My brother moved to Hawaii with the Army almost four years ago. Before he left, I promised him that I would visit him at least once, but as it usually does life seemed to get in the way. In July, he finally came home to visit, and I knew my time was running out, so I started trying to plan a trip. For weeks the hint of dropping airline prices were all over the news. Everyone was reporting that we should see drops in ticket prices at the end of August, and I couldn't wait to see what those drops looked like.
My parents went to visit my brother earlier in the year, and their tickets cost them around a thousand dollars and I knew I didn't have that kind of money to spend. At the end of August, I started looking for deals, and I have to admit the price drop was a pretty good deal. The tickets that were $1000 in July were as low as $800, but I still needed something more affordable, so I kept waiting.
Finally, in November, my brother called me, and I could tell he didn't think I would be coming, he sounded disappointed as I explained that I would try my best to make it to Hawaii before the end of the year. That night I started looking at ticket prices again, and I had finally hit the jackpot... $600 tickets to Hawaii. That was a deal that was just too good to pass up.
I booked my flight that night, and a few weeks later I was on a 9-hour flight to Hawaii. I have always dreamed of going to Hawaii, and my trip did not disappoint. My brother lives on Oahu, so I flew to Honolulu and started a week long adventure I will never forget!
Before I share some of my favorite memories of my trip to Hawaii, I would like to encourage you to stop what you're doing and start planning your next vacation. I will never forget my trip to Hawaii, but I would have always regretted not going. We spend so much of our lives working and sometimes we just need a break! I believe in the power of travel and a great vacation so much that I have been planning family vacations every year since I got married.
When it comes to planning vacations, most people just don't do it. From funding to taking the available time off from work, Americans are not taking vacations. Just this year a study shared that 42% of Americans didn't take one single day of vacation time in 2014. How sad is that? Vacations can help you break out of creative ruts, build lifelong memories, strengthen familial bonds, and reduce stress. So why aren't Americans using their vacation time?
Well, I think it all boils down to anxiety. Planning a vacation can seem overwhelming and expensive, but with the right tools planning a vacation can be both easy and affordable.
Here are just a few tips for planning a vacation you will never forget:
Use Reward Cards: My husband and I have been reward card members for years. Every year we earn miles, hotel stays, and more just for making the purchases we would already be making. Imagine if everything you bought throughout the year was also helping you plan your next vacation. That's how we look at it.
The Capitol One Venture Card is a travel reward credit card offering double miles on every purchase – anywhere, anytime, and without the restrictions commonly found in rewards programs. Cardholders decide when, where and how they want to use their miles. They’re redeemable on any travel-related expense – from flights to hotel stays, cruises, and Uber rides.
It doesn't get much better than that! So regardless of what your dream vacation looks like The Venture Card can help you get there!
There are many airline miles programs out there, but I have found that the biggest problem with sticking with a single airline for miles is that when it's time to book everyone is offering different prices. I didn't have to choose my flight to Hawaii based on which airline I had the miles for, I was able to choose based on price, which is the most important factor for most travelers.
Venture Card lets you travel your way, without being tied to a single airline and without the hassle of advance booking and inconvenient flight times.
Plan ahead & Travel Off-Peak: When I booked my flight I kept my schedule flexible so that I could get the best deal. The best days to fly are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Many airlines offer a flex planner where you can view your savings if you choose a particular time and day to fly. Prices can change between the morning and afternoon flights so pay attention to the days and time of your flight. I knew I wanted to visit Hawaii in December so I scanned the entire month and the closer I got to Christmas the more expensive the tickets were. I found that it was best to visit Hawaii during the first week of December for the best prices.
Research Everything: From cars to hotels, it's always best to do your research. During my visit, I had the pleasure of staying at my brother's house, but the entire time I was there I was looking for great resorts or hotels I could use when I go back and take my family with me. If you're a military family, you should always check out affordable military options first, and these usually need to be book as early as possible. If you're not military, you should still try to book early and compare your options online. Oh, and always read reviews. While price is your top priority, don't forget about comfort and quality.
Planning & Packing: I had the benefit of asking my brother most of my questions, but I could have learned a lot online as well. When planning for my trip, I knew Hawaii was warm in December, but I also needed to know what we would be doing each day, so I had everything I needed when I got there. I knew we were going on a hike, so I packed athletic clothes and tennis shoes. I also hoped to go golfing (which we didn't have time for), so I packed my golf clothes. The last thing you want to spend money on while vacationing is things you could have brought from home so try to pack the things you need without going overboard.
Travel Insurance: I don't always purchase travel insurance unless I'm planning a trip months in advance. Anything can happen (loss of a job, the death of a loved one, military recall), so it's always best to play it safe when you are planning any vacation.
Don't wait until the last minute: There was a time when being spontaneous could save you money. Last minute flights needed to be filled, and you could bid on cheap airfare and hotels. Those days are gone. Over the past few years I have witnessed a dramatic decline in last minute savings, so don't count on scoring any sellout deals. With that being said, make sure you’re leveraging your travel rewards to maximize your travel spending. For instance, Venture Card from Capital One enables cardholders to redeem their miles on any travel-related expense, which can be crucial for curbing those outrageous, last minute, unforeseen costs.
Start Saving: The first year I planned a family vacation it wasn't a question of if we would go, but how. I knew we were taking a vacation one way or another, but I had to figure out how I would save for it. I started by putting together a plan. I had everything planned out, down to the itinerary and I had a good estimate of how much our vacation would cost, and then I started saving for it. As I earned enough to reserve the hotel I put down a deposit, then I purchased park tickets, and step by step I had our vacation secured and money to spend when we got there. If you need help saving money for your vacation check out 360 Savings from Capital One, it's a great place to start.
A recent Capital One survey found that only 1/3 of Americans felt they accomplished their financial goals in 2015. With 2016 right around the corner it's time to start thinking about how to do better and start the New Year off right. So start now and go ahead and plan that vacation before 2016 gets too busy.
360 Savings from Capital One offers no fees, no minimums and provides great interest rates that help you get to your savings goals faster! The ‘Automatic Savings Plan’ tool allows you to maximize your savings by having a fixed amount of money regularly transferred from your linked checking account to your online savings account, giving you a higher interest rate. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your 2016 vacation now!
I can't wait to share more about my trip to Hawaii, and I hope I've encouraged you to plan next years vacation.
I want to hear from you! Where will you go in 2016?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.