If 2020 made you fantasize about a trip as soon as travel restrictions were lifted—and you’re still waiting—you aren’t alone.
On this week’s podcast, we have a special guest - Eva Grodberg with Epic Experiences. Eva is a Certified Luxury Travel Specialist with Travel Leaders and The Travel Institute.
Welcome to Cortburg Speaks Retirement
An audio podcast about investing in the stock market, financial planning, money management and retirement planning. Each Wednesday, we help investors at all stages of life learn how to potentially grow and preserve their money from first job through retirement.
Now here is your host, Miguel Gonzalez.
Good morning and welcome to the CORTBURG SPEAKS RETIREMENT audio podcast.
On this week’s episode, we have a special guest - Eva Grodberg with Epic Experiences. Eva is a Certified Luxury Travel Specialist with Travel Leaders and The Travel Institute. Welcome to Cortburg’s Youtube Channel.
Good morning Miguel and to your viewers. Thank you so much for the invitation. It is great to be here with all of you to give your viewers tips for maximizing their vacation dollars.
If 2020 made you fantasize about a trip as soon as travel restrictions were lifted—and you’re still waiting—you aren’t alone. Although 2021 was poised to be a comeback year, it is shaping up to be another summer of staycations or socially distanced road trips, with many Americans passing on air travel.
While sacrifices are being made and large trips may not be possible for many, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan other kinds of vacations—and it just might save you money in the process. Additionally, planning ahead for your next big trip is guaranteed to help you save.
Start implementing these tips (which are ordered from easiest to most involved) now to make your travel dreams come true.
People are planning later and later but there are advantages to starting the process a year out. Many travel operators offer early booking discounts that can save a couple $1000s and a family even more. My preferred suppliers only expect a deposit – with final payment 60-90 days before travel – unlike when you do it yourself online and have to prepay the entire trip.
Also, these days discounts are tied into longer stays. For example a hotel might offer the 5th night free, or the 8th night free to encourage longer stays.
Flights have been pricing very high, especially for last minute travel and for the holidays. And there is still some uncertainty with cancellations and service cutbacks due to the pandemic. Travelers need to be flexible and understand not all amenties might be available at their hotel.
It is a good idea to evaluate what you are getting for your money. A flight may be less expensive, but it is priced that way for a reason – often you have a ridiculously tight connection in a busy airport, you arrive at the destination late in the evening, or leave the destination very early in the morning. My goal is always to maximize your time at the resort – and I will tell clients if I’m seeing but not selecting the lowest priced flights for a reason.
Start a savings jar
It might sound simple (and old-fashioned), but a savings jar is a great way to slowly build up cash to treat yourself and your family to your ideal vacation. Granted, with travel limited for over a year now, you may have already been saving. But if you haven’t, it’s not too late to start. Anytime you have spare change left over from a cash purchase, put it in the jar. At the end of the month, take the money out, count it, store it in a safe place, and record the amount in a spreadsheet or a notebook. This is also a great way to get children involved in the process, as you’ll be teaching them savings skills in a way that is tangible and easy to understand.
It's a good idea. Over the years some of my honeymooner clients have set up Honeyfunds for their honeymoon. They might be older, or would rather have experiences then crystal and china – and they get money toward an awesome trip instead of a traditional wedding registry.
I’ve also had clients pay out trips monthly. If I can do this online with their credit card I’m happy to do it. I would much rather they create a vacation bank account, contribute to it, of course.
If you are comfortable traveling by car and your state’s regulations allow it, consider planning a series of day trips or weekend excursions. If you live within driving distance of a major city, do some research on the best activities, restaurants, museums, and other attractions, and plan an itinerary around your favorites. And, if you think you’ve already seen all there is to see, try patronizing a small business and ask the owner or employees to share their favorite spots. You might discover a hidden gem!
Are you more of the outdoorsy type? Every state has a number of state or national parks you can visit while safely social distancing and getting some much-needed time in nature. Find the park or parks closest to you on the National Park Service website, which lists (in great detail) some of the most popular activities in each park. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, camping, or simply sightseeing, visiting state and national parks is an amazing and inexpensive—and in some cases, free—way to do these activities and more!
For a variety of reasons, domestic travel is at an all time high. There are still travel opportunities out there but many of the best places are sold out. The national parks hotels, the luxury dude ranches, the not so luxury dude ranches – are all sold out for this summer. I would plan ahead now for 2022 if you can’t get what you want for last minute this year.
