One of Taylor’s and my passions is traveling. We love seeing and experiencing all the world has to offer with each other. From the food, places, cultures and people, some of our best memories have been on our adventures together. I’ve also enjoyed being able to combine my passion of photography with our passion for travel. And we’ve absolutely loved having Peter on our trips the last year. He has only added to how much fun we’ve had as a family!
A lot of people have asked how we do it, and have asked for specific tips on how to make it happen. Tay and I put together our top seven list below that have helped us travel since we were poor college students until now (still a relatively poor young couple with a baby). I also included some of our favorite pictures we have taken while traveling! Hope this is helpful.
1. MAKE TRAVELING A PRIORITY AND DON’T MAKE EXCUSES FOR WHY NOW ISN’T A GOOD TIME
There is always going to be a reason not to see the world. Whether it’s being in school, being newlyweds, being pregnant, having a baby, or having kids; there’s always a reason not to go. Instead of using those as excuses, use them as reasons! We’ve traveled, and plan on continuing to explore the world, in every stage of life. Truly make it a priority in your life if it’s something you care about. It’s also fairly easy to visit places close to where you live, and experience the amazing places near your home. Get in a car and go as your first step. That being said, if travel is not something you’re passionate about then don’t make it a priority; it’s probably not worth it for you!
2. PLAN AHEAD AND MAKE FINANCIAL GOALS FOR THE TRIPS YOU WANT TO TAKE THAT YEAR, AND SACRIFICE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
· You probably won’t ever actually go on the trip you’ve been dreaming of if you don’t plan ahead. Make goals with your spouse or yourself to save a specific amount each month for your big trip that year. Maybe every month you transfer a specific amount to a different account, or you put all of the cash you get from tips into an envelop in your dresser that’s just for travel. Whatever works for you, do it.
· If you’ve made travel a priority, then show it by sacrificing some of the other things you spend money on. This may be cutting down on your monthly shopping spree to the mall or eating out a little less. Find areas that you can sacrifice to put towards your travel fund.
3. MAKE A LIST OF YOUR TOP DESTINATIONS, KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR GOOD DEALS TO THOSE DESTINATIONS, AND MOVE QUICKLY ON DEALS YOU FIND
· Step 1: Make a list of destinations you’d like to visit. Have fun with it!
· Step 2: Subscribe to deal alerts or email services that let you know of good travel deals. Our two favorites (both completely free) are Travel Zoo (went to Thailand and New Zealand through them. Sign up for their Top 20 weekly email) and Scott’s Cheap Flights (going to Japan in April b/c of him).
· Step 3: If a deal comes up for a place you’ve been dreaming of, or maybe if one comes up for a place you haven’t been thinking of but looks amazing, then jump on it! After Tay got the email from Scott about a ridiculous deal on airfare to Tokyo, we bought our tickets a couple hours later for less than $500 each. The next day they were back up to $1,300! Deals don’t last long, so don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.
4. BE OKAY TRAVELING ON THE CHEAP, BUT DON’T HESITATE TO SPLURGE ON IMPORTANT EXPERIENCES TO YOU
· If you want to travel now and budgets are still a little tight, don’t expect to stay at the Ritz-Carlton wherever you go. It’s okay to stay at Airbnbs or hostels. We have done both, and hostels are a great way to mingle with other travelers. In fact, some of our most fun experiences have been meeting people at Airbnbs, or even staying with friends and family we know in other places. If you do stay for free, be a generous guest and give them a nice gift card for letting you stay with them and save money on a hotel.
· While it’s important to not go overboard while you’re abroad, we also think it’s important to spend on experiences that might be once in a lifetime. An example of this was on our trip to Alaska last summer. We were debating whether or not we should splurge on a small plane experience flying over Mt. Denali, and we are so glad we decided to do it (pic below). It was truly one of the coolest experiences we’ve ever had!
5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MILES AND GET ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS
· Find a travel credit card that has a good sign up bonus and sign up. In the last year Tay and I have signed up for two credit cards that we’ve earned 100,000 miles on just the bonuses alone. Some people get pretty crazy with how many cards they sign up for, but we keep it relatively low. Two in one year was actually a lot for us. We’ve paid for at least part of all of our domestic trips with miles (including Alaska), as well as our entire trip to Costa Rica (thanks to Southwest flying there now!).
· Buy everything you can on your credit card to get as many miles as possible. You can even use online mileage malls to get additional points, which send you to the exact website you would have purchased something from anyways. We also like to buy gift cards to spend at Costco for groceries for future months when we initially open a credit card. This being said, NEVER go into debt because you want more points. Be careful with your spending if you know you have a hard time with credit cards, because your miles are never worth going in the hole for.
· We love following The Points Guy on Facebook. He usually posts great content with links to his website with travel/points tips, and also posts good deals he finds as well.
6. ASK FOR THE GIFT OF TRAVEL, AND DON’T PAY ALL AT ONCE
· We often only think of gifts in terms of clothes or gadgets, but why not ask for the gift of travel? When your parents ask you what you want for Christmas next year, tell them a Delta or Airbnb gift card! Once you have it in hand, the next time you go to plan a trip you already start ahead.
· One way that we like to plan ahead for an upcoming trip is to spread the different big expenses we have for the trip across the months leading up to it. For example, we might pay for our hotel in one month, a train pass in the next month, and a car rental in the next. We like doing it this way because it doesn’t seem like a huge expense all at once by waiting until you leave to pay for everything.
7. TIPS ONCE YOU’RE THERE
· Once you’ve done all the work to make it to your dream destination, do all you can to soak up every minute. Unplug as much as you can from the world back home (Tay is better at this than me). Instead of scrolling through Facebook when you get back to your hotel at nights, bring a good book to read.
· Experience everything you can about the place you’re at. Do research beforehand to see what places you’d like to see most, what foods you want to eat most, and what activities look the most fun to you. Do what you planned, but don’t be afraid to try something you hadn’t thought of that looks authentic or even crazy.
· Meet and talk with locals, and most importantly respect their home and culture. Try to interact with as many people as possible. Play soccer with them on the beach or chat with them on a bench in the park. Learn what their life is like and tell them about yours. Be as respectful as possible to what is important or sacred to them.
I truly hope this helps somebody get out and explore the world! Feel free to post in the comments or send me an email if you have any questions or things you would add! I’m more than happy to answer your questions, and we’re always looking for new tips too.