I absolutely love to travel. I even have different folders in my email for reservations and plane tickets. These folders are rarely empty because I love having a trip to look forward to. Travelling is not cheap when you think about hotels, airfare, eating every meal out, car rentals and spending money for sightseeing. People approach budgeting for travel in different ways-some save up and purchase everything at once; others pay for things along the way. I am in the latter category. I like to decide where I am going, often a year in advance, then I purchase different pieces along the way. Here’s a look at how I typically pay for my vacations. I’ll use my vacation coming up next month to Whistler, Canada as an example.
My husband and I love going to Whistler, Canada to ski. Now, neither one of us are great skiers, but we absolutely love Whistler Village with all of the snow and mountains and we are getting better at skiing each year. We did not make it to Whistler last year due to the travel restrictions, so we are really excited about getting back there this year. When we were in Whistler during January of 2020, we actually found a package where we could pre-purchase our hotel. I knew how much our hotel was each night and we had an option to purchase a week at a resort with a kitchen for basically the same price as a hotel. We opted in for this for two reasons-same price as a hotel with more space and it has a kitchen. Now, if you have been to Whistler in January, you know that it is insanely cold. I am from the south so I had never experienced anything like this cold before. We are talking temperatures around and sometimes below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (they use Celsius). Having a kitchen means that we are actually going to be able to buy some groceries and not only can we save some money eating out for every meal, we also don’t have to get out in the treacherous weather after a long day of skiing. This seemed like a total win for us-hopefully it plays out this way! Now, we don’t normally get these kinds of deals ahead of time, so what I typically do is look at all of the hotels and their locations/amenities and compare them all to make sure I’m getting the best deal and make sure I book well enough in advance that I don’t miss out on any discount pricing.
Next up is airline tickets. I have a general idea about how much it costs to fly to certain locations. First, I check to see if either of us has any credits on airlines where we may have had a cancellation or something. This year, one of us did have a cancelled flight that needed to be used by February so that was the airline we were using. That’s one ticket down. For the next ticket, I look at the prices then I go to all of the places where I have points to see if there is enough to get a ticket. Well, due to Covid and not travelling for a year, we were in luck and got our second airline ticket with miles.
Because I knew when we were going skiing, I was able to purchase lift tickets in advance for 20 percent off the normal price.
Then we needed a car rental and it gets tricky when driving to Whistler because of the snow. Luckily, flying into Vancouver, the car rental companies do not have any issue with you driving to Whistler and are prepared with the snow tires you are required to have (not the case if you are flying into Seattle). However, you still need to book this ahead of time so that you have a car reserved. Most car rental companies just require a reservation and you can pay when you pick the car up. Again, check in the all the places where you accumulate rewards to see if you can get your rental through your rewards program. I checked this time and we were able to cover this expense with travel rewards too. One other thing to note is a perk we have with one of our credit card companies-extra rental car insurance.
This is the card we use to pay for our rental car so that in case anything happens, we have this extra coverage.
As you can see above, not only was I able to be resourceful and use rewards that are accumulating in different places, I was able to spread out the cost in manageable pieces so that I didn’t get hit with a huge expense all at once. This may not be your preference for paying for travel, but for me it builds my excitement for this experience because I’m engaged along the way and taking care of things little by little so that I’m not worried about money while I am vacationing and spending time with family doing things I love.
This process can also be used in retirement planning-taking small actions now to achieve your desired outcome in the future.
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