Traveling has always been important to me and Blake. One of our first conversations was planning a snowboard trip with mutual friends on the night we met. Adventuring is at the core of our relationship! So even during our tightest years when we were saving for a house, we’ve always made sure to budget for travel. We’ve learned some things along the way that help us afford to vacation regularly.
#1: Get a Rewards Credit Card
Our most important thing that helps us travel is having a rewards credit card. We got ours a few years ago and it was the best decision we’ve ever made! We have the Capital One Venture card because we earn two points for every dollar we charge to it. And we charge literally every expense that can be paid with a credit card to it — bills, gas, groceries, restaurants, shopping — you name it and it goes on our Venture card. We pay it off in full each month so we reap the reward of all the points without having to pay interest on carrying a balance. The points can be redeemed as a credit back to your statement for any travel-related charge. We’ve redeemed our points to pay for flights, rooms, a rental car, and even meals on vacation. I love that each time we charge to it, whether it’s for bills or for pleasure, we’re earning points and investing in our next vacation!
#2: Get Rid of Extra Expenses
Even if you don’t have a rewards card or don’t want to get one (though why wouldn’t you — it’s like free money!), you can still budget for vacation. Almost everyone has expenses they could eliminate in order to save money for travel. My favorite suggestion of what to nix out of your life is cable TV. An average cost of $100/month means $1200 a year spent on something that doesn’t really add value to life. We haven’t had cable TV ever since we’ve lived together. We pay ~$10/month for Netflix, and we’re never short of choices of a movie or show to watch when we’re in the mood. And by getting rid of a source of couch potato-ism, you gain not only extra money for travel, but more time and freedom too. With that time you could read a book, explore new and old hobbies, cook with your significant other, take a neighborhood walk, listen to jazz while you soak in a bath, etc. There are so many ways to spend free time that are good for your brain and health and cost little money! Be aware of small spends that add up throughout the month too, like a frequent coffee shop stop or purchased meals that could be homemade. Saving money for travel can be thought of as foregoing in-the-moment pleasures for a better reward later on.
#3 Travel Smart
It goes without saying that planning in advance usually gives you better deals on travel. But even if you don’t have much advance notice, it’s still possible to vacation cheaply. Our trip to Arizona last May was booked on-the-fly within a month of our departing date. We canceled our initial destination to Chicago four days before leaving due to a bad weather forecast. To re-book something else, we used Southwest’s Where We Fly map to get ideas of destination choices, and cross-referenced with the Low Fare Calendar to find cheap flights. We got nonstop flights to Phoenix for less than $500 total. Within a week of booking our flights, we found our casita on VRBO for only $99 a night. On a past trip to Colorado we booked a 4-day full size rental car just two days before leaving for only $162. We booked it through Capital One’s travel website and got an incredible price! As long as you’re flexible and know how to shop smart, you can make a last-minute trip happen on a budget.
I hope this list has inspired some ideas for how you can vacation more often! Leave a comment and let me know if you’re going to try any of these, or if you have other suggestions or tips to add. And since I didn’t leave room for talking outfits, simply browse the links below to shop my fall outfit from San Francisco.
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You can shop every item in this post by clicking on the link or the picture in the widget above. If you love something but it’s not in your budget right now, click on the heart, put your email address in, and you’ll get an email when it goes on sale. AWESOME RIGHT?