A lot of people ask me how Andrew, my husband, and I travel so much. I think people ask this question, because as a society, traveling is associated in our minds with vacations, and multiple vacations seem to equal lots of time and money. It's really easy to write off travel as something you can't do because of your resources, finances, or life circumstances. However, Andrew and I have been able to make travel happen for us despite circumstances that might say otherwise (especially in the past year), and I wanted to give you guys some helpful tips on how YOU can travel, no matter your budget, your job, or where you live.
Andrew and I got married last May, roughly a year ago. This past year was arguably the most frugal (or lets just be real - poor) we've ever been and probably will ever be. We were newlyweds, Andrew was still a student, and I had just quit any secure job I had to go full time in my photography business. Yet, despite those circumstances, we visited the Dominican Republic, Wisconsin, Great Sand Dune National Park, Big Bend National Park, Dallas, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Denver, Charlottesville, Washington D.C., Great Smoky Mountain National Park, New Jersey, Death Valley National Park, San Francisco, and Northern California. In addition, I visited Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park, Orlando, Denver (again), Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon.
Looking back on all of the places we've visited in the past year, I could easily just say we're blessed. And while I'm not negating that at all, (I know some of our circumstances have made us really fortunate), I also know for a fact it's much more than that. The overarching reason Andrew and I have been able to travel to a total of 16 places together in the past year is because of this: we've made traveling a priority in our lives. It's that simple. When you put traveling as a top priority in your life, you're going to live in a way that makes it happen. Below are the 5 main ways we made travel a priority in the first year of our marriage. If you're a fellow travel lover, and are looking for ways to implement it more into your life, I hope these tips refresh your perspective and encourage you to pack your bags and hit the road!
1) Make Time for Travel
I've heard so many people say things like, "Oh, I wish I had time to travel," or "I'm not in a season of life where I can travel right now." Guys, here's the thing: travel isn't going to happen for you unless you make time for it. It requires a bit of sacrifice, of choosing to use your days off or weekends to make it happen. Even if you're in the craziest season of life, I truly believe that anyone can travel with the right amount of sacrifice and planning. And if you really are in a situation where you think you absolutely cannot, that's okay! I understand seasons bring about different opportunities or lack there of, and people may have different priorities during different seasons of life. I'm strictly speaking to those who desire to travel, but feel like their life circumstances aren't letting them. If I just described you, I want you to hear me for a second: Everything you do in life is a choice, and if you really want to make travel a priority in your life, you're going to have to give up certain things in order to make that happen.
Here's an example: August to December of 2016 was Andrew's last semester of his undergraduate college degree. This meant he had classes every Monday through Friday, with very minimal breaks. One might say that as a student, your travel opportunities are zero. Well that wasn't flying for us. ;) So what did we do? We took a trip on every break he had that semester. He had a Monday off for Labor Day, so he skipped his class the Friday before, and we went to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado that weekend. He had a Monday and Tuesday off for Fall break in October, so we went a little farther to Big Bend National Park in Texas. Even though those both were pretty small weekend breaks, we took those opportunities to travel because it was a priority for us. We could have easily done other things those weekends, but we made time for what was important: spending time together while exploring new places. No matter if you're a student, or if you have a job where you only have weekends off, you can use those tiny little breaks as an opportunity to travel, especially if they aren't very far away.
2) Your Trips Don't Have To Be Ritz Carlton Rendezvous
Most people think traveling is super expensive. While it definitely can be, there are loads of ways to be able to travel for super cheap. Like I said above, this past year we were living way below the average income for our area. Andrew was still a student, so he couldn't work a full time job, and I had just left any secure job to start a full time photography business. Ha. We were flying on 100% faith to even pay our bills, let alone travel. And amazingly enough, God provided. Here are a few ways Andrew and I were able to travel for super cheap:
- We drove everywhere. No really. Except for the Dominican Republic and New Jersey, every place I listed above that both Andrew and I went to this past year, we drove. Driving is WAY cheaper than flying, and if you don't mind putting miles on your car, it's a great way to travel for cheap.
- We prepped meals beforehand. I married a MASTER travel meal planner ya'll! Before every trip he would make a list, get everything we needed from the store, and even prep and precook a couple of things for the road. Not only did this save us a TON of money not having to eat out, but it's also so much healthier! For our trip to Big Bend, we were on the Whole 30, and if any of you have ever done that, eating out is nearly impossible, especially on the road. His meal preps were a life saver.
- Airbnb was our best friend. We use this app literally every single trip we go on. You've probably either heard of it by now, or have used it yourself, but if not, it's an app that let's you find awesome places to stay no matter where in the world you go. Oftentimes you can find great deals for cheap, while staying with really nice hosts. It can definitely help cut costs down because you can usually find cheaper options than hotels. I cannot recommend it enough. :)
- We used Google to find the cheapest gas on our route. Every time we got to half tank, I would look on Google Maps for gas stations along our route and compared prices. Even though this isn't a huge money saver (gas is still gas), when you're trying to travel on a low budget, pinching any and all pennies helps!
- We spent our money on experiences instead of things. Neither of us are big on buying souvenirs (honestly, I look at the photos I take as priceless souvenirs haha). So we don't buy merchandise or spend our money on extravagant excursions. Most places we go are National Parks, so we decided to get a National Park Annual Pass to save money. The only other thing we buy when going to parks is a single post card from each. Adventuring and hiking in National Parks is super cheap, and an experience unlike any other. To us, that's much more valuable than staying in fancy hotels or buying 6 t-shirts for every place we go. The only exception to this is when we think an experience IS worth our money (like the time we bought a day long excursion to snorkel on Catalina Island during our Honeymoon, or when we rented dry suits to hike The Narrows in Zion in January.)
