Some things never change. Your order will forever be a caramel latte with nonfat milk. There will always be dishes in the sink at the end of the night. No matter how many passwords you’ve created in your entire existence and written down somewhere, you still have to press the “Forgot Password” button. And your travel budget never seems to be as big as you want it to be.
And money will probably be one of the biggest factors when determining how often and where you get to travel. The checkbook is a noteworthy stressor when it comes to planning a vacation, but with these five tips, you can breathe easier and enjoy your adventure:
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Check transaction fees before you go.
When you’re saving every last penny for your travel budget, do not waste any of it on transaction fees if at all possible. Go in for an appointment with your bank. Don’t just read FAQs online; sit down and talk with someone. This saved me a good chunk of change because with my bank, I was charged different transaction fees depending on which ATMs I pulled money out of while abroad. That’s silly money to be flushing down the drain, so don’t do it. It’s as easy as that, right?
Apply for a travel rewards credit card.
Because I checked transaction fees with my bank prior to leaving, I found out that opening a credit cart account would eliminate transaction fees altogether. I love my Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card (this isn’t sponsored either), and it has served me well these past several years. With the introductory offer and a bit of spending, I was able to get a roundtrip flight to New York City mostly paid for with points, and then I stayed with friends once I arrived.
If you have a bigger income than me, your goal should be to aim for Southwest’s Companion Pass. My dad earned this tier, and it’s basically BOGO but with airplane tickets. Umm, yes, please! Once you reach a certain point level or number of flights, you can fly a pal with you free of airline charges. This meant I got to accompany my dad to Los Angeles virtually for free.
A travel reward credit card truly is one of the best ways to grow your travel budget without even trying.
Add plugins to your browser.
Sure, there are lots of gimmicks out there, but adding plugins to your browser can be an easy way to save money or rack up points. My friend Bianca introduced me to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping button that you can add to your browser. Depending on the stores that participate, you can get a certain amount of points per dollar that you spend. (Stores include etsy, Walgreens, Disney, Gap, Chaco and more.)
Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is an absolute game changer and the best life hack ever. This site partners with hundreds of stores, and when you activate this plugin during a shopping trip, you get cash back on any qualifying purchase. I’ve seen up to as much as 20% cash back. You can choose to receive the check in the mail or directly link your PayPal account. Hello, travel fund! Sign up here and get $30 cash back once you spend $30.
Another favorite plugin of mine is Honey, which searches the web for any coupons to the store your browser is on. It has worked several times for me; it’s so much easier than typing in “Gap coupons” and typing in five different codes only to find that they’ve all expired.
Set aside all your loose change for your travel fund.
It’s good for parking meters and piggy banks; that’s about it. Setting aside any loose change and making it a habit to put it in a piggy bank can grow your travel budget, and you can cash it in for your next big adventure. It doesn’t feel like as big of a commitment each time, but it puts to good use what weighs your purse down.
Save your tax return.
This is such an easy one. When tax season comes around, save those extra dollars and put them toward your next trip. Move it straight to your savings before you even get a chance to think about that new purse.
I know ballin’ on a budget all too well. You don’t have to be a millionaire to travel, and here are just a few tips to inspire and help you build up your travel fund.
Want to go deeper and learning more about budgeting? Sign up for my free workshop, The Ultimate Guide to Travel Budgeting.