How we Paid Cash for our International Travel - A Bountiful Love

How we Paid Cash for our International Travel

     You did read that right, we paid cash for our International trip last December. Not a single dime was spent using a credit card or a debit card, not even our plane ticket. It is possible and achievable, you may run into several bumps along the way of achieving this but keep your eye on the prize.

     If you are like us, my ultimate finish line was being able to hug and show lots of love to my family that I haven't seen in years. Our trip to the Philippines.. to be with family and have a long-deserved vacation was our prize.

   Just like anything else, every family dynamic is different. We do not want debt anymore and our eagerness to travel and see the family is something that we always wanted. We are a one-income family, No other income ( no blogging income was use), just solely my husband's HARD WORK  and our family's TEAMWORK. I am writing this to inspire you that it is possible.

So how did we do it?

We decided to travel to the Philippines around January.  The month where you think of your goals and resolutions. For our family, our top was to travel. We have not done anything big like this. We had a few travels and escapades, nothing International.

 So having decided that we have 11 months to save, we came up with a "game plan:"

First, decide on how much is your target amount, including the plane ticket. Let's say $15, 000. Look into your paycheck, some of you get paid every two weeks or some every week.  We divided our target amount into how many paychecks there will be. So if it is $15, 000 divided by 24 (let's say you get paid twice a month). You know you need to save $1,250 a month or $312.50 per week. There will be months when there will be 3 paychecks, now that is a bonus.  Keep that in mind for my next tip.

Build an emergency fund. I'd say $1000 is a good start. Why? 11 months is a long way to go. You will never know what life may throw at you. Car repairs, medical payment? Building an emergency fund is a lifesaver for those "life may give you lemons" moments. If $500 is all you can build, go for it. It is better than not having an emergency pool when you need it.

Treat your target amount like a bill. We "paid" that target amount every paycheck, like it was a regular bill.  At the beginning of the year, I do have a guide budget for the whole 12 months. I have it all in a spreadsheet -- bills, grocery budget ..etc.  There will be weeks where you just couldn't make your target weekly amount. That is okay..tweak the other weeks. If you can not reach it, make a note to pay it back.

--> speaking of bills, while you are away .. you can give your cable or dish company a call to stop the service while you are gone. Same with your mobile carrier (if you are not taking it with you). They will prorate your bill.

Use cash on groceries. I know that it can be a hassle to stop by the bank to get some cash. However, it would just take a minute of your time, and the benefits are far greater than the hassle. Let's say your grocery budget is around $200.  Try to budget under that.

extra cash after the grocery shopping trip :
---> you keep for later spending. why? there might be times within the week that you may have something that you have forgotten to buy. That way, you do not have to use your card and stay disciplined.
---> or you can use the extra cash to build your emergency fund. Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Now that you will use cash, MENU PLAN. It might take you an hour or less to plan your whole week's meal but the result of it is worth it. You will be less likely to spend more (stick to the list). It is not just money that you will be able to save but your time as well. Additionally, make or plan your meals around your store's circular. Using what's on sale or in season. 

STOCK UP. So how can we save money if we plan on spending by stocking up? Stay with me here. Since we had planned on traveling by December. January is that month where of course they put all the Christmas items on clearance. Wait until they are 50% to 75%. I had bought Christmas wrapping gifts for only .50 cents as compared to buying them for around $3.00.  We knew that we will be giving gifts to our family in the Philippines so we stocked up on some (nonperishable of course) gift items during the after-season sale.  January is also a good time to buy toys, cold and flu medications.

Download this Month by Month Buying Guide for free: click here
Use this as a guide when you shop or plan to shop.

Shop smart with Rakuten where you get cash backs for your online purchases. When buying gifts for our kids, I sometimes prefer to shop online because it saves you time, gas and saves you the temptation of buying more than what you intend to. This is my Rakuten account. I love earning cashback on items that I regularly buy anyway!

Sign up here: Rakuten

You can also try Ibotta. I usually do the Walmart Pick-Up order. I love that I can connect the app to my Ibotta account and earn cash back on certain products that I m planning on buying anyway. 

If you have not tried Ibotta before, here's my referral code: OFDVXKB

WRITE YOUR PLAN and expect unforeseen expenses for the trip.  When I say write your plan, I mean things that you will be needing for the trip. Will you be needing luggage? How about a stroller if you have little kids or toddlers? (like us). New outfits and comfy shoes? Write it and purchase it when you have extra cash. I will say it again, wait for the items to be on sale. What about the other expenses like passports? Since it was our daughter's first international travel, we applied for one and another expense. How about the airport parking? Lucky you if you have family or friends nearby that you can rely on taking your family to the airport. We had to budget for the airport parking as well as we drove ourselves to the airport and back home. Look for airport deals, surprisingly there's a bunch of parking companies and they charge differently.