3) Use Your Money Wisely
In addition to being intentional and wise with your money while traveling, there's a lot of ways to save money with how you spend it in your lifestyle. So that way you DO have money for trips. Even during our season of having a super low income last year, there were ways Andrew and I saved our money in order to spend it traveling and doing what we loved.
- We rented a reeaallly cheap, tiny apartment. The Midwest is known for having a pretty low cost of living, but we went even lower when it came to finding an apartment to rent. We saved a lot of money that way by choosing to live in a place that was really cheap. Our apartment was about $300 less than the average rent for our area. Right there's a plane ticket or gas money for a trip to Big Bend. ;)
- We didn't spend money on shopping. Now I'm a girl, and I can always get behind a little shopping spree every now and then, but I don't think I bought one new item of clothing last year. If I did it was probably from a thrift store. ;) This is a 180 degree change from high school me, but as I've grown up I've realised that I'd much rather invest in experiencing life to the fullest with my husband, than wear the newest dress from J. Crew. That's just my personal preference. I know everyone has different priorities, but if I'm being honest that is a HUGE way we saved money for trips this past year: no shopping.
- We don't eat out very much. I have to credit this one completely to my husband. If I didn't have him to cook, I would spend SO much money on eating out. However, Andrew is a phenomenal cook and has that super rad skill of pulling any random thing left in the fridge and making a bomb meal out of it. I don't know how he does it. He's the best.
- We made a budget and stuck to it. I know it's hard. No one wants to sit down and do the not-fun work of crunching numbers, but knowing EXACTLY how much you can spend on something per month has a way of giving you a reality check. In addition to that, we put our money and faith in God first, necessities second, and wants third. The top of every pay check we received went to tithing and giving, then to savings, next to covering our bases: debt, emergency fund, bills, and living expenses, then finally our lifestyle or "fun money." Doing this made us super diligent with our finances and made us accountable to put first things first, instead of just blowing everything on traveling.
4) Don't Use Where You Live As An Excuse
Listen, I'm from Kansas, born and raised. I grew up in a tiny town in the dead center of the state. If there is anyone who lived far away from anything quote on quote "worth seeing" it was me. It's funny, for as much as we love National Parks, if you actually look at a map of all the National Parks in the USA, you'll see a sad lack of them in the entire midwest. I could maybe even go as far to say we live in the one location that is literally the farthest away from any of them. I mean just look at the map to the right.... It's almost comical.... almost. Ok, ok, so maybe Iowa wins at being farthest away from any of them, but the POINT is, we don't live close to any of them whatsoever.
Now, I'm not trying to rag on Kansas, because it will always hold a special place in my heart, but I do mention this because it would be really easy for us to say, "Oh we can't travel, because we don't live near anything 'awesome.'" All that means is that it takes a little more planning and strategy in order to travel; it doesn't make it impossible. Just because you don't live in California or Florida or Utah (or anywhere people usually vacation to) doesn't mean you can't travel. Honestly, I used to hate living in Kansas because of that exact reason - I thought nothing cool was there, and in order to go anywhere worth while it took a plane ticket. However, the more I've traveled, the more I've grown to appreciate Kansas and where I'm from. I stopped believing the lie that nothing awesome was in the Midwest, and when I actually took the time to explore my own state with fresh eyes, I realized Kansas IS actually pretty rad. So no matter where you live, I'm willing to bet there are great places worth visiting right in your own backyard. Maybe it just means opening your mind a bit to those possibilities.
5) Choose a Career That Allows You to Travel
Finally, take this one with a grain of salt. I know not every career will have travel opportunities, and if you're super passionate about a job that isn't travel focused, I'm not here to tell you to up and quit. What I am saying, is that if you're flexible with what you want to do in life, and are that passionate about traveling, then be intentional about what career you choose!
Full disclosure: I'm not going to lie to you and say every place we went in the past year was on our own initiative. It wasn't, and that's the truth. Both Andrew and I have intentionally chosen careers that allow us to travel well and travel often. I chose entrepreneurship as a photographer because I LOVED the freedom it gave me working from anywhere I wanted. I also adore shooting clients in adventurous locations, so oftentimes my traveling IS for my work. And I freaking love it. Andrew chose a career in the Coast Guard, because we knew that job would move us around pretty frequently, usually to coastal places with beaches and mountains and things we loved. I mean, his job IS moving us to Hawaii come July, so I'd say it's doing exaclty what we wanted it to do. ;)
We both intentionally chose careers we loved, that offered the opportunity and freedom to travel. And there's no reason you can't do the same. Especially in the age of social media, working remotely from home or anywhere in the world has become more popular than ever. When thinking about what you want to do in life, get creative! Whether that's specifically applying for remote, work-from-home jobs, or becoming your own boss and starting a business, if you want that extra freedom to travel more than just weekends or vacation days once a year, there are definitely ways to do it!
So there you have it, friends. These 5 tips are exactly how Andrew and I were able to travel a ton in our first year of marriage. More often than not, people who travel frequently aren't lucky, they are very intentional about making it so. While it can look pretty glamorous from the outside, just know there's a lot of sacrifices you have to make in order to make travel a priority in your life. I hope these 5 tips help you if you have a heart for traveling, but keep getting hung up on ways to actually make it happen. I pray you feel empowered to chase after those God-given dreams of your heart, and live the life you've always dreamed of. Hopefully I'll see you out there on the road! Or you know... in Hawaii, cause starting July, that's where you'll find me. ;)
Lindsey Roman is an adventurous, destination wedding and elopement photographer based out of Oahu, Hawaii and available worldwide. She lives for outdoor adventures, intimate moments, and candid images. Her style is raw, passionate, and authentic. She believes in chasing sunsets, laughing too hard, and most importantly: capturing genuine moments that evoke feeling over perfectly posed photographs.