Budget is often cited as a top reason why families don’t travel. Given how many of us are having our budgets squeezed right now, how can we start to save for a future trip? This week we talk to Danielle Desir from The Thought Card podcast and get some insights on turning your dream vacation into a reality.
About Danielle Desir
Danielle Desir, and she is an author, blogger, podcaster and Founder of The Thought Card, which is an award winning affordable travel and personal finance blog and podcast, empowering financially savvy travelers to make informed financial decisions, travel more, pay off debt and build wealth. She’s also the co-producer of Millennial Wealth Builders, a three time grant funded audio docu series highlighting women of color building wealth.
- Affording Travel: Saving Strategies For Financially Savvy Travelers
- Planning Local Trips During A Pandemic
Tips for How to Save for Travel
- Start with creating a monthly household budget so you are tracking how much you spend (and how much you can spend) in different categories
- Sit down at least quarterly and review your budget to see where you might need to adjust
- Create a wants versus needs list and see what you can take off of your wants list and do without
- Streaming services, gym memberships, ordering in using delivery services…these are common expenses that can be reduced
- Create a separate bank account that will be your travel fund, so you it isn’t intermingled with money that you use to pay bills or daily spending
- Look for a bank account that you can open with little or no money to start, that doesn’t charge a lot of fees or have a lot of restrictions, such as with Charles Schwab or Ally online banking
- See Danielle’s tips on why you need multiple bank accounts
- Take a look at your top three expenses. Usually you can’t reduce your housing expenses but can you reduce your transportation expenses (especially now when more of us are working from home) or food expenses (avoiding expensive delivery services, cooking more, etc.)
- Automate as much as possible using direct deposit, including contributions to your travel fund
- Danielle recommends the Digit app. It will automatically take a set amount out of your account everyday and put it into different funds that you set up for different expenses (such as travel)
- Have your family buy into your savings plan and name your bank accounts for that specific trip you are saving for to give everyone an incentive to save for that purpose
- Make sure you educate your kids about how to manage a budget and talk about spending decisions
- Think about what you value when you travel to determine where to spend your money. For example, do you prefer to have a better hotel experience or more money to spend on activities but you don’t need a luxury air experience
- To find affordable airfare, Danielle recommends SecretFlying.com for finding cheap deals online
- Signing up for airfare deals emails lets you establish a baseline of flight costs to particular destinations, so you know whether or not you are getting a deal when you are ready to book, as well as helps you find those special deals that you can jump on when available
- TheFlightDeal.com and The Points Guy also offer daily flight deal emails.
- For hotels or package combination deals with flights, hotels and activities, Danielle recommends TravelZoo. TravelZoo is especially good when looking for deals to China. They have a Wednesday top 20 list
- Gate 1 Travel also has a weekly deal list every Monday and they do both independent travel and packaged group trips
- You can often find good deals even in expensive locations if you travel off season
- Lisbon and Mexico are very affordable international destinations
- Traveling locally is also a great way to travel now and you can save money on transportation
- If you are using an Airbnb or vrbo now, be sure to start looking about 4-5 months earlier. Fees and rates have increased recently because of demand and cleaning costs
- Local hotels, especially in towns/cities that don’t usually cater to leisure travelers are very affordable right now
- For those traveling locally, be sure to check each state’s travel and quarantine restrictions
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Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00.120] – Kim
Here’s some tips for filling up your piggy bank for your next trip.
[00:00:15.730] – Announcer
Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.
[00:00:30.550] – Kim
Tamara, we are fast forwarding through 2021. Some of us knew it wouldn’t be a big reawakening. But I can’t even believe that we’re in February. So have you been thinking about travel? Do you see hope on the horizon? Are you making any plans yourself?
[00:00:48.580] – Tamara
Well, I’m definitely thinking about it. It’s kind of all I can think about because otherwise I’m just so bored. You know, the other day was Groundhog Day and it feels like that. Like every day one of my friends had texted me and saying, like, how are you doing? And I’m like, you know, same old, same old.
[00:01:05.290] – Tamara
She’s like, pretty much like work, work out, cook, eat, TV, sleep, repeat. But I’m starting to think about it. I’ve started to look into a couple of things I think I have mentioned before that like our Greece trip, but I doubt it’s going to happen.
[00:01:19.900] – Tamara
So I’m trying to come up with other kind of backup plans and we’re still kind of hoping that we can go look at some colleges this spring. So we’re looking into that and booking things tentatively. Everything is like, if things are going well, so I guess it’s written in pencil, not in pen.
[00:01:39.940] – Kim
Yeah. I felt all excited. We, you know, attended a conference recently, virtually, of course. So our listeners don’t get shocked. But it was just nice to talk about travel again. But it really it made me excited and I would love to plan a trip for spring break and do something. But I’m kind of torn on, you know, will California like, we’ve done the road trip to California, a few spring breaks and it’s always such a nice trip and I’m tempted to do that again. However, California right now doesn’t want people from out of state and even people in state are not supposed to go without like 100 some miles from their house.
