Hawaii

The Mitchell Family | Hawaii Family Photographer

What a dreamy backdrop. Keep the family photoshoots in Hawaii coming, because I can't think of a more inspirational, relaxed, adventurous setting for a beautiful family photo session like this one. I loved seeing this little cutie and his parents play in the fields and the sand, and I can't wait for my next opportunity to return to this beautiful island!

 
 

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My Five Tips for Making Frequent Travel Affordable

Today I'm talking about some learned skills and resources I've discovered recently as my business has grown. A good majority of my work is out of state, so I'm actually traveling quite a bit. A lot of people ask me how I'm able to afford traveling so much, and while sometimes clients and session fees factor into that, I'm honestly not traveling the way most people would on their clients' dime, and I'm definitely not traveling the way most people think.

As my photography has attracted a wider reach, I realized I needed to become more accessible to potential clients living further away from me. My husband and I love to travel, and we definitely wanted that to be something we did together, so in order to keep travel costs affordable for both me and my clients, we have started to implement a few handy tips and guidelines for when we travel. I'd like to share them with you here in the hopes that it helps you realize that (a) a life of travel isn't as unattainable as you think, (b) I work hard to make sure that my far away clients aren't paying an arm and a leg to get me there, and (c) setting your mind to a goal (like traveling for work) and working hard to get there is just a matter of discipline and practice.

 

tip #1: only spend the money if you have it

In this day and age, it's super easy to feel like everyone is having fun without you, and comparing yourself and your idea of a "vacation" to someone else's is not fair on you or them. Not only do different jobs have different pay and days-off structures, but even beyond that, people value different things! You may feel more of a pull to have the newest phone or a nicer car because it makes you feel more safe, whereas someone else would rather travel through Europe and spend the next five years driving a junker. That's totally fine!

Matt and I decided long ago that we wanted to make travel a priority, and we have a special category in our budget for setting aside money specifically for travel. We like to be spontaneous, but only when we have the money. So we'll keep saving and saving, and following a few different travel deals companies, and if the right thing comes along, then we have the resources available to quickly make that decision to go ahead and book!

If you're having a hard time finding a way to make travel work in your limited budget, consider a few alternatives to setting aside some income, like earning some extra income! I love talking about side hustles and running my own business, so reach out to me if you have any questions.

 

tip #2: check for deals on flights

Flights can usually be one of the more expensive parts of a trip, so I put a lot of priority on finding good deals on them. I'm subscribed to over 10 promotional airline email subscriptions, and resources I really recommend for finding cheap flights are Pomelo Travel and SkyScanner. I actually have a paid subscription to Pomelo Travel because I get first dibs on new flight deals, and it's earned it's worth back over and over again.

 

tip #3: travel with friends or to friends

Another pricey part of vacationing or frequent travel can be the hotel stays. If you're not traveling for business, and you can't write off or use a business expense account for this part of your travel, it really adds up and can inhibit how often you have adventures. My husband and I love using Airbnb as our go-to resource for finding a place to stay in whatever city we're traveling to. We also consider whether we know anyone or can get in contact with a friend of a friend at our destination who would let us stay with them for a night or two.

You can also make plans with a friend or someone who is headed the same way to get group rates or split the cost of your accommodations.

 

tip #4: prioritize experiences over food

We love to eat, and we know that sampling local cuisine is a huge part of traveling, especially to exotic locales! Where most of our travel is to other cities in the US, we like to prioritize the opportunity to take in the sites instead of eating at famous local diners and things like that. We'll still eat fancy a couple times during the trip, but one of our first stops when we land and get to our new home for the next few days is stop by a grocery store. We almost always grab bread and stuff for lunch meat sandwiches, some apples, some crackers and granola bars, and any other on-the-go type snacks that don't require a lot of preparation. This saves us A TON and this shopping trip is usually under $20 and lasts us the whole trip.

 

tip #5: know your limits and the time you can be away

I touched on this briefly before, but figure out your days off ahead of time (or if you're lucky like me and make your own schedule, check in with others that you have responsibilities to and determine how often you can be gone). Budget your time just like you budget your money to make sure that you don't get burnt out from traveling too frequently. We've learned that our limit is 4 days for a trip. After we've been gone more than 4 days, the trip isn't as fun anymore as we get antsy about getting back home to our bed, other responsibilities, and our normal routine. We also know that we can get grumpy if we're traveling too often in one month, so we plan ahead to make sure we're not gone too much of the month, and we don't have trips lining up back-to-back.

