Choosing Our Own Destination

I couldn’t have imagined this two years ago but it seems to have arrived: Kyle and I have zero pending wedding invitations!  And not even any engaged friends to whose weddings we are confident we will be invited.


We love attending weddings and especially love attending weddings to which we need to travel because that almost always means we get to see far-flung friends.  We RSVP yes whenever we possibly can and regret all the weddings we haven’t been able to attend.


All the love and joy and friendship aside, though, traveling to weddings is a huge drain on our finances.  We were totally slammed with invitations in 2010, the year we got married, and were really caught off guard.  After that summer we started our Travel and Personal Gifts short-term savings account and have been shoving as much money as possible into it since.  Aside from our honeymoon, we haven’t chosen a travel destination for ourselves since 2008 – all we’ve done is attend weddings, visit friends and family, and vacation with family.


But now – but now! – we have money piling up in our Travel account and nowhere to spend it!  Well, that’s not quite true.  We have to fund our Christmas travel and gifts and that’s going to take more than all the money we’re projected to save between now and Jan 1.  But after that… the world is our oyster!  As far as we know right now.


I have a secret dream of taking an international vacation to celebrate Kyle’s graduation, which is supposed to happen next spring – either to Europe (England, France, Greece?) or Asia (Singapore, China?).  Kyle and I have never been outside of North America and – come on – we’re 27 now so that’s getting embarrassing!  I don’t think we’ll be able to save up enough by next summer at our current rate to do anything really expensive but if our rate of wedding invitations stays low for a while maybe we can afford something awesome by the time I graduate.  Even if we don’t do something big big by next summer we’ll definitely have saved enough do have a vacation of our choosing that is close to home.


Or we could do the much less fun and more responsible thing and save for Kyle’s potentially-funded-by-us postdoc interviews or the frequent travel we may need to undertake a long-distance marriage next year.  I guess we should just keep saving hard and take an appropriate-sized vacation once we know where Kyle will be next year.  But until then I’ll daydream of a vacation abroad…


Do you still choose your own destinations even while attending weddings?  When did the intense wedding years let up for you and did you take bigger vacations when they were over?  What is your recommendation for a big big vacation and a more local vacation for us?


photo from Free Digital Photos

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24 Responses to "Choosing Our Own Destination"

  1. Emily too says:

    Ha! Our weddings are slowing a little too, but we still have four between now and next September. They’re pretty much all local grad school friends though, so they’re cheap for my husband; more expensive for me to travel from my research site but at least they give me excuses to visit home 🙂

    You should dream big! I think you always will find money for what you have to do, but you won’t find money for what you want to do unless, well, you really want to.

    We did just spend a good chunk of what was supposed to be our “trip to Europe in two years” savings account to seize the opportunity for my husband to come to a conference in a neat North American destination, which we will be trying to pay ourselves back this fall. And then we found out he has a conference in Spain next summer, and his travel will be fully funded (mine was only about 2/3), so even though it was a fun trip we just had, I’m kicking myself a little because we won’t be able to save enough by then to take advantage of one free ticket to Europe and move up our trip.

    It sounds like jumping on the present opportunity instead of waiting for the perfect one is a bad idea but it made me realize how important travel is to me. I used to get to go really exciting places for work at least once a year and not doing that any more really bothers me. I’m admitting that saving up for the big trip, and taking small ones when possible, is quite high priority, which my husband is fine with, so we won’t be increasing retirement savings anytime soon, but we also have motivation to be more frugal in everyday spending so we have more to save for travel.

    1. Emily says:

      Wow, four weddings that you know of already in the next year is a lot! Half-travel is definitely better than full to pay for, and like you said it will give you more reason to visit your husband so that’s a plus.

      I bet you’re glad you started saving for your Europe trip though even though part of the money was repurposed because it gave you the option for the smaller trips as well. There’s always the possibility of a small windfall in time for you to get to Spain as well, or a way to rework your budget to save faster.

      I think we’re both a bit intimidated of travel to places where English isn’t the primary language, which maybe is why our dreams are rather small – especially going alone together as two inexperienced travelers. Some of Kyle’s cousins seem to take international trips at least yearly though so maybe we could tag along with them sometime.

  2. Most of Europe is pretty amazing. My wife and I have been to most of western Europe. It has it’s cheaper and very expensive countries. One vacation I would recommend to anyone before they die is Peru. It was an amazing country.

    1. Emily says:

      What was so special about Peru that you would recommend?

  3. SWR says:

    Hah. I think we’re in a lull of invites right now. There was a big rush within a year after college graduation, and then things really slowed down. Now it seems like everyone who met someone shortly after college is getting married. Many of our wedding trips have been back to where one of us grew up, so we have been able to travel for pretty inexpensively.

    Europe is less expensive to get to, but really expensive once you’re there. Asia, on the other hand, is much more expensive to get to but lots less while you’re there.
    SWR recently posted..And then the car broke

    1. Emily says:

      Several of the weddings we’ve attended have been in one of our hometowns – it doesn’t make the transportation any cheaper but it definitely helps for the accommodations! We didn’t have too many weddings immediately after college – 2010 was three years out – and a lot of our church friends here in the South who did get married right after college we didn’t know yet.