[00:02:21.400] – Kim
And so I’m kind of torn on do I make plans or because I’m kind of tired of canceling stuff, it’s it’s almost discouraging. So I’m almost in a holding pattern.
[00:02:31.000] – Kim
I thought about booking a Lake Front Cabin or something on Airbnb, where for spring break we could just go and relax and bring Sophie and just kind of get out of our space. But we you know, we have this nice backyard now and some of our space, we live on a lake. And so, I mean, we’re not on the lake, but we’re, you know, very close.
[00:02:52.510] – Kim
So it seems kind of stupid to spend money to go have kind of a lifestyle that we already sort of have. And yeah. So I’m just torn. I guess I don’t really want to cancel anything. I don’t know what to book. I don’t I still don’t know. I probably need to just make a tentative plan of doing something in state, even if it’s a weekend getaway, just kind of having a hotel stay again. It was so nice when we did that for Christmas. We went to one of our local hotels and did a shopping trip and just kind of stayed in the hotel. And it was it was nice. It was nice just to get out of our house for a little while. But yeah, I guess the cancellation is holding me back.
[00:03:27.910] – Tamara
I brought that up to Hannah recently. Like, what about doing like a staycation at a hotel? And she’s like, well, it’s like dumb to spend the money. And part of me feels like, yeah, you know, I would like to save it for like real travel. But on the other side of the coin, like, I do know that it’s just been so long that you forget. But I do know that every time we have gotten away, you know, even for a weekend, we always look at each other and we’re like, we feel like we’re so far away. Like we feel like everything changed so much. Like, you know, it’s just so nice to have that change of scenery. So I do think we’re all craving it right now. But it is definitely a cost consideration, right.
[00:04:06.580] – Tamara
Because like you said, do you want to still do those fun things when they come up? And I know the episode we’re talking about today with Danielle is all about how to save for a trip. And so spending on things you don’t need is probably not the advice, but sometimes mentally you do need it. But I mean, as we’re looking into different things, I’m definitely seeing like a trend in terms of pricing. Like we’re looking at doing this road trip to visit some colleges. And there we would be staying close to the college and, you know, more like in a city or small town kind of thing.
[00:04:41.230] – Tamara
And those hotels are actually really affordable because there’s just not a lot of that kind of tourism happening right now, you know?
[00:04:49.750] – Tamara
So I’ve even been like, well, if we do this, I want to book a suite because I want to have space. Like, I don’t want to feel like we’re on top of each other, but I also want to have a place where we can bring food in and eat because, you know, it’s still going to be cold.
[00:05:02.920] – Tamara
And so we’re not really doing outdoor dining, but we’re not going to want to do much indoor dining unless something has a very low capacity, you know?
[00:05:10.810] – Kim
And a place where the microwave is helpful because we are in a hotel that had a. And it was nice to get the food and take out and bring it back, but, you know, every once in a while you’d want to heat it up and we didn’t have it.
[00:05:22.040] – Tamara
So, yes, I found that actually for what I thought would be the cost of a regular room, I can get a suite, so that’s good. But then when it comes to summer, I’m looking at doing something that feels more resort, like more, if we can’t go to Greece, I would like something. I know it’s not going to be Greece, but can it be something like nice? And I think you know me. You know that I don’t really love the big high rise hotels and that type of thing because I want something a little bit more intimate, more personal, has more character or whatever.
[00:05:56.410] – Tamara
and also like now in times of covid, like, I don’t want to have to always be in an elevator, in a hallway or a crowded pool area or like any of that kind of stuff, like I want more like open air. So I found a couple of places that I absolutely fell in love with in the Florida Keys. But oh my God, the price like it is insane. So it was one of those moments where I’ve always told Glenn, don’t show me things that I can’t afford. I don’t want to look at houses that I can’t afford, and I want to look at cars that I can’t afford. I don’t want to look at clothes that I can’t afford.
[00:06:27.220] – Tamara
And there’s also some things where it’s like even if you could afford it, like there are times where I’ve gone to, like, shopping for a store and I’m like, I’m sorry, but I am not spending 100 dollars on jeans.
[00:06:37.840] – Tamara
It’s just not like I grew up so frugal that it’s like really hard for me to, like, spend on certain things. And I am more willing to do it on like travel. And I look at it, I said, look, I want something special. Like we gave up, you know, our special trip last year. We’re probably giving up this year. I still want to do it in the future.
[00:06:55.240] – Tamara
But can we have something special like not just we went away for like four days, but like, can it be to a special place, you know, to try to find that in an environment that feels safe, knowing that this summer is still, you know, all the protocols are still going to be in place. Like whether or not we will be vaccinated is still a big if. And so they’re still going to be a lot of travel and safety concerns. And, you know, I wanted to feel special, but I can’t spend two thousand dollars a night. I mean, it’s just insane.
[00:07:24.850] – Tamara
Every time I look at things, I’m like, are there really that many rich people in the world like? And then I realized, there are.
