On October 20th, I awoke around 4am to embark on my bucket list trip to Vegas to see Elton John’s Million Dollar Piano show! I had an AWESOME, FANTASTIC time and will write more about that at a later date.
From Vegas, I went on to Dallas to attend the FINCON EXPO conference with about 1700 other people! Overall, the trip was well worth the time and money invested and I learned quite a bit about travel during my ten days away from home.
You should know that BOTH trips were cash-flowed – meaning I came home with memories, swag and NO DEBT!
I mean, how’s THIS for a great memory!!!! This moment was 25 years in the making!
AND, I met David Bach at the conference!
I have learned quite a lot from all of my travel adventures – mostly I don’t share because I think people already know these things. As I was sharing some of these things with my fellow conference attendees, I realized this isn’t always true. So, some of these you might know and some you might not know!
Hire a Professional
If there’s one tip I can share that is the best tip in my opinion, it’s this: find a travel agent and have them do all the searching for you. My travel agent is Sara from Kingdom Destinations. I tell her when and where I need to go, she researches all the flights and the times and send me some options. Sara knows that I’m looking for the best flight for the best price so she saves me a ton of time searching for options. Once I decided which options I want, we wait until about 6 weeks before I leave to book the flights. It’s a quick phone call and done! Sara is also there whenever I have questions or she will look up information for me when I need it. I HIGHLY recommend Sara not only because she is great but because I don’t pay her any extra money!
Pre-plan a Budget
Ok, I know this isn’t the most exciting part about going on a trip but you MUST know how much money you have and how much you are going to spend while you are away.
I planned both trips by knowing how much money I needed just to go and then saved that amount. I also had an emergency fund just in case something came up that would be considered an emergency or unexpected travel expense.
Know Your Airline
I flew on Delta and Spirit Air for this trip. I KNEW ahead of time that Spirit charged for more than ONE personal item as a carry-on so I paid for my 2nd bag through the website. I had ZERO issues with my flights because I took the time to know upfront what the baggage expectations were. Also, be familiar with airport security check regulations. It makes the line move much faster if you are ready to be screened rather figuring out what to do while you are standing in line.
Turn On All the Notifications
If your airline or hotel has an APP, download it. Then, turn on ALL the notifications on your phone. I activated notifications for all social media as well as email and the APPS. That way, I didn’t miss anything.
Ask about Discounted Rates (and Pay Attention to the Bill)
If you don’t know, hotel rates in Vegas are outrageous! Fortunately, I was able to qualify for the government rate on my room since my husband is retired from the USMC. This saved me several hundred dollars. I got that rate because I asked what discounted rates were available! Additionally, watch out for extra fees and such on your check out receipt. I didn’t know that the liquor bottles in the fridge were on a very sensitive sensor system. One had tipped over and I put in back in its upright position tripping the sensor int he process. Then, there was a charge for it on my bill. I disputed the charge and had it removed once it was verified that nothing out of the fridge was missing!
Do you know how much stuff you can fit into a flat rate box? Quite a lot!
To save luggage space, I mailed a box of clothes and snacks ahead to my friend in Dallas. I also brought a flat box and some packing tape with me to Dallas but ended up not needing to send stuff home. With the flat rate, you can use Click and Ship through USPS to print a shipping label and then just drop the package off at the nearest post office! It’s often cheaper to ship things than it is to pay extra baggage fees.
Choose your Luggage
I found this awesome suitcase and took it with me for the first time on this trip! It was super convenient to travel OUT to Vegas and Dallas with the top collapsed and then have the ability to expand it for the trip home! Doing this allowed me to ship the flat rate box out to Dallas, meet the luggage size requirements for Spirit Air and then have enough room in my suitcase to bring things home! (Hello, swag!)
Meal Planning – Money Saving Tips
1. Bring food with you.
I packed several Juice Plus shake mix packets, a shaker bottle as well as my new favorite Bobo Bars in my backpack so I had food on hand when I got hungry. This saved me a TON of money at the airport during meal time! I also had these items for breakfast and sometimes, dinner and planned to eat out for lunch.
2. Grocery Shopping
I was fortunate that while in Dallas, there was a Whole Foods several blocks from the hotel. Even better was the option of the FREE trolley to get there and back! I was able to get several items there to mix/match for meals as well as fresh fruit to have in the hotel room. We requested a fridge for the room for $20 during the course of our stay which was a great way to save money on eating out three meals a day! Overall, this option cost me about $70 for 7 days worth of food/snacks. (Breakfast at the hotel was not included). I found Whole Foods by choosing the “FOOD” category on the mapquest app on my phone. (There was also a Walmart nearby but that would have required an Uber/Taxi to get there.)
