Money! Money. Oh no…. money. The conversation killer and the taboo topic. It’s the monster under the bed. If we just pretend it isn’t there, if we just stick our head under the sheets and pay it no attention, it will all be ok. Look, money is important, and when it comes to traveling, it is undoubtedly the number one excuse people have for not going. Albeit a good one. WhereToMyLove wants to give you the tools and tricks needed to finally go on your vacation. No more excuses!
What is the biggest struggle? Saving, right? What use is subscribing to a Hot Deal email blast if you can’t purchase the flights when they pop up? "An Iceland round trip for under $300! But wait, its not just the flight… How will I afford lodging, food, tours, etc.? I can’t! Well, lets change that, shall we? The foundation to any sort of traveling is savings. Not the savings account that you occasionally dip into to buy the new tv, or the savings account that must be pulled from due to over drafting your checking account. No. This account will be completely separate, and untouchable. Technically you can take from it, but don’t! The point of this is to get it in your head that this account is for one purpose only, travel. Kind of like a 401K plan, you can’t pull from it without penalty. In this case the penalty is another year spent going nowhere. Let’s go through the steps, shall we?
LESSON 1: A SAVINGS FOUNDATION
Open a separate account. We like Charles Schwab as a stand-alone account. Why???? Because it has zero atm fees, you get reimbursed at the end of every month. They have no fees and no foreign transaction cost. You can start it online in ten minutes. You could also open a separate savings account at your bank, of course. It is certainly more convenient, but having them completely separate helps to guarantee that this money is kept for this one purpose.
Set up automatic transfers. Yes, the key to mindless saving! Any wealthy person will tell you to pay yourself first. Example: If your work direct deposits into your personal account every other Friday, then you then would set an automatic transfer from your linked personal account into your separate account on the same or following day. We are going to call the separate account your ‘Travel Bucket’. This money will come out automatically and without you having to approve. This guarantees a transfer. Start small if you are nervous. $10 every two weeks. But increase that amount if you find that you can easily manage more! Or start with more if you are comfortable. If you are the only mechanism to transfer funds into your travel bucket, it will fluctuate constantly. “Eh, next paycheck I will deposit money. This was a bad month.” Or, “Maybe only $5 this time, I’ll make it up next time.” NO! Automatic transfers into an account whose only purchase is to fund travel!
**Side note, you should be doing automatic transfers from your checking to you personal savings every month anyways for the purpose of preparing for emergencies, purchasing a home, etc.
A literal Travel Bucket. Yes, Ryan has one right next to his bed. Whenever he comes home, he puts all his change in this bucket. If he has $5- or $1-dollar bills, they also go in there. You would be shocked how much money is saved up by tossing aside spare change and bills. Consider this money your spending money while you are there. The funds in the virtual account can pay for the flight and rental car, the physical travel bucket is for food and entertainment. Ryan does this yearly, and typically ends up with a few hundred in his virtual account and a similar sum in the physical Travel Bucket. (Jayme has been glad to be adding to the bucket as well—she’s thinking of getting a replacement one instead of using an old container that used to carry protein powder or peanuts xD)
HAVE DISCIPLINE! Yes, don’t touch the money. Ever! The purpose of this is to leave it alone. That is also why we are starting with small bills, that way you don’t feel like you are taking a big bite out of your daily funds.
Once you have a foundation of saving squared away, now its time to get some free money. YES! FREE!! Travel Credit Cards. Oh no…. Credit Cards!! Look, this is for those that feel they can pay off their debt monthly. This is not the route if you have a big problem budgeting your money. But, if you feel you can be responsible with your money, get yourself a travel credit card. Let us recommend a few of them. But first, let us explain how wonderful they can be.
