The Best Vacation I’ve Ever Taken


I know, the title of this post does not really scream personal finance, but it’s my blog right?! If you bear with me until the end of the article, you’ll see why going on vacation can certainly apply to personal finances. I have had the privilege to go on many vacations, both growing up as a child and now being married to Mrs. Frugal Rules. It was on my first trip to Western Europe at nine years old that I first got glimpse at how big the world is and was instantly hooked on traveling the world. Now that I am a parent, we’re usually looking for summer vacation ideas and have learned that it’s not necessarily where you go that matters, but the time spent together with those I love and creating memories that’ll last a life time.

My Favorite Vacation

I have had the privilege of seeing a fair amount of the world in my life, including nearly all of Western Europe, a good chunk of the Caribbean, parts of South America and Alaska and by far my most favorite vacation was our honeymoon. I know that it may not be the most original of answers, but it was a time that I’ll take with me until my last breath.

You see, Mrs. Frugal Rules is Irish…at least she claims to be. She’ll say that she’s 25% Irish, but her family is 75% German, which my family is nearly all German to which I would say she’s German. 😉 But, as I’ve learned, you really do not need much to claim yourself to be Irish. 🙂 Back to the point, her dream for as long as she could remember was going to Ireland. Part of what I see as my role as her husband is doing what I can, within some reason, is to help make her dreams come true. Cheesy, I know, but the genuine truth. To make a long story short, we were blessed to spend nearly two weeks in Ireland. We flew to London and spent a total of three days there and this is the only part of the trip we planned. From London, we took a flight over to Dublin and spent two days in Dublin.

Both cities were great to see and experience and we really do want more time in London, but can be very touristy. The best part of the trip was renting a car in Dublin and roaming the countryside of Ireland for the next week and a half. To say that Ireland is green, is a major understatement. It was so verdant and beautiful; I can still see it in my mind today. We had a bed and breakfast book that we took with us and decided where we wanted to go the night before and called to make our reservation. We were able to stay in some very beautiful little villages and had the time of our lives. We enjoyed it so much that we talk seriously about moving there someday – which would make Mrs. Frugal Rules very happy to say the least.

I Love to Travel, so Budgeting is Key

We love to travel and while going on vacations is not necessarily the most cheap, they can be done on a budget. I know that not everyone believes in budgeting, and that’s not really the point of the post, but the beauty of a budget is that you can mold it to what meets your needs and wishes. One way we accomplish that is through saving money for vacations. It’s not really a novel idea, but it motivates me to save money because I know that saved money will allow us to go on a trip that we’ll enjoy.

Ultimately, it all comes down to priorities and, for us personally, one of our priorities is to be able to travel. We work hard throughout the year and play hard while on vacation. We budget so we can enjoy ourselves and not worry about being frugal while on the trip.

How to Get Someone Else to Pay for Your Vacation

You might be thinking this is great and all, but how does it apply to me? Well, how many of you like to go on vacations? I am sure it’s many of you and if so we’re all faced with how to pay for it. As a frugal person, I like to look for ways to save as much money as sensibly possible and still get what I want and going on vacation is no different.

If you’ve been a visitor of my blog for long, you’ll remember how recently we started churning credit cards like my Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard to help fund a trip for my birthday in January. Thanks to our planning we’ve been able to secure enough rewards points to pay for our airfare and three night stay this upcoming January in Las Vegas. I know that not everyone is able, or has the stomach, to churn credit cards and that is perfectly fine. That begs the question of how do you get someone else to pay for your vacation…the next best option I see is to win a giveaway! I am co-sponsoring a giveaway with some of my favorite bloggers to help giveaway some cold hard cash to help fund part of your next vacation. The giveaway is open to anyone worldwide and is payable via PayPal. Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below and you could be on your way to winning a cool $500, $300 or $100!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is your favorite vacation memory? What would you do if you won the $500?


Photo courtesy of: Ivan Walsh

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.


  • Great to be co-hosting with you!

  • Nice post John! Heck yeah its your blog write what you want right? I agree that things always come do to what you make a priority. You can get the things you want if you make the moves to make them happen. I don’t have the ‘stomach” for churning credit cards though. Best vacation memory to date was a simple vacation to Mexico with the wifey. Just seeing the smile on her face and being able to relax was great. If I won $500 I would probably spend it on the family or head out to Keywest for a short vacation.