[00:07:32.320] – Kim
yeah, obviously. So I mean, I’ll never forget the time that I spent five hundred dollars for one night at a Disneyland hotel and I thought that was just stupid. I felt like an idiot then. But it was important for me to have the extra hour and make the most of our time and stuff.
[00:07:46.960] – Tamara
I feel like sometimes I’m willing to do it like it gives you enough pleasure. It it provides something that you’re really looking for, you know, and I would I would even spend, you know, a good amount more than that, but not two thousand dollars a night.
[00:07:59.810] – Tamara
And then have to buy food, you know, food and drink and everything else on top of that. And so all I can say is if anybody just won the lottery, look up little Palm Island in Florida and you’ll be very happy. And I found another place that looked really good, too. It’s called Bungalows Key Largo. They look pretty good.
[00:08:15.970] – Tamara
It’s like an adult, only all inclusive in Florida because we’re just trying to stay where can we get that tropical feel without necessarily leaving the country and having to deal with, like, all the bubbles and testing and, you know, just all the kind of hassles for a fairly short trip.
[00:08:31.280] – Tamara
So anyway, I’m still searching and maybe using some of Danielle’s tips will help me, you know, continue to save, although I don’t think I’m saving quite that much.
[00:08:42.160] – Kim
Yeah, well, maybe she’ll inspire you to realize that you don’t need the 2000 night hotel that you know. I know. But now I’ve seen it. I definitely think that Florida is probably attracting a lot of those kind of, you know, snow escapers right now. So I’m not surprised to hear that there.
[00:09:01.240] – Tamara
This is because I’m looking for July, everybody’s making plans. Everybody wants to make it now. Well, and I think the other tip is like, you really do need to plan in advance. The reason I want to book something now is because for those things that if you want what you want, like, so does everyone else.
[00:09:18.670] – Kim
I think that’s a good tip. Well, let’s talk to Danielle and hopefully she can inspire us all to put away a little bit of savings so maybe we can splurge on something that’s safe and fun for this summer.
[00:09:28.780] – Tamara
[00:09:38.030] – Tamara
So this week, we’re here with Danielle Desir, and she is an author, blogger, podcaster and Founder of the Thought Card, which is an award winning affordable travel and personal finance blog and podcast, empowering financially savvy travelers to make informed financial decisions, travel more, pay off debt and build wealth. She’s also the coproducer of Millennial Wealth Builders, a three time grant funded audio docu series highlighting women of color building wealth. Welcome, Danielle.
[00:10:03.950] – Danielle
Thank you so much for having me.
[00:10:06.230] – Tamara
We’re always excited to talk to another podcaster here. And we focus so much on family travel that sometimes we forget we need to get out of our little family travel bubble and talk to some new people, too. So I know you have a very interesting, back story when it comes to paying off debt, building wealth and traveling while you’re doing it.
[00:10:26.220] – Tamara
And I think this is a time, especially so many families are struggling right now, given everything we’ve all been dealing with for the past year and trying to afford a vacation when the time is right is definitely a challenge. I think now is the time maybe to start thinking about strategies and ways for that. So that’s why we want to talk to you today. But before we jump into that, can you tell us a little bit more about your own personal journey?
[00:10:51.200] – Danielle
Sure. So I would say that I have a love for travel at a really young age. And I also grew up in a family where money was talked about all the time. So it wasn’t a secret. My mom was very transparent about how to save, how to spend. I even remember seeing her student loan with so many zeros at the end, like a really young age, so that that love of travel and that love of, I guess, the love of money or appreciating money and understanding, using it as a tool came early on. Now, my family, every summer we would go to Haiti.
[00:11:28.010] – Danielle
That’s where my family’s from. And that’s where I would spend all summer there with my grandparents running around with the chickens and the farm and learning the culture, the food, speaking the language. So, I mean, since I was like five years old, so I was about 15 when it kind of became uncool to, like, leave your boyfriend back home for the summer. So that’s really like my back story of like how travel has been a really big, integral part of my life since I was really young.
[00:11:53.990] – Danielle
And money, again, was talked about all the time. Now, I would say when I got to high school, I started to see travel as being uncool. It was taking me away from my friends.And like I mentioned, my boyfriend at the time. And I was I was really hanging out with my friends and I was really friend focused. So I gave up travel. It really just the left it alone until I got to college and travel emerged again.
[00:12:21.530] – Danielle
But now it was like, it’s the cool thing to do. Everyone was going on spring break trips and, you know, study abroad programs. And unfortunately, at the time my study abroad, I couldn’t study abroad on a financial aid package. I had a ton of scholarships that helped to put my costs down for school, but they weren’t going to cover studying abroad. So I had asked my mom, I said, Mom, listen, I would love to go to spend a semester in Paris. Is that possible? And she was like, of course I would do anything that I can. And that was great. But the back stories that we were losing our home to foreclosure. So a part of me felt so guilty that my mom couldn’t even keep the lights on. Right. We’re about to lose our house. And here I would be gallivanting off in Paris.
