To all my fellow Travelbugs, I send a giant virtual hug. If you’re not a big traveler, but have friends who are, check on them – things are tough for us this year. Even those of us who have flown and road tripped during the pandemic, and those who feel safe (enough) traveling, we’re all dealing with our own sets of limitations that just plain stink. There are travel buddies who are immunocompromised, family members who may not feel safe with a particular mode of travel, and countries and states who won’t even let us in without a 14-day quarantine and a negative COVID test. And, while I normally enjoy the thrill of overcoming the challenges of travel, I’d much rather be dealing with “fun” problems like snagging last-minute Broadway tickets or determining which type of currency to take than worrying about how to avoid potentially sickening a family member. All of that said, there are some things you can do right now that your future traveling self will thank you for.
Future PTO Planning
Companies have had to strongly suggest that employees use paid time off versus running themselves into the ground this year. Many didn’t take vacation for months, simply because they had no place to go. If that’s you, I highly encourage you to plan some much needed out-of-office time, even if you don’t go anywhere. For those who can carry forward vacation, maybe you can roll over some hours to next year and plan that longer international vacation or epic cross-country road trip you’ve been dreaming of. While we don’t know what next year will hold, you can also strategically plan and request that time now.
One positive of the pandemic is I now have fifty-leven-thousand travel points across various programs, thanks to responsible credit card usage for day-to-day expenses, also known as travel hacking. I racked up a ton of points on my old trusty favorite, the JetBlue Plus card, which I put my car downpayment on and paid off in the same billing cycle. I just opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which is currently (October 2020) offering its highest points ever bonus, 80,000 ultimate rewards, if you meet a minimum spend on the card of $4,000 in three months. Southwest Airlines is offering a similar sweet deal for their companion pass, which allows a friend/significant other to fly free with you unlimited for an entire year, and you can even change that beneficiary a couple of times if you find yourself with a new significant other or travel buddy. There are some great deals to be had, and though we are all spending less these days, it’s possible to put big-ticket items and prepay future expenses on these cards, now and over the holidays, with a little planning.
Scout for Deals
Now is the time to be on the lookout for future travel deals. One way you can support your favorite charities and possibly land yourself an incredible deal is to scope out online auctions. Charities are unable to have in-person fundraising events like they normally do. These events generally include a silent auction where you bid against tipsy, well-to-do people whose inhibitions and credit cards are on the loose. With many organizations pivoting to online auctions, you can get the same great prizes – many of which are travel-related – without competing against our inebriated friends. And you don’t have to limit yourself to local events, ask Google and you might be able to bid on a terrific auction benefiting an out-of-area charity. Nonprofits need our love, too. There are also great incentives to book directly with travel companies such as tour operators, cruise lines and travel bundling sites – just check their rescheduling and cancellation policies before you buy, because if we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that life is unpredictable.
How are you strategizing for future travel? What else can we do now to set ourselves up for amazing travel experiences later?