Happy Birthday to Me & 5 Quick Tips For Better Travel & Saving Money

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tips for saving money and better travel

Today is my birthday and thus I am going to try to spend part of it away from the computer. If a huge deal comes up I’ll make sure to fill you guys in, but I figured why not celebrate the day with a light post? Since I am all about providing value, here are 5 quick tips that may help some of you.


As you can see above, AARP helped me celebrate my birthday today with a reminder that I am getting older! That’s alright, because I am a happy member. Not only does it get me discounts at AT&T and the occasional dining experience at Outback or Bonefish Grill, but it saved me a huge amount of money on plane tickets. In a few days my entire family of four is flying in Business Class on a crazy AARP deal. Thanks to that deal me and baby Ellie will both be celebrating our birthdays one week from today in Disneyland Paris. 🙂

Deal Alerts

I use Slickdeals deal alerts all of the time to save money. Sometimes it is on gift cards from eBay and other times it is for flooring from my house. Having deal alerts sent instantly via email can be powerful because often times the best deals don’t last very long. Deals also apply to airfare, etc so I follow The Flight Deal and Secret Flying pretty closely for those as well. (And don’t forget I share many of the best deals here so subscribe to the newsletter!)

Stay Organized

I use Google Sheets to organize so much of what I do in this hobby. I organize my credit cards, gift cards and even portal transactions. I also track when I should get bonuses so I don’t accidentally miss out. While having a few Google Sheets can seem like overkill, once a system is in place it is so much better than not being organized. New to organizing credit cards? Here is a sample spreadsheet to use and this is the book I physically keep all of my cards in.

Get Elite Status

This may be controversial to some and it would have been to me years ago with my backpacker mentality. Having some sort of elite status helps a ton, especially with hotels since it is much easier to get. Yes travel is about the destination and not the hotel per se, but having a little more comfort and getting a few perks is nice, especially if it doesn’t cost you anything. (Or much!)

You don’t need to have elite status with every brand, but it is easier to get than you think. There are a ton of credit cards that give you some elite status and then there are matches. I have even gotten pretty good at matching one status to another.

The $10 Rule

Someone told me about this and I think it comes from another blogger, but I can’t remember right now or I would link to them. Basically the $10 rule says if you can spend $10 or less and make your life much easier while traveling then do it. Pretty simple stuff and while I (as someone who is always trying to maximize and save) haven’t always followed this rule, I try to now more than ever. We can sometimes get lost in a time suck to save a small amount of money. Yes, costs add up while traveling even if you use miles & points, but you are already way ahead of the game. Spend a little if you need to. You won’t lose any sleep I promise.

Any Tips For Me?

Ok that is it for now. Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope a few of you learned something from this light post. I’ll be back soon with more in depth content, but I would love to hear your take on any of these quick tips and feel free to leave your wise advice in the comments! I always learn so much from readers.



  1. Happy Bday, Shawn! Here’s hoping you and your family had a great day. I surely would have used your spreadsheet if I weren’t using MS Money Plus. I’ve been using it since early 90’s for personal finance records (investments, cc accounts, etc.) Very helpful in keeping track of balances, scheduling payments of bills, expense entries, cash flow, etc. Really helpful for me for travel hacking! Here’s a link to download for anyone to use for free. I really recommend it:

  2. Happy birthday Shawn!
    I heard Chris talk about his philosophy of not sweating $10 if it makes travel life easier a few years ago. It was extremely impactful. Its amazing how it resonated with so many of us.


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