Welcome back to my fellow full-time employees who want to travel more without quitting their job (and everyone else interested in the topic :)).
In Part One of this series on planning for monthly (leisure) travel as a full-time employee, I wrote about determining when you can travel (taking into account paid vacation days/ leave and public holidays) and where to travel. In this post I write about other factors to consider when planning a trip: finances (budgets, expenses), travel options (plane, car, bus, etc.), and accommodation. Read below my thoughts and tips.
How to travel every month with a full-time job (Part Two)
Step three: Figure out the financial aspects of your trips
Since you know when you can travel and possible destinations, it’s time to find out how much you can spend on each trip. Here are the five most important costs to include in a travel budget:
- Transportation to/ from the destination
- Transportation at the destination
- Meals and drinks
Though there are various tricks and tips to reduce costs (Kiersten of The Blonde Abroad shared lots that I like), prepare for the unexpected. Whether you use an app, Excel or notebook, have a cushy budget for each category.
A tip: Create a travel fund
I have a bank account that serves as a travel fund. I transferred some savings and add a percentage of my salary every month. In turn, while I know how much I want to spend overall, I also know how much I actually spent and can still spend at all times.
Step four: Search for transportation to/from your destination and accommodation strategically
With all the recent viral Twitter threads, (almost?) everyone knows that Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, Momondo, and Kiwi are the best way to look for (cheap) flights. We were told to search the same itinerary several times on different sites at different times. We also learned that hotels are a bit overrated and Airbnb, couch surfing, house sitting, home stays and hostels are great options for accommodation. If you’re not on Twitter – you’re welcome. 🙂
A tip: Pick your travel times carefully
Frequent travelers and full-time workers Mike and Mark of the The Boys Abroad recommend getting outbound flights after work (something I also recommend) or before 10am and inbound flights after 3pm. Further, “If your destination is closer to home its worth checking for early morning flights/trains aimed at business travellers.”
Another tip: Get credit, airline and hotel rewards cards to buy tickets and pay for hotels with points
I got a credit card The Points Guy recommends and used it non-stop to get points. In addition to the generous signing bonus, I amassed enough points to cover more than half the price of a ticket from Dakar to Toronto (via Paris on Air France) last year. I paid $500 for a ticket that cost *$1300+* initially.
I do not have airline or hotel rewards cards but imagine they work the same so check out the cards TPG recommends.
Yet another tip: Find out which airlines are part of the same alliance and buy tickets with miles
Many of the most well-known and used airlines in the world are part of one of three alliances – One World, SkyTeam or Star Alliance. I am a member of British Airways’ Executive Club and have thousands of Avios (miles). Unfortunately BA does not fly to Dakar. Iberia, however, does. Since it is a member of One World like BA, I can get discounts on Iberia tickets with my Avios.
As much as I love having this option, I recommend joining the loyalty program of a Star Alliance member instead. Here’s why:
- One World: American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Iberia, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines. (13)
- SkyTeam: Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeroméxico, Air Europa, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, MEA, Korean Air, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines. (20)
- Star Alliance: Adria, Agean, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian, Eva Air, Lufthansa, Polish Airlines, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, THAI, Turkish Airlines, and United. (28)
(*airlines with routes to Africa are italicized*)
Some airline miles can also be used to cover the costs of accommodation and transport at your destination.
This tip is for travelers in/to Africa: Check airline websites directly
Some airlines based in Africa do not appear in the results pages of the sites I previously mentioned. To travel on the continent, check the sites of Air Cote d’Ivoire, ASKY, South African Airways, Ethiopian, Royal Air Maroc, Tunisair, Rwandair, and Kenya Airways directly. These airlines have the widest network and largest number of routes. For travel in West and Central Africa, consider also Air Burkina, Camair-Co, Ceiba International, and Medview.
PS – Some other airlines operate direct flights between African cities. I’ve taken Brussels Airlines between Conakry and Dakar as well Emirates between Accra and Abidjan.
While tricks and tips are great, make a realistic and comfortable budget taking into account all major expenses you will incur on your trips. Search for transportation to/ from your destination and accommodation strategically as well. Lastly, check the blog in a few days to read the third and final post of the series!
What are you doing to ensure that you can travel more often this year?
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Post updated on: 11 January 2018