This post is sponsored by Tangerine. All views and opinions expressed are our own.
Simple tweaks that will allow you to travel more
As I sit here in Whistler, with freshly brewed coffee in hand, I’m looking to the mountains for inspiration. Summer has arrived in this not-so-secret alpine village. This is our happy place, our home away from home.
I find it easier to write about travel when we’re actually travelling. The creative juices seem to flow differently when I’m removed from life’s daily distractions.
Today, I’d like to address a commonly asked question we get on this travel blog – “How do you find the money and time to travel so often?”
The answer has evolved over time. Context is important here. Our response would have been very different before having kids, obviously.
We own a house in Vancouver, that we love, and the juicy mortgage that comes with it. We both have corporate careers that challenge us and, like many of you, we are required to be in the office from Monday to Friday. Our boys are in organized sports programs that take up a lot of time. We have two vehicles, childcare expenses, credit card debt and retirement savings accounts.
Simply put – we live a fairly normal life.
Even though our corporate jobs and kids’ school schedule requires us to embrace the 9-to-5 lifestyle, we still manage to travel once per month.
That’s been our goal for the past 7 years, since becoming parents.
We don’t always hit this goal, but we rarely miss it.
We’ve spoken with several families over the years. The most common reason they give for not being able to travel is either:
- Not enough money
- Not enough vacation time
- Other things are more important.
To simplify – Money, Time & Priority.
With these three things in mind, let’s dive into a few simple lifestyle tweaks that, if practiced, will allow you to travel more often. We’ve embraced these ideas for years, which has allowed us to consistently achieve our goal of travelling once per month.
1. Pay your travel budget first
This subtle, yet powerful, shift in thought has been a game changer for us.
Let’s assume you don’t have the ability to earn more money just because you want to (you actually can earn more money, but that’s a topic for another day). Regardless of your income level, you have a budget to pay your monthly expenses – mortgage/rent, food, vehicle/transportation, clothes, phone, entertainment, etc.
What do you think would happen if you gave your travel budget the same level of importance as rent or vehicle expenses?
This connects back to priority. If travelling more often is a priority for you, feed your travel budget accordingly.
Tangerine, Canada’s leading digital bank, has created an innovative goal setting feature that allows you to establish one or multiple savings priorities and set-up regular contributions. It’s appropriately named Goals.
Now, let’s say you want to visit Ireland next summer (we highly recommend you do – here’s why). You would set-up a Goal (ie. Ireland vacation), map out the goal plan and set it to automatically transfer funds. You can track the progress of your goal and adjust accordingly.
Watch this video to see the Goals feature in action.
We have a bank account specifically for travel. Money is automatically transferred from our chequing accounts one day after payday. By paying our travel account first, along with our top priority expenses, it quickly shows us how much money we have left to spend on food, entertainment, clothes, etc.
Tangerine has another feature called Left to Spend. This feature allows you to see where your money is going and keep track of how much money you have left to spend each month. To set it up, you simply enter your monthly income and add your fixed expenses (like mortgage, car payments, internet bill, etc.).
Then, the feature factors in what you’re saving each month or what you have “left to spend.” It’s a helpful guide that shows you where your money is going. You can see where you may be overspending and where you would need to scale back.
2. Take advantage of loyalty programs
There are so many ways to maximize the power of each purchase you make. If you’re not using multiple loyalty programs, you should start.
Airline loyalty programs
Before you purchase a flight, sign up for the airline’s loyalty program (like Aeroplan for Air Canada). Some airlines make it difficult to receive your miles/points after you’ve taken the flight, so it’s wise to include the account number before you check-in and get your boarding pass.
Credit card loyalty programs
Every purchase you make will increase your miles/points that can be redeemed for future travel rewards. Tangerine’s Money-Back Credit Card is a good option because it has no annual fee, and allows you to make 2% Money-Back Rewards on purchases in two categories of your choice, including: Hotel-Motel, Restaurants, Entertainment, Gas and even Recurring Bill Payments.
Plus, Money-Back Rewards are earned each month automatically, so every purchase you make will add to your future travel funds.
Hotel loyalty programs
Because we pay for hotels using our travel rewards credit card, we’re actually getting 3 rewards for the same purchase (credit card points/miles, hotel rewards & hotel booking engine nights). It starts to add up.
Subscribe and stay informed
We subscribe to email newsletters to get notified when there’s a promotion. Yes, you will get some spammy emails, but we’ve found great deals by staying informed. It’s easy to delete or unsubscribe from these email newsletters if you’re not getting value from them.
3. Avoid credit card debt
Most of our everyday purchases are made with our credit cards. From groceries to vehicle payments to restaurants, we put everything on credit cards because it’s easy and it increases our loyalty rewards.
This strategy works for us because we pay off our credit card debt each month. HOWEVER, you have to be careful and keep a close eye when using credit cards for everyday purchases.
This strategy can backfire if you don’t pay attention to your expenses.
Some credit cards with good loyalty rewards programs typically have higher interest rates, so you must be disciplined and track your spending.
If you run into trouble, a short-term solution is to get a line of credit, with a lower interest rate and use that to pay off your credit cards. Use Tangerine’s Left to Spend feature to ensure you’re not overspending each month.
4. Always have your next trip booked or planned
We always have a trip, or two, booked or in the planning stages. Sometimes we have trips booked over a year in advance (we’ve been planning our upcoming trip to Japan for almost 2 years!).
This gives us something to look forward to and keeps us on the lookout for travel deals.
An advantage to booking well in advance is that you can start to pay off the trip early. We’ve already paid for our Japan flights 6 months before the departure date. This levels the payment of expenses over several months, so we don’t return from Japan with a lot of debt or a depleted bank account.
Keep in mind, this trip does not need to be a big expensive trip overseas. It can be a simple weekend getaway or short road trip from your home.
We recently visited Harrison Hot Springs, which is a 2 hour drive from our home in Vancouver, and we returned feeling refreshed and ready to tackle work and soccer practices.
Sometimes it’s the little trips that have the biggest impact.
5. Take advantage of holidays
If you want to travel more often, take advantage of holidays.
We live in British Columbia, which gives employees 4 provincial holidays. Canada has an additional 5 statutory holidays. So, we get an extra 9 days on top of our standard vacation days.
We typically add 1 or 2 vacation days on the front or back of a holiday long weekend, stretching the trip to 4 to 5 days when you add Saturday, Sunday and the Holiday.
Now, the downside with this holiday strategy is that we often find ourselves travelling over busy weekends, which can get expensive, especially as a family of four.
But, that’s the sacrifice for having more travel experiences each year.
We’re confident that if you make these simple lifestyle tweaks, you will create opportunities to travel more often. It’s not easy. It will require discipline and sacrifice. But it does work.
For more travel tips and savings advice, visit Tangerine’s Forward Thinking blog.