First of all, I want you to know that I am a single parent that works in the education field. I am not a high paid corporate employee, but I have been bit by the travel bug and have learned how to travel on my salary. I love to travel….Not flying so much, but I do enjoy exploring the WORLD. In fact, I have been to the Netherlands twice within the last 7 months. I went in November and only stayed a day or so exploring and the COLD air came in so FAST that….. WE WERE NOT READY!!! So when I saw an opportunity to go back, I jumped at it and WENT…. AND just got back 2 weeks ago.
How in the world can an educator, who happens to be a single mother–travel, like I do? No, I do not have a side hustle that brings in extra income in order to travel nor any additional income other than from work. What I do have is patience and a few go to websites and apps that help to make it all possible.
Psst I’ve shared a few links to a few of my favorite places. Feel free to visit them as when you check them out, you’re helping me too 🙂
Here are just a few of my tricks—hope they help you unlock your travel dreams as I’ve loved being a single parent, taking the WORLD by storm…. In fact, I’m enjoying the mess out of it.
- Credit Card- I actually applied for and used a credit card that had zero interest for 8 months AFTER I had found this amazing AIRLINE ticket deal which I charged and PAID for when the bill came in. Yep, the deal was so good that I went on and charged my tickets and then when the statement came in the following month, I paid it off…. In fact, if you want to learn how I came across and booked a deal of a lifetime please read Texas to Europe for $300. I did however, use the credit card to charge hotels, trains and any unexpected travel expenses. Upon our return (I took my 2 kids–who had their own spending money) I divided the amount due by 5 months and paid it off without incurring any interest rates. However, on the second expedition to the Netherlands and Belgium, I financed our trip another way….
- Savings App. This time I used an app to help me put back a little money each month AFTER I placed money into my savings as I do each month. Now I am not one to just let anybody into my account, but I found this app called digit that actually analyzes your spending habits and takes a few dollars here and there and places it into a FDIC insured account. Digit never transfers more than you can afford, so you don’t have to worry about over-drafting your account. In fact, they have a no-overdraft guarantee. What is cool about this app is 1. It’s free 2. It’s FDIC insured 3. They will send you a text letting you know how much you have saved and 4. You can withdraw money anytime. NO FEE! Do visit Digit and watch the video (I am not being paid for this at all!!!) Sometimes the best way to save is NOT to see the money go.
- Secret Flying~~ I can’t say enough about this site. This is where you can find many deals throughout the world. Now you are not able to just choose where to go and when based on your own input, but what you can do~~ after you see a deal that appeals to you plug-in the same locations on google flights and use their calendar to see if you can find a deal that is within your own price range. I don’t know what made me attempt this, but I had read about Google Flights on Facebook and decided to try it. I’ll be doggone if I didn’t find tickets to Amsterdam for $380 round trip. SOLD! I booked flights for me and my daughter and off we went….. BUT I also did something else….
- EBATES. This will actually GIVE you MONEY back AFTER you book through them. Booking through EBATES is very easy! If you click my link, you’ll get an extra $10.00 gift card after signing up and using them to place orders at many different locations.Now I can’t stress this next point enough…You can make money back from your travel escapades. Honestly, I had heard of www.ebates.com a very long time ago, but never really investigated them… as it didn’t seem worth it. BUT… I actually read a snippet where a young lady had booked over $500 in hotel fees for her travel escapade and since she used ebates, she received $200 back. That worked for me! So, yes. I had to go and look this up and it is true! It’s very easy to do. First click on my link and I will walk you through this very simply. You will enter you email and password and then you will see a screen like this:So now you GET THE BUTTON. It is real simple as the Button will go on your tool bar as a little ebates icon. Every time you venture to a site…say Walmart, Groupon, Hotwire, Khols…etc. your Ebates button will turn into a small banner which will tell you how much you can save if you activate the button. THAT simple. PLUS you get an extra $10 bonus by using that link.So once you arrive home, you too, can have a check coming in the mail to replace some of the expenses of travel…like that cute bag you just had to get or that cool shirt that was calling your name or maybe it was that one thing you just had to try because you knew you may never have another chance to do so… whatever you did, Ebates will give you a little money back. Yes, MONEY… not points or pressure to use what you saved at a specific store, but a real live deposit-able—check!
