Ready for a break? January might be the best time for you to book your next flight. Read More...

Already tired of the cold? Feeling like the holidays didn’t give you a real vacation?

Well, there’s a remedy for that. Plan your next vacation. Even better, actually travel during the month of January. According to research from different sources, January 2018 is supposed to offer the cheapest flights of 2018.

Cheapest flights in January.

According to travel search engine Skyscanner, January is expected to be your best bet if you want to book the cheapest flights for 2018. According to the website, you can find domestic flights for 16% cheaper than the yearly average. International flights can cost up to 36% less. (Planning to travel overseas? Check out our guide to Global Entry.)

By the time we get to March, though, there’s a good chance that the savings will evaporate. So, even if you aren’t planning to go anywhere in the next few weeks, now is still probably a good time to book your travel for later in the year. I already know that I’ll be flying a little later, and I’ve found some pretty good deals already.

So, if you hope to land a good deal, what can you do?

National Shop For Travel Day.

The Travel Tech Association is pushing for a National Shop for Travel Day, which will fall on January 9, 2018. Going forward, the Association hopes to hold this day on the second Tuesday of January.

The idea is that many outlets will be offering killer deals on travel. So, you might be able to find amazing trip deals on your next vacation. I assume the powers that be picked a Tuesday because, according to research, that day of the week (and Wednesday) is one of the least expensive when it comes to finding the cheapest flights.

Buy 54 days before the scheduled flight.

Now, it is possible to find last-minute deals on flights — if you aren’t too picky about the times involved. According to a study by CheapAir.com last year, you can save money by purchasing your flight 54 days ahead of its scheduled departure. Of course, this is just an average, and the situation tends to fluctuate based on time of year.

However, if you are looking to travel in early March, it might be just the thing to book your travel in January to find the cheapest flights. I’m getting ready to do a little spring break travel with my son, and I’m deciding between driving and flying. If I can find a great deal in the next couple of weeks, it might be worth it to fly and then rent a car.

CheapAir.com did provide a handy guide to figuring out your best chance for cheap flights, depending on the time of year:

If you buy anytime between 21 and 105 days in advance, you have a pretty decent chance of finding good prices. I found it interesting that booking more than six months out means higher prices. “First dibs” apparently doesn’t provide you with the best deals.

Of course, there is no magic formula that will get you the best deal every time. When you book, the days you travel, and whether you go off-peak all matter. So you need to employ strategies that allow you the best chance of finding the cheapest flights.

Set airfare alerts.

You don’t have to keep going back to search for airfare day after day. It’s possible to set airfare alerts. Many travel aggregators allow you to set airfare alerts when prices drop. You can figure out a route (or if you’re flexible, a few) and then receive notifications right to your email inbox.

Another way to use alerts is to follow the #airfare hashtag on Twitter. A lot of the time you see sales and super cheap rates that exist for a few hours before disappearing.

You can also bookmark a few of your favorite websites and check regularly to find deals.

It’s important to be flexible since many of the best deals are between specific locations. I almost never get access to amazing deals from my hometown of Idaho Falls. However, if I’m willing to drive to Salt Lake City, I can usually find some pretty decent savings on my airfare.

Fly when nobody wants to.

This was touched on a little bit earlier, but it’s worth repeating. If you want the cheapest flights, you need to fly when no one else wants to. I was able to get one-way tickets to Philadelphia during the holidays at a discount of $200 apiece by taking an overnight flight. It wasn’t super fun, but it did save me $400.

On the return trip (from Albany, NY), my son and I left on a 6:10 a.m. flight. On New Year’s Eve. Also not a lot of fun. However, flights for New Year’s Day at a more reasonable time cost $300 more per ticket. That’s a big swing in price. Overall, by flying at shitty times no one else wanted, I managed to save $1,000 on air travel for my son and me.

Use your rewards and loyalty programs.

Join a frequent flyer program connected to a major credit card rewards program and watch the miles add up. I was able to get some decent discounts on my holiday travel, so I didn’t use my rewards points.

Earlier in the year, though, when my son and I traveled during the summer, I used airline miles to get free flights. It was the perfect way to save money on airfare without the need to alter my regularly budgeted spending.

I like to boost my total rewards by shopping for airfare online using Swagbucks in concert with other programs.

For example, I am part of the Delta SkyMiles program, and I have a branded credit card for that program from American Express. I also get Orbitz rewards and Swagbucks gives me extra back when I shop through Orbitz, thanks to the browser plugin I have. By booking a Delta flight on Orbitz using my AmEx credit card, I get extra points for my flight cost, plus I get rewards with Swagbucks and Orbitz. It’s like quadrupling up.

