I’m currently on vacation. The auto responder is on. A lot went into planning this trip and while I want it to be fun and frugal– most importantly I want it to be restful. I need time to decompress, turn off the phone and notifications, and relax.
This time it’s special because it’s my birthday! I don’t often do much for my birthdays, but I needed a vacation, so it seems like a perfect excuse!
A vacation isn’t much fun for me unless it is well planned and well budgeted. I wish I could just show up and spend, but without a budget and plan in place I simply won’t relax. Through business travel, vacations, and family trips I’ve come up with a 5 travel hacks that will help you have an amazing trip no matter where or when you travel.
Five #TravelTipZzz For The Budget Traveler
1. Use Points, Use Rewards, Earn Points, And Earn Rewards.
If you’re traveling you should be earning points. Be sure to have memberships (they’re free) to all your major airlines, car rental services, hotel chains, and even restaurant chains you might frequent on the go. Rewards can add up to meals, gift certificates, hotel nights, car rentals, and airline tickets for free. (Note: award airline travel often costs a minimal amount due to taxes)
You should also consider using a credit card that offers up the best points for travel. This will help you stack up reward points for purchases, hotel stays, and plane tickets even when you’re spending. Credit cards offer a variety of awards such as Cashback, airline rewards, hotel rewards, and more.
If you’re like me and travel for business you can rack up rewards and points and use them to pay for another trip or vacation. I paid for my current trip with a combination of reward miles for a free plane ticket, Cashback for my hotel room, and any spending I do will be earning me more rewards.
2. Eat Frugally
There are many ways to save on food when you travel, but let’s break down the basics. If you can manage to cut your food budget in half by some smart planning you can sock that money away for your next trip.
- Pack food: While you may not be able to bring liquids through security at the airport you can pack food. Pack a meal or snacks to get you to your destination in your handbag or backpack. Pack additional snacks that can act as mid-day snacks, breakfast or even a lunch replacement such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, granola bars, snack packs, beef jerky, or other foods in your suitcase.
- Ship food: You can also have food shipped to wherever you’re visiting. Hotels sometimes have fees for accepting a package so check before you use this option.
- Ask for a mini fridge: If you stay in a hotel you can request a mini fridge if your room doesn’t have one. You can get basics like milk for cereal or store half of your lunch for tomorrow’s lunch.
- Cook: Look for places to stay that include a kitchenette or kitchen. You can find these at hotels, rentals in popular tourist areas, and home rentals.
- Grocery shop: Before you arrive at you location scout out grocery stores near where you’re staying. Shopping at the grocery store can equal big savings. For instance you may buy pastries for breakfast at the local Whole Foods instead of paying 3 times as much at a local coffee shop.
- Eat out early: Dinner costs significantly more than breakfast and lunch. So instead of spending on an evening meal stick to filling up on breakfast and lunch out and have a snack instead of a full dinner.
- Go local: Locals know the best place to get cheap and healthy food. Talk to local friends, chat with locals when you get there, and go explore to find something yummy and affordable.
3. Carry Plenty Of Funds:
While I’m all about creating a budget for travel at the end of the day you don’t want to be stuck somewhere without funds. While my budget is set travel emergencies do come up from time to time, so being prepared with several credit cards on hand is smart.
Call your credit card company before you travel so your purchase in Phoenix when you’re from Philly isn’t flagged for fraud. Additionally, be sure to download apps for your credit cards and turn on notifications so you’re notified when there is suspected fraud.
I recommend bringing the following forms of money:
- Nominal amount of cash for tips or small vendors. Usually $100.
- Credit card: This card is your main deal for your hotel, car rental, meals, etc. Make sure you have plenty of room on your card for everything.
- Backup credit card: In case your preferred credit card isn’t working bring a secondary card.
Tip: Find a secondary spot to stash your secondary credit card and put it in the safe at your hotel or a secure spot when you arrive at your destination. This ensures that if you lose your wallet you still have a form of payment and don’t have to arrange details with your credit card company while you’re out of town.
4. Carry On:
Carry on your bags. This is essential whether you’re traveling for a week or 3 days. Not only does this force you to pack light, but also you’ll save big on baggage fees. If you have to gate check your bag because you’re in a later boarding group-no problem. It gets checked and you don’t have to pay the baggage fees.
If you book with Southwest or other airlines that don’t charge for baggage consider carrying on anyway. You won’t lose your luggage and you won’t have to wait around for your bags.
Tip: Watch this video about how I pack the kids clothes for vacation-same applies to my packing. Creating outfits, roll them up, place them in your suitcase and you’re good to go!
5: Pack A Health And First Aid Kit:
Whenever I travel I pack a health and first aid kit so I’m prepared or everything and anything. The pack includes items like daily vitamin supplements, any regular medications, headache medicine, a small container of Vicks, a mini first aid kit, and more. I also squeeze in some ZzzQuil. It’s essential for those times I’m having trouble sleeping.
Whether it’s a new bed, noisy hotel neighbors, or a time zone change, ZzzQuil can help. It’s a non-habit-forming sleep-aid that helps you fall asleep easily, sleep soundly and wake refreshed. It’s perfect no matter where you travel so you can get some much-needed zzz’s before you’re up and ready for adventure the next day.
More about ZzzQuil:
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Vicks.