H and I are not seasoned international travelers. We’ve each been abroad before (and even once together!), but it’s not like we’re globe-trotters (but that’d be awesome, amiright?). All that’s about to change (at least for this summer): H has an international conference in France, and we’re going!
We decided to save $5000 for our trip (H thought we could get away with $4k, but I felt safer with $5k), and we started diverting $500 a month to a Travel Fund (housed in our Money Market account) to save up. We met our goal in December 2014, and my next step was to get my passport renewed.
Passport Picture: $7.94
Passport Renewal: $110
Then I started really looking in earnest at plane tickets and accommodations. I combed through websites to find “the best time to buy your tickets for international flights” and found basically what you’d expect to find: some people said something very specific, and then others said, “No, there’s no way to know the best time because the airlines change all the time.” So, I put the plane tickets on hold while I searched on Airbnb for a place that could accommodate 5 people (three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, please!). We were able to find a few that would work, and then we sent links to the others coming with us on the trip. They weighed in and chose one, and I booked it. We paid for it on our Chase Sapphire travel card (to get the points!).
Airbnb Reservations: $672.40 (total on the card: $1,681 [for 7 days, $336.20/person])
We went back and forth for a while on what our city of departure should be, which turned out to be more difficult than I wanted. At one point, our plane tickets were going to be over $2k each! I was floored – that would leave us about $400 for food for the week and for extra travel costs (not to mention souvenirs)!
Obviously, that was not going to work. We were either going to have to save more money or figure out how to get our tickets cheaper. Another factor we had to consider was that my parents are watching L, and they asked us to come up to them. That means flying out from near where they live, which will require us driving up there. However, I did manage to find plane tickets for WAY less than what I thought we would have to pay! For a while, they were even as low as $950! By the time I actually confirmed that it was okay with my dad to drive us 2.5 hours to the airport and then pulled the trigger, they were up t0 $1,117.80 each.
Of course, we had been using the Chase Sapphire card to generate points and we had more than 74,000 points built up (which would have gone farther, had we bought the tickets earlier).
Total France Trip Cost so far: $2,091.19
We’re still waiting on one last person to reimburse us for the Airbnb, so we’re a little short in our Travel fund: $2,747.52. (It’s still way better than I thought it would be if we had had to pay almost $2k per ticket.)
Coming up: I may have been thinking of purchasing the kind of clothing that travels well… And a pair of black flats that are comfortable but also good for dressing up…. And I may have already purchased those items…? (Until they arrive and I’ve tried them on, I’m not counting that money as spent, though!) We also may need to get a converter for charging our devices while overseas if we can’t find the one we used last time. Anything we purchase for the sole purpose of this trip, even if we plan to use/wear it later on, is coming out of the Travel Fund. (That’s what it’s for, right?)
Anyone have any advice about traveling overseas? Have you ever saved up for a big trip like this and regretted spending all of that money afterwards?