3. Room Service
This is the most expensive option but also the most convenient. I opted for this the first night I was in Dallas. I was tired from traveling, it was after dinner time and I was just ready to eat and go to bed. I recommend planning on this option for ONE meal, usually the first one you will eat when you arrive. Room service can be as much as $20 per person by the time fees/tip are added so plan accordingly!
With the onset of transportation services, there is not really a need to rent a car when traveling. For my Vegas trip, I stayed at the hotel attached to the venue so I just walked everywhere I needed to go. I had a friend pick me up from the airport when I got there and took a Taxi to the airport when I left. Super simple!
When I arrived in Dallas, I had a friend pick me up from the airport then partnered with people who had the Uber/Lyft app on their phone and I split the bill with them, paying them in cash. Again, super simple!
Before you arrive in your destination city, check out the available options for transportation.
1. Make a list of everything you think you need to take with you.
2. Find a space to lay out everything you need to take, according to the list, before you pack.
3. Buy gallon zip lock bags. You can pack clothes, squeeze the air out and seal to free up suitcase space. On the trip home, you can use them for dirty laundry.
4. Pack your suitcase, double and triple check your list! Pack essentials first, then other items as space allows.
5. Set out extra clothing for your carry-on (including toiletries) if you are checking a bag. Lost luggage is a real thing. You’ll want to have at least one change of clothes with you. Also, set out a change of clothes for when you return home. That way, you won’t have to rush into getting laundry done right away.
Bonus Tip: If you use essential oils, make sure you get roller tops and bring a small diffuser with you. I use the Orb by Young Living (let me know if you need a rep referral!) The roller tips prevented the oil bottles from leaking and the diffuser was great to have in the hotel room!
Do you have a favorite travel tip that’s not included? Share it with me and I might include it in another blog post!
*I have a FREE Facebook group, The Brave Budget Community. Click HERE to join!
I do a free 30 minute live video every Saturday morning 9:00am-9:30am EST on a topic often suggested by the group members.
*The DIY Bucket List Budget worksheet is available for immediate download HERE. This worksheet is a fill in the blank style for you to at least get started on the budgeting process and see where your money is going each month.
*I am doing a monthly Build a Better Budget Webinar. Registration and more details for the one on 11/10/17 is HERE. This is a working webinar where we will complete a monthly budget and have time for Q&A. I will also share budgeting tips!
*One on one coaching sessions can be scheduled HERE . I offer 30 minute sessions as well as one hour sessions. Details are on the scheduling page.
*I am now booking workshops for your group or office for January, 2018. These workshops are a “Lunch and Learn” style, will take about an hour and will address a specific topic on money management. Please contact me for details.
* I am also booking speaking engagements for 2018. Please contact me to see if I would be a good fit for your group. I have spoken in front of groups as large as 100 people and my speaking topic can be catered to your group. I have several faith based as well as personal finance related topics.
*NEW service/product alert*
Since you’ve gotten this far reading the post, I’ll let you in on a NEW service/product that I am creating – I’ll need our help!
It’s a 6 week video course that will be sent to your email each Friday. This course will be mostly DIY with an option to add-on coaching sessions. Each week, I will teach you, through the 15-20 minute video, a money management concept, why you should implement it into your money management plan and an action step for you to complete during the week. These will be the same concepts we used to pay off over $43,000 of debt in less than four years and stay debt free for just over four years. Each step will build on the previous week and at the end of the 6 weeks, you will have a money management plan that works for you to meet your goals.
I am looking for BETA testers for the launch in January. As a Beta launch member, you will help me improve the course, work on the technical details of the delivery system (i.e. make sure the system works), provide feedback and a testimonial to share (name can be withheld). The Beta launch price point will be $199 (that’s just $33 a week!) and the group will be limited to ten people. If you are interested, please text me (910) 338-9612 no later than December 1st so I can add you to the list! The first payment will not be due until January 1st and the first video will go out January 5th.
Have questions? Text me!
Last but not least…
One of the sessions I went to at the conference was on content creation and scheduling for the blog. I’ll be posting a NEW blog post each Friday. Next Friday’s (11/10) blog topic is on Time Management – things I do to save me TIME. Do you have a tip you want to share! Send it to me at MelissatheCoach@gmail.com or text me (910) 338-9612
PS: Did you see the book promotion I have for November? It’s a great way to stock up on Christmas gifts! Details HERE