Almost two years ago, my husband and I quit our jobs, sold everything we owned, and bought one way tickets to Bali. In the two years since, we have traveled from Bali to the U.S. about 6 times and visited almost 20 other countries. I've picked up a fair amount of travel experience during that time, and I want to share some of my top tips so you can travel the world too!
Tip #1: Utilize Credit Card Miles to Book Flights
Traveling does not have to break the bank! This is probably the best advice I can give someone hoping to travel more. In the two years since I began traveling (practically) full time I have not paid full price for a single flight I've taken. I’ve flown around 40 total legs on routes all over the world, and have used miles or points to book all of them.
So, let's break it down a bit. If you're new to how credit card miles work, essentially, you get points (or miles) when you spend money using your credit card. Over time, your points will add up and when you have enough, you can redeem them for a flight of your choice.
In order to start utilizing points/miles, you need choose a credit card that works best for you.
Things to consider when choosing a credit card are:
- Annual Fees
- How many points you get for spending (chose a card that rewards you more for things you already spend money on - like gas, groceries, etc.)
- Sign Up Bonus (you usually have to spend around 4k in 3 months or so to get your bonus). Pro tip: Sign up for a new credit card when you know you will have some expenses coming up (i.e. you're moving, renovating, traveling, etc.) This will help ensure you get your bonus sign up, which is a great way to start racking up miles.
Choosing a credit card that is right for you just takes a bit of research. Here is a list that you can start with.
I personally use three different credit cards. One I share with my husband for all our joint expenses. We use this for bills, monthly subscriptions, groceries, household items, etc. We use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which is probably the best card for receiving miles to redeem for flights.
I then have a personal credit card that I use for everything I buy for myself – clothes, beauty products, travel, etc. For my personal credit card, I use an American Express Delta Skymiles Card. I’ve flown to and from Bali many times using the points I get from this card.
Lastly, I have a credit card I use for all my business expenses. For this, I use the Capital One Venture Card. They have a great bonus sign up and great travel benefits for your spending.
Once you choose your card and begin using it, you can track the points or miles (every card is different) that accumulate each month. Follow the instructions on your online account to then redeem those points/miles for flights. Each site has a different process for this but they make it pretty easy to use. If you ever need help, call your credit card company and they can also help you book your flight with your miles.
Important note: By no means do I suggest going crazy spending money on a credit card just to redeem points. My suggestion is to use a credit card for things you are already spending money on (gas, bills, groceries). Also, this recommendation is for people who are good at managing their money and can pay off their credit card each month.
(On our first flight out to Bali we had enough miles to use for busniess class seats! Another huge perk if you have enough miles)
Tip #2: Book Flights on Tuesdays
On the topic of booking flights, I've learned that Tuesday is the best day to book your travel. This does not mean you have to fly on a Tuesday, but I mean go online and book your flight on a Tuesday; it the day that flights are the cheapest!
Tip #3: Opt for AirBnBs over hotels
9 times out of 10 I will opt for booking an Airbnb over a hotel. These are a few reasons why:
- The experience feels much more authentic. I love staying in Airbnb’s because I get a feel of what it would be like to live there. You feel as if you have a home away from home and can live like a local.
- The price is right. Search for Airbnb’s within your price range. Generally, Airbnb’s will be significantly cheaper than staying at a hotel. Another perk is you can typically get discounts for longer term stays. If you are staying somewhere for over a week, there often are weekly and monthly discounts which can really help. My best tip for finding your AirBnB is to focus on location. Generally, when traveling, you are out exploring for most of the day, so chose a place where you can easily come back for a shower/nap/change of clothes, etc. I always opt for choosing a place with a great location even if other options may look nicer.
(At one of our Airbnb's in Bali. Felt like home!)
Tip #4: Pack light and focus on necessities.
Over the past few years of packing for countless trips, I've learned to focus less on my wardrobe options and more on making sure I have all the toiletries I need to feel clean and stay healthy. I've learned through experience that you can always buy more clothing wherever you are in the world, but it can be very difficult to buy essential cosmetics and toiletries in certain foreign countries. For example, I ran out of face lotion on a trip in Thailand and never found a replacement because, as I learned, nearly all the lotions sold in that region had bleach in them! I remember having SO many clothes in my bag, but all I could think about was how much more comfortable I would be if I had face lotion with me. It’s obviously a first world problem, but now when I travel I always make sure to have all the toiletries I need. In addition, I now make it a point to pack lightweight, multi-purpose clothing that I can easily layer and re-use.
I also love to organize as much as possible for peace of mind while traveling. I use August Effects bikini bags to organize my undies, bras, swimsuits, socks, etc. This way I always know where things are, giving me more time to explore instead of searching through my suitcase for items.
P.S. - One of my favorite items to pack is my August Effects sarong. It is super lightweight so I throw it in my purse or backpack on all my outings. If I am in a country where it is respectful to cover my shoulders, I use it as a shawl. If I head to the beach, I’ll throw it down to use as a beach blanket, or as a cover-up after a dip!
Tip #5: Create an Itinerary
This may seem time consuming, but it really only takes a few minutes and will save you a huge headache when you travel. For every trip I take, I create a detailed itinerary. This does not mean that I plan out what I am doing every day, but rather I have a document with all the details of our flights, layovers, rides, Airbnb’s, etc. Instead of scrolling through my emails to find all my confirmations, I make my life WAY easier by taking a few minutes to add all the details of my trip to a document. Once completed, I print it out or take a photo of it to have on hand. Here is an example of what one of our itineraries may look like. I promise, you'll thank me later!
So, there you have it! These are 5 tips that will help you travel like a pro. Now go out and start exploring the world!