[00:13:08.480] – Danielle
So I made the decision that I wasn’t going to study abroad, but I made also the vow to myself and a promise to myself, which ultimately has helped me become the traveler I am today, that once I graduated from college, graduate from grad school, I would work really hard to be able to save and prioritize travel in my life. So that vow now, like almost ten years later, has been something that kept me grounded. I went on my first trip in 2014. My had graduated in 2011, so it took me three years to, like, get out to save enough funds.
[00:13:46.280] – Danielle
But it started off with saving twenty five dollars every two weeks when I actually did get a job so that twenty five dollars every two week transformed into a week long trip to Paris in 2014. And then every single year I just try to learn more about being a savvy traveler, saving more money, you know, going on more trips. And here we are in twenty, twenty one.
[00:14:09.470] – Tamara
That’s nice. It makes me think of like growing up, we really didn’t do any travel and we were just visiting family and I had such a passion for travel and stuff like travel posters on my walls. And my first real trip was to Mexico with like a school class in high school. And I think my mom, like, actually cashed in an insurance policy so that I could go on that. So, yeah, I’ve had my own little journey to being able to travel, but it means so much and you can make it happen.
[00:14:38.240] – Kim
I agree. I was kind of in the same situation. My family did not have a lot of money growing up and there was travel wasn’t really anything a part of it. The most I traveled was for like a softball tournament to a nearby city. And I think I went from Kansas, Oklahoma once for a tournament. And then I remember taking one epic trip to visit family in Southern California in like fifth grade. And that was kind of a big you know, that was a big deal for me.
[00:15:02.270] – Kim
But once I got married, I was like, OK, travel is going to be a part of our life. And so I kind of started planning and getting into it more. But it’s interesting how it can, you know, like you have this passion even if you didn’t experience it as a kid.
[00:15:15.770] – Danielle
So, yes, I totally agree. One of my dreams when I was a little kid was to go to Disney World, I’m sure, as a lot of kids have that goal. And it wasn’t until I was, you know, 22, 23 that I actually ended up going to Disney. And I make fun of my mom now. I was like, mom, like, you never took me to Disney. We could laugh about it now. But I’m at the point now where it means so much more to me that I can take my mom and Disney when I have the finances to do that.
[00:15:45.200] – Danielle
So I think sometimes when you are growing up and you may not have the ability or maybe maybe like for me, I was going to Haiti every single summer, which was a part of travel, but I also did dance lessons. I also did like so many extracurricular activities. So I think when it comes to like family saving and prioritizing and travel, there are a lot of other things that may come before travel. So as an adult, I feel so much like more equipped to to make it work.
[00:16:15.680] – Kim
Yeah, exactly. Well, I know that there’s probably a lot of people right now and then in in the grand scheme of things that feel like they can’t afford to travel. I know I’ve had people say to me, like, how do you afford to take so many trips? And of course, being a travel writer now, they don’t ask that as much. But when we first started traveling all the time, they would ask that all the time.
[00:16:35.390] – Kim
So what do you think are some top budgeting tips that you would give for people who, you know, want to travel but don’t see how they could financially do it?
[00:16:45.650] – Danielle
So I know that budgeting is a bad word for a lot of people. It’s the B word that everyone tries to avoid. But I definitely see budgeting as empowering because who set your budget? You do, right? Like, of course, we all have limitations based off of our income, but we have the ability to dictate how our money is moved around and where it gets allocated to. So no one seeing your budget as a tool that’s going to be that you’re going to use to really determine what your future is going to look like.
[00:17:16.160] – Danielle
Another thing I want to say is that when it comes to budgeting, I really like to sit down, I would say on a quarterly basis, especially after and during the pandemic, like right now, it’s a good time to reassess and to do of wants versus needs list. So out of all of your expenses for the month, what are the things you absolutely need to survive versus the things that are nice to have?
[00:17:38.450] – Danielle
And the easiest place, if you’re looking to save more for travel is to reduce from the wants list. So things that maybe maybe nice, maybe not. Maybe you have Hulu, Netflix and HBO. Maybe you don’t need all three. Right? Maybe you just need one of them. So that that needs versus wants list is really, really powerful and it can help you to remove some unnecessary expenses. Like for me, I’ve been doing a lot of jumping rope at home, which has significantly reduced my gym costs. But I was paying for my gym for like the last six months because I just kept it on autopilot.
[00:18:15.260] – Danielle
So this is the time to go through. What are you spending your money on and what are things that, OK, I no longer need. Maybe that was my old life and now I can move on and and make sure you capture that and put it towards your travel savings.
[00:18:28.940] – Danielle
So my third tip is to create a travel fund. So a travel fund is simply a separate account that’s devoted solely to your travel savings.
[00:18:37.430] – Danielle
There’s a number of reasons why you want to do this, because no one at a glance you can see undistracted how much money you have available to go on a trip. That is very empowering. And also you’re not commingling with other funds. So just being able to see it separately is really helpful.
There are a lot of online banks right now, for example, like if you’re in the U.S., Ali or Charles Schwab, actually have a blog post on my Web site that recommends about three different big accounts that where you could open up a bank account for no money, you know, little to no money compared to brick and mortars, a lot of them have like maintenance fees and minimums and and it has all these and restrictions.