  • Great post, John. We would LOVE to visit Ireland some day, me being Irish myself. Maybe when you guys move there you can put us up for a few nights, LOL. 🙂 One of my fave vacation memories is when I was a young and single gal: me and my peeps used to go every year and spend a few days in Chicago, taking in a Cubs game during the day, and the bar scene at night. Too much fun, maybe. 🙂

    • John says:

      Sure, you could crash at our place…as long as you don’t mind the Irish countryside. 🙂

      I lived in Chicago for five years, there is just so much to do there. Quite a fun town to visit.

  • Great post and made even more better with the raffle. I decided to join and I hope I can win. Thanks man!

  • Greg and I both just churned the Barclay Arrival card for the $440 in travel! We are using the $440 I earned to take the kids to a water park hotel for the weekend in a few weeks.

  • If I won $500 it would likely be deposited right in the bank to continue to add to my savings. I know it is boring, but I like to add to my compound interest as much as I can.

  • Matt Becker says:

    I know a few people who have been to Ireland and loved it. I’ve never been anywhere in Europe and would love to make it over there. Our honeymoon was to Costa Rica and it’s certainly an experience I’ll never forget. Beautiful country and really great experiences.

    • John says:

      Yes, Ireland is one of a kind. I would highly encourage Europe, as there is just so much to see there. I’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica, hopefully someday.

  • Debt Blag says:

    I think it absolutely has to do with personal finance. To me, personal financing is about prioritizing, and if scrimping in other places means you get to splurge on a trip, then so be it.

    Ireland sounds amazing. It’s definitely on the list 🙂

    As for what I’d do with $500, probably use it to pay down student loans :/

    • John says:

      Yes, it is pretty amazing, especially once you get outside Dublin. That sounds like a great use of $500. Fun – not really. Wise- yes. 🙂

  • Jake @ Common Cents Wealth says:

    That sounds like an awesome vacation. My wife and I took our honeymoon to Jamaica and that’s still my most memorable vacation to date. The weather, resort, food, and drinks were all great and totally worth the money.

  • Love the credit card rewards and bonuses. I got a few nights free at the Grand Hyatt in Macau which costs almost $300 a night. Got 2 free roundtrip flights to Indianapolis (went there for a wedding). Best vacation so far would be Hawaii…my wife wants to go back!

  • I’d hazard a guess that I also have a fair bit of German in me, must be why I like Frugal Rules so much!! I’m 6ft 5, got blonde hair, blue eyes and my last name is Buller. Gotta be part German!

    • John says:

      Ha ha…yeah, I’d say you have just a bit of German in your family line Adam. 😉 I think virtually all of my family line is German…save for a bit of Swiss.

  • Ah I miss the vacations! My wife’s Irish as well and we’re planning to visit Ireland, hopefully soon. We’re setting aside some money for the vacation, but right now with a little 2-year old and another one on the way, I think in reality the vacation still might be a few years away.

    • John says:

      Yea, vacations have gone by the wayside for us now that we have three. We take much more shorter trips and more local if we go with the family.

  • Sicorra says:

    Your honeymoon vacation sounds like it was beautiful. I only had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Dublin but it was very nice. I wish I had been able to spend more time to see things outside of Dublin. I found it interesting in Dublin how there is a Pub on pretty much every corner too.

    • John says:

      It was. We really enjoyed Dublin, but it’s pretty much like any other big city. We did enjoy the pubs. 🙂 but the countryside was so beautiful.

  • Oh my gosh, could you two be any cuter? That is so sweet! I really feel like hopping in a car and roaming the countryside is definitely the best way to see any country. Thanks for cohosting with us!

    • John says:

      I could not agree more Cat. Doing the touristy thing is fun and all, but I feel that you really don’t get to truly experience the country that way.

  • I have heard so many great things about Ireland. It’s definitely on my list! I think vacations are very much a part of personal finance. 🙂 At least, it is our home!! I’ve had lots of great vacations too and it’s really hard for me to pinpoint a favorite because there have been things I’ve loved about all of them. Right now, I’m glad the girls are old enough that we can really start to do some exploring on our trips and have them make it through the day.

    • John says:

      You’d love it Shannon! It’s so beautiful and so green. We’re looking forward to those days where our little ones are old enough to make it through the day, we’re limited now – but that’s ok. 🙂

  • My favorite vacation was visiting Switzerland for my 18th birthday (sorry wife). I would probably buy a Chromebook and invest in my blog with $500 extra. 🙂

  • You sound like me when it comes to my wife and our marriage. I do what I can to make her dreams come true. It’s not cheesy that’s what a real man does when he is in love. Too often men put macho ahead of being real. Sounds like you both the trip of a lifetime. Next year we are going to the UK, Spain, Italy, France… that is the goal so we will be saving in our budget for these trips.

    • John says:

      I could not agree more Mr. CBB! We’re called to love our wives and put them first. Call me old fashioned, but I love to be able to make her dreams come true.

