How do you travel when you are broke? It’s easy to get a credit card and go into debt, but is that really what you want to do? Because the next time you want to travel, you will have the added expense of paying off that last trip. But what if I tell you that getting a credit card for your travel is a great way to pay for your trips? You will probably think I’m crazy, but stay with me and let me show you how you can travel when you are broke.
** I receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. This is to help support my blog and does not have any impact on my recommendations. **
Travel on a Budget
Traveling on a budget for any trip is the best way to travel. Planning what you will spend doesn’t make your trip boring, it just makes it possible for you to travel again!
How to Plan a Budget
First, plan how much you want to spend. Once you have an amount directed to your trip you can plan the details. Be realistic about what you want to spend, and don’t plan more than you can afford.
Next plan where you are going. You can’t detail your budget if don’t know where you are going. When you are looking into destinations remember your budget, and plan within your means.
After you know how much you want to spend, and where you’re going, you need to find the best deals. Don’t worry, I’m going to help you with that.
Finding the Best Deals
There are a gazillion travel deals, and ways to stay within your budget, it may require a little research on your part, but it is worth it! Saving money on hotels, and transportation will give you more money to spend on entertainment and food! Oh, vacation food!
For example, I found airline tickets to Hawaii were cheaper on Alaska Airlines vs Hawaiian Airlines. It’s worth the time to do the research to find the best deals. These days you can be your own travel agent if you are willing to put in a little bit of time to do the leg work!
I start with my favorite travel apps. I’m a Wyndham Rewards member and I always start with Wyndham when looking for hotels. I get points when I stay in Wyndham properties, and the more points I earn give me free or reduced nights, depending on the property. Wyndham properties include Howard Johnson, Super 8, Baymont Suites, Days Inn, Ramada, LaQuinta, Travelodge, AmericInn, Wyndham Gardens, Microtel, Wingate, Hawthorn, and several more. If you can’t find a hotel within the Wyndham family, you aren’t looking in the right place. You can see the complete list here. I have never had a bad experience at any Wyndham hotel I’ve stayed in, and the few minor issues have been corrected immediately. By minor issues, I mean TV issues, and an occasional air conditioner problem. I highly recommend them. Start by joining their rewards program, it’s free to join!
Booking.com is another travel app I use. When I can’t find what I need on Wyndham (that doesn’t happen often) I use Booking.com. They also have a reward program that if you book through them you gain points that add up to discount levels within their app. A bit of a warning, Booking.com is a third party app. There is always a chance you can get a better rate if you book direct, but Booking.com will give you a place to start. Remember I said you would have to do a bit of research to save money.
Expedia, Orbitz, Hopper, Hotel Tonight, and all other third party apps offer deals and promotions to go with their listings too. I keep a planner where I record all my planning, and notes. This is a good way to keep track of which apps have which deals. It can be a lot of notes, but again, it’s all about saving money!
Remember when I said getting a travel credit card is a great way to travel? Well, here is what I mean. Travel credit cards award points for dollars spent. These points can be used for hotels, airline fares, activities, and many other things. But you have to be careful. Opening a credit card to earn points for travel requires self discipline. The object is to earn points, not acquire debt. You earn points on the money you spend, not on carried balances, so remember to use these cards like you would cash, and then PAY THEM OFF!
For example, I use a travel credit card to pay my bills. Then after the points post, I use my regular checking to pay that card off. I’m still using my income from my checking, but I earn points first. I can’t caution you enough not to carry debt. Use the card to get points, then pay it off!
Once you’ve earned a certain level of points you cash them in to pay for your travel. Yes, it is that easy, just be sure you read you’re terms and conditions so you know what you can use your points for.
Now you have planned, budgeted, and used your travel points it’s time to go on your trip. It’s easy to overspend on a trip, but if you follow a few simple guidelines you will stay within your budget and still have a great time.
Food Glorious Food
I love eating out! Discovering new foods is always a fun part of a trip, but be smart about it. You have a budget so keep a few of these tips handy.
- Eat local-Ask locals where they eat. Most local eateries have daily specials, and great deals on food. This will help you stay within budget.
- Get a Fridge in your room-Most hotel rooms have a small fridge, if they don’t you can request one. Sometimes you have to pay a fee for a fridge, but that fee is usually less than what you would spend eating out, so it’s worth it to have.
- Stock your fridge-You don’t need to eat out every meal, doing so will kill your budget. Buy lunch meat, quick breakfast foods, fruit, and other staples to have in your room. Eat a meal or two in your room and you’re only spending for one meal a day.
- Drink more water-When you do eat out beverages are over priced, and will kill a good priced meal instantly. Drink water! It’s free, it’s good for you and it doesn’t bust your budget. If you want to indulge in a cocktail, do it at Happy Hour or choose a drink special that the restuarant offers. You don’t have to give up cocktails, just be smart about it!
- Share a meal-Resuarant portions are usually larger than you would do at home. Consider splitting an entree with someone in your party. You may have to pay a split fee, but it’s still cheaper than order two entrees and neither of you eating the full meal.
Now, this is a touchy topic with a lot of people. If you go somewhere you want a souvenir to remember your trip, but souvenirs can be budget busters. I have so many trinkets and collectibles from travel that it has become overwhelming.
Taking pictures, I mean a lot of pictures, is one way to save on souvenirs. I take so many and after I’m home I select the best ones that I want to keep. I use the Free Prints app to print pictures and I use Free Photobooks to make a scrapbook of my trip. Free prints allow you to print 85 pictures a month for free, if you go over that there is a charge per print, but it’s very reasonable. Free Photobooks allow you to create one photo book with 20 pictures per month. With both of these apps, you only pay shipping if you do not go over their monthly limit.
If you must have a tangible souvenir then consider something small. free budget planning sheet and start planning your dream vacation.