In some ways, I am fairly average. I work a 9-5 standard paying gig. As an American, I get your typical two weeks of vacation a year. I do not have a sugar daddy that pays for my trips. Nor am I an influencer that has sponsors sending me things or better yet, sending me places. Haha maybe I’m doing things all wrong since I really have and continue to pay for everything myself. But you’re thinking, she travels SO much. True, since March, 2018, I have been on eleven trips out of state with five of those trips being international plus a lot of getaways within Colorado. So how am I doing this?
Please hold off on @ me for a moment. Before I go into how I’ve traveled so much while holding down a full time job, I want to paint a fuller picture for you. I know some are thinking ~ typical Millennial blah, blah no savings only living for the moment. Well yes, I think life is too short to always be waiting for a better time or to wait to travel when I’m retired. I’ve seen that nothing is promised and it’s best to make the most of today. Seriously DON’T @ me yet. Here’s the thing, I’m actually very financially responsible and encourage everyone to be as well. I own my home, I charge everything I can on my credit cards and then pay them completely off, I save a decent amount monthly and have significantly more saved for retirement than financial articles say I should have saved at my age. The only debt that I hold is tied to my house. Oh and if you’re thinking all of this is possible because I make a lot of money ~ sorry to disappoint, I’m actually make a little below the median US income.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to how I’m paying for my travels. So I’ve written before about my 10 Tips to help you travel better (and cheaper) here. This was written about what helped me when I was traveling full time but they’re still my go-tos now. And one of the above trips was my last blog post (sorry trying to get back into this!) and shows how I used all of this for an inexpensive trip to Mexico ~ read about it here! And I want to reiterate something now, it’s important for me to travel but I would not do it if it meant I would incur debt. So I prioritize how I spend my money (what is left over after monthly expenses and savings) by focusing on things like doing happy hour get togethers. They’re win win (wins) for me ~ getting quality time with great company, eating yummy food but not spending a lot of cash. I’ll only go to coffee shops if I’m meeting up with a friend otherwise, I’ll make coffee at home. And no buying clothes, household items, anything unless I’ve consciously made the decision that I need (and sometimes want) this item. I try not to make impulse buys and wait a day or two to see if I still want it. I’ve realized that even if it’s only $5 or $20 or $50 dollars, all of those amounts really add up. I really want to travel A LOT so that’s where I want to spend my hard earned dollars. Simple idea of experience over things for me.
So it’s sounds crazy but I try to take a trip monthly and the above pictures showcase where some of the trips were to. Maybe you just need to redefine your idea of vacation. I am incredibly lucky as I live in an phenomenal state and sometime the getaway is an hour or two drive from my house for the weekend. And sometimes I’ll camp so I’m really only spending money on gas and camping fees (and I buy an annual state and national parks pass so I save a bunch there). And when I do leave Colorado, my trips typically are just long weekends away. I took a three day trip to visit my cousin in Philly last spring and had a short jaunt to see Charleston around Christmas time. And a long weekend each to get some vitamin sea in Florida and to listen to the Santa Fe Opera. For almost every one of those getaways I spent less that $500 in total. And Philly was only so much more because I visited during Philly restaurant week so I had really high food costs covering for myself and my cousin but worth every cent to see her thriving her first semester at Villanova!
So let’s stop for a moment and talk about something when you think of travel for yourself. It’s not reasonable for most to travel as frequently as I do but you may be able to travel more than you do now. How? So this is where you have to decide what you want from a trip ~ first, how you’ll travel. Is it only important for you to get from point A to point B or does the mode matter? I fly low cost airlines fairly often since I get some incredible deals flying out of Denver. I don’t think of the airlines as nickel and dime-ing me for things. I’ve come to agree with the idea that I am paying for what I use or don’t and most often I don’t use/pay for extras. So most (I mean over 90%) have been good flights as there’s really not too much difference between the US airlines for me. So I find for myself that what I want to spend my money on is what I’ll do or see or eat after I get to my destination not how. So when I went to Canada again in September, I found an incredible deal on Frontier Airlines. Short trip from Thursday afternoon to Sunday night for $188! Flight was only $118 but since it was fall in Canada, I decided to bring more stuff just in case and paid for a carryon both ways and the fight was still a great deal! And thank goodness I did pack snow gear as you can see. On that note, I have always been a light packer but am even more so now. Most of the time I’ll only take a backpack that can fit under the seat and so I don’t have to pay for a carryon. So that’s one big way to have significant savings on your travels. ￼
Okay back to the 10 Tips articles and great resource, my fave website is google flights. I’ll do an in depth post soon on it but I am a little obsessed with it. As in I was recently showing someone how to use it and now I’ll be headed to NOLA in June because I found a great deal. The nice thing is I’m infinitely curious about the world and want to see, do, explore everywhere and everything. So my criteria is pretty broad for what makes a good trip. I’ll often just start looking at where there are cheap flights. Or sometimes my friends or Apple News will alert me to great deals such as the trip above. Norwegian Air had an incredible deal this spring and I flew direct to London for ~$150 and direct back home from Paris about ~$170! And I used google flights to find some cheap intercontinental flights in Europe and I was able to spend eleven glorious days exploring Portugal and have an amazing day reuniting with an old friend in Paris. I spent just over $420 in airfare to Portugal when R/T flights from Denver were running $1200 dollars for those dates. Norwegian is an airline that charges you a la carte but I was well prepared. I’ve been extremely fortunate that I luck out when I take these flights as I never pay for a seat assignment and have ended up with window seats 95% of the time.
I would say that there are also two very big factors that allow me to travel so much. One you may not be able to replicate so easily and that’s my actual job. I have a very flexible job and all of my bosses have been very accommodating with my schedule working around my trips. And in addition to the various frequent fliers/reward programs that I am a part of and have gotten big bonus miles/points with, I have an added perk that one of my job benefits is that my company offers twelve complimentary nights per year for me to stay at our properties world wide. So that really is why I can travel so much since often I’m not spending much, if anything, on accommodations. And the other thing is something that you may already do, have thought about doing, are scared of which is solo travel…and I do this quite often. Some of my trips have been to visit friends (such as my trip to Maui) or are with friends (California) but often it’s just that I’ll go because there’s a cheap flight and I found comp nights somewhere. With solo travel, I’m not waiting for others to be able to go see the world. I stay at hostels for the social aspect when solo traveling but an added bonus is that my accommodation costs are kept low.
So one last thought I have about all of this. I don’t ever want to make anyone feel bad. Not to go out and put yourself in debt to travel. Live vicariously for a moment until you’re able to. Or if you just want a vacation where you do X, Y or you want to go to Z and am embarrassed that it’s not the cool thing to do, do or go anyway. Life is way too short to live by anyone’s else rules or ideas on how to live your life. If you can’t bear to imagine not having an aisle seat and want to pay for it or want to bring more clothes ~ it’s your time. Do what you makes you happy. With light and love always, Rosemary