1. Have one credit card that earns you points and doesn’t charge transaction fees.
Look at your credit card debt and pay it off one card at a time.
Then, keep one credit card that earns travel points AND doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
We have a credit card that earns us points with every sale. We use it for everything. Rather than paying with cash or debit card, we use our “Venture Card” to buy everything we can; petrol and groceries rack up points quickly in our family.
We pay off the credit card – every month. By doing this, we are building points to use for hotels, flights, car rentals, and other travel necessities. The card has no transaction fees, letting us use it internationally without having to pay those pesky foreign exchange fees.
2. Start tracking and culling those extra incidentals.
Look at your needs vs. wants. Start tracking what you spend on incidentals. There are some great apps out there to help you with this. MINT in the U.S. and Canada, or the ANZ Money Manager in Australia are great resources. Check out what options are available in your region.
You can even use Excel or a notebook to help you track your expenses. The point is to track where you money goes, down to the last cent. You may not be aware of the amount you are spending on things like a daily latte, quick take out lunches or the amount you dine out during the week. It all adds up.
Don’t completely cut yourself off, but if you buy a daily latte, look at doing it once a week instead and consider it a treat. If you buy your lunch every day, look at taking leftovers or making your lunch and buy once or twice a week.
If you have cable television, consider how much you watch it. If you can do without, cancel it. Can you stream your favourite shows instead of spending every night in front of the TV?
Do you have a home phone and a mobile? Consider cancelling the home line.
How often do you buy new clothes? Try going without shopping for a month. Or, better yet, try cleaning out your closet. You may find some hidden gems you’ve forgotten about.
While it may seem hard at first, keep your eye on your longer-term goal to travel.
3. Set up an auto deduction from your paycheck into a savings account for your travel dream.
Since it’s auto deducted, you won’t see it, so you won’t miss it. Put your savings into an interest-bearing account or even consider investing it into a stock plan.
If you are still lucky enough to get bonuses or increases as part of your income compensation, consider depositing those increases into your travel account as soon as you receive it. If you don’t see it, so you won’t miss it.
NOTE: If you have debts, pay those off first before you start saving for travel. Believe me, you won’t enjoy your trip nearly as much if you have the black cloud of debt hanging over you.
4. Sign up for reward cards that earn you frequent flier miles.
This is different than credit cards. These reward you for what you are already buying.
For example, in Australia you can sign up for a rewards card at Woolworths where every purchase accumulates QANTAS points. While you may not be flying first class with those accumulated points, it may get you a quick domestic jaunt.
Research the airlines you frequent along with their affiliates. Sign up for their frequent flier programs. Apart from the points you earn, you also become aware of cheaper flights and great off season deals which will help you plan for your next adventure.
5. Sell the stuff you don’t need. As you look at your needs vs. wants, look at your possessions.
Have a bunch of DVDs and CDs that you no longer need? Sell them online.
Books? Sell them on Amazon or to a local consignment store.
Clothes that no longer fit or that you just don’t wear? If they are in great shape and washed, offer them to the local consignment store or list them on ebay.
Once you’ve culled your possessions (you’ll need the car to haul your possessions to sell!) and are closer to your travel goal, look to see if you can sell the car to add to the savings. Between insurance, maintenance and petrol, cars are expensive. So see if you can use public transportation in the last few months before you travel.
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