pay for our hotel room at the London Marriott Park Lane hotel while we were in London.
4. 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. 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.
What are some of your tips and tricks for affording to travel? I would love to hear them so leave me a comment!
My Travel Must Haves
**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.