Later, I can use the rewards to book free flights. (I use a similar strategy when I book a hotel.)

Saving once you get to your destination.

Of course, the cheapest flights can save you money so you can spend more when you get to your destination. But if you want to save, you can look for ways to spend less.

Websites like Airbnb (interestingly, Airbnb is a Delta partner, so that helps me when I’m stacking rewards) and VBRO allow you to get great prices on lodging — especially if you are looking for a more long-term stay.

If you stay long-term, it can be a good idea to do some grocery shopping. When my son and I were traveling across Canada a couple summers ago, we often went to a local grocery store to buy items to do our own cooking. It was healthier and it saved us money since we weren’t always eating out.

You can also find good deals on rental cars with companies like Enterprise and Hertz.

I also find it helpful to look up Groupons for the destination city so that I can get discounts on activities. Often, I find two-for-one deals that are perfect for my son and me. CityPass is another great way to see the sites for one low price.

As you figure out little tips to save money on the cheapest flights and on things to do when you get to your destination, you might discover that you can travel much cheaper than you thought — whether you plan your trip in January or wait until another month.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hl1vnegKI_Y

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Vacations can make or break a friendship. If you’re going to plan a good one – do it right. Read More...

Recently, the number one movie in America was Girls Trip-a hilariously wild movie all about taking an epic trip with a few of your best friends. I’ve had the good luck to take a number of girls trips with my BFFs (I have more than one) and there are a couple of tips that I would like to share so that you can successfully plan an incredible vacation with your BFF.

Decisions, decisions!

First, you will need to decide on the destination. This decision sets the foundation for all of your additional trip-related decisions. In the process of deciding where to go, you will discover the type of traveler your BFF really is.

You can opt for a traditional location such as a large city with good food and interesting tourist exhibits. Cities such as NYC, Chicago, LA, and New Orleans are typically safe bets.

Then, you begin asking one another the following questions:

  • How safe of a city does it have to be for you to feel safe visiting it?
  • What do you find interesting to do for fun?
  • Do you want to drive around town all day?

Once you’ve worked through these questions, begin discussing the logistics of your trip. Talk about how you like to experience and explore a new city. Are you a wanderer? Do you prefer to follow an itinerary? These are all disqualifying (or qualifying) questions that will help you decide: is this really a person that I would like to travel with?

Do I want to travel with you?

Be honest if the answer is NO! If this is your BFF, don’t put yourself in the position of a friendship breakup because you took a trip that one of you potentially wouldn’t enjoy because the activities and city were ill-suited to their personality.

Friends sometimes want to get super adventurous way too fast when traveling together. I would strongly advise you to avoid doing this and to build up to an epic travel experience by taking smaller trips together…just to make sure.

Time to talk money.

Once you’ve decided on the location, you’ll then need to work on some of the nitty-gritty. What do your budgets look like and how does your budget affect what you can do?

Be candid about your budget-but at the same time be self-aware. Whether both of you are flush with cash or not, come up with a nice balance of activities that provide a wide-range of opportunities to have fun at varying levels of expense. This empowers both friends to choose activities that suit their financial situation.

Have a real conversation about what you can, cannot, or won’t pay for during your travels.

Become self-aware. How flexible are you? Would you lose your mind if there were problems with your accommodations? Would you freak out if you had to share a room or a bed? Are you an indifferent eater, an obsessive museum fan, or (ahem) clingy? Do you need someone with you as you explore town? Or, are you the type of traveler who needs occasional “me” time when you’re on trips with friends? Be honest!

It’s now time for shenanigans!

Some of my favorite trips were taken with my BFFs. Traveling to Las Vegas on a Greyhound bus and freaking out when the blind couple with the fake seeing-eye-dog almost got hit by highway traffic during one of our rest breaks. Fun times!

Going to L.A. with another friend and meeting every single freaky person in California – who just knew that we weren’t from there. They just could smell the Colorado on us.

Going to Breckenridge with my European BFFs and everyone (but me) getting altitude sickness and needing to go to the local oxygen bar for some relief.

I love having these memories and I know that you, too, will enjoy creating new, life-long memories with your BFFs.

I strongly suggest traveling with your friends, just be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot tolerate when traveling. You can be realistic about your friend’s quirks without throwing them under the bus.