LESSON 2: I’LL TAKE YOUR FREE MONEY
Travel credit cards have paid for probably 2 thousand dollars in flights and activities for Ryan. Jayme opened her first travel card less than 2 years ago and it has paid for a trip multi-country trip to Europe and multiple Airbnb’s. And we both have not paid any interest. They hate us. 100%, they hate us. They count on people leaving fat balances on their cards and collecting interest off them, which would cancel any benefit you get in point buildup. The key is to get a car, spend enough to get their bonus, take advantage, and then get the next one. You can cancel your old card (or not), it doesn’t hurt to have a large disparity between available credit and credit used. So you really don’t need to cancel the old one. With cards that have a yearly fee, if it isn’t reasonable, you can cancel or downgrade it before it gets to the year mark. This list isn’t in any particular order, find what works for you, and apply.
Capital One Venture Card:
No fee for the first year & $95 after that (Very reasonable)
2 miles for every dollar spent, on anything. Hot Damn! That is solid.
Recently, they also made it so you can get Global Check-in/TSA Precheck for free! You pay for the global entry and they will reimburse you—Jayme was able to take advantage of this for our next trip in March.
50k mile bonus when you spend $3k in the first three months. That is equal to $500 dollars.
Our Opinion: This is the best overall card that has a low fee. You use the miles, which equate to dollars, to get paid back for anything spent on your card. So, if you have 57k miles and buy a $350 flight, you can use 35k worth of miles to pay for that flight and you’ll have 12k miles left.
2. Chase Sapphire Card:
No fee for the first year & $450 after that. Cancel or downgrade before you hit that year!
2x points for dining and travel
Priority pass at lounges in every airport around the world. Free food and drinks!
$300 will be deducted off your first travel purchase automatically!
50k points when you spend $3k in cash the first three months.
Our Opinion: This card kicks ass! For one year. Then the fee becomes ridiculous. But enjoy those benefits for a year! All the other benefits work like the Venture Card.
3. Bank of America Rewards Card:
No Fee ever!
1.5x points on all purchases
Only $1k spent in first three months for 25k points. Prime for the low spenders!
Our Opinion: Good overall card. Definitely good for those who don’t think they’ll spend 3k on it in the first three months. Easy to get the extra points.
These cards work for all airlines and all travel—this means anything the travel card considers as “travel expenses” including: AirBnb’s, hotels, hostels, Uber & LYFTS, all that jazz, so they beat out the individual airline cards. Those cards, though great, can only be used for their airline. This is very limiting. For example, Southwest’s card is great, but it only works for them, and that is very limiting. If you are going to get an airline card, we recommend doing one that goes everywhere. But trust us, the value of these cards is remarkable, it will truly allow you to travel places for free! Just don’t leave a large balance on the card, the interest payments will negate the benefits.
How to Utilize Your Travel Card the Most Efficient Way
Now some of you make be thinking, “How in the world am I going to spend X amount of money in 3 months to get all of those points?” or “Getting this credit card will just make me spend MORE money than I usually do to get points!” Valid concerns. What I did to help “spend” the money, but not realllly spend the money was to… and I know this sounds silly but it works… pay for others (but not really)! Ask your friends, family, parents, if you can put the expensive dinner and drinks you were all going to split, the groceries for the house, big purchases, bills, all of it on your card. Have them venmo what they owe back to your account and boom you got points for a quarter of the money you actually spent. Everyone will be happy you made the transaction easy at the restaurant—not bombarding the server with 5 credit cards with the last four digits on each order of the receipt AND you will get allll those points. Team work at it’s finest. The more you use it the more points you get, so all the benefit is to use the credit card. When you travel, use the credit card, when you are at home, use the credit card. This will allow you to build points as well as purchase in the safest way.
**Sidetip on Credit Cards V.S Debit Cards During Travel
First off, you probably have a debit card and your new handy travel card right? Which do you use and when? Don’t worry, WhereToMyLove’s got you. Credit card (but have both)! That is used for everything. Every day all day. You then pay it off promptly. The only real purpose of the separate account and debit card is for effortless savings and a way to avoid fees for converting your money in countries. Do not bother trying to change your money out before you get to your destination, if traveling abroad. Land at the airport and pull money from the ATM, the only fee you will deal with is the ATM fee. And this will be reimbursed if you get the right account. Please, only withdraw money in populated areas, don’t withdraw a wad of cash in a shady or isolated place. Wonderful! I hope you got all of that!