If you know people who travel often and you’ve wondered how they can possibly afford it, the answer might be that they’ve chosen their credit cards strategically. According to the popular personal finance company NerdWallet, here are some of the most popular travel cards for 2021. · CAPITAL ONE VENTURE CARD: This card is rated one of the best for travelers for a reason. It offers a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 (within the first three months) and double flight miles on every purchase. Also, your miles will never expire. · WELLS FARGO PROPEL AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD: If you’d prefer a card with no annual fee, this might be the one for you. There is an intro APR period of zero percent for the first twelve months of purchases and balance transfers, and you can earn triple points on restaurant purchases, streaming service subscriptions, and rideshares, among other categories. · CHASE SAPPHIRE PREFERRED CARD: Although recommended for those with good or excellent credit, this card delivers great perks for travelers. You’ll earn 60,000 points after your first $4,000 spent (within three months), get unlimited deliveries for the first year—plus a $0 delivery fee—on eligible orders through DoorDash, and earn 25 percent more on travel points when they are redeemed through its rewards program.
I love my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card for travel. The price is high but it is well worth it; there is a $300 travel credit, you get a Priority Pass card for many airport lounges worldwide, a $100 credit for Global Entry, and 3X points for travel and dining. And the DoorDash free deliveries. There is also good travel protection coverage, no foreign transaction fees, and a lot of other benefits.
Do your research before booking a flight or hotel reservation. Websites like Expedia and Trivago offer great deals, but they aren’t always the best deal out there, so consider booking directly through the airline or hotel website. Compare and contrast your options, and be sure to call the hotels to ask about any deals or promotions they have going on. Hotels often prefer customers to book through them, so they may be more inclined to give you a discount or even upgrade you to a nicer room. You may also be able to avoid some of the added fees associated with booking if you opt to decline them. You could also end up saving by renting a house or an apartment through Airbnb or Vrbo. Although the price per night is often higher than what you would pay at a chain or boutique hotel, you’ll typically get more for your money. Consider this: if you stay in a hotel, you will likely need to purchase every meal out. However, with a rental, you can plan to prepare some of your meals at home, helping you save money in the long run.
People tend to forget Expedia, Travelocity, etc are online travel agents. Hotels are paying them huge commission that is a lot higher than what travel experts like me get. To the hotel you’re a 1 time visitor who they are making less revenue on, where I might book that same hotel in Paris or Rome every week or every month. Who do you think is likely to get upgraded, early check in, late check out? And how do you pick the best hotel for your travel style/location? Try calling Expedia and asking for the best boutique moderate priced hotel in the Marais, in Paris. How do you know if the Tulum hotel that looks great in photos is a peaceful paradise, or a party spot? After consulting with a client, I matchmake them to the best hotel for their style, budget and destination. An algorithm isn’t going to do that.
As far as vacation rentals – there is no quality control mechanism. That gets me nervous. I will book VRBO through one of my preferred travel partners for clients who insist on it but I would much rather book villas or apartments that are on a hotel’s property, or affiliated with a hotel property.
The road trip has made a comeback in a major way in the last year, as it’s the perfect way to see the sights while keeping socially distanced. Websites like Roadtrippers can help you plan the exact route to take based on criteria like starting and ending locations or specific monuments and attractions you want to see. It also offers trip guides with preplanned routes that are popular with other travelers, including a guide to the best stops on Route 66, a one-week journey on the Pacific Coast Highway, and an Atlantic Coast trip from Boston all the way to Miami. If you have a smaller vehicle or aren’t keen on putting that many miles on your car, consider a rental instead. The average cost* for a midsize rental car through a company like Enterprise, for example, is about $44 per day or $361 per week. *Keep in mind this price will vary based on location, time of year, and the type of car you rent.
A road trip is a great idea! I have quite a few itineraries that are easily customizable based on someone’s interests. The wine regions of Napa/Sonoma up to Portland’s Willamette Valley; or Iconic American Stadiums; several routes in New England; the food and music of Cajun Country; National Parks.
As far as car rentals – my best advice is to prepay your rental. Car rentals in major tourism destinations, like Las Vegas, are the toilet paper of 2021. Hard to come by. You can’t exactly hoard rental cars in your pantry, but people are renting multiple cars to be sure to have one and it’s creating a bad situation.
No matter how or when you choose to travel next, there are plenty of ways you can have the trip you’ve been hoping for without breaking the bank. Happy trails!
Make sure to visit our website, www.CortburgRetirement.com. Our site is filled with educational videos, eBooks, publications, and financial calculators designed to help you learn more about your finances. As you search our site, send us a note regarding any questions you may have about any particular investment concepts or products. We will get back to you quickly with a thoughtful answer.
This is Miguel Gonzalez, Retirement Specialist and Managing Partner, with Cortburg Retirement Advisors signing off for this week’s educational podcast.
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Epic Experiences does not solicit travel from residents of California, Florida, Hawaii, or Washington.
Eva Grodberg and Epic Experiences are not affiliated with LPL Financial or Cortburg Retirement Advisors.