Spencer Mail: Rachel in Austin TX

Spencer Mail

We received some reader mail a couple of weeks ago. Rachel in Austin Texas writes:

“Travel is so important to you… what role will travel play in your life in 2011?”

So true, Rachel! The travel question is the most difficult part about dealing with Spencer for me – more difficult than limiting my Target shopping sprees. I love to travel, visit friends around the country, and experience new things. I built my photography business around traveling worldwide for wedding coverage.

We faced an extremely difficult travel-related decision early on in the Spencer 2011 project. Airlines were taking advantage of holiday travelers and adding extra-hefty holiday surcharges for December 2010 travel. We made the decision NOT to travel to family over the Christmas/New Year holidays because of the price tag. As an alternative, I ended up spending five days in Dallas with my grandmother the week after Thanksgiving, which was the only window when flights were back down to normal pricing between PDX and DFW. I ended up paying $350 and missing three days of work, but saved us more than $900 over what we would have had to pay to go for the traditional holiday visit. Money was a huge motivating factor (but it wasn’t the only factor).

One of my goals for 2011 is to find adventure IN FRONT OF MY FACE. It’s going to take some creative scraping to be able to go on trips with such a fixed budget, but we are fortunate that our new home in Oregon is only hours away from a rocky coastline, forests, and mountains. Plenty to do within driving distance for daycations, staycations, and the like. Readers, we welcome your ideas for low cost adventuring!

In the bigger picture, not being able to fly out to visit friends or take advantage of special airfare sales is (hopefully) going to motivate us to put all that money we would spend on travel toward our pet rhino, thus ennabling us to free up cash for debt-free holiday travel in 2011. Even more special, we’re coming up on our first real anniversary (we were married on leap day in 2008 so February 29, 2012 will be the first time our anniversary actually exists) and we’re scheduled to go on a fabulous big trip together someplace exotic (Iceland? Kenya?). Being dedicated to debt-free living means that we won’t be paying off this trip in the future, but can only plan a trip we can bankroll at the moment.

Basically, Spencer is forcing me to rethink how I do leisure in 2011.

I think that’s a good thing.

Thank you for your question, Rachel in Austin Texas. I appreciate the chance to think out loud and answer your question about something that is very near to my heart.

If you have a story to share, or a challenge question for us, we’d love to hear from you! We’re accepting good old fashion letters and postcards about our project, and will do our best to answer your question, rise to your challenge, or share your story. You can reach us here:

Ali & Rachel H
PO Box 11506
Portland, OR 97211

Spencer mail

custom illustration by Chris Beetow

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