Think you can’t afford a shop hop road trip? Here’s a few tips that says you can!
Everyone likes to save money. I know I do. But when it comes to Shop Hops, all that fabric and those notions and gadgets can be a bit overwhelming. Especially when they’re calling your name. Screaming it really from across the room. So, how do we combat those screams and stay on budget?
The first thing you need to do is set a budget so you know exactly how much you are allowing yourself to spend. Click HERE to check out how I create budgets for all my road trips.
Travel in Groups
My number one favorite way to Shop Hop is definitely with my fellow quilters. It’s really a win/win for everyone. When you share a car and lodging you can split the costs which makes it more affordable for everyone.
Also, and let’s be honest, we could ALL use more ‘girl time’, am I right? And who better on a girls getaway then our fellow fabulous quilters?!
Use a travel Credit Card
This one was first mentioned to me by my accountant. He told me that when you do a lot of traveling it actually pays to use the account credit cards for points. In some ways they can add up quite quickly. The main card I carry is the American Airlines credit card.
My home airport is Charlotte Douglas and we are a hub for American Airlines. Therefore, most all flights I take out of Charlotte are on American. So, a few years ago I picked up an AA credit card that has reward points. This particular card also gives double points for things like grocery stores, etc. So, I pay for most things I would buy anyway (groceries, household bills) with the card. Then, I pay off the card right away so there are no late fees.
And voila! Every year since I have earned enough points for at least one free round trip flight. Last year I almost earned enough for 2 free flights. All by using the card to things I was going to spend money on anyway.
Shop around for Lodging
AirBnB – You can usually find some pretty great deals using AirBnB. In fact, I’ve found some full house rentals for as little as $50 per night. Also, AirBnB has lists of things to do and see in your travel area as well as some coupons and other savings. I actually came across some quilting classes being offered in Ireland!
Hotel points cards – Similarly to your grocery store cards, most major hotel chains offer reward cards. Each time you travel you can earn points toward a free stay. My mother particularly likes this because she is very partial to Holiday Inn Express. If there is one nearby, that’s where she’ll stay.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Who doesn’t love a good deal? Well, a little secret I have (ok maybe not so secret) is to always ask the locals. That includes your Uber driver, hotel staff, airport clerks or especially the local quilt shop staff! You’ll be amazed at what they might come up with.
Not that long ago I was in Florida with my sister for my birthday and we asked the evening clerk what we should do on our one free night in town. He pulled out a notebook full of coupons for local restaurants, bars and entertainment places and started handing them to us. Like I said, you just never know.
Plan to Eat in
Let me ask you this. Do you eat out every meal at home? So, it shouldn’t be too difficult then to plan to eat at ‘home’ for most of your meals.
On my trips I usually take with me oatmeal, cereal and some easy lunch items that will travel will. Then, every morning I eat breakfast at my lodging and pack a lunch to take with me on my travels. By the end of the day I’m usually too tired to cook so I’ll treat myself to a meal out. As long as you have a fridge in your hotel, or a full kitchen in your AirBnB, you can easily plan to eat most of your meals from there.
To save even more money, when you have a full kitchen at an extended stay or AirBnB, plan a couple ‘make ahead’ meals and cook them on your first night there. Then, simply pack them in individual portions and stick them in the fridge. Instead of eating out, you already have a quick meal ready to be heated up.
Go with a Goal
This one is especially poignant for Quilt Shows as well as Quilt Shop Hops. When I know that I need to stay on budget I try to go in with a specific pattern or project in mind. That way, instead of just looking at all the pretty, my mind is more focused on filling an actual need.
If you don’t already have a pattern in mind, then make that your first purchase. At the first shop your goal is to find your next favorite project pattern. Maybe it’s a fabulous quilt. Maybe it’s an amazing travel bag. The options are limitless.
At the next quilt shop your goal may be to find the perfect fabric for that pattern. Quilt shop #3 is time to get those notions! And maybe a new gadget to aid in our project completion. 😊
As Dave Ramsey says, “Swiping plastic doesn’t hurt like spending your hard-earned cash.” And it’s so true. When you can physically see the limited amount of money you have to spend, it forces you to be a bit pickier about your purchases. Phrases like ‘do I NEED this or do I WANT this’ come to mind.
Leave Extra Room in the Budget
Ok, I’ll be honest. It’s very easy to go over budget at the fabric store. This bad habit quadruples when you’re visiting multiple quilt shops. So, for this very reason, I always add a little extra cushion in the ‘Miscellaneous’ portion of the budget. That way, if I do happen to go over a bit, I’m still covered.
A Few Good Sites
These are a couple of my favorite sites that I use when looking for travel deals. You can find coupons for hotels, airlines, car rentals and more!
Honey is a great app that I use quite often for many things, not just travel. When you go to any site online Honey will automatically show you if there are any coupons available for use. They’ll even watch items for you on Amazon and notify you if they find a price drop. I’ve already saved a ton using them!
Retail me Not is a great site for finding deals on everything from cash back offers to coupons on travel and even quilting supplies. I spotted one this morning for a great deal on a new Cricut!
Groupon is great for finding deals on just about anything you can imagine. You can also search by location. So, if you’re going to be out on the road and want a massage or to find a great restaurant deal, just do a quick search!
No matter how you travel or where, finding a great deal is usually not far away. As long as you know where to look.
- Are Quilt Tours Really That Great?
- Why Quilters Should use AirBnB
- Complete Lists of Quilt Shops in the US
- Top Tips for Attending a Quilt Show
- Check out the Current list of Quilt Shows around the world!
Do you know someone who could use some Shop Hop planning tips? Click the buttons below to share the list with your friends! Then be sure to join us in the Traveling Quilters group on Facebook for more travel adventures!