This is the one question that we get asked all the time… ‘How do you travel so often?’
First, We Work A Lot.
We work a lot. Like a whole lot. We work. And work. And work. And work. We work around 100 hours each week to keep Rampant movin and a groovin. A lot of long days that lead into very long nights. Rampant is our baby. We have to be there to take care of every little thing and our baby is very demanding. We have daily customer service, web design tweaks, new product development, new product training, old product training, finances, promotion, marketing, editing, client only shooting/photography, live streaming and social media, just to name a few. (Shoo, I am exhausted just thinking about all those things.) But like every baby, Rampant is growing. The growth is small but with every milestone, we are able to travel more and more (and working 100 hour weeks doesn’t seem so bad when you have a trip planned on the horizon). Of course we don’t leave all the work on shore. Because Rampant is an online company, we always bring the company with us. We spend a few hours a day dealing with customer service, handling all our social accounts and now we even squeeze in a little blog time. (Sometimes I wish we could leave all the work at home but then I look up, see the ocean and think to myself, “man, what a great office view”)
Yep, that’s us working on our last cruise ship. We spend around 5-8 hours a day working on Rampant when we are at sea.
Location. Location. Location.
But Rampant isn’t the only thing that keeps us traveling. There are also a few other things that keep us on the water. Let me first talk about our location. This is probably the biggest money saver for us. We live in Orlando, FL which is literally smack dab in the middle of Florida. This location allows us to drive (or fly) to 4 major cruise ports (Port Canaveral, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale & Miami), within 4 hours . This convenience allows us to pack up and go at a moments notice (and sometimes it really is a moments notice).
Living in Central Florida has more perks than just visiting the mouse house. 😉
I also love a good deal and finding a good travel deal is like Christmas morning for me. Seriously. It’s addicting. For cruising deals, I like to keep a google document with all the cruise itineraries we would like to sail. Right now I have Caribbean, Mediterranean, Baltic, Hawaii and Alaska cruises at the top of my list. With these itineraries in mind, I browse our favorite cruise sites and see if there is anything that looks promising. (Because I look at cruise pricing so often, I can usually spot when a cruise has been marked up or down). If I spot a good deal, I put a pin in it and then figure out all the other aspects of traveling to that destination.
When it comes to traveling, this is where I want to spend the least amount of money. The cruise should be the most expensive part, not getting there. So we use credit card travel points to get us to our destination as cheap as possible (and sometimes that means free). Caribbean cruises are the easiest because we can drive to any of the ports but we also have a Southwest credit card that allows us to skip the 4 hour trek to Miami by car and fly there in only an hour. This not only saves time but we get to sit back and let Southwest do all the travel work for us (boo to I-95).
Non-U.S. starting cruises are a little more tricky and these are the deals I love looking for. If I find a not-to-be-missed Baltic cruise sailing out of Copenhagen, Denmark, I have to find someway for us to get there. Insert credit card travel points. We have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card and we pay for everything with this card. All bills. All miscellaneous expenses. You name it and it goes on this card. You would be surprised how easy it is to rack up a bunch of points in a very short amount of time. And with those points I can now search for a flight that fits the dates needed. Sometimes I find a great flight and we can travel for free (our upcoming Barcelona flight back to Orlando is completely free and we are flying business class) or I can find a flight that is heavily discounted and fits in our travel budget. Using credit card miles and points is a huge money saver for us.
If you would like to find out more information about what credit cards can do for you, I definitely recommend checking out The Points Guy. He has some great tips on what credit cards are hot right now and which ones will give you the best return. I also recommend checking out a travel blogger couple that we follow. They created a course called 30 Days to Becoming a Travel Hacker. The course costs $147 but it is well worth it. I purchased it and it is amazing. Nate has some great tips and tricks for travel hacking (and he should know. Nate, along with his wife Kara, travel full-time around the world. #goals).
Scrimping and Saving
There are other things we do to save money for traveling. One thing is we only have one car. This saves a ton of money and we really don’t need two because we work from home. We also sell stuff we don’t use. Our rule is if we don’t use something in a year, it’s got to go. We sell everything on Ebay and so far 100% of our belongings has sold. This is some nice pocket money for things that we do not use anymore.
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Our personal mantra: Life is too short to spend it at a desk. We strive to go on trips every month, if we can. Obviously it doesn’t always work out but our goals remain the same: Travel, emotionally invest in each other and spread positivity and light everywhere we go. After several health scares and personal tragedies we decided it was time for a change. Inside stateroom cabins are typically inexpensive and are fairly easy to save up for. So we know if we work extremely hard every day we can at least get on to a ship. It’s not about a suite or a nice cabin. It’s about work / life balance and the desire to explore and build memories with each other.
