The most obvious and overused excuses for why people don’t travel more are time and money. That’s what it always seems to come down to right? But here’s a secret. You don’t need a lot of time and money to be a world-traveler.
Time and money are inexcusable excuses not to travel. Here’s why, and how you can travel more for less.
1. Reprioritize Your Time
It’s actually very easy to get away often, even as often as every month, when you decide to prioritize it.
The trick is to stop thinking about travel in the way you think about vacations. You don’t need months of planning and saving, and you don’t need a week or more to go on an amazing trip!
What did you do on your last three-day weekend? Too many people will answer this question with, “I stayed home and relaxed, kicked back with some drinks, and binge watched some Netflix. It was great!” While that doesn’t sound like an awful time, it’s most certainly a missed opportunity.
At least once per month, almost everybody can take a three-day weekend. Whether because of a holiday weekend, using a day of PTO, or getting a shift covered, and using that time to have one long travel weekend per month is a very obtainable and reasonable goal.
For three months in a row—January, February, and March—of this winter, I was able to get away from Boston and get in a snowboard trip out west. Most people would think about a trip to find powder turns in the Rockies as a once per year (if you’re lucky), week long vacation. But I got in three different trips and only missed 3 traditional work days!
Early last Fall I decided to buy the Mountain Collective pass from Liftopia. It’s a super affordable pass for all the days you get at the world’s best mountains, but it requires travel. For me, buying this pass became an excuse to travel and really use it! The east coast had a horrible winter anyway so it worked out.
After deciding on three different mountain destinations, Taos, Snowbird, and Lake Louise, I planned the weekends. Seriously, I was able to get from Boston to New Mexico, Utah, and Alberta, on three different weekends, over three months, and snowboard two days at each mountain.
I booked my flights to leave late in the afternoon or evening on a Friday, and come back on Monday. That made for a weekend of western riding, and only cut into a Monday of my consulting work.
Hell, most flights have working wifi now too so if need be, you don’t even have to take Monday off! Just make sure you cleared your day of meetings and you can log in from the air, get things done remotely, with your boss, company, or clients none the wiser.
The moral of this story is, with the right motivations, you really can get away on a regular basis, have incredible adventures, and barely miss a step at work!
But taking trips like that once a month sounds like it would be expensive right? Nope!
2. Let the Deals Determine Your Destination
New flight finder app Hitlist has a curated collection of “weekend getaways,” continuously updated to show you the cheapest Friday to Sunday/Monday flights, roundtrip from your home airport. Check this regularly and you’ll be amazed at how cheap you can get away to incredible places!
If you can’t find a cheap flight where you need to go on Hitlist, try Momondo, Kayak, or Skyscanner. And once you’ve locked in your cheap airfare, you’ve got plenty of inexpensive options for lodging.
For starters, do you have any friends or family you can crash with? If not, most destinations have cheap hostels or Airbnb options to chose from. Or you can take to Couchsurfing and stay with a welcoming local for free! Seriously. Free.
For that snowboarding trip to Alberta, Canada, I rented a truck for the weekend, which worked out to be the same cost as one night in a hotel, and brought my camping gear with me too.
If you’re adventurous enough, any quiet place along the road is a great place to catch some shuteye and recharge for the next day’s adventure!
Cheap is great, and the deals are certainly out there, but free is better…
3. Capitalize on Rewards, Points, & Miles
Travel hacking, or the art of collecting frequent flier points and miles to get free flights, hotels, tours, and more, is actually quite simple. The whole concept is based on simply getting rewarded for what you’re already spending money on.
These days, it’s absolutely foolish to use a debit card unless you 110% suck at managing your own money. Really, a debit card does nothing for you, but the right credit card, well that could get you to Australia and back for free.
If travel is a priority for you, find the right travel rewards credit card, sign up for airline and hotel loyalty programs, and make the most of the bonuses and awards that are just waiting for you to take advantage of!
Free flights and free nights are easy to rack up when you start learning about and making the most of these rewards programs. I paid $11.20 to fly round-trip on Southwest from Boston to both New Mexico and Utah for those two snowboard trips.
Really. $11.20 per flight across the country. Just because I have the Southwest credit card and I make sure to maximize Rapid Reward points for anything I would be purchasing anyway.
My current travel hacking stack:
- Southwest Rapid Reward Premier Visa Card – Don’t sign up unless they’re offering the 50,000 point bonus. You’ll definitely want to start with that extra 25k if you want a shot at earning the elusive and exclusive Companion Pass your first year! I know at the moment they’re not running the offer, but I’ve got a few exclusive invites so just email me – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you want those 50,000 points! First come, first served!
Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping – Use your Southwest card along with this shopping portal to rack up points, sometimes earning as much as 12 points per dollar! I bought a GoPro on Backcountry.com via Rapid Rewards Shopping and that earned me over 4,000 points! Would have only been 400 points if I bought it without going through the RR shopping site.
Rocketmiles – Earn thousands of reward points or miles for every hotel night booked through Rocketmiles. This is one of the best ways to pour gasoline on your travel reward accounts. Sign up with this link and get 1,000 extra bonus points right off the bat!
- Delta Skymiles AMEX – When I’m not flying Southwest, it’s either because I’m going where they don’t fly, or because I deemed the trip didn’t make sense to use points on and I found a cheap flight elsewhere. Often times that cheaper flight, is on Delta. With this card, get priority boarding and a free checked bag. And now I’ve racked enough Skymiles to fly to Thailand for free on my honeymoon. How about that! Again, email me – email@example.com – if you want 30,000 bonus points and an immediate $50 travel credit on your signup offer!
Hyatt Platinum Visa Card — Usually I spend my nights in hostels, Airbnbs, tents, etc. I prioritize cost over comfort and it allows me to see more of the world as a result. BUT! If I’m staying in a hotel, and Rocketmiles couldn’t find me what I want, Hyatt is my go-to. This card jumps you straight up to their Platinum priority status level, which feels pretty awesome, and you get complimentary things like late check-outs. The signup bonus offers 2 free nights, and then you get 1 free night each year for just having the card! The dirty little secret? Hyatt reward points are transferrable to Southwest and also count toward companion pass!
Now you know.
The myth has been busted and you can start to travel more for less. Need extra motivation? Watch this awesome TED talk and be inspired to hit the road on the cheap!