In a separate conversation, Sarah and I have been talking for years about going on a couple's vacation. We all get along so well, and I think that traveling with others is one of the best ways to travel on the cheap.
I've had several people say to me "You travel a lot!" Sometimes it's said with "Wow, so fun!" face, sometimes with a "Wow, I hate you!" face, and sometimes with a "Wow, are you that rich?" face, which is then followed by a "I thought you guys didn't make a lot of money?" face. The face that says,
"I'm confused. Aren't you like, a poor pastor's family??"
TO answer those faces...yes. Yes to all. We do travel frequently. And it is fun. It is so fun. I read something once that said "Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." I totally agree. For us, we care more about spending money on experiences than things. Am I really happy with any one thing for very long? No. I get a new shirt, I love it...and then three weeks later, I'm over it. I might wear it, but I don't love it. To me, it's just a thing. Travel, on the other hand, I always look back and LOVE.
Each time I revisit a trip that I've taken: whether it's soaring over the Everglades in an air-boat in Florida, cruising Grand Cayman to celebrate my 30th birthday with Sarah and Cindy, driving the Olympic Peninsula with Ryan, driving to Las Vegas with a car of giggling girls, or seeing a glacier with my Dad, these things I treasure in my heart of hearts. And I will forever. I come from a family of travelers. Have you met my sister? She has toured Europe alone for 3 months. My cousin Kate is a mega-popular travel blogger over at Adventurous Kate. At age 29, she quit her job to travel the world alone and make a life out of it. And she has! Both of my parents love to travel and do whenever they can. My Dad is currently planning a 3 month drive to Nova Scotia! When we were little, we traveled all the time with our parents! And yes, we plan on taking OUR kids someday.
Ryan and I don't have nice cars. We have OLD cars. Ryan's Jeep has like, I don't know, 12 million miles on it? Cars aren't important to us, but travel is. Our home is fairly small. We don't have a big screen tv. We have had the same couches since we bought our house, and our couch downstairs is from a friend! We don't eat at nice restaurants. (We celebrated Ryan's birthday at a terrific hole-in-the-wall Greek place called Kabob Station. Fancy!) Not that I'm patting myself of the back - or at least, I'm not trying to - I'm just trying to say that I think people choose what to spend their money on, whether it's things or travel or cars or entertainment. No one is better than the other. But for us, travel is a very worthy and important part of our lives. It enriches our understanding, it provides quiet and intimate time in a marriage, or it strengthens friendships with shared (amazing) memories.
And, travel is not as expensive as you think. I'll use the cruise as an example. Cruising Alaska is super expensive, especially on Celebrity Cruises because they are THE BEST CRUISE LINE EVER. We watched for months, just waiting for a deal. Every day, I checked the cruise websites - and other sites too - waiting for a sale. And one day it happens. It dropped, like 1,200.00. I booked that day. And that's how we were able to cruise Alaska for 7 days. Did we have to settle for an inside room? Yes. Did it matter since we spent every minute of the day on the pool deck, looking out at killer whale pods? NOPE!
This trip to Hawaii is like that. Using VRBO -which is new to me and I'm so impressed by it! I will never be without it again! Thanks Nicole L! - we found a stunning two story garden home just off Hanelei Bay in Kauai. By agreeing to share it with Ryan and Sarah for 6 days, we then cut the price in half. I bartered for a great price, and I can tell you that we are pretty much paying less per night than we would for a 3 star hotel in Denver for a gorgeous home in Kauai. It's nice because Sarah and I are so close that we can say to each other "You know we aren't going to hang out every day right? We are going to have some couple days, some couple dinners." And she's like "Absolutely." This is how you keep from murdering your friends on vacation.
The moral of this story is that travel is attainable. You have to save and scrimp, and you have to watch. Be willing to do research, cut corners, take an extra job where you can. Travel isn't the cheapest thing in the world, but to me, it's an education of a different sort. It's us saying "Discovering something new together is important to us." When I visit a place like Hawaii, I revel in God's creation. It connects me back to this good earth that he gave us!
I don't really feel that way when I visit say, Vegas, but that's different.
Yes, we have high ideals when it comes to travel. But let's be honest - reading a book and drinking a pineapple&rum drink with an umbrella while staring out at Hanalei Bay is ALSO really important.
And there it is.
And after we do Hawaii, I can tell you that our sights are settling East. Like...EUROPE East. Exciting!
PS - See? Erika gets it: http://mattyerika.blogspot.com/2013/02/thank-you-uncle-sam.html