      Ok…so, can I join you on your trip?! 😉 I’ve not been to southern Europe yet and REALLY want to!

  • Sounds like a great vacation John. I still haven’t done the credit card churning thing, but I hear more and more about it. My wife just got an airline miles card and she is happy about it. I still go with the cash back cards for myself.

  • I’ve taken some amazing vacations in my day so it’s hard to narrow it down. The most epic was probably the three weeks in Japan, but there have been many other great one as well. Dang, now I want to go on vacation again!

  • Vivienne says:

    I would love to visit Thailand with my husband and son. This raffle is really cool since there are so many ways to enter. Thanks!

  • Ireland is one of my favorite family trips we’ve taken! Iceland and Cambodia are also in my top 5. Now that I’m learning how to travel solo, without the bank of Mom and Dad, the trips have been much less frequent than in my childhood. Budgeting is certainly key and cashing in those frequent flyer miles! I managed to pull of a 5 day trip to Paris for less than $500 total (include airfare and staying in an apartment via an Air BnB type site).

    • John says:

      I’ve flown through Iceland twice but never seen anything other than the airport – that I want to change! Nice work on that trip to Paris!

  • jim says:

    If you’re ever in Ireland, you’ve got to spend a couple of nights in this very haunted castle – best trip we’ve ever had and the castle really, really is haunted. There’s a journal they keep in the great room where people from all around the world have written about their experiences with ghosts at this place. It was sooooooooooooooo much fun, until we found ourselves “locked” in the bathroom and we were the only visitors there!

    • John says:

      That sounds interesting. We went to Blarney Castle, of course and a few other, but nothing like this. I’d have to talk my wife into it though. 😉

  • Catherine says:

    My favorite vacation was Germany! I can’t wait to go back. My brother in law is from N. Ireland and would love to do a trip to teh UK with him as my tour guide.

    • John says:

      Oh, I LOVED Germany. I really want to take my wife there as it’s so beautiful there. We did not make it to N. Ireland, though definitely want to.

  • It is your blog and you can write about pig feet and corn chowder if you want. I would love to go to Ireland someday, and I think it’s great that your are using credit card rewards to go to fun places.

  • Peter says:

    Ireland sounds great. Hope I can visit there one day. Hope I can participate on the next giveaway with you. Enjoyed the post.

  • Sounds amazing! 4 kids, 2 under 2! I don’t know what traveling is yet, Maybe when they are older:)

  • I’m exploring churning credit cards more to pay for trips now that I feel I have control over everything. Might as well make your money work for you. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland and Scotland. I LOVE the accents and the scenery. Next up on my list though is Croatia. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • John says:

      I think as long as you have your spending under control then you should be just fine. We’re funding our trip to Vegas in January entirely on rewards points and looking for our next trip. 🙂

      We wanted to make it to Scotland, but we ended up not having the time. It’s definitely on our list though.

  • I love vacationing when using other people’s money – ie travel cards! I didn’t even clue into card churning until last year. I went on a couple of flights this year with my points. It’s the best way to go!

  • Will have to check out Dublin. Sounds nice! Good food though besides meat and potatoes?

    I was in Switzerland, Mallorca, and Germany for 3 weeks in July and it was awesome. Mallorca is the bomb shiz!

    • John says:

      It was nice Sam, though we really enjoyed the countryside much more once we got out of Dublin…not that Dublin was bad by any means. 🙂 We were actually there during the height of the Foot & Mouth issue so we stayed away from red meat while there. We had a lot of fish and chicken dishes, overall, they were very good.

      I LOVE Switzerland & Germany! I spent about a month over there and saw most of W. Europe. I’ve not been to S. Europe at all, but that is definitely on the list.

  • Buck Inspire says:

    Sounds like an amazing time! Good point about budgeting for vacations and very slick how you used your credit cards to pay for it. I visited Europe a few years back, but never made it to Ireland. Would you recommend this trip for someone who is not Irish or German, haha?

  • Amy says:

    We are thinking about going to London in March, 2015. I love planning in advance! So, the $500 would go into our travel fund for that.

  • anna says:

    That sounds like an awesome vacation, and that warmed my heart that you felt your role as a husband was to help fulfill her dreams – if that isn’t romantic, I don’t know what is! B and B’s are so charming! Glad to hear you two had such a memorable experience (though LOL at the percentage breakdown of heritage. :)).

  • Derek Chamberlain with says:

    My favorite type of vacations sound much like yours. In a far away country with little plans and 1-2 weeks to just roam around. Those are the most memorable, usually the most frugal, and the most stress-less…

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