How to Save So You Can Travel More

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I am very excited to feature my very first guest blogger on The Bliss Bean! Stephanie LaFlora is the creator of Personal Finance in Your 20s, and you can read more about her at the end of the post. Without further ado:

Two years ago, I set a goal to travel to 1 new country every year in addition to my traveling in the US, and by the end of this year I would have visited 6 new countries! How the heck did I do that? Well, for starters, I re-allocated the money I was spending on stuff that I cared less about to a travel fund. And by stuff I didn’t care about, I mean -- uncanceled subscriptions, cable packages that had channels I didn’t care about, and eating out instead of cooking. It turns out, I could save hundreds of dollars a month for travel just by doing a simple audit of monthly auto-withdrawals from my bank account.

Want the checklist I used to audit the money going out of my account? Get it here.

Chances are, you’ve probably got some hidden room in your budget tied up in services you meant to cancel long ago. Doing a simple audit of your automated expenses is a quick and easy way to find extra money that you can save for traveling.

Get a free flowchart to guide you through the step-by-step process of shopping mindfully.

Know how to score amazing travel deals

I am utterly obsessed with hunting for travel deals. In fact, very few things give me as much joy. I look for travel deals even when I’m not planning to book travel, just so I can get better at knowing where to find deals and when to look. And getting a great deal can mean the difference between one or two trips for the same price!

So I’m going to share a few of my secrets with you to get the best deals.

Best places to find cheap international flights:

  • Travel Zoo’s top 20: This is the first place I search for amazing travel deals. This year, my husband and I will go to Japan and we only paid $2000 for 2 round trip flights and 8 days of lodging. That is unheard of! Travel zoo is also a great way to find vacation packages and guided tours for cheap.

  • Vayama: Vayama allows you to search for the cheapest flights by region of the world. Just today I saw a flight from New York to Paris for $381 round trip. Yes, you read that correctly. And if you’re lucky, it may still be available here.

  • Google Flights: I remember when Google Flights was a clunky web app, and a major secret for travel deal hunters -- I was still using it then! But now, it’s conveniently integrated into google search. Although, you may not find the cheapest travel deals here compared to the other sites on this list, they have the best calendar view if you’re flexible on dates. Note: they do not include Southwest flights in their results.

Once you find a great deal, you’ll want to consider any additional costs of your trip and see how much it’ll cost in total.

Best places to find hotel and lodging deals:

  • HotelTonight app: I’ve been using this app for a few months and I love it. It’s not crazy cheap, but you can easily find boutique hotel stays for a reasonable price. Note: Lodging is something I don’t typically skimp on because the aesthetic of my stay is so important to me.

  • Hostel World: I haven’t used this site (as I’m not a major hostel kinda gal), but it’s a one stop shop for finding the best hostels around the world. And the site looks pretty user friendly and modern -- unlike a lot of competitors.

  • Airbnb: By now, everyone knows about Airbnb, and as a result, their prices have gotten a bit ridiculous in my opinion. So if I’m just booking a trip for my family (hubby + an energetic toddler) I go for the convenience of hotels. BUT….If I’m traveling with a group, Airbnb can’t be beat. You can rent a stunning house and split the cost for an unforgettable trip with family or friends.

Automate your savings

This is the absolute most important thing on this list. If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you want to save more money for traveling, but have been struggling to find a plan or develop a habit that sticks. This is the answer to your problem, and great’s really easy.

Set up regular monthly or bi-weekly withdrawals to a separate account (I like Ally for this because they have great interest rates) for your travel budget. Start with a very doable amount… even if it’s $25 that’s ok. Then, each month double the amount you’re saving until it gets a little uncomfortable.

Most of the time when I talk to people about this, they look at me like I’m crazy. Double the amount every month? Yep. You’ll be surprised how much you can afford to save when you eliminate those hidden costs and don’t pay for stuff that doesn’t make you happy.

For more easy and simple ideas for reducing your spending, check out these 20 practical ways to save money.

Set travel goals

Do you dream of travel? Me too. To get serious about making it a priority in my life, I had to set a goal... 1 new country per year. To some, that’s a small goal, while for others, it’s a dream. Since this now includes my husband and 1 year old child, not only does it take financial planning, it also takes a whole lot of coordination. I created a travel planning template to help me quickly figure out a plan to book our trips.

Good news… you can use it too. To get started, you only need to know how many people are traveling, how much you can save from each paycheck, and how long you want your trip to be.

The template makes it easy for you to know:

  • How much you need to save

  • How long it will take you to save for your trip

  • Average and cheap budgets for US Travel, Thailand, Costa Rica, South Africa, and New Zealand

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but I hope it stirs the pot and shifts your perspective towards new -- and perhaps better -- ideas. Click here to Get the travel budget template.

What dream trip are you saving up for?

Stephanie LaFlora is a writer and marketer that is obsessed with personal finance and helping millennials save money. She’s also the creator of Personal Finance in Your 20s, a blog that shares totally doable money management how-to’s to help make adulting easy.

How to Maximize Every Pocket of Time in Your Day

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You DO have time

Have you ever complained that you didn’t “have time” for something? Perhaps you briefly considered a new habit or a new skill. You could start a meditation practice, or exercise more frequently, or *gasp* learn Spanish! Then, visions of your to-do list and calendar flashed in front of your eyes and you quickly dropped that idea. Nope, can’t, sorry. “No time”.

I’d like to argue that you do in fact, have time. Perhaps it’s hard to see because it’s hidden away in little pockets throughout the day, but you definitely do have time. Taking advantage of this time can be a challenge because it’s so sparse, but it’s possible (and worth it).

