Regardless of your journey’s length, a key facet of any enjoyable and stress free trip is ensuring you’ve stashed away the proper amount of cash in your coffers. For instance, making sure you stash $50 / day for your trip can go a long way in Asia. From experience this can afford you a decent private room at a nice hostel, guesthouse, bungalow or apartment on AirBnB, solid meals, some beers, and the peace of mind to splurge on a big night out and nice dinner once a week, pay for the occasional guided adventure tour, and “usually” the ability to fly versus spending 14 hours on a rickety bus with two Nepalese children on your lap as you stare down 500 foot cliffs two inches beyond the bus tires (ok, sometimes we need to do this, but only for fun…). You’re not balling out, but you can still be comofrtable
So the question, how do I save for travel. Well, aside from depriving myself of my typical post Tuesday Night soccer game Cajun chicken sandwich and beer special at Slainte NYC, I used a number of random, completely unrelated apps and services which, independently or together added up to a nice chunk of extra cash.
1. Start a piggy bank.
I stared using an app called Acorns over a year ago to supplement my savings and was able to essentially hide a solid amount of money “under the couch cushions”. Acorns is the digital version of putting your loose change in a jar. You link a bank account and/or credit cards to your Acorns account, and every time you make a purchase, Acorns rounds up to the nearest dollar and deposits the difference into an account. The money is your money, but the idea is that since it’s no longer in your bank account then you won’t spend it (out of sight, out of mind). The money is then used to purchase stock in various ETFs, accruing interest and dividend for you. The real benefit, in my opinion, is their Found Money program. Acorns has teamed up with dozens of major brands who contribute cash back to your account whenever you make a purchase with said brand. For instance, AirBnB kicks back 1.8% of every booking we may. Since we’re already booking through AirBnB we’re getting back $5 or so every week. This may seem small but over time it adds up.
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2. Sign up for a travel and points driven Credit Card.
Whether you travel often, have one big vacation a year or traveling long term, having a travel rewards CC is a no brainer. Most hook you up with bonus introductory points when you hit a certain purchase milestone in the first three months, and the best ones provide with 2x or 3x on purchases plus loads of other perks. I personally prefer the Chase Sapphire Reserve and recommend it to everyone. The card does hit you with a hefty $450 annual fee. However, this is offset by the perks, which include a $300 annual travel credit, 3x points on all travel related purchase, Priority Pass to thousands of airport lounges (free meals and booze at the airport), free membership to TSA Pre Check or Global Entry. In addition, you get 50,000 points when you spend $4000 in your first three months which you can hit if you travel a lot for work or you book a big vacation or purchase on the card. These points at equal to a $500 credit statement or $750 worth of Chase Travel Rewards points when you book travel through Chase. So when you add it all up, the $450 fee is covered by the perks and then you get the 3x points and the lounge luxury on top of that. Trust me, do it.
3. Auto savings on your online purchases, and some perks
I randomly came across an app called Honey which auto scours the entire interweb for discount codes when you are in the process of making a purchase. Once it targets a code, it auto applies it to your basket and bam, savings. In addition to the discounts, Honey provides you loyalty points for each purchase used via the Honey plug-in which can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, which can be in turn used to purchase gear for your travel. Nice all around. Sure, Honey does ask you to allow them to track your spending habits so they can sell it to advertisers, but the whole internet does this anyway.
4. Maximize your business travel expenses (NOTE: If you travel for work).
At my previous job I traveled at least once a month from NYC to the west coast and booked all of my travel on my person credit card. In addition to using a travel rewards CC as much as possible (as chronicled in my Chase Sapphire Reserve love affair), and taking advantage of car rental and hotel loyalty programs, there are numerous corporate travel booking platforms that provide you with deep discounts on hotel and flight bookings and reward you nice perks. One that stands out is Upside Travel. Still relatively new, I usually could book a flight + hotel package that was the same price or cheaper than booking each direct through the airline and hotel. Definitely made my clients happy. Sweetening the deal, they hooked me up with a gift card of my choice (always Amazon!) for up to $300 each time I booked through them. I, in turn used the Amazon gift card to buy gear and Kindle books to use on my travels.
These are just a few ways I was able to generate extra cash for my travels from my everyday personal and work life. There are dozens of other ways for you to do so. If you need help getting prepped for your trip, whether it’s saving up or planning it out, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org