Jared and I get asked the question “How are you able to travel so much?” all. the. time. Let me start off by clarifying that I am not a trust fund baby. We’re very much the opposite of that, actually.
I’m also frequently very tired and sometimes grumpy like a troll, ha! It seemed as good a time as any to address this question after just getting back from our almost three-week Scandinavian trip. Why? Because I really want to reiterate that we make it a point to travel often, despite the not-so-glam sacrifices that come along with it.
I can’t exactly DIY from a cruise ship or hotel room in a different country, which means we have to shoot double, sometimes triple, the content before we leave in order to keep things running while we’re out of the studio. We usually shoot just as much when we get back in order to catch up on work for brands that came in while we were gone.
Traveling is something that really inspires me when it comes to getting ideas for content, new DIY’s, and just for experience new cultures. That’s why Jared and I find it to be really important to take advantage of it as much as we can. That said, there are few ways we break down how we’ll go about it…
We usually have projects for Sugar & Cloth scheduled out a few weeks in advance, but I’m also picky about making sure things don’t feel ancient by the time they get published here. That means we have ideas and content lined up, but not necessarily on a die-hard schedule.
When it comes to us being out of town though, I live and die by a set editorial calendar. We’ll shoot content for several days straight in the studio, and then schedule it out over the time we’re gone and the few weeks when we get back to give us enough time to shoot new content then.
I also have to do the same with social media to make sure that everything is evenly spread out(ish). I’m definitely no pro at this, but as long as I have a good portion nailed down before we leave, we’re all good.
I learned really quickly that I can’t rely on my 9pm self to write a blog post after exploring a new place all day. I just straight up won’t do it, and I like to think that I have some semblance of self-discipline too. It’s just not realistic for me because my mind needs rest more than we need to pump out pretty pictures. If I leave myself unwritten posts that need doing while we’re gone, I wake up and do those first before we I let myself head out to explore.
Of course that last paragraph also makes it sound like I really have my ducks in a row, but I should mention that every time we’re about to head out town I almost have a mental breakdown thinking “this is the worst time ever to be leaving”, and then I’m always fine once we get to where we going, haha. Ah, the mind. It’s both a beautiful and miserable thing sometimes, am I right?
Making sure everything is tidied up with work and making sure my fur babies are taken car of usually takes up 99% of my time before we leave, so that means I scramble to pack for myself the night before and almost ALWAYS regret what I packed/didn’t pack. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps. Eventually, I will become a better packer, I’m sure.
A typical week before heading out of town usually looks like this: working six, twelve-hour days mixed with general errands, then writing post and doing laundry from home the day before flying out, then being overly exhausted the day we’re actually traveling because there’s finally a sigh of relief, then spending the first day gone semi out of it, and then enjoying the trip.
It’s by NO means a perfect process (clearly!), and not exactly glamorous/something I’d recommend to most, ha!
Cards for Travel—
Can I get an amen for credit cards that earn points?! We literally NEVER use debit cards. Everything for Sugar & Cloth and our personal finances gets put onto their respective credit cards and then paid off. Don’t be too impressed, I didn’t used to pay off my cards back in the day, this is a newfound goal after racking up some intimidating credit card amounts and the feeling of being judged by my accountant. Not my shining moment!
That said, when used correctly, credit cards basically earn us free travel money. We fly on points A LOT. We also use points for booking rental cars, hotels, you name it, which cuts down on travel costs for us. Our favorite cards to use are Southwest Airlines and American Express Platinum. It’s also helpful to designate one name/rewards member to receive the points on cards so that they add up to more rewards quicker, like a companion pass, free seat upgrades, or fast pass lines.
You can really quickly get a companion pass on Southwest with their credit card if you can find a sign on invitation for 40,000 points (if you need one, I can refer you! just send me a quick note saying you want one, and yes, I shamelessly earn points for that, haha), especially for business cardholders.