Share your favorite BFF travel story in the #Adulting Facebook community!

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Not getting the downtime you deserve? Here’s how to ask for a vacation. Read More...

If you’re like me, you work to travel.

You can’t travel, though, unless you can get away from work. Even if you don’t have the travel-bug, staycations are worth it. But getting vacation time is necessary if you plan to get away at all.

Studies suggest that men who don’t take a vacation at least once a year are 32% more likely to die of a heart attack. It’s miserable to die for work. For that reason alone, you should vacation as much as you can.

The problem is, it’s easier to get a child to stop saying “no” than to get a boss to start saying “yes” to more time off. Here are ways to go up, up and away and far and away (yes, that’s two movie references in one sentence).

Negotiate vacation time before taking a job.

The absolute best time to arrange adequate vacation time (read: more vacation time than you’re offered) is to negotiate the amount of vacation you want — or think you can get — before you accept a job offer.

Before you sign the employer/employee contract, you have the leverage to negotiate more of what you want. The more the hiring manager wants you, the more leverage you have. Sure, you could negotiate yourself out of a job. But, in most cases, by the time negotiations start, the hiring manager has usually made their decision and put in the time to extend the offer.

If, during the negotiation, you feel like you’re starting to lose, stop. Just remember that negotiating before you accept an offer is optimal. Negotiating afterward isn’t impossible; it’s just improbable.

Negotiate vacation time before taking a promotion.

If you’re reading this article after you have a job, all hope isn’t lost.

Getting vacation time isn’t a matter of applying to another company, either. Just ask for a promotion within your current company. A job promotion often comes another opportunity to negotiate for more. You’ll already be talking about a pay increase, so you might as well throw in talk about a vacation increase.

It’s likely that your company has salary and vacation policies established by its human resource department, but everything is negotiable — especially for the right person for the right promotion. The better your current job performance and the better you interview for a promotion, the more likely you are to get the pay and vacation you want.

Swap increased pay for increased vacation time.

All salary negotiations run the risk of stalling. All businesses have budgets. Maybe the person hiring you doesn’t have complete control over what they can offer you. They probably have a range to stick to.

If you’re not satisfied with the salary or pay offered, negotiate your other benefits. Along with vacation time, you can ask for more sick time or the ability to work remotely on a regular basis. Everything’s on the table, so create the full-employee benefits package, commensurate with the job, you want.

Be awesome enough to request more vacation time.

Good companies do what they can to retain good employees — and keep them happy. If you’re not up for a job promotion and you don’t want to leave, you can still negotiate a vacation increase by being so awesome they can’t deny you one.

Being awesome isn’t enough, though. It also helps to be smart. Wait for the appropriate time and circumstances to ask about getting vacation time. If it’s a recession and your firm has frozen salary increases or is laying off employees, it’s not the time to ask for more vacation. If your boss is having a bad day or your team is overloaded, don’t bother asking for more time off.

If your company is performing well, your team’s firing on all cylinders, and your boss has a grin on their face, that’s a good time to ask for more.

Propose a remote work/play vacation.

Thanks to the internet and computers, more jobs can be performed any time of day from anywhere in the world. As time goes by, more businesses are acclimating to letting their employees work remotely, if only on a limited basis.

Studies show that providing employees with even limited remote-working flexibility can boost performance. Just this year, my husband’s employer approved employees working remotely to extend vacation time. Therefore, we can fly somewhere for a week-long vacation, and he can continue that “vacation” another week by working while we’re away.

To be fair, this is more of a perk for me than for him. But, he enjoys taking me out to dinner in an exotic location after I spend the day at the beach and he spends the day working pool-side (sarcasm off).

Take unpaid leave.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you aren’t getting vacation time as desired, you can always take unpaid leave. Unpaid leave isn’t always available, though. But, if there’s that option, it can be one way to get in some downtime.

Unpaid leave is just what it sounds like: time away from work without a paycheck. Remember, the more unpaid leave you take, the less take-home pay you end up with. Be sure your budget supports such a move and don’t sabotage long-term saving and investing goals.

Buy vacation time.

The option of last resort is to buy vacation time. Again, not all businesses offer this choice. Buying vacation time means your company will take money out of your regular pay in exchange for time off.

I didn’t know this was an option until I read my human first employer’s human resources manual a year after I was hired. It’s just as well because I started buying vacation time, thinking that it was incredible.