We also try to save any where we can. Whether that be with food, gas, bills (we seriously only shower like once a week and this saves us about $50/mo. Our water bill last month was $13 compared to around $70 when we were working out of the house full time. That’s an extra $600/yr. We also only eat one meal a day. The savings here add up quick. And yes, to answer your question, we have lost weight. Sean has lost over 200 lbs. and I have lost around 15 lbs. We also don’t buy each other gifts for birthdays or Christmas. We believe that experiences are worth way more than stuff. So we skip the “stuff” and go on trips. One other thing we learned from Kara and Nate, we switched from Verizon to TMobile (no we don’t work for TMobile, lol). The switch is saving us $200/mo and we also now have a world phone that we can use any where). All of these little things add up and like I mentioned earlier, putting all of these expenses on a credit card with rewards is like double the savings.
I am not an expert “travel hacker”. However, I am learning (thanks Nate!) and I am hoping to learn enough to send us on a lot of trips this year (2018). My advice, at this point in my stage of learning to travel hack, is save where you can but don’t put off what you love, just because of money. If you want to travel, there are ways to do it and you can do it! Set a goal for yourself and work for that goal. If traveling is your goal, plan one travel thing you would love to do this year and push as hard as you can for that thing. For us, having a goal keeps us working towards it. It might sound cliché but it really does help having something you are looking forward to. Set a goal and work towards it, even if it takes you 3 years to get there.
My goal for 2018 was to spend my 40th birthday on a Transatlantic cruise. We looked at the cruises last year and decided that we would book when the timing was right. After we had a pretty bad cabin experience on our 2017 Thanksgiving cruise, NCL gave us a pretty nice discount on a future cruise and we knew right then and there that we would use the discount on my birthday transatlantic. So we got a great discount on the cruise itself and then I was able to find free flights using our credit card points. So win-win there and I am so excited about that trip (subscribe to our YouTube channel because we will be vlogging everyday of the trip. So exciting).
Since I met my original goal for 2018, I started adding little goals. We love cruising and we want to cruise as much as we can. So at this moment I have set a monthly cruise budget of around $2000 (now this may seem like a lot but if you think about your expenses, this isn’t a number that is unobtainable. First, we don’t have children (wanted them but can’t have them) so a lot of money is saved right there. We live debt free – minus our home. We don’t purchase clothing except when our old clothes have holes. We literally do not spend money. So with all of these things combined, $2000 is a great goal to strive for. Some months there are unavoidable emergency events and that money is gone but we try as hard as we can to reach this goal every month.)
If we can find a trip that fits in this budget, consider it booked. If not, that money will roll over into the next month and I will begin looking again.
At this moment, I have us booked on the NCL Getaway in March, the NCL Epic in April and the MSC Seaside in May (by the way, April and May are our birthday months. We always try to do something fun and exciting. It really stinks in terms of spacing out trips because our birthdays are 30 days apart but hey! we get 2 trips in 2 months and I am ok with that 😉) So all in all, 2018 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for us. And with some discounts, credit card miles and some good ole fashion deal hunting, I am hoping to have a few more cruises listed on our travel schedule.
Stefanie Mullen is a Travel Filmmaker, Vlogger, Artist, Brand Ambassador and the CFO & Customer Service ninja of Rampant Design, Inc. She is a talented painter and former Walt Disney World parade performer. Stef is married to the AMAZING Sean IRL.
5 thoughts on “How Do We Travel So Often?”
Great story, inspirational. Most everyone has ” The American Dream”. You two have shown how that dream can be achieved. Set a goal, make a plan, hard work, deal with the disappointments, sacrifice and never give up and most important support each other. Living the American Dream, you two are doing it and this vlog may give others some ideas and motivation on how they can live it too.
Oh how I wish I could travel a little more often.. location makes such a difference, wish I stayed in central Florida too! Even if I lived near Southampton (UK main cruise port) I’d have more choice.. as we don’t really get cruise departures from Scotland or north of England. Totally get the point of cutting back on ‘treats’ like lunches. Every leftover meal and sandwich brought in means money saved towards a cruise (or drinks on it). Our biggest expense is prob our cats.. but they are our babies and I couldn’t do without. Every cruise means having to fund cattery stay for them too! 😉