How often do you find yourself daydreaming about traveling, only to become discouraged by factors such as time and money? Do you feel stuck in your routines, lost in your work, or chained by your bank account? The desire to travel is much more than escaping the norm- it helps us to remember who we are, appreciate the world we live in, and meet people who we can learn from. We often become so wrapped up in our daily lives that we forget about the importance of exploring the world around us.
Travel isn’t the easiest thing to fit into your schedule - or your budget - but luckily there's a solution!
1. Travel around your state
Just because you can’t jet off to Tuscany for the weekend doesn’t mean you can’t see amazing new places! Be a tourist in your city or the neighboring city for the day and be sure to ask about resident discounts for popular attractions that require admissions. Many attractions also offer coupons and some designate certain days of the year for free admission – because you live there all year, plan your visit on those days. If you’ve already traveled around the areas surrounding your city, research a city a few hours away from you. Maybe there’s a beautiful hike or a haunted mansion or a bakery that claims to have the state’s best doughnuts- you never know until you go. Check out TripAdvisor for suggestions, read Yelp reviews, or search Pinterest for ideas – use the Internet as your free personal travel agent. With some road trip snacks and an open mind, even a day trip can feel like a mini-vacation if you do it right. Who knows, you may just find your favorite weekend getaway spot!
2. Make every day (off) count
At the beginning of each calendar year, your company will tell you which days will be paid holidays - take advantage of those dates while planning your trip. For example, if the holiday is on a Monday, plan your vacation from Saturday-Saturday so you only have to take off 4 days instead of 5. Traveling on 3-day weekends can be expensive, especially if it is a national holiday. One way to maximize this day off is to speak with your boss and see if you can work that day while the rest of your company is taking off in exchange for a day off of your choice at a later date. This will allow you to avoid the busy travel weekend and create your own 3-day weekend when flights may be cheaper. If you live in a touristy area where many people may visit, consider renting out your house for the weekend and head out of town – the money you make from renting out your house could pay for your trip that same weekend. There’s nothing better than someone else paying for your trip!
3. Use credit cards with points
Building good credit is essential- and credit cards that reward you with points are just as essential. Many credit cards include a points system where you receive points for every dollar you spend on the card. Depending on the card, these points can be redeemed for flights, hotels, transportation, etc. Consider your needs and base your card choice off of those- do you want free hotel nights? Free flights? Cash back? If you are partial to a particular airline, check out their credit card offers- in addition to free checked bags and priority boarding, many companies waive the annual fee for the first year. If you prefer a certain hotel chain, look into what rewards they may offer, such as one free night a year or 6 points/$1. If you want more flexibility, there are various card options that offer great benefits without the restraint of using one airline or hotel such as the Capital One Venture card (offering 2 points/$1) or the Chase Freedom card, which includes no annual fee. Many cards also have a monetary reward incentive if you spend a certain amount of money over a designated period of time, so you are receiving free money for everyday purchases. As long as you pay your statement on time, you’ll be building your credit score and earning points for future travel that could be free. Think of it this way - you’re spending the money anyway, so you might as well get rewarded with free flights, hotels, etc. in the process!
Although time and money can be considerable restraints for most people when it comes to travel, there are ways to use both to your advantage. Enjoy your adventures!