So how exactly are we able to take yet another international trip less than a year after we returned from our travels last year? Well, first I am going to rewind a bit and tell you what we have been up to since we returned last summer.
We flew back to the US at the very end of July last year and spent the month of August preparing to move to San Diego. This included Logan finishing up work at NIST, my visiting friends and family spread throughout Colorado, Logan attending a conference to talk about the paper he had written while we were abroad, and the both of us figuring housing and job info for after we moved. Mixed in with that life business type of stuff were a couple quick visits to places we had not been in Colorado (such as Garden of the Gods) and spending time with friends and Logan’s family (who we were staying with part of the time), and lots of time spent envisioning the fun we would have living near the beach for the first time.
In early September we loaded up the Uhaul with everything we own and drove off to California. Logan’s parents came with us and since we were not able to move into our housing until later in the month, our stuff once again found itself in storage and we spent three weeks driving around California visiting friends and family who live there. Finally, on September 25th, after 268 days of living out of suitcases, we had a home!!
We are really loving living in San Diego. We have the beach, fresh fish and lots of sunshine (all things we love!). This June Logan will finish up his first year of graduate school. He has been taking classes, working as a TA and doing research when he has extra time in the week. Since we moved to San Diego specifically for Logan’s continuation of school, he has adjusted more quickly than I have. It took until mid-November for my teaching credential to transfer and until mid-December for me to get into the San Diego Unified School District sub-pool. While I was waiting, I worked at Pier One, which is a job I held off and on throughout college.
I have been subbing since mid-December and I can honestly say that I love it (most days)! It is far more flexible than having my own classroom would be and it has really given me the opportunity to see a lot of San Diego and get to know areas of our new home that I otherwise may not have been exposed to. I love being in the classroom again and it is both challenging and rewarding to be around lots of different ages and types of kids.
So there are our last nine months summed up in less than 500 words. Which leads me to the point of my post today. How, with moving across the country and an apparent lack of “real jobs”, are we able to travel again so quickly? The short answer is: we wanted to, so we are. Easier said than done, right? Well, not really… Here are the factors which contributed to being able to see more of this beautiful world we live in.
1. MILES: About a year before our first backpacking adventure we opened a United Milage Plus credit card. They were running a deal where we got 50,000 miles for signing up, plus 10,000 extra for spending $1,000 in a month. Add that to the money we spent last year on travel, moving and everything else and you get LOTS of miles. This is the ONLY card we use (if we can help it) and we were able to get our tickets to and from Europe basically for free for this trip. HUGE money saver.
2. NO DEBT: I graduated with only one student loan and was able to pay it off very quickly, Logan had none. We are very (VERY) fortunate to be in this situation. Great planning on his families side, plus Logan getting a job that paid his tuition for three years, combined with financial aid and working a TON on my side kept us from being a part of the majority of recent college grads that find themselves up to their ears in student loan debt. We also ALWAYS pay our credit card off, in full, every month. Sometimes this is a really big struggle, but so far we have been able to pull it off.
3. FLEXIBILITY: As I mentioned, being a substitute teachers allows me incredible flexibility in when (and even where) I work. Taking two months “off” is costing me in the sense that those are days I could be working and am not, but I don’t have a boss to answer to and I am not leaving behind a pile of work that anyone will have to do while I am gone. Logan’s work is less flexible (five weeks less to be exact), but he is able to squeeze in three weeks between the end of his quarter and the start of his summer research grant.
4. “DISPOSABLE INCOME”: Money is the factor I get asked most about when talking about our adventures. How can we afford all these trips? My answer, we act like we are broke, even when we are not. Logan is a TA at the University and I am a substitute teacher.We do not make that much money, however, this is far more money than we have ever made before. The trick is that we do not ACT like we are making more. We still live like we did when we were broke college students. Our goal every month is to live off of Logan’s income, which we can’t really, but anything I make working we have dubbed (in our heads at least) as “extra”. The “extra” goes into savings. Some months there is no “extra”. Some months we have no unexpected expenses (and I avoid going to Ross and buying anything, GO ME!), and the “extra” is safely stored away.
5. SAVE WHERE YOU CAN: Continuing from number four, we try to avoid spending money wherever we can. Saving a little every week can add up to a lot. We know where to buy the cheapest milk, we stick to our grocery list, I ONLY shop second hand (or at Ross!!), and we don’t have cable/satellite. Frugal, thrifty, cheap, whatever. There are so many ways you can easily save money, and the goal is to only spend on the NEEDS, and not give into the WANTS.
More questions? Leave them in the comments below!!