We get so many messages asking us how we travel the way we do. No, we did not inherit a ton of money and no, we are not millionaires. We can easily give a very long-winded answer involving intricate spreadsheets of collected airline points with the importance of a budget and paying off debt. We can go into the years of preparation up to this point in time but ultimately it starts with something so simple: what kind of trip do you want to take? Some people love to be pampered at an all-inclusive resort while others would rather be in a remote cabin in a mountain. Some people like to take road trips while others like to fly off to a new country. What would be YOUR dream vacation this year?
We didn’t start out with the ability to take multiple trips a year. We worked our 9-5, saved up our PTO and took the typical 2 week vacation once a year just like most people do here in the States. In between we would try to do more Staycations at a local hotel for the weekend. No matter if you are someone with a flexible job, work from home or do the daily grind we can help point you in the right direction to achieving at least one good vacation this year.
First off, the boring stuff. If you want to take a vacation it is important to account for that extra savings into your budget this year. We budget for our regular savings as well as our travel savings. That way when we want to buy tickets or do fun things we already have the money stored away for it. How much you put away each month is entirely up to you and your monthly expenses. Do you need to cut out or cut down in an area to make this happen?
Now let’s get to the fun stuff! We are huge fans of Travelzoo.com, Airbnb.com, VRBO.com/Homeaway.com, Booking.com and Skyscanner.com. Travelzoo is amazing for finding discounted hotels, resorts, flights and vacation packages. If you dream of traveling somewhere far then this is the perfect site for you. This site is also a great place for finding all-inclusive beach resort packages or mulit-country tour packages.
Jared and I aren’t really into the all-inclusive big resorts which is why we often stay at Airbnbs or VRBOs. We love being in a more homey environment with a kitchen, washer/dryer and staying in a neighborhood. The added bonus for staying this route is saving money on food since you can make many of your own meals. We prefer making our own breakfast and packing a lunch for the day when we travel. We have also found that often times staying with Airbnb or VRBO/Homeaway the cost of our stay is much cheaper than staying at a hotel.
We have gone to some places where the avaibility of Airbnb’s or VRBO’s are slim to none. In those case we rely on Booking.com. They make searching for what you want/need so easy and the discounted rates on hotels is a major bonus!
Over the years we have learned how to work some of the credit cards for their airline points. This is something that we do carefully because we do take debt seriously. We use our cc’s like debit cards by staying in budget and paying off online every week. IF you are NOT someone that can handle the responsibility of a cc then please do not go this route. If you are then check out Southwest and aslo Chase Sapphire to start with. Both of these cards are our favorites. You can transfer your Chase points to any airline including your Southwest account! BOOM! Also, Southwest is expanding which means more flights at great prices to more areas. HOLLA!
If we are low on points or if we are trying to use them sparingly we turn to Skyscanner.com. This site gives you the ability to check on the best deals to any number of locations at any time of the year. If you don’t have a set plan, try searching ‘everywhere’ and choosing the cheapest month option. Believe it or not the time of year makes a big difference in the cost of your trip. Try planning around shoulder months like March/April and September/October. Check out when the peak season for your location is so you can go either before or just after that high time. Also, try flying out during the week instead of on Friday-Sunday. Skyscanner makes things so easy by showing you a calendar with the cheapest price found on each date. It’s amazing what a difference a week or even a few days can make!
There you have it! Those are our top tricks to finding the best deals on travel. We hope this helps you plan out a fun trip this year!