How to Travel without Savings

Welk Resort San Diego for Families

The Welk Resort San Diego

How to travel without Savings: Playing the Balance Transfer Game to Travel

I always get asked “How do you guys get to travel so much?” or “How do you afford to travel with kids?”
And you know what, I don’t have to think about how it is possible, because it just comes naturally to me!
Travel is a part of our lives, just like sports, or school. It is a priority.
Yes we live in the Vancouver suburbs, which has an extremely high housing market, as well as costs of living. No we do not carry a massive consumer debt.
Fifa Womens World Cup in Vancouver, Canada

Fifa Womens World Cup in Vancouver, Canada

So HOW do we DO IT?

As I mentioned, it is a part of our lifestyle. Rather than buying new furniture, I would much rather go on vacation. And no, we don’t live in a run down shack; we are very proud of our house. We have nice stuff, and we take care of it, so that we do not need to replace or repair it (I know, that sounds a bit crazy with a two and four year old, but we try our best and teach them to respect their possessions as well!).
Sometimes we have money in our savings, and other times we don’t. But we live within our means and we take advantage of a few strategies to pay it off. One of the money strategies is that we NEVER carry a balance on our credit cards (with the exception of 0.99 interest balance transfer options that I am about to share). That is just wasted money paying off interest every month!
Intercontinental Tahiti carpe diem travel blog

the Intercontinental Tahiti – French Polynesia

Here is our strategy on how to travel without savings and how we do it without carrying massive consumer debt: the Balance Transfer Game
 We generally put everything on our credit card. When the bill comes in, I pay off as much as I can. Whatever I cannot pay off, I transfer to our credit line (with about a 3% interest rate, much better than the average 19.99% rate you will get from your credit card). But this is just temporary. Once all of the trip bills are sorted (or even sometimes once we are back if it is a two or three week trip) and everything that we were unable to pay off right away is on the credit line, I call my credit card company. 

This is the important part. Make sure it is a credit card with 0.00 balance and one you will not need to use. I personally use a free MBNA credit card. It doesn’t have miles, or cash back, or anything fancy, but I do constantly get offers for balance transfers at 0% interest, or 0.99%  etc for up to 15 months! 15 months gives you a long time to pay off your amazing vacation. These credit cards do often have a 1% or 2% fee for transferring the money, but hey, that is often less than the one month interest payment on my regular credit card.

Once the money is there, I set up an auto payment from my online banking to pay off a set amount each month, usually $100, as you need to make sure you never miss a payment, or risk forfeiting that nice interest rate. Then if I have any extra money after all of the monthly bills are paid, I will pay it on the card. Also at tax season, or when I do extra work for extra cash, I generally put that money towards saving for travel, or paying off the credit card.
We are Off! Traveling with the In-Laws

We are Off! Traveling with the In-Laws

This part is also important: If for some reason I do not have it all paid off before the interest rate is set to expire, I pay it off with my personal credit line. Or if you don’t have a credit line, pay it off with a balance transfer to another credit card. It doesn’t matter if it is a low interest one (but always call your credit card company and ask, because they often offer better rates on balance transfers compared to purchases) because the money will not be there long (and the balance should be much lower than your original transfer anyways. Continue trying to pay off as much as you can, but perhaps you have already booked your next adventure and again you have more travel bills. Credit cards like MBNA want your money, so it will not be long until there is another balance transfer offer or maybe even you already have one waiting. Transfer any balance back to the low interest credit card and get back to planning your next adventure.
You could do this really with anything, it doesn’t just have to be for travel, but my family believes that travel is much more enriching and worthwhile than a new couch, or new dining room table or a new patio set in the backyard!
Obviously this is only one factor to finding ways to make travel possible, coming soon we will fill you in with our lifestyle choices that enable us to make travel a priority!
oahu circle island drive views

Oahu, Hawaii

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How to Travel without Savings: Carpe Diem OUR Way offers tips on how to travel when you don't have a big savings account!

Lindsay is the Editor and Head Writer of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She wears many hats including mom, wife, freelancer, GM for a manufacturing company and soccer player. Lindsay is spontaneous, loves travel, photography and very recently discovered she loves to write.

4 thoughts on “How to Travel without Savings

  1. Miia / Worldliciouz

    Wonder if there’s such a thing as credit line in Finland. I could really implement this strategy for my life – if it is in any way possible here. 😀 Thanks for sharing, I better start researching this more. 8)

  2. Zascha

    Travel is always possible if you just make it a priority, as you guys clearly do :) I never saved up any money before I decided I wanted to travel. But after I had made my decision to travel the world, the money started building up in my savings account because I simply didn’t waste it on things I didn’t need :)

  3. Steph

    Really, really good idea and so logical but I had never thought of it before!! Also I had never heard of 0% interest credit cards in Canada – so am wondering if you are from the US? Or if this is just something the companies do not advertise.

    Thanks and I will share this via my Twitter account :)

    Steph from the pink backpack blog

    1. Lindsay Post author

      Hi Steph, we are from Canada – check out MBNA and Capital One – they are the most common, but i have seen them from Royal Bank and American Express Lately too!

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