 

One last thing I want to touch on is the "glamour" that everyone assumes is involved in a life of travel. As much as I love it and as fun as it is to vacation, remember that it's not always going to happen as perfectly as you planned, and that travel itself does not define your success. Don't get hung up on the perfect pictures to document your trip, or keeping up with the Joneses in where you travel and how often. Take trips for yourself and to experience things with your family as a way to make memories.

Which of these tips speaks to you the most? What travel tips would you share with other readers?

 

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How to Spend a Week in Hawaii for only $1000!

If there's anything I love more than traveling...it's saving money!! Sometimes money can be a taboo topic, but not here. I love to talk all things money, because when you allow yourself to have a conversation about money it stops being scary. I'm going to break down our Hawaii trip and tell you exactly how we spent 8 days in Hawaii for just under $1000, including airfare, adventures, and accommodations!!

If you've read my travel blogs before, you know where my priorities are. But if you haven't, let me recap for you! We are very picky about what we spend our money on, especially on vacation! We spend our money on what we value, which for us is mostly experiences. Which means we tend to bypass souvenirs, Instagram-worthy meals, and lavish hotels. That doesn't mean its wrong to spend your money on those things, it just means that's not what we value when we travel. We tend to skimp in those areas so we can have a lot to spend in other areas!

This trip we did something a little different, which I would 100% recommend doing!! We only used a credit card for ALL of our purchases. We have a travel bank account, and we only go on a trip when we know we can afford it. So in our account for Hawaii we had $700 after buying tickets, so we had a budget to stay under. We liked putting everything on the credit card because instead of seeing that we had $500 left to spend, we saw that we had already spent $200. When we saw exactly how much we had spent, we were more careful in our spending. It was a total mind game, but it worked!! Plus we got all the travel points from our trip, so DO IT!

We also tried something else new this trip. WE COUCH-SURFED! We used couchsurfing.com for the first time. We were a little nervous to do this, but after doing it I never want to go back. For those that don't know what couch-surfing is you should check it out here! We stayed for 7 nights in Hawaii for FREE! And we had the best time doing it. We met so many great people and built amazing friendships. The couch-surfing community is so welcoming and SO FUN! We easily saved $1000 by doing this. 

As always, we saved money by buying groceries. Even groceries are expensive in Hawaii, but it saved cost a lot. When we ate out we split meals. In total we spent $121.78, which comes out to $7/day for each of us. We definitely could have done a little better, but overall it wasn't too bad. 

We played A LOT this vacation! We wanted to experience everything so we didn't hold back. Our big splurge was the Polynesian Culture Center ($224), but it was definitely worth it. We got a lot of our excursions from Groupon, we went on a catamaran ride (normally $95/ea but off Groupon it ended up being $18/ea), and parasailing (normally $135/ea, we got it for $32/ea). We had rented a car from Turo and drove all over the island. And we went snorkeling so we bought equipment ($8 vs renting for $25). But everything else was free! I highly recommend renting a car, you'll save so much more than taking an Uber everywhere. 

The only thing else we spent money on was our airfare. I saved this for last because..I'm not going to lie...it's something I'm kind of proud of. As you know, I am the QUEEN of finding cheep flights! This trip was no exception. DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!! We scored flights for $200 round trip! CRAZY RIGHT?! When I found those I just had to jump on it, I didn't have any other choice ;) We found these deals through Pomelo flight alerts (at this point they should just sponsor me because I'm so in love with them that I tell you all about them ALL the time!!!). But seriously, if you aren't signed up for Pomelo, stop waisting your time!! Go sign up.

We had the BEST time in Hawaii, and it's so hard to be back. It was 100% worth it! Throughout our time there we had several people ask us how "two college kids could afford a trip like this". We love showing people that you can afford to travel! Even to expensive places like Hawaii. If it's what you love to do, and what you value, MAKE IT HAPPEN!! It is definitely possible. 

Total trip cost break down:

Airfare: $394

Accommodations: $0

Rental Car: $150

Gas: $62

Food: $122

Fun/Other: $360

Hawaii on a budget

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