I sure did enjoy getting vacation time, but I didn’t love the smaller paychecks that followed. Unlike taking unpaid leave, vacation time that’s bought continues to plague you after your vacation ends.

Taking vacation is a good and necessary part of working. Too many of us (Americans) take too few vacations. While I’m doing my part to raise the average, make sure you do your part, too. If you need or want more vacation than you have, these seven tips will point you in the right direction.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Traveling with your S.O. probably seems like a dream, but it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. Do this so you don’t regret your shared vacation. Read More...

Successful relationships require compromise. And nothing shows your ability to compromise like traveling with your S.O.

If you plan on marrying your S.O. someday — or even if you’re just planning on moving in together — you should first travel to a strange land, even if it’s Poughkeepsie NY.

Traveling with your S.O. is a good insight into what life together forever will be like.

You’ll be out of your comfort zones. You’ll spend more uninterrupted time together than you do at home. You’ll get insight into each other’s idiosyncrasies. You’ll have to manage a micro-budget. You’ll interact with strangers. You’ll disagree on directions. You’ll likely fight.

So, go away with your S.O.

But watch out. You might discover that you like different things when you travel. How do you prepare for this life-lesson when you want to holiday differently together? Here are 11 points to keep in mind:

Talk before you walk.

If you’re certain you want to travel together and certain you’ll want different things from traveling, have a talk before you head off on your big adventure.

Be open and honest about what you both want. Talk through your differences. You may relish lying on the beach with a good book. Your S.O. may want to hike every trail available.

It’s possible to do both and both be happy. It’s just easier if you talk first.

Talk money.

I did say talk before you walk, but money requires its own talk.

Traveling with your S.O. can bring your different money beliefs into sharper focus. Before leaving with your bae, be clear on your vacation budgets. Know how you’ll divide and conquer expenses.

Be okay if you’re not splitting it 50/50, but know that you’re not splitting it 50/50 before you go. Be clear with how you’ll spend your money and how long it must last. If you each have your own budgets, be okay with the idea that you won’t spend the same amount.

Go slow.

Traveling long distance for a long time may be the ideal vacation, but it’s only ideal if your S.O. is your ideal travel buddy.

Take it slow at first. Go away for the weekend, maybe just a short road trip. After you survive 24 hours, maybe shoot for 48 hours, and then 168 hours, and so on.

With each successful trip, move onto longer and farther trips. It sucks when your first trip is two weeks together on the other side of the world and you have no place to go to escape from what turned out to be a Bad Idea.

Spend time alone.

You’re an extrovert and your S.O.’s an introvert. You’re the drummer and your S.O.’s the lead singer. This is okay. It’s not often that couples are the exact same and that’s okay. It’d be kind of boring otherwise. Be okay with time alone. Get away from each other. Distance yourselves from yourselves and make your hearts grow fonder of each other.

Use each other’s strengths.

The Wonder Twins are wonderful because they’re not alike. They have different strengths and personalities. Leverage what you’ve got and let your boo leverage what they’ve got.

One of you may be directionally challenged while the other can’t itemize a dinner bill. One of you may be better at driving on the opposite side of the road while the other is better at speaking the local language.

Let go of what you’re not good at and relish the ways your other half makes life easier on the road.

Compromise.

Whether you have a short-term S.O. or a long-term S.O., the success of your relationship hinges on compromise.

Don’t lose yourself completely in the life of your other half, but also remember that you’re not the only one in the relationship. Give a little while you get a little. That leads to a lot. The reward is you both get a little of what you want and a lot of time and experiences together.

Set a low bar.

When you first travel together, set low expectations. Don’t wish for or expect the worst; just don’t expect a honeymoon. Sometimes it best to hope for the best and plan for not the best.

Practice patience.

Practice does make perfect. Patience isn’t just a Guns & Roses’ song.

You’ll both be out of your elements when traveling with your S.O. You won’t have the comforts of home. You won’t have your reliable resources. The environment may be unfamiliar. All of these variables, when different, add up and add pressure on both of you. Give each other the benefit of the doubt and forgive easily.

Chill.

Practicing patience is about your reaction to your S.O. Being chill is about being patient with the unfamiliar.

Everything may be new and different to your bae and one (or both) of you might go off the rails. You need to stifle the urge to freak out and try to be calm.

Realize that things rarely go exactly according to plan. You need to be chill when traveling with your S.O. Be okay with how everything flows — or doesn’t flow.

Live in the moment.

