This post addresses the philosophy behind our preparations. For more on our actual preparations, check out our How to Plan Your Trip post!

This post addresses the philosophy behind our preparations. For more on our actual preparations, check out our How to Plan Your Trip post!

Travel Experience

We’ve been fortunate enough to have taken plenty of incredible trips over the past 4 years. The following four have really shaped shaped our preferred style of travel:

  • June 2015 – Greece/Italy: Right after graduating, Michelle and I did a two week euro-trip (Michelle actually carried on and did an extra month of solo traveling). This trip taught us how we do and don’t want to travel — namely, we tried to do too much in two short weeks. We rushed from bus to train to plane to get from this church to that museum, and it was exhausting. It was one of those vacations that requires another vacation right afterwards. My favorite memory is a night of relaxing over a great meal in Tuscany instead of a rushed visit to any church or museum. For all future vacations, we scheduled in more downtime; hopefully, this philosophy help us avoid burn-out on this trip.
  • February 2017 – Mexico City: This was hands down the most important and influential trip I’ve ever gone on. Prior to the trip, I had incorrectly assumed that all of Mexico was unsafe. Boy, could I not have been any more wrong. The food was incredible, the people were friendly and the city was green and alive with people. Never in my two trips to Mexico City (we loved it so much we returned the next year) have I felt unsafe, which is more than I can say for some of my walks home through the silent streets of downtown Houston after work. (Most of downtown Houston is a ghost town after 6pm, which is mind-boggling for the 4th largest city in the US.) This trip showed me the importance of seeking to see something for one’s self instead of relying on preconceived notions based on other’s experiences and the news.
  • July 2017 – Calgary/Banff/Jasper: We lived out of a backpack, stayed in hostels and packed our own food (with a rental car) for a 5 day adventure through the Canadian Rockies. We drove up and down a road called the Icefields Parkway, stopping often to hike and staying in wilderness hostel along the way. Honestly, this was the coolest vacation ever. It got us more comfortable bouncing around from hostel to hostel (some even without showers!) and reaffirmed how fun “roughing it” can be!
  • February 2018 – Arizona: We explored the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, and Sedona in a mere 5 days. There was a lot we skipped, and we could have easily spend a month in Northern Arizona. This trip engrained in us the desire to travel long-term to truly enjoy a place and take it all in.

Travel Philosophy

The above trips are just a few that stand out for having significantly shaped our travel style:

  • Travel light: We don’t travel with checked bags. I usually bring no more than a backpack that counts as a personal item.  Waiting for checked bags is one of my pet peeves. In my opinion, the closest thing on this Earth to purgatory is waiting 30+ minutes after your flight for your checked bag to finally arrive…
  • Travel cheap: There’s a lot here to unpack. The major cost buckets for travel are flights, lodging, food, and entertainment, so we’ll start there.
    1. Use budget airlines: We usually take the cheapest flight to get from point A to point B, it also helps to not travel with many bags. Sure, there may be delays, but if you’ve chosen to travel for an extended period of time, (A) you probably have ways to pass the time and (B) you can usually use the downtime.* I view flying as a commodity; I’m excited about spending money at my location, not on the transport getting there.
    2. Lodging: We enjoy staying at hostels for the communal aspect, the people you meet, and the good vibes. Generally, hostels attract other travelers who share your same excitement for travel, and they’re a great way to land in an area and find your bearings. You can ask the staff for places to go and also what to avoid, and you’ll likely find inspiration from other travelers about what else to do. Not all hostels offer the same experience though.
    3. Food: We generally like to visit the restaurants where locals are eating, rather than the bougie restaurants that are full (or half-full) of tourists. Sure, an expensive meal is nice every now-and-then, and that’s what makes it such a treat.
    4. Entertainment: We like free (such as markets or festivals) or donation-based (certain walking tours and museums), but that won’t deter us from paying for something that we think is worthwhile.

*It may be an unpopular opinion, but we’re huge fans of Spirit Airlines. We pay the cheapest fair, check in online (free), bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up at the airport after security (free), and bring snacks (free or at least the grocery store price). Perfect for the mobile, conscious traveler! Also, Spirit is now in the top 2 for on time departures and their planes are newer than southwest (seriously, look it up!). I’m currently writing this on the second leg of a Spirit flight from New Orleans -> FL -> Bogota and, guess what, no delays!

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