4 Simple Ways You Can Travel on a Teacher's Budget
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Like many people, I love to travel. Growing up we didn’t have many opportunities to travel besides our annual fishing trip or a trip to grandmas house. But as I grew up and had more opportunities to leave home, I realized how much I really loved seeing other parts of the world.
My favorite part about traveling is immersing myself in the culture of wherever I am. I love trying new foods and new experiences that I never could’ve gotten at home. After my first trip I was thirsty for more.
But there was just one problem. I was fresh out of college living off of a teacher’s salary.
My husband and I made it a priority to be able to gain new experiences and see new places before we started our family. We spent a lot of time researching and found ways to save lots of money on travel. Being able to save money allowed us to use that money towards other trips. It's hard work but so worth it. Here are some tips that helped us travel on a small budget.
1. Take advantage of credit card perks.
Now, I’m not telling you to go sign up for a credit card if you don’t already have one. But if you are using a credit card, you should definitely look into the perks that come with it. Some credit cards offer travel credits annually, some free Uber credits every month, etc.
Most credit cards offer cash back or points when you spend certain amounts. Personally, we used credit cards like debit cards. We didn’t spend money that we didn’t have, but everything we were able to pay using a credit card we did and then paid off that balance every month. This allowed us to rack up points on things like apartment rent, gas, and groceries. Every little point counted. Doing this allowed us to go on our honeymoon to St. Lucia on points alone.
If you do have a credit card with unused points, you can see how many points you have available online when you pay it off. You can book hotels and flights directly through most credit card companies to see how much of the trip your points cover.
You can also search airline and hotel websites by total point value instead of total dollar value. This is how we search for our options to see if we can get any portion of our trip covered by points.
Again, we earned these points by spending money we would have already spent anyways, not on anything extra just to rack them up.
2. Do your research.
When you decide to travel somewhere, it’s really easy to get excited and want to book flights and hotels right away, especially if it seems like a good deal. But I highly recommend taking the time to research and find the cheapest options that work best for you.
If you live near multiple airports, it’s definitely worth price-checking flights at both. We live near an airport, but because of city driving, it takes a long time to get there. But we could also drive 30 more minutes in the other direction and save hundreds of dollars per flight. We always check both airports to find the best price.
I also recommend booking flights directly through the travel company's website. Travel sites that compare multiple different companies don’t always include every option. For example, Southwest Airlines offer cheaper flights, but those flights aren’t visible on most travel sights. You need to go directly to their website to do so.
Secondly, you may be able to book through places like Costco (if you have a membership) and get extra perks like free meals, bottles of champagne, extra days, etc. You can bundle flights and hotels, too. Costco memberships also give you 2% cash back on travel. It doesn’t seem like much, but every little bit adds up!
There are also a lot of awesome companies that plan your travel for you. Some of these include Pack Up and Go and Contiki. These are great for those just getting started or wanting to travel solo. They plan your trip along with stays, some meals, and activities for you. It's all included in the price!
3. Drive if you can.
We started our traveling adventures together by traveling domestically within the United States. Our first trip together was to California. I despise being in the car for long periods of time, but driving can save you so much money if you’re able to do so.
Plus, you get to see more along the way that you would have flown over if you didn’t choose to drive. For example, we were able to drive across the state and see Yosemite National Park, Monterrey, San Fransisco, San Jose, and drive up and down Pacific Highway 1.
Sometimes flights appear to be faster, but they end up taking the same amount of time that driving would have. When flying, you not only have to account for the time of the flight, but also layover time, time in the airport going through security and waiting for your flight before hand, the inevitable delays and more. That makes driving a much more feasible and cost friendly option.
If you do decide to drive and want to keep your budget accurate, don't forget to account for meals, attractions, and hotel stays along the way.
4. Plan ahead.
If traveling is a priority for you, then you need to treat it as such. Live within your means and make sure you’re able to put money away every week or month that you can put towards your travel. If possible, stay with family or friends instead of at a hotel. Skip out on add ons like seats closest to the exit on flights, extra luggage, and priority boarding.
We recommend looking months in advance and monitoring as the price of flights and hotels go up and down, then book when it feels right. Traveling in the off season can also help make traveling cheaper. Continue researching and finding the perfect option for you, you will be so happy that you did!
Traveling has so many great benefits for you and your relationship. You can learn so much about the way others live. It’s also beneficial to get out of your every day routine and unplug. I do recommend that if you choose to travel in 2021, you do so safely and take the proper precautions to keep yourself and others healthy. My hope is that these tips help you plan the trip you've been waiting all quarantine for!
Do you have any tips for traveling on a small budget? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
Talk to you soon,