Paper, Planes & Pinot

In Other Words… Stationery, Travel, and All Else that Matters

Travel Thursday – Michael’s Travel Tips

Please enjoy this Guest Post from my beau, Michael!

Michael and I on our most recent trip to New Orleans

Michael and I on our most recent trip to New Orleans

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Although I support all of Kaye’s blog, I have a special affinity for one part; planes.  I’d like to think that I am partly responsible for the planes part of this blog, but the truth is Kaye truly does love to travel.  Many people you may know have probably told you at one point or another that “I love to travel.”  But think about their statement for a minute.  How many of them actually go anywhere?

I know a lot of Kaye’s friends are in awe of the number of trips Kaye has gone on in the last few years.  I also get the sense that many wonder how she is able to do it.  How we are able to travel so frequently is not complicated. The travel industry’s unending sets of rules, options, and promotions are all designed to extract as many dollars as possible out of each traveler.  But the travel industry’s complication is also its greatest weakness.  They’ve created so many rules, options and promotions that finding the right combination can result in thousands of dollars saved.

We stayed in New Orleans during Mardi Gras for FREE (Kaye likes to use caps, what can I say).  Later this year Kaye and I will be travelling to the UK and Ireland on a free round trip flight and staying in free hotels for ten days. Next spring we plan getting flights from Asia to DC for $400 each.  In the coming years we’ll be able to go Hawaii for free, and have enough rewards points to go to the Maldives whenever we want.

I’m not going to elaborate on every trick of the trade here, but I’ll go over the basics.  Contrary to popular belief you do not need a lot of money, vacation time or a job where you travel a lot.  What you DO need is five things:

1.  A good credit score: Yes, this one is unorthodox and sounds scary but hear me out.  First and foremost, check your score and learn how it is calculated.  Without completely understanding credit scoring inside and out, you will struggle to travel cheaply and you may even hurt your score if you don’t pay attention to what you are doing.  And of course, above all else, do not go into debt over travel.  If you don’t pay your bills off in full each month, this post is not for you.

A good credit score is important because it allows you to quickly accumulate rewards points in a variety of travel loyalty programs.  Nearly all of these loyalty programs has a co-branded credit card that allows users to quickly accumulate points in any program.  Most importantly you do not have to spend wildly to accumulate these points, you only need to spend strategically.  Spending strategically includes finding ways to maximize points for the items you already buy everyday and finding ways to buy cash equivalents at no cost.  The latter requires advanced risk assessment/management skills, so be sure to proceed with caution before manufacturing spend.

2.  A flexible work schedule or three weeks vacation per year: This one is a no brainer.  You will eventually need to have time off to travel.  This does not mean you need a ton of vacation.  You can still travel around weekends and holidays cheaply, but if you only have two weeks vacation per year and have to work 8 hours a day five days a week, this may not be for you.  But if you can flex your time and work 10 hours a day and take Friday off, you’ll be just fine.  If you think that your boss will say the below, then traveling may be an issue.

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3.  The ability to act fast…really fast:  We’ve all been there.  We find some flights we want to book, then we wait 24 hours and the price goes up $100.  Travel prices are changing constantly.  Mistake fares (where an airline prices a round trip to Hawaii for say $10) can disappear within 30 minutes or less.  When you see a deal on travel you need to pick a date and pounce.

4.  Travel Goals:  To travel cheaply does not mean having to go to Charleston, WV 5 times a year.  Every destination is possible, but each requires a unique strategy.  Pick your destinations and when you want to go and work towards them by accumulating the right combination of points and savings.

5.  Discipline:  All of the above four requirements inevitably lead to this requirement: stay disciplined.  It is easy to get over extended in the quest for cheap travel.  Stay disciplined with your credit by staying out of debt, and only assuming as much risk as you can handle.  Do your homework on your credit and manufactured spending so your money does not get tied up for a long period of time.  Stay disciplined on the amount of travel you take so you are not missing too much time from work and family.  Stay disciplined when acting on travel deals and pass up those deals for which you cannot afford.  Stay disciplined and stick to your goals.  Don’t become distracted by other promotions.

And lastly, don’t forget if you ever need a travel partner, Kaye and I are always down!

Have a question on any of the above or want more detail on a specific topic?  Have a specific trip in mind and want to figure out how to get there?  Leave a comment and we might be able address your question(s) in a future post.

 

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This entry was posted on April 10, 2014 by in Planes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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