Our travel isn’t glamorous. We spend hours in airports between flights if it means that we spend less. We read everything we can about the place we’re visiting to be sure we get all the tips and know the best places to eat/drink/play. We ride public transportation once we get to our destination. We go to museums at the cheapest admission times. We book hostels, AirBnb rooms, or dormitories whenever possible, but usually have a hotel room outside of the city center. We eat “take away” or carry out to save money abroad. We take full advantage of student discounts and the European ticket discounts for being under 25 years old.
We’re Hannah and Steve. We’re twenty somethings who currently live in Oxford, Mississippi. It’s a charming college town that is home to The University of Mississippi, or as it is more affectionately called, Ole Miss.
We got married in 2016 (the day after Steve graduated from the University of New Orleans) and made it our goal as a married couple to travel abroad together at least once a year. The purpose of South By Midwest is to share how we do that while working and pursuing our master’s degrees. We don’t travel full time, nor do we necessarily aspire to. We travel as often as we can and this is our story.
I was born in Minnesota, but raised in southern Louisiana while Steve was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The name South By Midwest comes from the idea that we’re northerners by blood who can’t seem to leave the south. When we met at The University of New Orleans, I was studying English with a concentration in creative writing and Steve was studying film and developing a love for photography. While at UNO, I studied abroad in Cork, Ireland and Steve studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic; these experiences ignited our love for traveling. Studying abroad allowed us a structured opportunity to explore another country.
Nowadays, we’re both graduate students at Ole Miss, working toward earning master’s degrees in Higher Education/Student Personnel. Hannah works full time advising international exchange students. Steve is a graduate assistant in an academic advising office. This semester, he also interned with the campus recreation department where he works on media content.
When we were both graduate assistants, our income was pretty low. We saved every penny we had to make traveling possible. Now that one of us works full time, we have a little more flexibility in our travel budget, but still have to make travel a priority. We don’t have children, but we recently adopted a kitten who can seem like quite a baby. We haven’t traveled since we got Rebel, but she’ll be enjoying the comfort of her bed, blankets, and toys at home.
Each payday, we set aside a little money to our travel savings account. Sometimes it’s $25, sometimes it’s $50, and if we’re really feeling bougie, it’s $100. This allows us to build a budget for our next trip based on what happens in our lives. For example, if Rebel has an expensive vet visit, then the money set aside for travel will be a little less that pay check. We just traveled to Sweden, Norway, and Denmark over the Christmas break. It was pretty expensive and we’ll need to make our next trip cheaper. We’re officially going to Honduras this summer to visit friends (Hiii, Kira & Jose). The flight will be cheaper because Honduras isn’t too far away and we won’t have to worry about housing costs (Thaaanks, Kira & Jose!).
We haven’t really been traveling together for that long. Since we started graduate school, we have planned our travel for the Christmas holiday when the university is closed. We do this because we don’t have to ask for time off and no matter what happens, we both have that time off of work. So, even if Steve gets a full-time job, we can still stick to our winter break plans. Since our trip this summer will be cheaper, we’ll have a year and a half before the next Christmas break (aka the next trip). With all those months of saving money, we’ll be able to dream big about where to go next.
We also wanted to share about how our chosen professions allows us some ability to travel. Hannah works in international education which naturally allows for some travel. Conferences in the United States and conferences abroad occur a few times a year so Hannah gets to travel for work sometimes. Steve recently went rock climbing in Arkansas as part of his internship. It’s possible to have a career with a dose of play.
Sometimes, we see other bloggers riding elephants in South Africa and spontaneously booking flights to Guadalajara. We can’t help but envy them a little. It seems like they have a photo team following them around as they twirl in their dresses at sunset in Greece. That’s not our reality and we want to be sure that we’re being authentic about that in our posts. We travel when we can, but it isn’t full time. Steve takes photos with a Canon 5D Mark II and edits them with Adobe Lightroom. Hannah writes most of our posts from the couch while drinking white wine. Our selfies are taken with a selfie stick and an iPhone 5. We make mistakes while abroad. We fall for taxi scams in Paris, get fussed at in a foreign language for eating bread outside of a church, and then we tell you about it.
We want to start writing more lifestyle posts in between our travels. We talk to each other a lot about being twenty-somethings and navigating our careers, how in the world millennials are supposed to afford a house, The Bachelor series, and other really important topics. We’re in this together and we’re happy to have you as a reader.
-Han & Steve