Simone's Blog: Money Magnet

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Travel the world for a fraction of the normal cost - Part 2

I recently returned from an amazing trip to Turks and Caicos! T&C is expensive but I made it work using some of the previously noted tips, as well as a few others we’ll discuss here. Tekeya Priester of Not Just A Getaway weighs in again with a few suggestions for how to see the world for less:

Use alternate airports. I live in DC and can get some great international deals out of Dulles. But better fares sometimes come via New York, Philadelphia or Baltimore, a mere $6-30 bus or train ride away. Estimated savings: hundreds.

Be ready to book on a whim. Recently Jet Blue had a one day sale. I’ve been wanting to visit my grandmother for a while so I immediately booked a flight to Tampa in November. Price: $98.20 round trip. Even better, I wasn’t actively searching for this flight: I was notified of the deal simply by subscribing to JetBlue’s email list.

Eat at local spots. There’s a marked difference between the cost of food on a resort and off. To learn about great places to eat while traveling domestically, try sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor. When traveling overseas, ask the hotel staff or other locals where to go for authentic cuisine. It’ll save a ton of money and give you a true sense of the culture. Estimated savings: $10-12 per plate.

OnePass. I’m planning to visit neighboring countries while in China for my brother’s wedding. OneWorld (British Airways, America Airlines) and Star Alliance (United Airlines, Air Canada) are among those who sell passes to fly as much as you want within a continent, with the final price being determined not in the number of times you board a plane but on how many miles you log. For around $1,100 I’ll fly round trip from New York’s JFK to Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Estimated savings: $900.

Additionally, booking inter-continental flights may be cheaper using a local travel site. My brother turned me onto a few for both Hong Kong and Mainland China. Estimated savings: $500.

We visited Turks during its off peak season. There was a little rain, but only for two of our four day stay, lasting about 30 minutes. The rest of the time was hot and sunny. Even better: we had a 2 bedroom apartment right on the beach for 1/2 of what it would’ve cost in December. Estimated savings: $800.

Bottom line: it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to have the travel experience of a lifetime. Stay flexible and do your research, the rest will take care of itself.

And so it is.