A companion pass means you can designate one person to fly with you for free on any flight you book on Southwest. The real kicker is that you not only get the companion pass for the remainder of the year that you earned it within, but you also get to use it for the following full calendar year! The yearly fee for the Southwest card is under $100, which is worth it since you earn points very quickly.
Rather than have a personal Amex Platinum, we only have one for the business. The yearly fee for this one is pretty steep (which is a write-off for business owners), but it does come with it’s fair share of travel benefits that we use all the time. For instance, it comes with a free Global Entry application, free Priority Pass lounge membership (we LIVE for the American Express and Priority Pass lounges on layovers!), plenty of hotel perks and upgrades, free Boingo wifi membership, five times the points when you book travel through Amex, etc.
You can also snag a 100,000 point sign up bonus offer from them too, which is a serious incentive (again, I can shamelessly refer you…). With the Amex points you can book airfare on any airline, hotel, cruise, vacation package, you name it. It’s nice for us to have one for a dedicated airline we use often, and one that earns points for any airline so that we can do more international travel.
Where we Stay —
I’m also an avid HotelTonight addict. We use it on almost all of our short or last minute trips to get good hotel discounts last minute. It’s not exactly for the planner at heart, but if you’re okay with not knowing where you’re staying until a few nights before, it’s amazing. They also have a great way of marking the hotels so you know what standard you’re getting. We usually stick with Hip, Luxe, or Solid categories based on where the hotel is located and the price point. Tip: be sure to still vet the hotels on Google reviews before booking!
The pro’s for this are: ease of booking, you earn status points when you book often which gets you bigger price discounts and free room upgrades, you can refer friends to the app so that they can $25 off their first booking plus you’ll get $25 off your next booking (of course you should use my code! “SUGAR25” #shameless), and the app covers almost every city. The con is that you can’t cancel once you book, and we’ve had a few times where we’ve changed our mind on the hotel we chose. We did call HotelTonight once and ask if we could switch our reservation to another hotel, and they allowed it, so there may be some hope there if you mess up haha.
We did call HotelTonight once and ask if we could switch our reservation to another hotel, and they allowed it, so there may be some hope there if you mess up haha.
We’ll also work with brands for accommodations sometimes. This means they’ll either offer us a media rate or a complimentary stay in exchange for writing and sharing them on the blog and/or social media. When we work with brands in this capacity, we vet them A LOT. Meaning we’ve done our research, we know which one’s will be cool (that we’ll like AND that you’ll like), and then we plan the partnership in advance.
I would say we go this route about 70% of the time. The good part about this is that we get cool content from it, plus you all get first-hand recommendations on the do’s, don’ts, and what to plan for in advance. The downside is that we end up working while we’re on the trip even more than we usually do.
The phrase “nothing is ever free” is really true. If someone is offering us something, they’re typically expecting something in return, and we make sure that we can fulfill that request when it comes to brands 110% before we commit. This means we spend the first hour we walk into a hotel room taking photos of it before anything is touched or put out of place so that we get the perfect room shots.
We also plan our actual trip itinerary around the weather to make sure we get the best shots of the outdoor amenities, waking up first thing in the morning to get photos of the spaces before they’re bustling with people, making sure we edit on spot to get photos up on social in real-time, etc. It’s still working, and not necessarily what most people would consider a relaxing vacation environment. But is it an amazing job perk once you get a good system down? Absolutely!
While We’re Gone —
Even when we’re not traveling for work or working with a brand while there, we’re also still on the job. That’s the thing about being self-employed, you’re never FULLY off duty. Someone will still need to ask a question, deadlines will still exist, and bills still need to be paid.
I’ve basically become a professional on-the-go iPhone worker. Thank goodness for G-Suite and Dropbox! It’s also been a huge help having Kayla work with us because she’s able to take a lot of the day-to-day off of my plate while we’re gone.
All in all, is it still worth it for us to do the travel thing? Totally! It’s just not quite as simple and magical as it always looks, but nothing online ever is, am I right?!
If you have any other questions that you’d like to see in a future FAQ post, let us know right here!