I live to travel. I have often told myself that I work so I can travel. The travel bug started for me in 2011. After experiencing NYC for the first time and Switzerland a few months later, I knew I needed to look closer at my finances so I could start traveling more. Here are a few tips of how I got started.
1.) I read the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
This book was a game-changer for me. I have always been pretty good with saving money and not overspending (thanks, dad!) but often I would spend money just to spend money. I loved shopping at Nordstrom!
After reading the Total Money Makeover, I started budgeting what I wanted to spend my money on each month. First, I would “pay myself first” (putting money into my savings) and whatever was leftover after my monthly expenses, I would use as fun money.
After getting bit by the travel bug, I realized I had plenty of clothes in my closet and I really didn’t need to shop every month. Therefore, I could start using that money for future trips.
- Set up a monthly budget
- Find out what you can cut out of your monthly expenses so you can start saving for travel.
2.) I opened up a “Travel” Savings Account.
This isn’t anything special, just another savings account. Through Wells Fargo, it was easy to open up an account online. I also enjoy that Wells Fargo customers can name their accounts. So, of course, I named mine Travel Money.
I write out two budgets a month, due to when I get paid. After putting together my budget for the pay period, I write out how much I can dedicate to my Travel Money account. Every paycheck I put money into my Travel fund, whether it’s $25 or $250. It’s so fun to watch it grow!
I find it stress-free to purchase my vacation when I have the money already saved for it.
3.) I opened an account with Alaska Airlines.
This didn’t happen until two years after getting bit by the travel bug! Grr. I have a good friend that always told me to set one up and I never did. There are two types of accounts with Alaska Airlines: the credit card/debit card or the free account.
Since I don’t like to pay annual fees (even though you get a companion fare), I opted for the free account. It’s very easy to set up online through their website. Now, for every trip I take on Alaska Airlines or their Partner Airlines, I can earn airline miles to use to for future trips.
Note: If you recently went on a trip, but didn’t have an account set up, you can still get credit for miles. Be sure to have your travel dates and flight number, then fill out a missing credit form on their website. For partner airlines, you have 6-9 months after your trip to still receive credit. For flights on Alaska Airlines, you have 12 months after your trip.
4.) I started to utilize their Mileage Plan Shopping.
If you have the free account, Alaska Airlines now offers two ways to earn miles: flying OR shopping online. If you have the credit card, it’s like double dipping. You get the miles for the purchase on your card and you get the miles for clicking on their Mileage Plan Shopping link. I do enjoy shopping online when I need something and their Mileage Plan Shopping now lets me earn x amount of miles for every dollar I spend. They have hundreds of retail stores through their website and each store has a specific amount of miles per dollar. Some may be 1 mile per dollar. Others may be 20 miles per dollar. Miles can add up quickly!
How to use the Mileage Plan Shopping
1.) Log into your account
2.) On your Profile Overview Page, click on Mileage Activity (in the bottom corner)
3.) Click on Mileage Plan Shopping
4.) Click on Shop Now
This is a hoop you have to jump through every time in order to earn miles. But, it’s worth it!
5.) I frequently Price Check my purchased flight before going on my trip.
Alaska Airlines has this great Price Guarantee offer. It works two ways:
1.) If your flight goes down within 24 hours, you get an instant credit back onto your debit or credit card.
2.) If your flight goes down (before you have taken the flight), you will get a credit of the difference for the next flight you take. Here’s the form you fill out at their site.
Both of these work if you book directly from their site. I have had a couple times where I have been able to see my flight decrease before I’ve gone on the trip. It’s nice to save money for that next trip!
6.) I love shopping for deals.
I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing to do most days of the week. I know I can’t book every good deal out there, but at least I’m keeping my eyes open for the good ones that I’m interested in. I enjoy using websites like Travel Zoo, Expedia, Travelocity, Gate1, European Destinations, etc. Still to this day, my best deal was buying a direct, round trip flight from Seattle to NYC for $186. Thanks, Travel Zoo!
I also look at Alaska Airlines weekly specials. I especially like to look at their double miles flights.
**I know other airlines offer mileage plan shopping and a low price guarantee. Alaska Airlines may not be the best airline for you, so do some research to see if your airline of choice offers similar benefits.