Coming up with a long term travel plan can save thousands of dollars!
Updated: Jun 2, 2019
Dream vacations don't have to be just that....dreams. You can make them a reality and by coming up with a "vacation game plan" you can create a personalized plan that will not only help you save, but can help you take advantage of hotel/airline/credit card rewards programs that will save you thousands!
When I'm bored or can't sleep, I like to make travel plans, even for trips years in advance. Maybe I'm a little OCD when it comes to planning, but it really helps me focus on long term financial goals with the end result being a great vacation for my family. For example, this is what we have planned or in the works:
Alaska Cruise, June 2019
Las Vegas for our Anniversary Weekend Getaway, August 2019
Western Caribbean Cruise, December 2019
New York City, March 2020 for Sarah's Birthday
Ireland for 2 weeks in June 2020
Long weekend in Portland, Maine before School starts, Aug. 2020
Oahu and Kauai (Hawaii) June 2021
Holland and Belgium to celebrate Sarah's High School Graduation, June 2022
Greek Isle Cruise, Fall 2022
Tour of Patagonia (Chile, Argentina)
Bora Bora & New Zealand for our 25th wedding anniversary, 2027
I know it might seem crazy to have so many things planned out, but it is when you have a good plan that you can prepare yourself financially for a vacation that you might not otherwise be able to afford, all by having a budget planned and plenty of time to save, while utilizing hotel points and/or airline miles to your best advantage.
For example, I have always wanted to go to Bora Bora and stay in an over the water bungalow. At the Le Meridien Resort, a week long stay is just under $11,0000. JUST FOR THE HOTEL. That doesn't include transportation. Using Marriott Bonvoy points, however, you can cut that cost in half.
For example, I currently have 120K points with Marriott and every year you can purchase points, up to 50k a year at a discounted rate. Right now they're offering a 25% discount, so to buy 50k points would only cost $475.
So say if we know we want to go to Bora Bora, but not for a few years at the very least, all we need to do is make a mileage purchase of 50k miles each year (when they are on sale) to build up our points balance. Using the Points & Cash option the Le Meriden offers at booking online, the stay would cost 420k points and $1865 out of pocket. Without us transferring any of our miles we have accrued through our Chase Ultimate Rewards or through points earned using my Marriott Bonvoy Business preferred AmEx card, by JUST purchasing additional miles, we'd have enough accused in 6 years.
So instead of paying almost $11k for a week for an over-water bungalow at Le Meriden, it would cost us $4561. Now THAT is a savings!
Now you do have to remember that if you are using a credit card to accrue miles with daily purchases, you need to pay off your card monthly in order to avoid credit card interest rates that would eat into the overall savings. Plus, credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Visa or the Marriott Bonvoy American Express often come with $95 annual fees (usually waived the first year) so you also have to figure that into the overall cost. There are websites like "The Points Guy" who get down into the nitty-gritty of the point valuations for reward programs, but with me, 2 of my best rewards cards are business accounts that I have with my makeup business, and those annual fees are tax deductible. Even with the annual fee, at the most it would add an additional $865 to the overall cost and that is still a savings of over half off at an amazing hotel in one of the breathtaking places in the world.
This is how my brain works when I am restless. It's all about travel planning for the family. It's like this fun puzzle to put together!