After posting that we were en route to Santorini for Brett's birthday using flights that were under $400 round trip (from Texas, y'all!), several friends and family sent out forms of, "Hey! How are you doing this?"
During various tours on our trips, precious couples became captive listeners when finding out, "No, this isn't technically our honeymoon - we're doing 12 trips in our first 12 months of marriage." Series of questions followed again about the logistics - do y'all work? what about PTO? are the flights, like, safe?
(Don't worry, we're not flying on FedEx planes.)
There are five things we do to afford traveling this much.
1.) We budget. Duh. Fortunately we can live veryyy comfortably on Brett's income, so we use my income for savings. We have five different savings accounts for various purposes, one of which is our Travel Fund. Anything I make through my business and teaching ESL online gets thrown into one of these accounts - as well as any side hustle work I do. Anytime a local floral designer asks for an extra set of hands at a wedding, a past student asks for some tutoring, or a sweet friend asks for help at a farmer's market, I usually jump on board since that's more money in our Travel Fund.
Brett usually has to tell me to cut back on working. Whoops. But I'm like, "But the savings accounts! Look how they rise!" Ha. Balance is hard.
2.) We prioritize. I think the biggest reason we make room in our budget for travel is that we do not eat out. Unless we're with family, you won't see us inside of a restaurant. We started doing this while we were dating when we realized we'd rather spend our money on an Icelandic Northern Lights Tour than a Friday night dinner. So we save.
Yes, we cook at home for every meal. I meal plan each week so that we can avoid the drive-thru. It saves SO much money...and I LOVE to cook, so it's a win win.
And yeah, there are times when I'm like, "Let's just order a pizza. I'm too tired to cook." But then once I see that costs near $20, I realize I'd rather split a bottle of wine in Santorini with that money instead. Because we totally did that many of times on our trip to Greece, and I was just so happy with Haley of the past for avoiding Domino's.
(Side note: we each get personal money each month to spend as we please - which includes happy hours with friends. So that's how we're able to do that and, you know, not be hermits.)
3.) I search flight deals. Like, obsessively. Each morning, when I'm waking up with my coffee, I spend at least half an hour on Google Flights. I have a list of about 30 places I'd be interested in visiting, and I spend this time checking fare prices to said destinations. I've been doing this for about eight months now, so I'm pretty familiar with what constitutes a "jump on that deal NOW" price - under $400 round trip for Europe, under $140 round trip for North America. I have several subscription services (like Escape Austin and Scott's Cheap Flights) that let me know of flight deals they've found, but by this point I generally find them on Google Flights.
I also check surrounding airports because often times one will have a deal but not the other. Although we're based out of Austin, Texas, I also check Houston and San Antonio airports.
Right now I'm waiting for Mendoza, Mexico City, Dublin, and/or Portland to have some really snazzy price. Since technically not all twelve of our trips have been picked yet.
Flight deals of really, really good prices can be gone in less than an hour. For example, once I found nonstop flights from Austin, Texas to London for $322 (!!!) on a reputable airline, but by the time I was putting in the credit card info, the seats had jumped back up to $1600. It's a race against the clock, y'all.
4.) We take quick trips. Generally speaking, our trips are not lengthy. In our seven years together, the longest trip we've taken was seven days long. So that we can best utilize Brett's PTO, our trips are always over a weekend, and range from three to six days - even to Europe. We went to Iceland for four days, Greece for six. And it was wonderful.
We're both such we-recharge-at-home people that it just works for us. We agree that for now, traveling more often for shorter periods of time makes us happier.
And, you know, because we miss our dogs.
When we travel, we also first prioritize what we really want to do there - not necessarily what everyone says you have to do. And our days on a trip are pretty active - we don't really get when people are like, "I laid around and took THREE naps today on my trip!" While that's great and all, I'll nap at home.
Or on the airplane - Brett teases me relentlessly for being able to sleep anywhere.
5.) We pack snacks. Like, a lot of snacks. I've worked hard to create a cushy little Travel Fund - I am not blowing it on expensive airport food (unless it's a strong margarita, but that's a different story). Usually my carry-on includes a cooler, and we pack it full of produce, cheese, crackers, sandwich bread, mayo packets, lunch meat, cereal, dried fruit, jerky, salads, etc. This is also so handy on lengthy flights to Europe - being a picky eater, I generally dislike the provided meals.
I also bring one of those bottles that keeps drinks hot/cold for a ridiculous amount of time, so I love to find some hot water for tea for my flight.
I think that covers it. I'd be happy to clarify any of them - just shoot me an email!
Happy traveling, y'all.