We have been fortunate enough to take more than five trips this year and we still have one more to go. From Turks and Caicos to Alaska; Puerto Rico to Canada and more, we really had a good time hopping all over North America in 2015. Every time we get back from a trip, however, we get tons of questions on how we travel so much, where do we find the time and isn’t it expensive? There are ways, however, that you can take a trip or two in the new year. This is a quick blog entry with 5 tips for travelling more even on small budgets.
1. Set up a separate bank account with automatic savings and call it the “travel fund.” If you are serious about wanting to travel more than you are going to have to take extra steps to help you on your way. Instead of waiting for a bonus at work or a large lump sum of money, set up a separate savings account (Capital One 360 is great because it pays a tiny bit of interest) and have a set amount of your paycheck go into that account every two weeks. Even if you’re saving $50/paycheck, that can quickly add up and be enough for plane tickets or a few nights at a hotel in a location that’s close enough for you to drive to. Why not gift yourself $100 this holiday season to kick off that new account and make your travel dreams one step closer to being a reality?
It is important to note that a lot of travel deals have to be booked quickly so another benefit of always having a travel fund is that you have the money available when that great sale pops up. Speaking of great sales, our next tip is to…
2. Follow the right travel sites. The Flight Deal, Mighty Travels, Travelzoo, etc. There are many sites that post all kinds of deals every day. Follow them and keep an eye out for deals out of your city or within two-hours of your city. Piggyback tip: know that a lot of times the nearest deal might not be your home airport (international travelers), but if it makes sense to drive to Baltimore from Philadelphia, for example, to get that deal then be open to it. Be sure to do the numbers (gas, toll, or bus/train fair if that’s what you’re taking to the other city) and make sure they make sense.
3. Sign up for reward programs. The kind of programs you choose is up to you. We do not chase credit card rewards, but do have accounts with Hotels.com (which we’ve just started accessing with Ebates.com to double the benefits). It may not seem like much at first but as you begin to travel more you will see the benefit. Just last month we got a hotel room for $12 (tax only) because we had spent more than 10 nights in hotels booked through Hotels.com.
4. Be open to non-traditional lodging and traveling on long weekends. We don’t always stay in hotels. Not only can you vary your experience in a new destination by staying some place more local, you can also save a bundle. If you’re not already signed up with AirBnb, we encourage you to give it some thought. The lovely apartment we rented in Amsterdam last fall was one we rented through AirBnB. We saved hundreds of dollars and had much more space than we would have if we’d gotten a hotel. There are other lodging options such as Couchsurfing, hostels, etc., but we have zero interest in these and cannot recommend them for the simple fact that we’ve never used them. They are cheaper and can be adventurous, we’ve heard. Check them out for yourself and decide based on your comfort level.
As with all non-traditional options of places to stay, always use common sense when it comes to personal safety and trust your gut before booking. Does the host have plenty of good reviews? Does the platform offer 24 hour help? What about insurance? Does the profile of the location have ample pictures of both inside and outside? Do you have money to go somewhere else if the place isn’t as it seems when you show up? If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. With all that being said, we’ve never had a bad experience with AirBnB and we’ve used it off and on for years.
Also, with regarding to “having the time” to travel, you can squeeze another day of travel in if you do it on July 4 or some other holiday that your job is already paying you for. Fortunately for us we’ve created a life that enables us to mostly work from wherever we want an on our own terms but that doesn’t mean you have to own your own business or work a freelance life to travel. Use those PTO days wisely!
5. Travel light. See the backpack Monica is wearing in the picture above? That is what we’ve been traveling with for more than a year. We do not check bags. We use eBags and we LOVE THEM! Not only does this save money, but more important to us is it saves time. We like to skip the fuss of checking bags and waiting for them when we arrive at our destination and it’s an added bonus that we save on baggage fees! If you use the link we’ve provided here, you’ll save 20% and we might get a couple of coins for referring you. Tip: If you get these also get the packing cubes. They make packing incredibly efficient.
Check out this video for more info:
If you think you need more space, think again. We have packed for two weeks in these bags and had no problem. We know that we could use them for longer trips too. The key is to be minimalist. Do you really need to bring 15 shirts, 4 pairs of shoes, 5 different pairs of jeans? Probably not. And if you’re staying anywhere for a long period of time you can just use laundry service or wash your own clothes if you’re in an apartment.
That’s it for now. We hope you’ve found this helpful and encourage you to add any tips or questions you might have in the comments section. Thanks for reading!