[00:19:20.360] – Kim
So, yeah, I was just chiming in again, one of those tips of those online, don’t they? Also, a lot of times the ATM cards work well, like overseas and things. There’s not fees on those as well. So that’s another like travel perk. If you have your travel fund in a in one of those, then it also works for helping you get cash if you’re overseas. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. I just wanted to add that is another little thing.
[00:19:46.550] – Danielle
And also, realistically speaking, like you’re not necessarily going to be needing to run over to your brick and mortar to take out money on a consistent basis when it comes to your travel fund. It’s usually going to be maybe a couple of times a year. So an online bank is just a great way to have some buffers and a little bit of a boundary and a space from just being able to go to your brick and mortar and take money out like willy nilly whenever you need to.
[00:20:09.800] – Danielle
So I definitely think a travel fund is just a just a great budgeting tip.
[00:20:14.450] – Danielle
And last but not least is to really take a look at your top three expenses. So for a lot of people, that’s shelter like your housing costs, which is primarily fixed, like if you can’t house hack or anything like that, like your housing is fixed. Transportation is another category that I’ve seen that I have significantly reduced since the pandemic. I’m not commuting as much. I’m not really driving that much. So that has been a place where I can funnel money into my travel fund and other goals and food.
[00:20:45.200] – Danielle
Food is a huge category, especially if you’re like using insta cart, which I’ve become addicted to recently. So those are my my budgeting tips that’s to get you started, really prioritizing, figuring out the things that you need versus the things that you want and try to funnel as much money as you can toward your travel savings.
[00:21:09.860] – Tamara
I mean, I love that you have these concrete tips because just the idea of putting it in a separate fund and watching that grow, it’s such an incentive. You know, like when you see something, whether it’s like in your business or whatever it is, when you see it growing, it’s just I don’t know. It’s almost right now Kim knows this. I’m like lacking for positive, like a feedback loop in my life right now.
[00:21:32.480] – Tamara
And so even like a little thing like watching my bank account grow would be like, yeah, I’m doing it and feeling good. So I love that. I was also just thinking that my credit card expires or will renew, you know, next month. So I need to sit down with my bill and go through and see what’s automatically billed every month, because you know how I will then stop being automatically billed, because your expiration date came up and I thought this is going to be a good time for me to look at it and figure out what things do we really not need.
[00:22:01.760] – Tamara
You know, because sometimes just looking at that bill, you skim it. But, you know, if you’re not looking at every line item and realizing how much that that adds up, it’s a good exercise to kind of go through every now and then just to say, hey, do I really need this? Do I really need that? But, you know, those are some great budgeting tips.
[00:22:18.710] – Tamara
But I’m wondering when it comes to actually saving for travel, do you have any other ideas? You know, how do you take the budget and make it a reality?
[00:22:29.030] – Danielle
So once you’ve identified areas where you can start funnelling into your travel fund, I would highly recommend to automate as much as possible. And I think you referred to this year, like, I just want to set it, forget it and just watch it grow.
[00:22:42.470] – Danielle
And that’s so powerful, being able to dictate where money is going to go and not having to actually think about it. So I try to best as possible. I have a direct deposit automation since I have a 9:00 to 5:00 employer. Even if you’re a freelancer, you can still do like a bank transfer every so often except the frequency. But that’s been really helpful. So throughout the entire pandemic, I’ve been fortunate enough where I did not even touch that automation at all. So now I have a stash of cash to pull from to go on that bigger, bigger trip one day when we can travel because it’s been automated. So automation really allows you to just kind of let things happen in the background.
[00:23:27.260] – Danielle
Now, one of my favorite apps to help me save a little bit extra cash for travel is digit. So digit is a auto saving app. There is a small monthly fee, but for me, it’s been able to pay like it’s paid for itself, just one little automation it’s been able to pay itself. But what it does is that every single day it takes maybe a little bit like a couple of cents out of your account to a couple of dollars out of your account every single day.
[00:23:56.720] – Danielle
Or you could also say whenever you’re swiping your card, you could really determine how frequent you want it. And it just stashes it for you and you could determine what type of goals you want to have. So I have a mini travel fund goal. I have a mini shopping spree goal. So all of these automation’s happening in the background is actually in twenty nineteen. When I went to Disney for a week, I didn’t even look at my travel fund because I just pulled from digit. I was like, oh there’s just all this cash sitting there like I did even I literally did not even feel it. And if you’re worried like oh my gosh, are they going to overdraft my account? They do have stops in place, which prevents that from happening. So and you could even say, listen, pause this until X, Y, Z, which is helpful.
[00:24:41.780] – Danielle
So in addition to my travel fund, I also have like this digit stash I pull from, which has been been awesome. And then the last tip I have when it comes to money saving tips for travel is having family buy in. So getting your family involved in the process of planning a trip, saving for travel from start to finish, getting them involved as early as possible. One of the things that I like to do is I like to name my bank accounts with my with my husband. And that allows us to both say, OK, what is it that we’re both really excited about for our next trip?
