No Income? No Problem! How I’m Traveling on a Budget

As you may know, I recently decided to take a break from teaching to engage in some self-care, mindfulness, and exploration.  I found a flight deal to Europe and booked a ticket without too much thought.  As a (former) teacher, I’ll be balling on a budget.

About a year ago, I applied for a credit card with a great sign-up bonus.  Check out these sites to compare sign-up bonuses and  rewards that fit your needs.  After paying my car insurance in-full for the year, using the card for everyday purchases, and even asking friends if they had any huge purchases (one of my friends bought a couch), I met the spending requirement to earn a ton of points.  All that to say, I used points for my flight, score!  So, I’m already off to a good start.  Figuring out where to stay has not been so simple.

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I’m not a fan of baggage fees, so I plan to stick to a carry-on and a personal item.

I’ll be in Western Europe for two months, which can easily add up.  So, my big debate remains hostel vs. hotel vs. Airbnb.  Hostels seem to be the most cost-efficient option but not the most appealing (to me).  As I look up hostels, I’ve come to terms with the fact that perhaps I’m a little bad, a little bougie.  I like my own space, especially when it comes to bathrooms.  I learned from my friend who recently got back from a year abroad that there are some good hostels.  She suggested I use hostelworld.com and not book any hostels with a rating below 8; I’ll soon find out just what that rating looks like, sounds like, and feels like.  

So far in my planning, I have a combination of hostel and Airbnb reservations.  With my credit card, I get 3x points for every dollar I spend on travel.  I can use points to book travel accommodations directly on the credit card’s portal at a value of 1.5 cents per point.  Unfortunately, they do not offer hostels or Airbnb, womp.  With my points, I can purchase Airbnb gift cards at a 1:1 ratio.  After thinking about it, that didn’t seem like the best use of points because it wouldn’t allow me to earn points for the travel.  Perhaps I’m being difficult, but I want to maximize my points.  So, here’s what I did to work around my dilemma:  

Using my credit card, I booked an Airbnb that was roughly $200, which means I earned 600 points on that transaction.  Since I can’t use points to book directly with Airbnb, I then used points to get cash back to cover the cost of the Airbnb.  So, I used 20,000 points for cash back, applied the $200 directly to my credit card, and now (in my mind) it’s like my Airbnb was free.  

It appears that the best way to maximize points is to book flights and accommodations directly through the portal or transfer points to a travel partner.  However, since booking with Airbnb was not an option, I had to make it work for me.  What about you all…any tips on how to use points?  Tips to travel on a budget?  Also, any and all Europe tips are greatly appreciated.

Happy Travels,

Marissa

10 thoughts on “No Income? No Problem! How I’m Traveling on a Budget

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