Hi PocketChangers, and welcome back! We recently returned from Maine on a much-needed vacation. Now that we’re back and settled, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about our trip. If you’re new to the blog, check out the Start Here post about Financial Independence and the journey we’re on. If you’re returning and are tracking with us, we’ll discuss our trip, finances, and more. Let’s go!
Maine – The Trip
If you’ve never been to Maine, you need to add it to your list of places to visit. We had a great time seeing new places, meeting new people, and exploring! Maine is such a beautiful place to visit, especially as the trees begin to change colors as Fall approaches. We had a wonderful time hiking around Acadia National Park, and biking around Peaks Island. Mrs. PocketChange and I even took some time to work on our marriage and grow closer together as a couple. All in all, the trip was a great time to relax, reconnect, and be refreshed.
As you’re aware, one of the challenges of traveling is not spending extra money frivolously. What’s more, when the plans change while on the trip, that adds another level of complexity. For example, the day we were leaving Des Moines, our plane was delayed 6-7 hours because of a tire malfunction! Considering we woke up at 3:30 AM that morning to make it to the airport in time for our flight, starting the trip this way wasn’t in the plans. We also experienced delays coming home due to the hurricane moving closer to shore. All that to say, the traveling itself wasn’t the highlight of the trip.
Maine – The Cost
Alright, time to get into the nitty-gritty details about our trip – the cost. But, before we do that, let’s quickly discuss our ideal traveling tips and lay some groundwork.
Travel Light – The last three big trips we’ve gone on (Europe, Hawaii, and Maine) we *only* took a carry-on bag and a personal item. Some airlines used to charge for extra baggage and it was challenging for us to see if we could travel without a big suitcase. It’s absolutely possible, and helps us save time and money. Double win!
Travel Smart – You should absolutely travel with multiple payment options. In Europe, one of our credit cards got compromised while we were on a train. Thankfully, we had another couple of cards to use, plus some local currency if we were in a bind. In Maine, we didn’t have any issues with our cards, but it was easier to use cash in certain circumstances.
These aren’t profound and certainly a summarized version, but help shape how we travel. On to the good stuff!
We’ve been working on credit card ‘travel hacking’ for a while now thanks to some close friends of ours. Credit card hacking is realistically the only way we would have been able to travel over the past few years. Considering how much the cost of plane tickets and lodging would be if we were paying cash, taking advantage of the credit card offers out there is the best way to travel. For example, when we traveled to Europe a few years ago, we spent a total of $900-ish for the *entire* trip. Yes, $900! That made up the food we ate/dined out, traveling around the cities, etc.
So how did we do for Maine? Great question!
Here’a summary from Mint regarding our spending during our trip. As you can see, we spent just over $1,000 while we were in Maine. However, recall that we had a few delays during our travels. Because of these delays, we petitioned to Southwest for reimbursement, as these delays caused us a few issues. First, we missed a couple flights. Second, we accrued an additional meal and needed a place to stay so we had to find a room. After adding up the credits from Southwest we received due to the delays, and factoring in sales tax for the tickets, our net expenses for this trip dropped to $347!
But, like, how?
After we share our results (similar case with Europe and Hawaii) we’re usually asked how! Stay tuned for a post by Mrs. PocketChange as she’ll provide some insights into the specific credit cards we worked on and what rewards we redeemed. In our family, she’s the credit card guru. But, I know you want a taste! One credit card we can easily recommend is the Chase Freedom card. If you’re interested in this card, you can earn a $150 bonus and we’ll be rewarded for referring you if you’re approved for the card!