Our Answer. Part 1: How do you pay for your travels?
Austin & I get asked a lot how we pay for our travel. This is a SUPER hard question to answer. There is a lot that goes into this answer, and there isn’t really a right answer for everyone. But we’ll share how WE are able to pull it off. One of the reasons I feel like it is hard to answer is because I realize that everyone is in a different financial situation, and though we’re grateful it has worked for us, it may not be the best answer for you.
We decided to split this topic into 3 posts. This first one is just on how we have adapted our lifestyle and the way that we spend money to help support our travels. The second will be about how we find cheap flights and hotels. And in the last post, we’ll share a little bit about the ways we save money while we are actually traveling.
Austin & I LOVE to travel and experience new things together. It is something that we feel brings us together and makes us stronger as a couple and family. We love the time we get together, without the daily distractions we have at home. We love how it makes our relationship stronger. It really has become a priority to us and something that we value. Something that we feel is worth working for and has become a part of our marriage. I think that if you are looking for a simple answer - it begins with making it a priority for you.
And not to be too personal here, but just so everyone knows, it is not like Austin and I have a ton of money. Haha! The first 3 years of our marriage while we were students, we were living on about $10,000-$13,000 a year. We have definitely experienced times where we have no money and where travel just wasn’t going to happen right then, and that’s totally okay. But even during those times, we would make plans and figure out how we could achieve our next travel goals, even if it was a year ahead of us. It helped us keep our travel goals realistic. To date, we both have our bachelor’s degrees and have done a large excursion each year, and have been debt free for every part of it. We use credit cards so that we build our credit and get the cash back rewards, but we always make sure to pay it off every month. We hate the idea of letting credit card debt interest work against us. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but we try our best to avoid it.
Austin & I have made a lot of “sacrifices” in order to travel the way that we do. But really, because it is a priority to us, they don’t feel like sacrifices at all. Here are a few examples to just give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
A few months ago, I was looking at a bunch of possibilities to bring in some extra money to help pay for our upcoming trip. I heard of this company, VIPKID, that you can teach English online to kids in China. I looked into it and decided this is a way that I could make a little extra money to pay for our flights for our upcoming trip around the world. That way the cost of our trip wouldn’t be as much of a burden on our regular income and we wouldn’t feel as guilty for throwing that money down when we are getting ready to go to grad school. What I also liked about the job is that I could pick my hours and could be at home with Addison, and still have my evenings with Austin. Because of the time change, the most high demand classes are from 3-6 am every morning. Nerd moment warning. I made a map of the world and drew in our itinerary. I made a little airplane that I could move along our flight route each morning as I paid for those flights. It was my motivation every morning when I would wake up at 2:45 am to work. But I did it. Slowly the plane moved, making its way! I had our flights around the world paid off in 3 ½ months working part time in my kitchen every morning. I became a reallllly good power napper AND I paid for our tickets to go around the world.
Austin & I shared our 2002 Rodeo for the first 3 ½ years of being married. One of us (usually Austin haha) would bike to school or bike to work, while the other (usually me) had the car. This alone, has saved us A TON. We recently had to buy a second car because of our current life circumstances. We started looking at actual new cars and we were pretty excited about it. Until one of us (guilty) said something like “gosh we could travel for a long time for that kind of money.” Guys, it’s so bad. But that is how we think. So instead, we bought a 2001 Camry for $2,000 and we were perfectly okay with that.
Another huge one for us is our living expenses. For the first two years we lived in an OLD town home with lovely orange shag carpet. We paid $475 a month for rent. But we made it home and embraced the orange shag! We have so many good memories there and we didn’t feel like we were living in one of the cheapest options in Logan, Utah. In these early years of our family, we realize that our apartments are so temporary, and we don’t mind living in a smaller or cheap place for now!
Another example that seems small, but adds up, is that most of the time Austin takes a lunch to work, and I would take a lunch to school. We were okay to forfeit the convenience of picking up lunch somewhere or eating out, because we knew that was a good way for us to save money that could potentially contribute to our traveling. Austin works about 250 days a year and if he spends two to three bucks on taking lunch instead of eight bucks buying lunch every day, that alone has saved us at least over a $1,000. Small sacrifices add up.
Here’s just a few more. We don’t have TV. We shop in the clearance section. We apply to about every scholarship possible. We go to the dollar movie. We buy things like baby bike trailers on KSL (something similar to craigslist where people sell their used items). We are careful what we buy in the grocery store. We rarely spend money on soda or snack food. We buy the off brand. As much as I love getting my nails and hair done, I spend the minimal amount on hair, makeup, nails, eyelashes and eyebrows (don’t look too close! haha).
You may think we are a bunch of cheapos. And as I’m writing this, I’m realizing maybe we are! Haha But if so, then we are cheapos that are traveling the world, eating curry rice at the Taj Mahal, playing on the beaches of southern Thailand, hiking volcanoes in Guatemala and road tripping across the U.S. All of these little ways have become our lifestyle. Of course we splurge sometimes and we aren’t always this crazy. But for the most part, we try to be pretty mindful of where our money goes.
Something that Austin & I have talked about quite a bit is that everyone’s goals are so different. Even though we love traveling, not everyone does!! Haha We honestly think that if you’d rather have a house or a new car or really nice things in your home or things for the hobbies you love or beautiful eyelashes and eyebrows, then THAT IS AWESOME and you should be proud of that! We are not trying to push our lifestyle on anyone, but just wanted to share a part of how we do it. I love the quote by Dale Carnegie when he said “Success is a progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”
Everyone who is striving towards something is successful! That’s the beauty!