- HOTELS were the biggest expense. What I like about is that they show you hotels that have free cancellations and/or reserve now and you can pay later. You never know when that can come in handy. As a matter of fact, the hotels in Amsterdam were so expensive that we decided to book outside of the city and we booked a DUMP. OK it wasn’t a DUMP, DUMP! But let me just say that when you are walked OUTSIDE of the main building into a court-yard which looks kind of quaint and cute to your ‘hotel room’ and find that you have NO AC (not a machine in sight), people can walk right up to your door or climb right through your open window, or better yet the guy in the ‘hotel room’ across from you is scrolled across his bed, door wide open and his big ole belly and hairy chest is just a watching you as you ‘walk to your hotel room’… it is a DUMP. Cancellation is FANTASTIC!!!! …. have you ever thought of using www.meetup.com while traveling?
- Meetup.com not only has a calendar of LOCAL events but groups that you can meet up with while you are exploring the world.
TO budget or NOT to budget while traveling?
I know that many people like to have a lot of money when they travel so that they can buy and do whatever they want, when they want. Nothing wrong with that at all. However, in order for us to travel the way we do, it’s not so much a budget that we follow but a ‘this is what I have to spend, so make it last forever….and ever… ever…” OK! lol I am not Keith Sweat. But this plan may actually work for you too. Give it a try, what do you have to lose??? Spending money is inevitable and food/drinks can end up being a huge debt if you are not careful. When we go abroad we research food we should try and we attempt to try everything that we wanted. In fact, some things we tried over and over again because it was just that
good~~like: Belgium waffles, Stroopwafels and those dang frites and fritsauce (fries and sauce you buy all throughout Belgium and the Netherlands). Shoot, I even found the dang coffee drinks that ranged from 1-2 Euro’s to be pretty darn good. BUT that all adds up. Not to mention that you get thirsty from all that walking. OK, I digress… budgeting on trips. I honestly feel like it’s more of a personal preference. Here are a few tips that may help a little with finances–
- Determine what places you are going and estimate how much you will need for each destination. Place your ‘designated’ funds in different places so that you won’t ‘dip’ into funds for one place and end up short on funds for another.
- Save money by going to www.groupon.com/(add country here, if necessary) and you may find discounts on food, activities and even transportation to and from airport(s) and/or parking.
- Do you HAVE to buy gifts for everyone? Seriously? #justsaying
- Whether you are traveling abroad or within the States there is seriously nothing wrong with making sandwiches in the hotel room and/or for picnics to save money eating out. Yes, you can find dollar menus (but not everywhere and not always healthy) and even farmers markets for fresh fruits and ….. well you can find all kinds of things at farmers markets. (I mean, have you seen Flea Market Flip?) Grab snacks so that you don’t have to keep stopping to buy big meals along the way—shhh not healthy and that’s a whole other blog post, but dollar menus…..
- Save money on flights by using Google Flights, Secret Flying, Kayak (this site does email alerts that are great) and book when you see deals that work for you
- Car rentals may even be cheaper than flying when you have a nice size group/family traveling. Remember to look for hidden fees as sometimes it is CHEAPER to pick up a car locally rather than at the airport.
- NO extra bag fees. Yep! That is extra money that you can spend on yourself later. You just have to know how to pack. In fact, you’d be surprised at how you can combine pieces that can be worn repeatedly and pack less. If you’d like to read more on this click HOW TO PACK for tricks of the trade. In fact, scroll down to the bottom of the page and feel free to order packing cubes. THEY ARE AWESOME and save so much SPACE!!! Plus, when you are in security and you are picked for random searches or you just like to travel light….. these little cubes are soo handy!
So there you have it, a few tips that I use to help me travel on a single, educators income without using my savings nor breaking the bank. Keep in mind that it’s easier to plan travel if you can be flexible and/or plan ahead. As you can see on Secret Flying, you have to book when the deals are found and you can’t choose the location ahead of time. However, if you use google flights there is a calendar that let’s you know the ‘range of prices available’. For my last trip, I actually saw a deal on Secret Flying but it wasn’t during a time that I could take off of work, so I went to google flights using the same locations and used the calendar to find flights within my budget. I took my daughter abroad and created wonderful memories and the flights were only $380 a piece. Sometimes, it’s worth it to take a risk, create memories and unlock your dreams. After all, isn’t it the things we don’t do that we end up regretting later?
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