Tip for airport parking --> compare months ahead of your trip. Sign up on the company's free newsletter as some of them offer coupons and discounts. We saved a lot when we got a coupon code for 20% off.

CALL YOUR BANK Even though you WILL NOT use your credit card or debit card, visit your banker anyway. Know the rates, in case of an emergency that you REALLY MUST use your card..know how much is the international charge for it. Know the bank affiliates overseas. Coming home not knowing how much the hidden charges are is not something you would want to come home to. Discuss what is the safest way to handle your money overseas.

LIMIT eating out. I do not recommend not being able to eat out at all. Why? because sometimes, the best way to stay disciplined and not go astray is to "pay yourself first." Just limit it to special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

Have fun in the least expensive way. During summer, there's a lot of movies at the park. Like here in Redlands, every Friday they would have a free kids movie by Ed Hales Park. You can bring your own blankets and snacks. Speaking of snacks, we always pack snacks. Fast food is always tempting and it can be expensive. If you always pack your snacks you can always make healthy snacks. 

Sign up on Kidscoop, their newsletter will send a monthly list of local events, coupons. National Macaroni Kid , does the same too. Sign up for their free newsletter for free and cheap local events in your area. They even have a list of nearby parks and a list of libraries that offers reading programs and events.

If possible, SAVE A PORTION OF YOUR TAX REFUND. During the tax season, there's always advertisement on electronics furniture, etc. Do not let these ads dictate where your money should go, instead tell your money where it should be spent. In this case.. SAVE IT!

PAY CASH for your plane ticket. I can hear the, wow, that is a hefty price! Yes, it is..imagine how concerned we were-- first, it was a hefty plane ticket because of the month we chose to travel second - letting go of that hard-earned money is kinda hard to do.  First, you need to find a reputable travel agency. Check their license, nobody wants a scam. The very good side of this is again -- no interest to think of. We like the travel agency because we get to ask questions about our trip as well. It gives you personal service so to speak. But then again, do your research and make sure it is reliable.

---> also, consider traveling low season. We chose to visit the Philippines in December because I wanted Rob and our kids to experience Christmas in my hometown and it's my birthday.

---> not all search sites, give you the list for low-cost carriers (LCC). why? because these budget carriers try to keep costs low by not paying a booking commission to search sites. Try Skyscanner to compare prices. They do include budget carriers and when you find the lowest deal, it will take you to the airline website -- NO  MIDDLEMEN.

WORK HARD. If there is an opportunity to earn extra money, embrace it. My husband worked hard to make this happen for us.  Remember that a little sacrifice here and there won't hurt.

Lastly, Have faith and pray. All things are possible with God.

Don't forget to pin and share!


  1. This is very motivating. We are planning a ski trip for spring break next year. Better start saving now. Stopping by from Friday Flash Blog.

    1. Hi Holly, how exciting! yup..just save save save, totally worth it later on. Have a great weekend ahead.

  2. Wow I am really impressed. Thanks for the great tips I am off to put them into place because I want to go on a cruise in the near future but never thought I could. Your post has showed me it is possible. Thanks for linking up this week at #HomeMattersParty hope you link up again next week.

    1. Hi Melissa, you are welcome and I am glad to help. Just keep on will be worth it. exciting is that! Will definitely join the party again..always my pleasure.

  3. I am so motivated to plan ahead for my next family trip. These are great tips and a smart strategy for any family. Thanks for sharing on Friday Favorites. Hope to see you link up this week. Party opens at 8pm Thursday on I also pinned your post!

    1. Hi Stephanie! Thank you , I appreciate that. I'm glad to help and just keep on pressing. Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. We lived in Germany for three years (army). We haven't had credit cards since just before our move there. We saved for all the traveling we wanted to do. Last year for our son's birthday, we used most of our tax refund to go to Thomas Land in England. We may never top that birthday, but we also never paid interest on it!

  5. Awesome tips! We use cash for everything and it is amazing to see where your money goes when you do that. We're saving for Disney right now in the fall. :)
    Thanks for sharing on the Shine Blog Hop!

  6. Cash really does make a difference! Good job, that's impressive.


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