[00:25:20.870] – Danielle
And we named that account and we we both collectively try to work on that goal together. And then when we’re going to plan the trip, all that hard work we can celebrate. I just think it’s really great to not only the practical tips, but also just getting your family involved as much as possible with the planning process.
[00:25:39.000] – Kim
We’ve always kind of said that with family travel, especially like with getting kids involved in it and, you know, excited about the destination, giving them a little control over it. And I think when people you know, when you when you combine the enthusiasm and the focus, it can make a difference. And I think that’s a good tip. And that digit sounds really cool. Like I remember in the old days I don’t remember which bank account would let you round up. So every time you would swipe your card, it would round up and that money would go into a savings account for you. And so it’s really it’s a really clever way of just kind of I think automating it, like we’ve mentioned, is a huge factor so that you’re not feeling like it’s costing you something to put the money away.
[00:26:20.850] – Tamara
It makes me feel like going and looking at how much is in there would be like when you find the 20 dollar bill in your pocket, they forgot you had there, you know.
[00:26:29.310] – Danielle
Or like when you’re doing laundry and then you find that money in your pocket, like, oh, my gosh.
[00:26:35.970] – Kim
And I think my girls have experienced that recently, you know, that we have savings accounts for them. And I started giving them the savings account like their statements and then being able to see that, like, interest does add up, even though it’s so minimal now. But that’s, I think, seen how interest accruing and all that works is very motivating for a lot of people.
[00:26:56.730] – Tamara
And I feel like even when you make a decision, like I know I always try to talk to Hannah about things like when I’m making a decision, I’m like, well, you know, I just feel like that’s too much money to spend. And I’ll explain why, you know, kind of explain the rationale behind it.
[00:27:10.260] – Tamara
And you know why making the choice that I am and maybe what that then allows us to do, you know, versus if we did, you know, X, Y, Z all the time, you know. So I think having those conversations, like you said, Danielle, like your mom was very open with you, I feel like it’s really important to kind of it’s an education, too. And it’s really important to educate our kids about how to manage their money.
[00:27:31.560] – Kim
Yeah, I totally agree. So, Danielle, do you have any, you know, top you mentioned digit is one of your favorite apps, but do you have any other tips or apps for finding travel deals? So once you’ve saved money, maybe, how can you get a good deal on your vacation?
[00:27:47.010] – Danielle
Yes, this is my favorite part about both parts of my favorite parts, because that’s what I think makes up a financially savvy traveler, is not only being able to accrue enough money to go on a trip, but also to be able to spend it as wisely as possible. But value based spending.So it’s really like, what are you valuing and making sure that your spending aligns with that versus just spending frivolously.
[00:28:12.960] – Danielle
So just to just to really think back in terms of what is a financially savvy traveler for me, prior to the pandemic, I was I was cornering the cheap flights market like that was that was me that I was finding the cheapest deals ever.
[00:28:31.980] – Danielle
And it was just so exciting. And this goes back to the Value-Based Spending Idea, because for me, I just want to arrive safely at a destination. I don’t really care that much for luxurious comforts in the air, but everyone is different, right? If you prioritize your your flight experience and you may not necessarily prioritizing your hotel or accommodation. So everyone has something that they’re prioritizing. For me, it was not airfare. So that’s where I focus my energy on trying to maximize like just spend as little as possible.
[00:29:04.830] – Danielle
So some of the sites that I I look at when I’m thinking about cheap flights and I’m going to also offer some sites as well, that’s more general travel planning because a lot of people are not flying right now. One of my favorite is secret flying. So secretflying.com is a free website which offers daily flight deals every single day, which is really helpful from all over the world. So I would sign up for their free newsletter and everyday they will send you a couple each day.
[00:29:35.160] – Danielle
And this is important because it’s helping you to establish a baseline for your flight costs, which is important because you want to be able to know when you’re maximizing and when you’re finding a really good deal. Not everything that comes across your desk is a good deal. But how are you going to know that if you’re not using data, making a data driven decision?
[00:29:54.120] – Danielle
So I would use websites like Secret flying to just really understand, like, OK, to Europe baseline, how much do I expect to spend? And then I’m always looking for like that below average costs. So secret flying is a good one.
[00:30:07.620] – Danielle
The flight deal is fantastic they are another free web site that again offers you daily deals, which is helpful. I really like to keep an eye on. The PointsGuy also has been really helpful. They have a daily deal section. Those are more for like the flights now.
[00:30:25.440] – Danielle
I really love Travelzoo. So Travelzoo dot com. They have a weekly Wednesday top twenty list now prepandemic make those deals were amazing.
[00:30:36.510] – Danielle
Those deals were amazing. And I’ll give you like a quick example of the deal that I found there. The deal, one of the deals that I will never forget is I found a 299 dollar deal, a ten, ten day all expenses like flights, hotels, some food to China, China.
[00:30:53.980] – Kim
Yes, I saw that my my husband and father in law did that deal.
