Prepare to Travel with Turnipseed Travel
Our ninth installment of our ongoing series, Prepare to Travel, is with Vanessa of Turnipseed Travel. Vanessa is an ocean loving Maritimer now settled as a freelance writer in Ottawa. Her diverse travels include Paris, where she ran a marathon, the coffee farms of Hawaii, and the national parks of Malawi. Next up? A round-the-world trip with 9 stops, including Turkey, Myanmar, and Australia. Join us as we learn how to prepare to travel with Turnipseed Travel.
AfterGlobe (AG)-We hear again and again, how people can’t believe that others are able to travel the world in abundance or long term. Many can’t even imagine doing this. What travelers did before they left to travel always seems to be a hot topic. Would you agree? Do you get a lot of questions about traveling and how you are able to do something so many consider a luxury?
Turnipseed Travel (TT):I have a lot of people comment on how “lucky” Ryan and I are to be able to travel, or how they could never do it because of their kids. But in all honestly, I don’t get too many questions, in part because I think people still have their own strong beliefs on what travel means (ie: anything other than an all inclusive cruise is being a crazy hippy!)
AG- When did you first start thinking about traveling? What changed from dreaming about it to actually making it happen?
TT:I’ve been dreaming about travel for as long as I can remember! When I was a young teenager, I was enrolled in the Royal Canadian Army Cadet program and I became aware of an exchange program for senior cadets who did well on their testing. I studied obsessively for a year, got the second highest marks in the country, and earned a spot on the German exchange program. I spent the summer in Bavaria, taking part in military, fitness, nature, and cultural programs. It was an incredible experience and set the stage for a lifelong passion.
Fortunately, my partner Ryan feels the same way. He spent his final year of high school on exchange in Belgium, so he’s an eager participant in our international ventures!
AG- Once you decided you were going to travel, what did you do to start working towards making it a reality? Did you make a plan or budget?
TT:My experience in Germany taught me that extensive planning and working towards a goal can make it a reality. Now, I start planning trips as soon as I can conceive them. Even if I’m not booking tickets or reservations, I can still learn about the history of the region, enjoy novels by local authors, and get a sense of the place. I do make a budget, which is subject to continuous revisions as the trip approaches.
AG- Whenever you make a plan to travel, how long is it from that point to the time you leave?
TT:The longest I’ve ever spent between conceiving a trip to making it happen is about 2 years ago. We decided to take a mini-round-the-world trip and do it entirely on points. It took us a while to figure out the nuances of the points program and, of course, to collect the points! But we were successful and we leave in November. 9 flights around the world, for only $350 each in taxes – everyone is curious about how we did it! You can find out about the fine print of our points hack here.
AG- What do you do to save up enough money before you leave? Any advice that you think will help others save for traveling?
TT:We determine what it is we want to do and what we want to see and then we work to figure out how we can do it for less. In Paris, we’ll be stopping in to our favourite museum, Musee d’Orsay, after 4:30pm in order to save several Euros. We’ve realized hotels are expensive in Bruges, where the storybook stone houses and twisting lanes mean space for a sprawling hotels is at a premium price. Instead, we’ll stay at a family run B&B, where we’ll save a bundle AND have a free breakfast. For our upcoming trip to pricey Sydney, we’ve found out that one of the major art galleries is free Wednesday nights – and on some of those nights, there is a special social hour with free live music, and an expanded wine list. Why pay for visit a museum, go see a live band, and order full priced wine when you can do all three at once for a fraction of the cost?
AG- How do you figure out how much you need to save to travel? Do your savings end up being enough? Should you have saved more or less?
TT:We have about a 50% success rate of staying on budget. A two week trip to the American Southwest – including renewing our wedding vows in Vegas – was on budget within $50 or so. The same amount of time in Hawaii was well over budget – we had not adequately considered the high price of groceries and had wrongly assumed that renting a cottage would save us a bundle in food costs. With each trip, we try to learn from our mistakes and make the next trip a greater financial success.
AG- Many times when reading travel blogs, we find ourselves thinking that we need to need to buy a bunch of things to be able to travel. Have you experienced this? What things do you now realize that you didn’t really need? Any recommendations on what really is needed?
TT:Oh, this is a weakness for me! If there’s a nifty gadget that promises to enhance my packing experience, I’m all over it! I’ve gone through a lot of toiletry kits, backpacks, packtowels, and cut-rate packing cubes without really finding “the one” and the casualties of past experiments lie, unloved, in the guest room closet.
The list of what you really need to travel with is short and simple. A small piece of luggage that doesn’t pain you to move around. Shoes that make you want to keep walking. It helps to have or manufacture a happy stomach (well hydrated, able to withstand mysterious bugs) and happy skin (that repels the rays of the sun and the amorous intents of the insects).
AG- What has been the most difficult for you while preparing to travel?
TT:I know in theory that experiences and connections matter more than how fancy the hotel lobby is, or how pretty the wine bottle label looks. I know this, I believe this, and I use this as the central thesis as a value travel blogger. But nothing changes the fact that I wish I could have the amazing experiences, the heart warming connections AND the gorgeous hotel with the overpriced wine (via room service, natch). Planing a trip in advance exposes you to tempting treats you’re just dying to experience. It’s hard to stay focused when you’re reading about spa treatments and fine linens.
AG- Do you have any additional advice for those who want to travel the world, but haven’t?
TT:While the day to day routine of our lives can seem very mundane and predictable, the truth of the matter is that there are no guarantees in life and you never know how, when, or if your world will turn upside down. You can bank on your life taking a certain path and perhaps it will. You could get lucky and be able to travel when you are 60 years old, retired, with a nice pension and solid knees. But it’s very easy to confuse comfort for happiness and let the routine of the day take precedence over who you are and what you love to do. Pursuing a love of travel doesn’t automatically mean quitting your job, selling your house, and hitting the road. It can be as simple as taking a weekend break or visiting the museums in your own hometown.
Thank you very much to Vanessa and Turnipseed Travel for doing a Prepare to Travel interview with us today. Be sure to head over to Turnipseed Travel to read all about Vanessa’s adventures on her travels.
All photos provided by Turnipseed Travel.
What do you do to prepare to travel?
All photography provided by Turnipseed Travel.