Lao Tzu said, “If you’re stressed about something you’re worried about the future. If you’re depressed, you’re worried about the past.” Neither the future nor the past is

Neither the future nor the past represent true reality. Only the here and now exists. Live in the moment. You both will have a much better experience.

Remember the point.

Don’t forget that the point of traveling with your S.O. is to spend time and create experiences.

Remember that you had enough interest in this person to make them your boo. You enough interest to go away together. Value the time you spend together because before you know it you’ll be back to your old routine.

A vacation should be fun, exciting, and relaxing. Focus on the fun and whether you and your S.O. want the same thing, you’ll have a good time.

Safe travels!

Do you have a story of traveling with your S.O.? Was it a nightmare or bliss? Let us know in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Slow down. Experience. Your vacation isn’t about what you show your friends on Snapchat. Read More...

Have you ever come back from a vacation and felt like you needed another vacation?

This is pretty common when you’ve packed in a lot of stuff in one trip. For many of us, a vacation seems like the perfect time to do as much as possible. Unfortunately, this is approach to a vacation can mean a lot more stress and a lot less relaxation.

If you aren’t going to relax and have a good time, what’s the point in going?

Plan fewer activities.

When I was growing up, there were times that the vacation was just a rushed and stressful mess. We ran from activity to activity site to site without really experiencing anything. My favorite vacations were those that doesn’t involve quite as many activities.

When you have a chance to slow down and experience life you are far more likely to enjoy what you are doing, even if you do a little bit less of it.

Don’t forget: you can always come back again.

Even if you don’t, you’ll still make better memories if you truly experience a small part of something rather than getting a superficial view of lots of things.

As you plan your vacation, figure out which activities are most important, and which site you want to see more than the rest. Focus on the most important activities and don’t worry about cramming everything in. You can move slower I feel like you’re on a real vacation.

Take your time.

If you plan a real vacation with fewer activities, you will have time to slow it down. This can help you relax more and feel like you really are on vacation.

This effect can be enhanced if you plan longer vacations. When you have the time to take more than a day or two, you can enjoy yourself more. I am looking forward to my summer vacation because we will take six or seven weeks to move slow. For a good portion of that time, we will have a home base in the Philadelphia area.

Having a large chunk of time and a home base can help you move slowly and relax more. This works best if you are location independent with your work or if you have the ability to bank vacation days with your job.

Choose shorter trips.

Another way to plan a real vacation is to make it shorter. This can’t be a weekend getaway that doesn’t take you very far. When you choose a shorter trip, it should be more about seen one thing or just relaxing in a new place.

One of the things I like to do is go camping. I pick a place within four hours so that I only spend a half day of travel each way. Then it’s usually possible to spend two whole days in the woods. It’s very relaxing and I feel refreshed when I get home — especially after I take a shower.

Travel light.

How to Plan a Real Vacation

There’s nothing like having to put it away a ton of stuff to ruin the end of your vacation. That’s why I like to travel light. I have one medium-sized suitcase and that’s it. If I will be gone longer than a week, I plan to do laundry. I don’t get bogged down in packing a lot of outfits or shoes or makeup. I don’t even bring a carry-on beyond the backpack hold my laptop and other tech gear.

The fewer things you bring with you, the less you have to worry while you travel and the less you have to put away when you get home.

Traveling light can also apply to souvenirs. My son and I have a tradition of getting one magnet for each place we visit. This allows us a nice, cheap memento that doesn’t take up space. Plus, we know exactly where to put it in when we get home — on the fridge.

Plan time to relax.

As you plan a real vacation, don’t forget to schedule time to relax. Keep your schedule clear enough that you can sleep in, just to sit in the hot tub, or read on the balcony. Plan a spa day. Take a long dinner. Sometimes, I like to cancel a plan so that I can keep doing something I enjoy.

Don’t plan out every minute of every day. Leave room for spontaneity or just to discover something new. You’ll be glad that you didn’t still every single second with some sort of planned activity.

If you don’t time to relax while on vacation, you’ll come home and feel like you didn’t get a vacation at all.

Put the camera away.

Finally, as you plan a real vacation, consider putting the phone away. Yes, your phone is probably your camera, but if you send all of your time trying to get the perfect shot for Facebook, you’re not really enjoying the moment.

Leave the selfie stick home. Take a couple pictures of what you see and a couple pictures of you and your loved ones. All you really need are a few pictures to trigger your good memories. You don’t need a ton of pictures to try and impress your Instagram followers.

Once you learn how to plan a real vacation, you’ll get the most out of wherever you go.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!