The concept of No Extra Time (N.E.T.)

Using up those little pockets of time is sometimes referred to as N.E.T. (No Extra Time). It’s a concept created by Tony Robbins to explain how we can fully maximize the 24 hours in each day.

Basically, it’s productive multitasking. While most multitasking is just heavily distracted single-tasking, there are occasions in which multitasking actually works. The catch is that one of the activities must be super easy and mindless. Your day is filled with more of that than you think! How much time do you spend in the car? Waiting in lines? Doing simple chores? Working out? All of these activities are opportunities to be doing two things at the same time.

How can you fill up spare pockets of time?

The best way to make good use of this time is to sit down and make a list of these mindless activities that you do. Then list some productive activities that you might be able to do alongside those. From there, it’s a matching game! Listening to a Spanish podcast while you commute? Perfect. Looking over your plan for the day while you wait for your breakfast to cook? You’re getting the hang of it!

If you’re stuck, here are some ideas for both mindless activities and productive activities that you might pair up to achieve N.E.T.

While you’re:

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  • Commuting to work

  • Running errands

  • Waiting for food to cook

  • Washing dishes

  • Sorting laundry

  • Other mindless chores

  • Working out

  • Going on a walk

  • Eating

  • Brushing your teeth


  • Replying to e-mails/messages/comments - Rein in your inbox by tackling messages that are easy to respond to.

  • Reviewing your plan for the tasks ahead of you - Check out your to-do list and mentally prepare yourself to execute the next tasks to your best ability (and efficiently!).

  • Taking a mindful moment to clear your mind - So many people claim that they don’t have time for meditation, but all it takes is a few minutes of simply focusing on your breathing and paying attention to your thoughts. That’s it - you’re officially meditating!

  • Doing some simple exercises - No time for a long workout? While you brush your teeth or make your breakfast, challenge yourself to a set of squats. A little bit of exercise is better than none.

  • Getting a small start on a big project - Big projects don’t have to feel overwhelming. Any little bit that you do will reduce the overall workload. Want to write a book? Write for 10 minutes while you’re sitting in a waiting room.

  • Listening to a song that gets you energized - It’s one thing to mindlessly listen to the radio, but another to purposefully choose a song that pumps you up.

  • Connecting with someone you care about - Send a check-in text or call to see how they’re doing. It doesn’t take much to keep up relationships, but it does take consistent, thoughtful effort.

  • Stretching - It will not only loosen up your muscles, but it’ll help you think better. Take deep breaths, give your brain some oxygen, move around, and you’ll return to work feeling re-energized.

  • Learning something - You can listen to a podcast, use a language learning app, watch a KhanAcademy video, etc.

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Why your phone will be your best friend in maximizing your time

As you plan how to use up your little pockets of time, your phone will be your best friend. Right now it might be your enemy, constantly dragging you away from productivity and distracting you. In my last Bliss Bean newsletter, I gave a bunch of tips on how you can make your phone a tool rather than a temptation. It’s also a key facet of the Build Productive Habits in 30 Days Challenge! Once you’ve befriended your phone, there are a million and one ways that you can use it to achieve N.E.T. You can:

  • Listen to a podcast - Using apps like your phone’s native podcast app or Spotify.

  • Learn a language - Using one of the many language learning apps that are out there - Duolingo, Memrise, Lingodeer, etc.

  • Respond to e-mails or messages - Gmail, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, etc.

  • Connect with a friend - Send a text or call (yes, call!)

  • Check your plan for the day - Take a look at your calendar (I use Google Calendar) or your to-do list (I use TeuxDeux).

  • Edit photos - I usually have a few photos that I need to edit before I post them on Instagram so I’ll hop onto Adobe Lightroom Mobile to do that.

  • Take a 1 Second Everyday video clip - Standing around waiting for something? Perhaps there’s a beautiful moment you could capture and add to your 1 Second Everyday video.

  • Learn a word - Apps like have “word of the day” features that you can use to expand your vocabulary.

  • Study - If you’re a student, you can quiz yourself using apps like Quizlet.

I often feel a little self-conscious when I pull out my phone in spare moments because I feel like I’m feeding the stereotype of smartphone-addicted teenagers. But what you’re doing on your phone is your business only. Focus on making the best use of your time and stop worrying what other people think!

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Keeping a to-do list for those extra spare moments

Another way that you can use up little pockets of time is by keeping a running list of small, easy tasks that need to get done. Keep it as a separate to-do list and pull it out whenever you find yourself with a few extra minutes to fill. That way, you can get the little stuff out of the way and save your longer chunks of work time for big projects that require a lot of focus and attention!

I personally use TeuxDeux for task management, and it allows you to create separate lists in addition to your daily task lists. You could easily create a list specifically for this purpose. These little tasks won’t get in the way of your main to-dos, but you’ll be able to quickly flip back and forth between the two lists!

Key takeaways of No Extra Time

Once you really put this concept into practice, you might find it kind of addicting to challenge yourself to use up every single minute thoughtfully.

Throughout this process, I hope what you will learn is this - you are never too busy to do something. You are always in the driver’s seat. Instead of saying that you don’t have time for something, try saying “it’s not a priority”. It’ll remind you that you don’t just magically find time to do the things that matter to you. You have to make time.

I want to know! How did you apply the concept of No Extra Time to your life? How did YOU hack the system and make extra time to accomplish things you never thought possible?

Thank you for reading!
Beatrice x