[00:30:58.980] – Danielle
Yes. I mean, there there are some pros and I believe that’s its own episode. There’s a lot of with that.
[00:31:03.600] – Danielle
There you go. Yes, you’re right. It is. It’s own episode. It’s its own episode. We’ll put an asterisk on that for everyone who also wants to go book that there’s an Asterix.
[00:31:12.090] – Danielle
Yes, there’s a lot of Asterisk on that. But it was a deal that I spotted through Travelzoo, which is incredible. So Travelzoo not only offers flights, but sometimes they offer hotels or combined packages. So that’s a free newsletter that I highly recommend to.
[00:31:28.620] – Kim
Some other hotel deals are amazing, unlike luxury, you know, nice four and sometimes five star resorts. They they offer some great deals.
[00:31:36.660] – Danielle
Exactly. Exactly. And then the last website that I really like is gate one travel. So gate one travel. They have not only independent trips where they pretty much like book your flight and they book your hotel, but they also run tours, too. So you could have like the full fledged experience where you have a tour guide and all of that and they have a weekly deal list every Monday, which they’ve actually reinstated since the pandemic. And it’s just good to see like they have frequently like a thousand dollar deals to Dubai or other other really cool destinations. So I’m really all about signing up for all the free newsletters and keeping an eye out to see what’s happening.
[00:32:17.370] – Danielle
And then, you know, being able to not only couple that with the finances and then book it and go and love that, especially it does.
[00:32:26.010] – Tamara
When you see a lot of those deals, you kind of get a sense for not just like what that base price, you know, is what is a good deal, but also just. What are some of the destinations that come up a lot for deals, because there are certain places that you’ll see pop up like kind of over and over and you’re like, OK, so I know if I want to go there, I’m going to be able to find a deal. I just need to hold out and wait for it. You know what I mean? And I really like your point about prioritizing. It’s one of the things that Kim knows that we really like to enjoy local food. We’re kind of foodies. And so we will spend a lot more on food when we’re in a destination than some other people.
[00:32:59.600] – Tamara
So it’s one of those things when I’m looking at, you know, like my overall budget, I’m like, well, we spent this, but you may not need to, you know, like, there are other options. So like you said, it all depends on what is important to you. So it sounds like you probably have found a lot of your kind of budget trips through some of these deals and such.
[00:33:21.250] – Tamara
But through your travels, have you found some destinations that you feel are more, you know, kind of favorite budget destinations, like places where people kind of should keep an eye out? Because if you’re looking for a budget deal, you’re apt to find one?
[00:33:35.920] – Danielle
Yeah, I think it depends on the time of year. So I would frequently go to Ireland. I’ve been to Ireland twice in January because I found years apart the same or similar price deals to go to Ireland, to go to Dublin. So I it’s funny because Dublin in Ireland is not necessarily the cheapest, the cheapest places to go do. And it’s interesting because I the places I love to visit are actually some of the most expensive in the world. So Iceland. I love Iceland, I love Bermuda, I love Ireland.
[00:34:08.500] – Danielle
These places are not necessarily cheap, but again, it’s all about like the expenses and how you spend there. But in terms of my own personal experiences, I found Lisbon, Portugal to be affordable, especially as a European destination. I found that pretty affordable. I also found Mexico to be affordable as well, which has been really helpful. And let’s see if there’s any other. China was also very affordable as well.
[00:34:39.690] – Kim
Tamara and I were in Lisbon and, you know, so that’s great. And we were actually been in Ireland together, too.
[00:34:46.060] – Kim
So I can remember in Lisbon, we had that like five euro lunch. That was a lot of food.
[00:34:51.340] – Tamara
Yeah, I was thinking of that. I think Tamara and I both realized that in some ways Lisbon is extremely affordable as a European destination. Like even there are tourist attractions that you go to are still like priced fairly well.
[00:35:06.550] – Danielle
Yes, there’s a couple, actually, a family, a family that they’re on YouTube. They’re called Our Rich Journey. And they recently moved to Portugal after retiring early and being financially independent. And it’s just really interesting to hear why. Like, why did they pick Portugal out of all the places in the world? So, yes, definitely. I definitely agree. Lisbon has really great food beaches. So many great things to do at a at a really good price.
[00:35:35.320] – Kim
So we’ve covered, you know, kind of some big destinations and definitely places for a lot of our listeners that they would be putting off right now. But, you know, one of the hot topics I think right now for a lot of us is kind of local travel, you know, sticking around your own backyard or maybe, you know, around your own region. Do you have any tips for families that might be thinking of exploring around them that you think could, you know, be beneficial from a savings standpoint?
[00:36:03.040] – Danielle
Yeah, last summer was, for me, the Great Awakening, because I realized, like, OK, travel’s changed completely for me. I’m no longer flying. So I did a lot of more road trips and I live in the Northeast. So I visited towns or cities like between four and five hours away from home. One of the things I personally think that’s important is to really think about if you prefer to stay at a hotel right now or if you prefer to stay at an Airbnb, each of them have their own pros and cons.
