“There is a woman. Forever on a journey, she adventures through life, navigating its twists and turns with strength and grace. Not afraid to explore her past, she learns from every heartache, dreaming of the future and the chances it may hold. Searching for a retreat, in the loving warmth of family, or a voyage to paradise, she is always open to the unexpected, while staying true to who she has become. ” – Porter Magazine
I have literally never read anything that has resonated with me more, so naturally I immediately signed up for a subscription to that magazine!
Some people give me a really hard time about my choices to travel. Whether it be that I am traveling without my boyfriend, or the amount of money it costs, or the time I take away from work… I have actually heard it all. Here is the thing… traveling makes me happy. I can’t wait for that day! I know I am incredibly lucky for the opportunities I have been fortunate enough to have… but I have also worked hard to make this path that allows for, and creates these opportunities.
Recently, I have had a ton of people ask me for advice on how to budget for traveling. I actually have a lot of advice about this! I do not pay full price for every trip I go on, but that definitely requires some effort. Here is some of the recent advice I gave a friend. Hopefully some other people might find it helpful!
Credit Cards – Hear me out. There are SO many credit cards that allow you to accumulate a lot of travel points or Aeroplan miles. Get a good credit card that gets you travel dollars or miles in return! I highly recommend the TD Infinite Travel Visa. I can’t even explain to you how much money this card has saved me. Mind you, I put every.single.thing that I buy on this card so that I can accumulate points. I mean everything (including coffee at Starbucks everyday). If you are going to a concert with a group of friends, offer to purchase the tickets. Those kinds of things will help accumulate. This is a really good way to buy the things you normally buy and then get money that you can use directly back to travel. The nice thing about this card is that it transfers into a dollar amount instead of Aeroplan. The bummer about Aeroplan is that, you have a “free flight” but then you always have to pay taxes on it (which are sometimes just as much as the flight or at least a substantial amount). This is supposed to change very soon though, if it hasn’t already! With some cards, like the one I mentioned, you can use it towards the full amount (including taxes). There are SO many more cards out there with different benefits that other friends swear by. Just do some research as to which one will be the best for you.
Flex Days – THEN, when I travel to certain places, I like to leave a flex day on both end of my travel (especially when flying Delta and United airlines. The reason being, is that often times, these airlines overbook their flights and need people to switch onto the next flight for a travel voucher. I cannot telllllll you how many times I have done this. In the past year alone, I have gotten pretty lucky with this, and truly, it is never really a HUGE inconvenience when you plan for the potential. Often you can get on a flight within a couple hours (once I even switched off a flight with a layover to a direct flight, and got in 20 mins earlier than scheduled) and I received a $400 voucher. These are on flights to Cali and New York etc…
Organize!! – A lot of people don’t want to get caught up in the details of planning a tip.. hence why travel agents are SO popular! But, really, it is not that hard to plan trips, especially if you have time to do some research. Be the organizer if you can! This is the super fun part for me. I love learning all about the places I will visit, and getting other people excited about the same things! Often times when you are working with a “tour’ group, if you get a certain number of people to go, the company might offer you a discount. This is not a sure things, but I started this in highschool with Breakaway Tours and S-Trip and got my first 2 free trips ever 🙂
Air B and B – If you haven’t heard of this…. go look it up right now! I LOVE staying in Air B&B’s rather than hotels. Sometimes the hosts are there when you are, other times they just hand over the keys. The prices are often very reasonable, and you get to stay in some pretty cool spots. I have gotten into the habit of looking into these options before hotels.
Couchsurfing – I haven’t done this in a long while, but what a phenomenal opportunity to meet locals!! This is a very similar program to Air B & B, except that it is entirely free. YES, you read that right… it is free. Some of my favourite traveling memories ave been with the awesome hosts I have stayed with. I mean, obviously exercise caution (as you would be anything). Read reviews, be smart and have fun. To this day I keep in touch with a friend I stayed with in San Diego, and we still try to meet up for a hike or outdoor adventure every time I am there!
Extra Tips: Some of these might just seem like common sense… but $’s add up very quickly, and these are some of the things that I have found helpful in saving over the years:
– Pack a lunch for travel days! Plane food is usually only offered on overseas flights these days, and when it isn’t included, it is pretty expensive to buy! I usually pack some protein bars, a bag of almonds, a water bottle to fill up ($5 bottles of water? – no thank you), and I have an unhealthy addiction to Real Fruit candies, so they usually come along as well. This is good to consider when you are doing a lot of active outings as well. I like to plan ahead and bring protein bars and such to be prepared for long treks.
– When you are in a new place, go buy groceries! At least for breakfast. I love food, and I lovvve to try new things, but to do that for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day you are away can add up real fast. Instead, buy just breakfast foods, and save on at least breakfast each day! But be sure to go out for dinner 😉
– When you can manage to just bring a carry-on, just bring a carry on. Most airlines have baggage fees of $25/bag. Even the airlines that never had these fees have them now (WestJet and Air Canada). It sucks. For a return flight, you are paying $50 just to have extra stuff. What on earth??? Pack less, and save that money to go on a cool adventure.
– If there is a book or magazine you know you will want for your trip, buy it in advance! Airports often mark up the prices, and if they are not marked up, you can still buy them cheaper somewhere else.
– Try and be like the locals and take transit (whether that is train, bus, tuk tuk, motos, or dala dalas. It can be scary and super daunting to do, but read the maps, learn the systems and just try it! It could also be pretty fun. If you get lost, finding your way is just another adventure. Hey, you might even find a hidden gem that you weren’t even looking for!