5 easy ways to turn your dream vacation into a reality

Courtesy of Capital One

Perhaps you picture yourself sipping a cocktail by a fire in the shadow of majestic Mount Kilimanjaro while on safari in Tanzania. Or see yourself scaling the steps of Mayan monument Chichen Itza during your holiday in Cancun. Maybe your dreams are closer to home, prowling the art galleries of Chelsea and Soho’s design stores on a Manhattan shopping spree.

Whatever your dream vacation is, we all have one. But what’s even more fun than dreaming about the perfect getaway is actually doing it. And with these five easy tips, you can get a jump start on making that dream a reality.

1. Check your destination’s digital reputation: Visit the Twitter accounts and Facebook pages of resorts near your dream vacation route: It’s an easy way to get the lay of the land. Once you find a resort you like, check to see if they offer exclusive email discounts and airline credits (25 percent discounts and airline credits as high as $300 per room are not unheard of). Another bonus: You’ll also find out about local customs. For instance, in some cultures, tipping is not expected, which could save you a lot.

2. Go where your dollar goes farthest: The world is full of glorious white-sand beaches; sometimes the most meaningful distinction among them is the price. That’s why it pays to look up the exchange rates where you’re looking to go. For instance: While the Seychelles and Costa Rica both offer some of the highest-rated beaches on Earth, your money will go much further in Costa Rica – and you’ll save hundreds or even thousands in airfare.

3. Make your loyalty pay off: Check your travel loyalty programs and see where you can consolidate, or find out whether you have enough points for part of the trip, like your hotel or rental car. And don’t forget to show your loyalty to your local grocery store: Many offer sliding discounts as high as 40 cents per gallon at affiliated gas stations. At 20 gallons a week, you could save almost $400 a year just for being loyal. That money can go straight into your vacation fund.

4. Small change can make a big difference: According to a recent article on Forbes.com, Americans go out for lunch an average of twice a week, and spend $10 each time. That’s about $1,000 annually. If you brought lunch from home to work for just one additional day each week, you could add $500 to your vacation fund in only a year. And why not give yourself a “trip jar”? It’s like a tip jar, except it’s for all the hard work you do yourself. At the end of each day, just drop in all your coins and maybe a few stray bills. If you average just 75 cents a day for a year, you’ll have more than $200 (enough to buy souvenirs for family, friends, and the neighbors who watched your house).

5. Get more mileage from your mileage card.: You need a credit card to book travel pretty much anywhere these days, so you might as well use one that helps you get where you’re going. The Venture® card from Capital One® lets you earn miles faster compared to single miles cards so you can start traveling sooner. As a cardholder, you can earn two miles for every dollar you spend on purchases, and there’s no limit to the number of miles you can earn. But perhaps even more importantly, the Venture® card lets you use those miles to fly on any airline — or stay at any hotel — at any time. There are no blackout dates, no “book-by” dates, and the miles won’t expire. They’re your miles, after all: You should be able to use them the way you want.

Following just these five suggestions, you could easily save $1,000 in cash toward your dream vacation in only one year. Combine that with hotel discounts, airline credits and credit card miles, and you may find that your dream vacation is surprisingly close to becoming a dream come true.

The Venture card is offered by Capital One Bank (U.S.A.), N.A. Credit approval required. Redeem miles for travel on any airline based on actual ticket price at time of purchase. © 2014