How I Took 31 Trips, 65 Flights, and Traveled 95,279 Miles in 1 Year

This week marks the 1 year anniversary of my “travel binge.”  When I began this journey, I felt a little lost and depressed. I needed a change of scenery. When I booked a flight to see my old friend Laura in Dallas last year, I didn’t expect it to turn into this.  Being in a new location, however, and spending time with an old friend, did wonders for me! When I returned to Boston, however, many of my same feelings of drifting returned.  So, I booked more flights… and more. In essence I was “running away” because it helped me forget and avoid. Over the course of these trips, however, something changed. They became less about running away, and more about discovering and engaging in the world around me.  I felt adventurous and liberated.  Now I travel to discover and make new friends (of which I’ve made many).  It’s been a pretty wild ride.

So on this anniversary, I thought I’d answer some of the most common questions I get asked about my travel. Here’s how I made (and continue to make) it work:

How were you able travel so much?

As a PhD student much of my work (writing) can be done from anywhere (likely in a Starbucks). Additionally, when I was taking or teaching courses, they only met once a week, which freed up my schedule to travel.

Why Now?

I’m not sure I will have the ability to pick up and go without having to take vacation days again until I retire… So now is the time.  I’ve decided to keep my travel largely domestic to hold down costs (see below) and leave international travel largely for when I’m back to full-time work and making a salary again.

How can you afford this?!?!  You’re a graduate student!

I get this a lot.  It’s true that my graduate assistantship stipend is $18k a year.  I’m lucky, however, that I worked in residence life and lived in on-campus housing for nearly 10 years.  This allowed me to save and invest.  Speaking, consulting and adjunct jobs help bring in additional revenue.  Finally, there’s the good ol’ Federal Stafford Loan.  Admittedly, when I reach graduation in May of 2015, I will be at the very end of my lifelines.  Time to get back to making money.

There are a few other ways I make it work.  First, I almost exclusively fly JetBlue.  Boston is one of their “hubs,” so there are many cheap direct flights.  Keeping it on the same carrier, I can also bank reward points to redeem for flights.  Secondly, some of these trips are speaking and consulting gigs, so I get paid for them, including travel.  Third, I almost never pay for a hotel.  I couch surf with friends and people in my network.  My network is pretty large.  It’s one of the benefits of working in higher equation and student affairs.

Did you take all of those travel pictures with your phone?

Yes.  Pretty much all of my pictures (here) are taken using my iPhone.  In the beginning, for the first few trips, I used a point and shoot but I still used my iPhone about 90% of the time.  After my Hawaii trip last July, however, they were all taken with my iPhone.  I’ve used a few apps to recolor and/or filter, but many of them are as is.  (Some of my favorite apps to use are iPhoto, Afterlight, Instagram, and Mextures.  A month ago I got an Olloclip lens attachment.)

Special thanks to those who gave up their spare bedrooms and couches to me:

Laura & Fiachra, Rob, Jess & John, Jared, Scott & Jenna, Brian, Hannah, Susan & Alex, Nathan & Elaine, Michael & Jennifer, Carol, Brad, and Jeff & Scott

Thank you to my new friends that made this year special:

Kevin, Nick, Brad, Brian, Shon, and Joe

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