If you ask family and friends what Nick and I absolutely love to do, they would probably say: to travel. Seeing the world and leaving your bubble can not only be eye-opening but it is also can be very refreshing.
All too often we get caught up in the whirlwind that is life. In times like these, it is sometimes so important to recharge and awaken your soul with new experiences and adventures.
If you’re a travel lover like us, you may achieve this through traveling.
But you also probably know that traveling isn’t always cheap, eh?
Right you are! It doesn’t have to be, though! The tips I’m about to cover are ones that we use when we choose a destination in order to get the most bang for our buck.
Crikey, We’re Going To Australia!
Nick and I have said for a couple of years that when we get married…we want an epic honeymoon. Something that is a bit more original than going to the Caribbean, Hawaii, or Mexico (though we do love us some Caribbean cruises…and Hawaii is definitely on our list of places to visit!)
After Nick proposed, we hemmed and hawed for a bit when deciding where we should go for our honeymoon.
We agreed on a few things:
- The trip would need to be at least 2.5 weeks wherever we go.
- The last part of our honeymoon needed to be at a beach (okay, this was more me but hey, a key to marriage is compromise…right?)
- Our honeymoon would be in a different continent
So we set our sights on Australia.
The Price Hunt: Google Flights
We had highly discounted flights for our trip to Switzerland, about $500 each round trip.
We actually ended up both getting all of our money back and then some due to the EU261 regulations, which you can read about at the bottom of this post.
The secret to booking cheap flights? Google Flights.
This handy-dandy tool lets you put in anticipated flights and then track them! You can also see what days are the cheapest to fly on.
For example, I am going to put in a flight from Columbus to Los Angeles and select some dates in July.
Now, the cool part here is if your dates are flexible…you can view what travel days have the best deals! Simply click on the days and take a look at the different prices.
You will also see a few other options to see the most cost effective flight dates, by clicking Date Grid or Price Graph.
If you want to simply monitor prices for a while and book when prices are lowest, simply click on the Track Prices slider.
Then, all you have to do is go to your Tracked Prices and Google Flights will do the rest of the work for you! Be sure to verify you have Email Notifications turned on. This will allow you to receive updates when there are any prices changes to your tracked flight!
By using this method, we were able to find round trip flights from LAX to SYD for only $591 after stalking the flights for a good couple of months. When we saw the dip, we knew prices probably wouldn’t get much lower and decided it was time to book.
Note: We decided that we will fly from CMH to LAX the night before to break up the long flight. I may love travel but I am not about to travel for over 25 hours straight if we can avoid it!
But wait…you said you only paid $85!!
Yup! We did.
Here’s how that boiled down…
I am a credit card points guru and definitely learned a lot from The Points Guy when I realized that you can save TONS of money through credit card offers.
One important thing to note is that I always pay my credit cards off as soon as I purchase anything. Paying interest defeats the purpose of getting the card for the bonus offer, so it definitely is best to pay the card down right after using it. Utilization rate is also factor in your credit score and I always try to have my utilization rate fairly low.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve
Okay, this card hands down is amazing. When I first got this card, the bonus offer was 100,000 points, which equaled out to $1,500 in travel dollars (travel points are worth an extra 50%.)
The annual fee is hefty at $450 per year. However, you will get $300 back if you spend that much in travel each year. Plus, there are a ton of other perks. EX: I got free TSA Precheck (I chose this over free Global Entry.) These perks definitely make this card worth it if you are a frequent traveler.
After doing the math I realized I would pay $150/year IF I didn’t use any of the other benefits. Due to that, I am a firm believer that the bonus offer was worth it’s weight in gold.
Those bonus points ended up paying for a lot of our hotels in Switzerland last year. And I have exceeded the number of points I am getting each year to hit the $150 break even point.
Well, that didn’t help me for this trip that we are planning because I used all of my points up for the trip to Switzerland!
However, Nick didn’t have this card yet and their was still a nice 50,000 point offer, which equivocates to $750 in travel dollars. So he got the card.
But $750 wasn’t going to cover both of our flights…
The Delta Skymiles Card
Delta had been sending me offers for a while. Around this time, I received a special offer for 80,000 Skymiles if I signed up for the Delta Skymiles Amex card. They had been trying to get me to sign up for a few years and it seemed the points offer kept increasing. As I knew I would hit the minimum spend and I would also get a $50 statement credit by making a Delta purchase within 3 months, I went for it. And as a double bonus, I would have another card to use Amex Offers on!
I was secretly singing to myself at this point…“Everyday I’m hustlin’,
Hustle, hustlin’ hustlin’…”
Once I got those gorgeous points, all I had to do was pay the fees that Delta requires you to pay out of pocket.
Note: I added a $25 travel protection plan on the checkout page, so the grand total for my flight was $135.
Delta was pretty darned quick at giving me my $50 statement credit, too. This took my flight down to $85.
Nick’s flight was fully covered with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. As a bonus, we have plenty of points left on his card to pay for the round trip flights from CMH to LAX. We may end up using our Southwest points from our Southwest card, those Chase points could also pay for hotels.
Other Flights For The Trip…
So while we only paid $85 all in all for what we thought would potentially be the biggest expense of our honeymoon, we will have to take a few other flights as we hop around Australia. This will be especially true on the last leg of our trip, when we will be flying to the Great Barrier Reef airport. We will be spending the last 6 days at Hayman Island and the transfer service from that airport to the island will be out of pocket.
That being said, for the TO the Great Barrier Reef airport…you best believe we are currently tracking those flight costs. 😉
If you are interested in any of the above cards, please take a look at the below referral link for Delta. You’ll get a bonus and I’ll get rewarded, too!
Current offer for this card (subject to change at any time): 60,000 miles.
Bonus: $50 statement credit if you make a Delta purchase within the first 3 months.
Annual fee: $0 the first year, $95 each year after that.
Bonus points: 2X Delta Skymiles (not to mention your first checked bag is free!)
Below is a link to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. While there is no referral offer for this card, I still absolutely recommend it. You still will get the below bonus offer, though! 🙂
Current offer for this card (subject to change at any time): 50,000 miles = $750 toward travel
Yearly Travel Credit: $300
Annual fee: $450
Bonus points: 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants
Note: The link should take you to a comparison page for the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred. The CSP currently has a higher bonus miles offer than the CSR and a lower annual fee. However, the perks aren’t quite as good. You still should compare and see what card would be best for you.
Sure. It takes a little bit of work to save some serious cash on traveling. But it is so worth it.
Because that means more trips! 🙂
Comment below to share your travel savings tips!