[00:36:37.780] – Danielle
If you want to be necessarily like, let’s say, secluded or you prefer to be like in a more remote location, then you have a lot of more options with Airbnb. Now, the problem with Airbnb is that there’s so much more expensive now. A lot of hosts actually have higher fees, the cleaning fees. That has been astronomical. So if you are thinking about going on a, you know, more local trip or road trip, definitely start looking at Airbnb early. I would say anything from like four to five months early just to start to see, OK, what are price trends? Is it even affordable to stay at an Airbnb or do I prefer to stay at hotels? Now, in the countryside, a lot of hotels are offering really deep discounts. So a lot of financially savvy travelers are telling me that staying at a luxury hotel is like the most affordable it’s ever been, right, because the capacities are down. The demand is down, which means prices are down, which is really helpful. So that I think is is number one is really great.
[00:37:45.970] – Danielle
I think for the majority of all the money saving tips and ideas I was sharing before are all relevant, like using digit and making priorities in your budget and and getting your family involved. These are all things that regardless of the destination or the type of travel they could, still going to be beneficial.
[00:38:05.050] – Danielle
Some other tips I would just share for those who are thinking about local travel. The thing about it right now, especially what I’ve discovered from last summer, is that each state has its own restrictions. Each state has its own quarantine. Or I mean, there’s 50 states and each state is different. So really making sure that before you set out and go looking at what the state requirements, not only the state that you want to visit, but also your state as well, because some states are actually fining folks if you’re not like being compliant. So that that’s really helpful. And I would also say look at the tourism board website.
[00:38:42.560] – Danielle
So tourism boards are going to keep you up to date with what’s going on. And that’s one of the places I actually look for for the most important information.
[00:38:51.520] – Tamara
And sometimes they have deals to like sometimes they might have like a pass or, you know, sometimes some of their attractions. If you book online, you get a little discount. So Kim and I always talk about like looking at the tourism board website. And it’s amazing. Kind of the I don’t know, it’s very helpful just to figure out what’s there, but it’s just helpful, you know, also finding some of those little deals and things that you may not have known about, like which restaurants offer kids eat free or which, you know, might have a Monday half price wine night or something like that, you know?
[00:39:23.500] – Tamara
Well, you’ve given us a lot to think about. And I love that a lot of your tips have given us some apps and things, too, that we haven’t necessarily talked about with some of our other guests. But we do have a question that we ask all of our guests, and that is, what do you wear when you travel? Do you have a favorite brand? You know, any particular go to travel outfit?
[00:39:43.750] – Danielle
I would say I’m more of obsessive over footwear, so I really, really want to make sure that I have something comfortable with my feet. So I usually go to with vans. I like that their slip on that they’re super comfortable and that I can just be more relaxed in them. No high heels for me, no high heels.
[00:40:04.210] – Tamara
I’m with you there.
[00:40:05.470] – Kim
Yes. So Danielle, why don’t you tell our listeners where they can find you online?
[00:40:11.500] – Danielle
Well, thank you again so much for having me. It was really fun chatting all about traveling money. You could head over to thought car dotcom. That’s my affordable travel website. I also have the thought card podcast, which is my Affordable Travel and personal finance podcast. And I actually have two books that I think would be relevant to today’s conversation. So the first book I have is called Affording Travel Saving Strategies Financially Savvy Travelers. And another book I published recently is planning local trips during a pandemic. So I think those two books would be really great to take the next step.
[00:40:52.810] – Tamara
So thank you again for being on and chatting with us and looking forward to following your future travels. And I need you to tell me which luxury resorts in the Northeast are offering discounts, because I’m telling you, all the ones I’ve been looking at are way beyond my price range.
[00:41:07.360] – Danielle
You know, it’s so funny. I’ve been sticking to Airbnb, so I’ve been hearing rumors that they’re cheaper. But I just prefer Airbnb out. They have been out in the cabin. So the countryside
[00:41:18.280] – Tamara
We’ve done some of that. So I’m looking at something for the summer. I’m like, oh, man, I know the hotels are hurting, but these prices are outrageous. So I’m going to keep dreaming on that one for a bit. Keep dreaming and keep saving.
[00:41:31.000] – Kim
Now, if you keep saving, maybe something, then sign up for some emails. You never know what I’ll fall.
[00:41:34.690] – Danielle
You never know. You never know.
[00:41:37.390] – Kim
Thanks so much, Danielle. It was great chatting with you.
[00:41:39.490] – Kim
Thanks so much as always. Thanks for joining us. For another week of vacation mavens next time, which is two weeks away, we’re going to be celebrating something big. It’s our fifth year anniversary of Vacation MAVEN’s. We are five years old, so we are celebrating in a manner that, you know, truly is fitting for Tamara and I, for those of you that know us, we are going to be talking all about wine tasting and wine tasting tips.
[00:42:05.410] – Kim
So I hope you will join us in two weeks and we will talk to you again soon
[00:42:10.510] – Tamara
Come raise a virtual glass with us to celebrate and look forward to it and send us a picture. Yeah, definitely. Say cheers to us.