Over the last decade of traveling together, we’ve been fortunate to have some amazing experiences. From swimming with sea turtles in Mexico to sipping wine in Macedonia to cruising the Galapagos Islands, we’ve had some spectacular adventures around the world. But our life was by no means always this way. For our first eight years together, we didn’t think we had the time or money to travel.
Our story started in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world. Lance lived in a tiny apartment in a marginally-safe neighborhood. I was a few blocks away sharing an apartment with four other recent college grads in a building that was ultimately christened the most rat-infested apartment building in the city. I had debt from college, and after a period of being laid off following September 11, Lance was getting back on his feet. We both worked long days and didn’t have much to show for it. Needless to say, it was a struggle.
In the New York years, travel was a luxury we didn’t have time for and we certainly couldn’t afford. We always prioritized not having credit card debt, and that meant certain purchases and experiences weren’t options for us. For years, we perfected the art of the staycation (at least there was a lot to explore in New York) and spent time with family who lived in different time zones. But we didn’t really travel.
After a few years, Lance got a job opportunity outside of Philadelphia. It was a move we had never planned to make, but it opened up a world of opportunity thanks to the lower cost of living. We could actually afford things in Pennsylvania! We had big dreams.
But then a funny thing happened—the trappings of a better life took over. We got married and focused on saving, buying a house, and having nice things. We bought cars and whittled down my school debt, little by little. We worked and worked and worked. Our time and money weren’t focused on travel, and we didn’t know how to change that, especially with only a couple of weeks of vacation each year.
Again, it took an unexpected opportunity to shake us from our comfort zone. Lance had started graduate school studying international business. His MBA program required him to study abroad for a few weeks one summer, and the schedule overlapped my birthday. Luckily, partners were welcome for part of the time. Before we knew it, we were heading to Milan, Italy. In between his courses, we traveled to small towns in northern Italy, spent my birthday weekend in Venice, and ended up in Rome. We were hooked!
On the flight back to the U.S. from Italy, we had a “money talk.” How could we keep this going? Where else in the world did we want to travel? How could we make that happen?
We didn’t have a roadmap for our discussion. We didn’t have a plan. We didn’t know what we were doing. But what we did have was a common goal and a shared vision. Our money hadn’t increased, and our work obligations hadn’t changed, but we had a new commitment to work together to see the world. Over the next two years, we cut spending, budgeted, and developed our master plan for world exploration.
We love to share our story of becoming the Travel Addicts and teaching others how they can do it, too. That’s why we are happy to announce that we’ve been asked by Capital One to partner with them to raise awareness for their Money & Relationships campaign—a series of workshops geared towards helping couples establish healthy communication about their money habits. Workshops coming to the Capital One Café in Philadelphia include topics like “Talking Money with Your Honey” and “Your Money. Your Values.” You can see a video of us discussing our financial story on the Capital One website or here:
We are luckier than most. Lance and I have pretty much always been on the same page about travel and money. But that’s not true for everyone. According to a new survey from Capital One, 82% of couples admitted that financial conversations frequently end in arguments. Thankfully, that hasn’t been our experience, but managing finances with your spouse does necessitate taking the needs and wants of your partner into account. The only way to really be aligned is to have those financial conversations.
To further the educational campaign, we will be participating in a live event, Money Matched, at the Capital One Café in Philadelphia (135 S. 17th Street, Philadelphia) on October 18 from 5:00-7:00 pm. Come join us to learn how to make those money conversations a little bit easier. Additional workshops will take place at other Capital One Cafés through October and November (see full schedule here).
This partnership with Capital One is personal for us. For years, we didn’t think we could afford to travel, but we were wrong. What we had to do was work together to align our priorities. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does require you to have a plan. There’s no better time to start those conversations than today.