Last week I discussed the pros and cons of travel reward credit cards. This week I want to get into the fine line between travel and debt. It’s always tempting to cure your desire to travel by any means necessary. Throughout my travels and balancing work, I have learned alot about managing finances and being able to travel the world. Here are some things I learned that helped me or I had to learn the hard way.
- Set travel goals for the year. I set travel goals for the first time at the end of 2015 and it has helped me manage and prioritize trips and budget. I have turned down trips this year that didn’t fit into my plan.
- Start a rainy day and travel day fund. Let’s say you want to go to Italy or somewhere in Asia. At double occupancy worse case budget $1,700. Estimate another $700 for tours, shopping and misc. So $2,400 for an international trip at double occupancy. Target for September and later in the year. If you start saving at the beginning of the year that is about $300 or less a month, $75 or less a week. You can make payments or purchase items along the way. You will find by cutting back on Starbucks or skipping a nail appointment and diy. Now this is a very worse case price and with the way airlines are becoming more competitive you will probably have enough money for more trips or roll over to the next year.
- In addition to above research the best time to visit a destination. I tend to go in low season to find the best deals. Summer travel is always expensive because a lot of people travel during that time. U.S. News Travel offers extensive travel guides with the best time to visit even down to weather history.
- Only pay for trips that you have enough money in your travel fund to cover. Meaning don’t get into a situation where you put it on a credit card determined to make the money to pay it off. If you can’t pay it as soon as it’s charged. Don’t do it.
- For large groups use a travel agent or brokerage service to collect funds. Don’t get stuck with a large balance. As tempting as it is don’t offer to pay for the whole trip on credit card and depend on people to pay you back. (Learned this the VERY HARD WAY)
- Minimize fees. Research the exchange rate and where is the best place to exchange your money for international travel. It’s never the best idea to exchange at the airport but sometimes the only option. Use cards that don’t have international transaction fees. Although AMEX claims to be getting better, they still have a ways to go. I often times find myself using my backup Southwest Chase card. The benefit of Amex is they offer a lot of purchase protection. Know your banks fees for purchases and ATM withdrawals.
- Never pay full price. Do price comparisons before purchasing. Compare booking a package vs separately. Look for coupon and promo codes for everything before you book. Check out my working list.
- Try not to keep up with the Jones’. I know first hand looking at travel pics and post on social media can incite extreme wanderlust but know your budget and learn how to say no to some invites if it doesn’t work for your schedule or budget.
- Be careful with travel reward credit cards that award points on a certain spend. First of all opening many cards can affect your score. Even when you are already with the merchant. I.e. chase does a hard hit every time you open a card or do balance transfer. Don’t charge frivolous things just to meet the criterion. Look to charge your bills and things you would normally spend. Then prepare to pay full balance. Check out more tips on travel reward credit cards.
These are just a few tips. What are some tips you have used to travel within your means and not accumulate debt? Comment below!
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