Okay, you have your travel card and you are saving smart. Now it’s time to save money by finding the flights through the best search engines that save you the most!
LESSON 3: ABRACADABRA! IMPOSSIBLY CHEAP FLIGHTS!
Overall, we have shared the information that January is the best time to book a flight. BUT a month can fly, we understand, and we got you.
1) Skyscanner has been a favorite. On this site, you have the option of seeing the cheapest month of the year to go to your destination. Let us walk you step by step: 1. Go to SkyScanner.com 2. Enter your “From” and “To” Destination along with clicking one way or round trip. 3. On the “Depart” box you can either select “Specific Date” OR “Whole Month”.
If you are flexible with time, click on “Whole Month” and select “Cheapest Month”. 4. Look at the options and book! In the cheapest month, you will also see the cheapest days indicated by the color of the prices Green = cheapest, Yellow = Mid-priced, Red = expensive. If you cannot go the Cheapest Month that the website provides you and you have a less flexible schedule, you can at lease see the weeks that are cheaper in that month.
For the more flexible travelers, those who are open to new suggestions, and want to save the MOST money, this part is for you. On Skyscanner, you also have the option of choosing “Everywhere” as your destination. Now what does this mean? This means that if you put the “Everywhere” as the Destination and select “Cheapest Month” for your Depart, you will get the best deal for the WHEN and the WHERE. Once you search flights like this, it will list the cheapest to the most expensive by country during certain months. Here, you can let the destination choose you with the certain budget you have.
2) Google Flights! As usual google makes everything convenient and user friendly. Most of the airlines are listed and there is a tab labeled dates, price graph, airports, and tips. On the dates tab—similarly to Skyscanner—it will show prices as green (cheaper) and red (more expensive). The airports tab will show you all of the best airport options to fly in and out of. Tips are exactly what they sound like, including: good values, booking hotels and flights together, travel guides, etc. The COOLEST part is the price graph. It gives you a visual of the prices day by day and you would be surprised on how much money you will save simply waiting one more day to leave, or by leaving 2 days earlier. Along with the graphed visual of prices, you can adjust the amount of days in your trip to see if maybe staying a little longer (don’t do less!) will make the trip cheaper or if adding a day or two wouldn’t make ANY changes in the price! It’s a neat thing to play around with and can ultimately help you decide the length of time you want to make your trip and still keeping it within your budget!
3) Kayak is the last. It has always been my double check. Whenever I get the price from one of these websites, I always match the dates and location for the cheap flight provided and check here. Kayak will occasionally have a cheaper option. Kayak does not do a good job of providing date options so you can narrow down to the best days, but it is very good at weeding through the web for cheap flights. So consider this your verifier (we are taking liberties and creating a new word) of that being the best flight. This is also, hands down, the best place to get rental cars. You will ALWAYS find the cheapest rental car on here.
4) Scott’s Cheap Flights. For the extra spontaneous types, subscribe to Scott’s Cheap Flights! It is absolutely free for the basic subscription and if you want exclusive access to deals there is a low-cost subscription. On Scott’s Cheap Flights, you will be receiving email on some pretty awesome deals. Sometimes airlines make mistakes and then have to offer flights at ridiculously cheap prices (example round trip flight to Barcelona for ~ $300) and these flights will more than likely last for less than 24 hours. So if you want to go and be really spontaneous, jump on these deals! Other than those occasional super cheap flights, a subscription to Scott’s Cheap Flights will feature great deals and it will inform you as to how long Scott believes these flights will be available, they usually go by pretty fast.
SEE? THAT WASN’T SO BAD.
Look at that! We are rolling right along to setting you up with one hell of a foundation to travel. You got your free points, you have your auto savings in place, you have tips on how to use your travel card, the handiest search engines, and a great resource for flash deals! TAKE ACTION, save now, apply to those credit cards, and you’ll be going on a free flight to another country with a bunch of savings to pay for a huge chunk of excursions. Money is no longer an excuse, so what’s stopping you?
CHECK OUT OUR LOST AT WILL PODCAST FOR MORE INFO