So one thing I always hear when I talk about a trip like this is that it is too expensive. It goes something like this. “Must be nice….but there is no way I can afford a trip like that.” Well I am here to say yes you can! With just a little work throughout the year you can make it happen with very little money out-of-pocket. Lets do a break down of the cost. I am going to use my sister Julie’s numbers and give a detailed break down of her two-week trip. (The prices below will be for one person.) Then we will see if we can get that price down to something that seems reasonable.
Cost Break Down
Roundtrip Flight to Bangkok from Greensboro: $1172
Flights in Thailand and Cambodia: $295
Hotel Rooms: $369
Spending Money $50 a day: $700
Grand total for two weeks: $2536
Really not a bad price for two weeks halfway around the world but we can do way better than this. Lets apply some commonly used travel hacks and get this price down.
This can be done with credit card sign up bonuses. If you do just a few of these in the year prior to your trip you will be amazed at how far you can travel for very little money. You can find out about some of these over at Choose FI if you are interested. We started planning this trip in February and luckily we had already started doing a little travel hacking and were able to get some pretty good discounts with out much work.
$625 Sign up bonus with a Chase Sapphire Preferred (The true value of this bonus will depend on how you redeem your points.)
$500 Sign up bonus with a Sparks Business Capital One Card (You will also get another $100 just from normal use of your card.)
This brings our trip down to $1311. Things are looking up I mean after all if you started right now saving just $109.25 a month and doing just two credit card hacks this time next year you would be packing your bags. But wait there’s more!!!!!!! Lets try to lower this a bit more. Since you will be gone from your house and not living your life at home we need to apply those savings to your trip.
For Example here are some savings that can decrease your trip cost:
Electricity: Save $50 by not using your AC during the two weeks you are gone. (We also cut off our electric hot water heater.)
Gas: Save $40 We usually spend about $80 every month on gas. The cars will be sitting still so that savings will now go to the trip.
Groceries: Savings $100. This is assuming you spend $200 a month on groceries. (Probably more.) This now can go towards the trip.
Restaurants: Savings $40. You already have spending money on your trip and you will not be eating out at home so you can apply that to the trip.
Spending Money: Savings $50. You know you would do some random spending if you were at home but now you will not be here. Apply it to the trip.
Now your trip is down to $1031!!!! Now you are only saving about $86 dollars a month and you could take this trip next year and if you could pull off one more credit card bonus that would be another $600 off and you would be down to $431 for the entire trip that includes $700 in spending money! Awesome let’s go to the “Land of Smiles” 2019 club has just been born! Ha Ha! Oh yeah take a friend and split the room cost and save an additional $185 making your trip cost only $246. Now if you really want to go all out put your house on Air BnB and rent it out while your gone. OK now I have taken it to a redonkulas level but you get the idea. 🙂 We are already starting on our credit card bonuses for future trips. It does take a little work but the benefits way out weigh the work. (These hacks really work well unless and this is a big unless…… if you carry credit card balances or if you buy stuff that you would not usually buy to get the bonuses then this plan is not for you.)
Now that you’re in Thailand lets look for some additional savings. First, most credit cards charge you an additional 3% fee when you are using them out of the country, even if you pay them off ahead of time so make sure you get a card that waives this fee. Almost all of the Capital One Cards wave the 3%, many other cards do as well. The main idea is to be proactive and get a card that waives the 3% fee and go ahead and get a nice sign-up bonus at the same time. You could get the Chase Sapphire Preferred and collect a nice bonus while not paying the 3%. Easy peasy!
In Thailand and Cambodia we expect to be using a lot of cash. Our first choice will always be to use our credit card but most places will be cash or in some cases you may get a discount for using cash. The cool part is cash is super easy to get almost anywhere in Thailand and Cambodia. It’s usually as easy as finding a 7-11 store and hitting up the ATM. The only problem is most of these atm’s charge fees. To get around this I use to get out $500 at a time to avoid getting multiple fees from drawing out smaller amounts of money multiple times. That worked pretty well but left me carrying way more money than I cared too. So just last week I was reading a post from a website called Millennial Revolution. They had a link to a Charles Schwab debit card. This debit card is awesome in two ways. First they refund you any and all ATM fees that you might incur while you are traveling abroad or even here in the states. The second way this card is awesome is that when you open the checking debit card account they link it to a brokerage account and 45 days later they put $100 in it for you just to thank you for joining their team. The $100 has to sit there for a year before you can take it out but guess what?!?! I know by now you saw this coming. That $100 will be just in time for next years trip! Booya! Click here if you want a Charles Schwab debit card. One more tricky thing that ATM’s do is they try to charge you their exchange rate instead of your banks exchange rate. Your banks are almost always better so do not fall for this trick. When you are withdrawing a foreign currency they will ask you if you would like to select your own currency to do the transaction. Do not do this. If you do they will most likely charge you their rate. When you use the pin pad just stay with the foreign currency and you should get your banks rate.
Anyway I hope some of this can save you all some money on your next trip. If you have any cool money saving travel hacks please leave them in the comments below. We are about a month away from leaving on our trip and the excitement is starting to build. I am trying to post on Mondays until we leave, but if you really want to know when the next post will be, please be sure and subscribe via email on the right hand side of the website! Thanks for reading!