How Do We REALLY Travel So Much?
In 2018, we traveled to 8 countries + 7 states. The year prior, 8 countries + 8 states. In the first month of this year alone, we have already hit Thailand, South Korea + Santa Barbara, with Mexico City + Portland on deck for next month. Over the last few years, we have heard the same question more times than we can count, many times in an exasperated tone - “How on earth do you guys travel so much?”
We’ve shared through this blog the big secrets to making travel happen from maximizing air miles to balancing your budget. The truth is, though, that there is an element of smaller decisions that make our trips possible. Kelda is a school teacher which means she has designated time off + more vacation than the average person. However, she doesn’t have the flexibility of choosing her time off as most do and is confined to traveling at the most expensive times of the year…and on a teacher’s salary no less. On the other hand, Lauren has the ability to choose when she takes vacation + for how long, with a little more disposable income, but is restricted to a fewer number of days off a year to fit in her travels. Between the two of us, we have become experts at hacking the two biggest excuses that we hear from our friends as to why they can’t travel: time + money.
You can definitely still take fun vacations without following any of these tips, but, if you’re someone that really dreams of being able to travel the world + take in many countries each year, it doesn’t just happen. These are the tips that we follow to be able to travel more than the average millennial. Not all of these make travel glamorous, but they are truly the answer to our most asked question of, “How do we REALLY travel so much?”
avoid taking vacation days that aren’t spent traveling
Since Lauren started working post-college, she has never taken a vacation day to do anything other than travel. If you want to travel internationally extensively, every single vacation day matters. Lauren never uses a vacation day to “recover” after a trip - even if it’s a club-filled Vegas weekend or an international trip with a significant time change. Even over the holidays, Lauren doesn’t get Christmas Eve, Black Friday or the day after Christmas off, and she always goes into work. Going into work when you’re tired post-trip or post-turkey dinner is the worst, but it’s a sacrifice you have to make to take more meaningful trips.
tag vacation days onto holiday weekends
This tip is both a way that we extend our vacations, as well as save a little money on peak travel dates. For example, this past summer, our family went to Greece, a big international trip that you might think would require most of your vacation days. We planned our trip over the 4th of July. Lauren left after work on Friday and flew back early Sunday morning the next week, with 4th of July falling mid-week. As a result, Lauren was able to visit Greece for an 8-night trip, but only take 4 days off of work. Similarly, Kelda visited Santa Barbara over MLK Weekend + tagged on one of her personal days to the end of the trip. This way, she was able to enjoy another day of her vacation, as well as save some money, as she flew back on Tuesday, not Monday/MLK Day with everyone else!
take advantage of long layovers
While most people cringe at long layovers, we almost always snag a flight with a long layover as a way to not only save money on our flight, but also to see a new place or revisit an old favorite! This summer we used a 18 hour layover on our way to Greece to revisit London, this time with our parents showing us their favorite haunts from when they lived there in their twenties! This is also a great way to break up a long day of flights + airports, as well as sample new cities without the commitment of an extended trip there. This is how we’ve gotten tastes of Chicago, Dublin, Iceland, Seoul, + soon Miami on Kelda’s way to Curacao this April! You also tend to save up to hundreds of dollars on these flights as most people prefer direct.
be a savvy shopper
Unless it’s a pretty incredible deal (i.e. Kelda’s $200 flight to Kauai) we never impulse shop for travel. Google Flights is a favorite of ours to find the cheapest dates + locations for us to travel. Hopper is another favorite for when we have specific dates + want to know the best time to buy. Lastly, whenever we plan to stay in a hotel we almost always bundle our flight + hotel on Orbitz, Expedia, etc. to get the best deal. From our experience, we’ve saved hundreds of dollars per person, per trip by booking a hotel + flight bundle, as opposed to booking the same flight + hotel separately.
Additionally, always book what should be the most costly part of your trip first, typically your flight if you’re traveling internationally. For example, if you’re planning a multi-destination Europe trip hold out on booking your inter-country train/flight tickets until you have your transatlantic flight booked. This gives you the flexibility to book the cheapest long-haul international flight without being tied down to specific dates yet. You’d be surprised how shifting your trip dates by just one day could save you hundreds!
the little things add up
If your goal is to travel internationally multiple times a year, then you need to be willing to sacrifice on some weekend getaways + domestic travels. Weekend getaways can be deceiving because their upfront flight costs are so much lower. In reality, we have often spent dramatically more on our weekend trips than big international trips. For example, a weekend in Vegas can cost upwards of $1000 after hotel, dining and, if you don’t work with a promoter, tables at clubs. Following our tips, that same $1000 could easily cover a week-long Europe vacation.
In the same vein as passing on some weekend getaways, if your goal is truly to see the world, you may have to pass on some annual trips or refrain from visiting the same place too often. We rarely visit the same place twice. Our only exception is our annual trips to Ireland to visit our grandparents. Even then, we always try to add on one new European city while we are there. We have friends that travel to Vegas multiple times a year or head to the lake for an annual summer vacation + then complain that they have no time or money to travel internationally. At the end of the day, they do have the time + money to travel internationally like we do, they just choose to spend it differently. We’re not saying to skip out on family trips if they’re important to you, but get creative! Maybe you join your family for half of the trip or suggest a new destination for you all to try! Last summer, ours did Greece as a way to still make family memories, while still curing our travel bug!
suck it up
As a millennial, if a goal of yours is to travel frequently, sometimes you just have to suck it up. You’re not at the point of being able to be super picky on airline, time of travel, fare class, etc. You need to try to save as much as possible per trip in order to be able to travel more extensively. While we don’t compromise on everything, we do make sacrifices on things that won’t impact the overall quality of the trip + that we don’t prioritize because we aren’t at the point of being able to prioritize everything. We make the most of our air miles, stay flexible with flights, never check a bag, always travel basic economy, + never pay for add ons on flights (such as meals, extra leg room, early check in).
It’s our goal to make travel achievable for anyone who dreams of it. Stop making excuses for yourself + just be flexible + creative. If you have a friend who is all talk but no action, send them our way so we can help them plan their dream trip!