How We Vacation For Nearly FREE TOTS Network Brought to you by More Rewards and TheCo. If you have been following TOTS for a bit, you probably know that I have a large family. I have an adopted son, 3 biological sons and am a foster parent (right now we have two wonderful foster kids). My husband and I work hard and make a good, but not crazy good, income. As a large family with a reasonable income, vacationing is considered a luxury. However, that hasn’t stopped us over the last few years. Last year, we took our family of 6 on a 19 day vacation, which included a Caribbean cruise, 4 days in Puerto Rico and 3 days in Houston. Our total cost for the trip was only $1200. For just over $1000 our vacation included flights, the cruise, hotels, meals, rental cars and excursions. Want to hear how this was possible? Keep reading. Earning the Vacation Much of our vacation was earned and not paid for out of pocket. I do not mean EARN in the generic, go to work and EARN a paycheck kind of method. Like most families, the income earned through both my part-time and my husband’s full-time job, are used to pay the mortgage, tuition and food. Very little is left for vacations. Through loyalty card points, we were able to pay for our travel and other expenses for our vacation. Planning As with any large family vacation, ours always takes a significant amount of planning. Not only do I plan what we are going to do on the trip itself, but how I am going to EARN our vacation. Many credit cards offer points that can be redeemed for travel or cash back. I like to get the best bang for my buck and have done extensive research to find a card that gives me the flexibility of redemption, but also many ways to earn points. It is not too difficult to find a credit card which gives points when shopping. Just finding a card which gives you loyalty points is not enough. To fully take advantage of the points you can earn I always look for a card that provides increased points at partners that I know I will shop at. I also use my credit card and charge everything. And I mean everything. Instead of having the money come out of my bank account I just transfer my payments from my bank account to the credit card. Scotiabank® More Rewards®* Visa*card on Groceries The Scotiabank More Rewards Visa card has no annual fee, as well as an extended warranty and price protection. It also has a number of ways to earn points. I typically shop at either Save On Foods or Price Mart Foods, both of which are More Rewards partners. What does this mean? It means that I earn 6 More Rewards points per dollar. Some of the creative accounting that I do in order to pay for our vacation may include redeeming points for groceries the month before our trip, and using that budgeted money for our food during our holiday. Other Ways To Earn More Rewards I do not just use my card for groceries. There are many coalition partners. I personally earn points at the following locations: Coast Hotels (throughout Canada and the USA). My husband travels through work. Although his hotel is reimbursed by his employer, he can use his own card to pay for it initially. We get to collect these ‘free’ points. Petro Canada. Using my card at Petro Canada is kind of a no-brainer. With 6 kids all in different after school activities the car always needs gas. Although I am always finding ways to keep our driving costs down, we still need to fill up. Accent Inns. During local travel, we look for either a Coast Hotel or an Accent Inn. Canadian Direct Insurance. Home and auto insurance are necessities. Why not earn bonus points? More Rewards Travel! This is an exclusive travel agency just for More Rewards members, not only can you redeem your points for your travel, you can also earn points on all travel booked through their travel platform. Keep It Fun I know that not everyone is a self-proclaimed ‘nerd’ like myself, but I love the challenge of finding ways to earn rewards and redeem them in the most efficient way. I make spreadsheets and do the math. Think and re-think ways to make it all happen and achieve my goal. Not only do I enjoy the problem solving, but it also makes the vacation even more rewarding knowing that we worked hard to make it happen. Next time you vacation EARN it instead of paying for it. With Scotiabank More Rewards Visa you can vacation sooner than you think. To start earning your own More Rewards, visit scotiabank.com/morerewardsvisa. This post was produced in partnership with Scotiabank® More Rewards®* Visa* but all opinions expressed are my own.