      Good point about transportation vs. lodging costs at those different destinations.

  4. If you do decide to go to Europe, hostels can be a great way to make it more affordable. We’re traveling to Puerto Rico for our wedding anniversary in a couple months and are staying in some hostels. The ones we found are about $30 per person per night (for our own room of course) vs $150-200 per night for hotels. We will have to share a bathroom with a couple of other rooms (dorm style), but for us the possibility of having to wait a few minutes to shower is well worth the $100+ savings.
    David@SkepticFinance recently posted..Dollar Cost Averaging (Don’t Buy It)

    1. Emily says:

      We stayed in two hostels in North America this summer and that worked out well. The price was definitely a lot lower. I take it you were able to get private rooms? I wouldn’t want to stay in separate single-gender rooms or with other people.

  5. What a fun dream! Europe will always be there, you know. Meanwhile, there are some amazing domestic locations — I’m looking at you, Cleveland!
    Kathleen @ Frugal Portland recently posted..October Goals, September in review, and a funny picture

    1. Emily says:

      Europe will always be there but we’ll change over time! I’d like to take one really big trip before we reproduce. And there are definitely more US destinations we’d like to see/return to. I’ve never been to Cleveland but you certainly seem enamored!

  6. I didn’t really have any “wedding intense” years. Maybe intense in the fact that 5 friend’s weddings I’ve been to was in a 4 year window. But we were all still relatively local for them, so very little traveling was required. I’ve only got 3 single friends left, and two of them aren’t even in serious relationships.

    As far as never having been out of North America, I’m 4 years older than you and I’ve never been out of the country! I traveled a bit in the Northeast in college, but otherwise, I’ve barely been anywhere at all.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Lower Your Heating Costs with Ceiling Fans

    1. Emily says:

      Do you have a desire to travel more? Neither Kyle nor I is super-enthusiastic about it. I mostly want to try it out so I know if it’s a value of ours or not.

      1. Not really, I wish I could go out to visit family more, but other than that I’ve always felt that traveling was a pain.
        Edward Antrobus recently posted..Saving Money Series: Cutting Back

  7. We had several weddings over the course of a few years but I think we are out of that stage now. Most of our friends and family members are already married.

    We have both been to Canada but have never left North America either. We just planned our first out of the country trip to the Dominican Republic in February! I just picked where I wanted to go off of the internet after researching and reading reviews. I cannot wait! We are going to an all adults- all inclusive resort. We have never done that before. I think in 2014 we are going to do a Mediterranean cruise! There are a lot of destinations though so it’s hard to choose.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..House Shopping: The Addiction Continues

    1. Emily says:

      That sounds like an exciting trip! I’ve never been to a full-on resort but I have been on cruises that were tons of fun. I would love to take a Mediterranean cruise. Are you starting to research that trip already?

      1. Yeah, a little bit! But it’s kind’ve hard since we can’t really get pricing that far out yet. The cruises we are looking at have ports in Spain, Italy, and France. I think it would be awesome! We’ll have to see how the finances line up when the time comes.
        Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Saving Money, It All Adds Up…and a Giveaway!!!

  8. Leigh says:

    I definitely think you should go to Europe! If at all possible, take a month to make the flights more cost effective. Hostel private rooms are usually a pretty good deal. I absolutely loved Paris, but I wish I’d seen more of France. I really want to go back to Greece too – it was absolutely gorgeous.

    I haven’t had the intense wedding years yet – I’m a few years younger than you guys. I think that’s about to start though as I’m now three years out of college and Facebook is so completely covered in people planning weddings. Two of my boyfriend’s friends are getting married next spring in a US city that I’ve never been to! So I’m super excited for that, assuming that he does ask me to go with him…
    Leigh recently posted..Today, I’m thankful…for my employer matching funds in my 401(k)!

    1. Emily says:

      Oh man, Europe for a month, or ANYWHERE for a month… I’m getting nervous just thinking about it! We took two weeks off for our wedding and honeymoon, about 10 days of which was actually the honeymoon, and that’s the longest vacation I’ve ever taken. But grad school is very flexible and my labmates do disappear for about a month at a time periodically. I doubt we can afford that for this upcoming year though – maybe after I graduate. Something to think about for sure.

      Yeah, our terrible year for wedding was 3 years out from college graduation and following, but it also ramped up because we had become friends during grad school with some people a few years old than us.

      Regarding your boyfriend’s friends’ weddings and invitations… I didn’t understand this as fully before I planned a wedding, but you might not get invited and that is no comment on your relationship with you boyfriend either from him or his friends! We only gave +1s for significant others of 1 year or more as we couldn’t afford to give one to everyone. We have also been to weddings where no +1s were given. So there’s a lot of variability! I think it’s more fair to create a universal rule than to judge in every individual situation who should get invites.

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