Happy New Year friends! It’s official, 2017 is underway. The start of a new year always brings the opportunity to reflect on where you are and make new goals/resolutions. High fives if one of your resolutions is to travel more in 2017! Double high five if you work full time and are vowing to make more of your time outside the office! At EatWorkTravel, our sole purpose is finding ways to maximize life outside the office. So now that you set the goal, how do you make it happen? Typically excuses we hear from people who say they want to travel but don’t is that they don’t have enough time or money. You can find tips to maximize your time outside the office here. Today we will address the money part by giving you our 7 tips to afford travel.
So it may seem cliche but honestly the first step is prioritizing travel as part of your budget versus other “nice to have” expenses. We pack our lunch during the week and make our coffee at home before leaving. It’s amazing how much those little costs add up and could be used to afford travel instead. A few years ago, we stopped exchanging gifts on Christmas. Instead, we have agreed that we will use money we would have spent for an experience while traveling.
#2 Separate Savings Account
Since we prioritize our budget to allow for travel/experience expenses each month, we created a second savings account that we call our travel fund. Each month we have a targeted contribution that we add from our paychecks. Also any money we receive from bonuses or gifts from family are put into this account. This helps us when setting our budget for a trip.
#3 Take Advantage of Spousal Business Trips
We are not shy about flying to meet the other person while on business travel. Typically we can save the company money by extending a work trip over the weekend and we save the cost of one airline ticket. It’s really a win-win and allows us to travel more. In 2016 we traveled to Chicago, New Orleans and the Philippines by adding on personal travel to our business trips.
#4 Travel in the Off Season
This can be risky but could help reduce the cost of your trip as rates are typically lower. The off-season normally has the reputation for the worst weather. We’ve sat on our fair share of beaches under an umbrella as it rained. While we may not have seen the blue skies we always see on social media, we still had a break from work and enjoyed our time. This past year we traveled to Costa Rica and the Philippines in the off season and had pretty great weather both places. We went to New Zealand when weather was supposed to be good and it rained nearly everyday. You can’t control the weather so you may as well save a few bucks if you can.
#5 Let the Exchange Rate Guide your Destination
This is something we just started looking into over the past year or so. It really can make a difference and allow you to have more experiences with your budget to afford travel! Our decision to travel to New Zealand in 2016 was largely based on the positive exchange rate. While we had always wanted to travel there, the exchange rate pushed it to the top of the list. Be mindful of companies that still want to charge you in USD. We always request to be billed in local currency to get the full benefit.
#6 Stay with Friends/Relatives
During our first couple years of marriage this guided our travels. We traveled to Australia, Scotland and England because we had family and friends that we could stay with as a base. This really helps to stretch your budget and afford travel. We recently had good friends move to Germany and we are hoping to visit them in 2017 plus see a new country! When people offer us to stay with them, we always warn them to only tell us if they mean it because we definitely take people up on these offers!
#7 Take Advantage of Points & Miles
Since we travel a decent amount for our jobs, we build up points and miles to use during our personal travels. We have a dominant and secondary programs that we use for both hotels and miles. Being loyal really has its benefits! Even if you don’t have the option of gaining business miles/points, you can get credit cards for your everyday expenses to maximize the points and miles. We are currently reading on best travel cards and we will likely switch to an even more lucrative card for 2017. These types of perks really make a difference to help you afford travel! As a bonus, make sure your card doesn’t have any fees for exchange rates, this allows you to get rewards and take full advantage of positive exchange rates noted above!
Cheers to your travel resolutions in 2017! Hope these tips gave you some ideas on how you can afford travel in the new year. What tips do you have that we haven’t considered for affording travel?