Dream vacation planning

In about 2 years, I will be 1) turning 40 2) paying off my student loan debt (about 200k–thank you PSLF!!!) and 3) Paid off my credit cards. To celebrate, I am taking my once-in-a-lifetime vacation, a week of metal detecting in England followed by 2-3 weeks of touring Europe (planned stops being London, Edenborough, Normandy France, Belgium, and Germany.

I have been saving some cash just for this vacation, but will have a lot more as each debt is paid off. I’ll have about 6 months between end of student loan payments and trip, and I will be putting that $300-$500/month directly into the trip funds. (I do have a seperate savings account for emergencies.)

My question(s) are: What are the best travel credit cards or rewards cards, and should I pay in Cash or use one of them?

The MD portion of the trip is ~4k inclusive, flights are 2K (if we go economy-- hoping to have enough points by then to upgrade to at least business for a reasonable price), hotel/food/entertainment for my spouse while I detect is 1k (we can share a room without him detecting), then the following two-three weeks we have budgeted at 20k total for food, travel, entertainment, and lodging. I know that almost 30K sounds crazy for two people for a vacation, but it’s a month off work, and I’ll never have a better opportunity to do it. We will likely spend less than that, but I wanted a big enough budget to handle any situations that might arise.

How would you go about planning such a large vacation? Would you use a credit card or cash? Work with a travel agency or book individually? Rent a car or use public transportation?

Sorry for the rambling, I’m excited to be getting closer to this goal!!!

1 Like

Congrats on getting rid of all that debt. That’s HUGE, and you deserve the vacation!

Since you’ll be in Europe, I think a travel credit card would serve you well. I’d look into one offering a ton of free points when you sign up, like an airlines credit card or Chase’s Sapphire Reserve. And if you use it during travels (and pay it off right away), you’ll rack up even more points for your next vacation.

I think with so many travel websites out there, booking your travels yourself is the way to go. I find that part actually quite fun. There’s great transit in the UK and the rest of Europe. I’d ride transit/walk/bike/take cabs in the cities and connect to other cities via the vast network of trains. A much more enriching experience than driving in a car, IMO!

Congrats again and have fun!

1 Like

I have no knowledge of international travel, but let me say a jealous CONGRATULATIONS on completing PSLF! ?

I have about 16 months left and it has been a long and complicated journey and I can’t wait to be where you are. ENJOY that fabulous vacation!!!

1 Like

What a great way to celebrate all these financial milestones. I know some may think that is a lot of money to spend but sometimes living life to its fullest means spending money now that technically could be put toward the future and you have definitely earned it!

I personally prefer booking my own travel just because it allows me to shop around and find the best deals.

I would personally use credit cards to pay for things, mostly because of the protections that allows you (from scams, trip protection, rental car insurance, etc) but also the fact that you can earn points or cashback is a huge plus. (Obviously you would want to make sure they get paid off right away though.)

When it comes to booking flights, if you don’t have any of the airline cards, sometimes they offer a nice incentive for signing up for the card while booking flights.

Just for example, I know Delta right now is offering $400 back in statement credit when tickets are purchased and 30-40K miles after a certain spend limit is hit. Most of these airline cards have a fee after the first year but if you cancel it is a great way to take advantage of the incentive.

I always like to explore alternatives such as AirBnB for lodging and Turo for car rentals. Depending on where you are, these can offer unique options that you won’t find in traditional lodging or car rental places.

All that being said, congrats again on reaching such huge financial goals and I truly hope this trip is one to be remembered for a lifetime!


Go for it, @amba. What lovely plans you have. Spending money on travel is money well-spent.

1 Like

congratulations enjoy

1 Like