People rarely believe me when I say that the more you travel, the cheaper it becomes. In their mind, more travel means your spending more money. However, those who travel know that once you've been bitten by the travel bug, you're constantly looking for ways to keep traveling as often as possible.
That means you get pretty savvy about it. In the travel community, we call that dreary feeling one gets after returning home from a fabulous trip "Post Travel Depression," and we soothe that sadness by planning our next trip!
3 Ways I Travel More For Less
I've been known to take a trip at almost a moments notice. A friend will call and say, "Do you want to go to Germany with me next week?" My answer is almost always yes...I have a travel savings fund that far outweighs my clothing and lifestyle fund, and when I tell my friends and family that the ONLY thing I spend money on is travel, I mean it!
These last minute trips often leaves my family and friends wondering "Where she is off to now?" But there is a method to my madness and I am not wealthy, nor am I putting myself in the poor house by traveling as often as I do.
Traveling for less means being flexible and creative. It's generally known that the cheapest days to book (and travel) is midweek - I usually find that the cheapest prices for flights are found on early Tuesday morning. By being flexible with my departure days and times, I can literally save hundreds of dollars on flights. It's a really smart move to utilize those monthly fare calendars that some airlines present when you're booking flights.
I'm currently planning a trip to join my friend in Germany for Karnival, and I can save over $200 by flying in a day earlier than the date I originally intended - a few hundred dollars here and there over the year can REALLY add up!
Some calendars show the price of tickets on any given day of the month, tickets to some destinations can vary by over $500 in a single month or even between days! By looking ahead and being flexible I can score tickets on the cheaper days. Additionally, I'm interested in traveling almost anywhere which means I can take advantage of short notice flight deals to destinations I hadn't even thought of. When you're open to adventure, the world really is your oyster! In 2015, my girlfriend and I were in Bangkok for a conference and found $98 flights to Cambodia while we were in town...of course we booked that last minute trip, and I was able to go to Siem Reap and see the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park on the spur of the moment...we spent two days there for less than $300 including airfare and hotel.
Pro Travel Tip: When booking flights to a destination where you KNOW you'll need to book a hotel, check those "special savings" at the bottom of the airline check out page. There are usually great package deals if you book a hotel immediately.
Everyone loves a 5-star hotel, of course we would be crazy not to! However, they're not always very affordable and can eat up a large portion of your travel budget. Instead of spending your entire vacation at one resort, try mixing it up. Spend a few days at a high end resort and another few days at a hotel that's more budget friendly or check out an Airbnb. My friends and I stayed at Airbnb accommodations during our recent trip to Cuba, and we were renting entire 2 and 3 bedroom apartments for $40 or less per night. Hotels in the same area were $300 and up...you can imagine how much money we saved during our 6 day stay! You can even check in with friends in the area and see if they would like a visitor, try couch surfing if you're traveling alone, or look into hostels.
The same goes for dining while traveling: eat at more expensive restaurants during lunch, when the menu is most cost effective. Try happy hour specials for less expensive drinks and discounted appetizers as well. For dinner, ask the locals where they like to go. Often times their recommendations will be less expensive, hugely popular and offer you a "local experience."
Cash In On Credit Card Rewards Points
Credit Card Rewards are gold in the travel world. Reward credit cards allow cardholders to earn points for making purchases with their credit card, which can be redeemed in a multitude of ways, depending on which cards you use.
I currently use three credit cards that help me travel more. My American Express Hilton Hhonors card allows me to earn points for hotels rooms, but I can also redeem points for gift cards and experiences. Likewise, my American Airlines Platinum Advantage Card by Citibank allows me to earn 1 mile for every dollar spent AND it saves me money with free checked bags and 20% off in-flight purchases. Lastly, I use Paypal Business debit card to earn cash back on all of my purchases, which gives me more money to spend while I travel!
The good news is, there is no shortage of credit card offers out there, it's about finding the card that works for you. You can check out the CardMatch tool at CreditCards.com, to find the perfect credit card match for you. The best part? CardMatch securely matches you with offers in less than 60 seconds without impacting your credit score in any way.
Once you've accumulated rewards it becomes this wonderful cycle of using, earning and redeeming to save money on travel.
Think that it's too expensive to travel? Think again! With a game plan, the right travel budget and the right rewards cards, that trip you've been dreaming about can finally become a reality! Check out the CreditCards.com CardMatch tool and let me know what you think!
Meanwhile, I will be jetting off to Germany, thanks to my savvy budgeting and credit card rewards!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.