This post is brought to you by Capital One, through our partnership in the Money & Relationships Campaign. As always, the content and opinions expressed below are our own.
“How do you do it?” It’s the single most frequent question we get about the blog. What people are really asking is, “how do you travel so much?” The answer is both incredibly simple and complex at the same time. It really comes down to three factors: determination, time, and money.
The biggest factor in traveling more is simply making it a priority. It’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of life—career, home, family, and hobbies. Stuff. But the journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. And no travel will happen if it isn’t a priority.
We started our careers in New York City—an incredibly expensive city. We were both working long hours and got caught up in the rat race of professional life. Travel wasn’t something we prioritized initially. Our story is common to a lot of people. But, the good news is that this is something you can change—and we did. We’ve been able to align our priorities around our passions and have put travel at the top of the list.
As Americans, we’re at a disadvantage when it comes to vacation time. Europeans typically have at least 5 weeks of paid time off every year. Americans are incredibly lucky if we get three weeks (and much less is the norm). For us, a two-week trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos or South Africa once seemed like an unobtainable goal, but we manage it by using vacation time strategically. We also take advantage of piggyback vacation onto business trips. It saves on travel days and money! There are all kinds of ways to wring the most out of your vacation time. But the only way to really make it happen is to prioritize it.
How can we afford to travel so much? Since we’ve decided to make travel a priority, we invest in it before other things. That means cutting corners in other aspects of our life. We would rather have experiences than possessions, and we do our best to stick to that principle. We live pretty simply and save our money for our next vacation.
Over 15 years ago back when I was still in college, Lance and I both opened ING Direct savings accounts to save for travel and life. Now, years later, we still have the same savings accounts and still use them to save money every month to fund our travels (the only difference is that ING Direct is now Capital One 360). It’s been the perfect way to save for our travels.
To help other people reach their savings and life goals, we have partnered with Capital One on a series of educational workshops at Capital One Cafés as part of the Money & Relationships Campaign. We recently participated in an event in Philadelphia that helped us gain even more clarity on how we can communicate better and work together on our finances.
As part of the event, Lance and I were asked to participate in the Money Matched dating game. Along with two other couples, we got to answer questions about our financial habits and objectives and reveal them to the audience in traditional gameshow style. It was fun, but also a little intimidating. After being a couple for over 18 years, how well do we know each other? The good news is that we are aligned on most things financially, but we did have some differences in opinion, which we hadn’t realized.
During the workshop, the Capital One Money Coach had us do exercises we never would have thought of related to money, and yet they make total sense. We talked about values and needs and worked on active listening—not the kind of listening where you’re just waiting to talk. We also did exercises designed to help increase empathy and understanding. It was really enlightening to spend an hour talking about money without ever really talking about money at all.
The real lesson of the workshop and the free money coaching sessions that Capital One provides is about communication. If you’re not talking about money—and those can be hard conversations—it’s almost impossible to be on the same page. Working through these issues as a couple can be challenging, but by having those conversations you can identify your shared values and move forward as a united team.
As for us, we’re saving for our next big adventure!