How did we come to travel so much and be brave enough to do it with small kids?
It’s very romantic.
My husband, Travis, and I met online via match.com. At the time, he was living in Boston, having just finished his PhD and working for his thesis advisor at a small tech startup. I was living in Denver, working a corporate engineering job. I had moved to Denver for the job, and didn’t know anyone within a drivable distance. Two years later, I had spent sufficient time exploring my own interests and taking up my own new hobbies that I decided to try online dating just to meet some people. I didn’t necessarily intend to meet *the one* or even gain a serious relationship – mostly I just wanted to have some nice conversation, feel like a girl, and get over some of the social awkwardness that tends to come with my introversion.
When I started to exchange emails with Travis, I knew I was in trouble. I had started online dating to meet people in Denver because I didn’t know anyone in Denver! I didn’t want a long distance relationship! But I could feel that thing. You know, that “this could be something really big” thing that goes from the roots of your hair to the tips of your toes?
Travis happened to be presenting a paper at a professional conference in San Diego about a month after we started emailing. He had already planned a stopover in Denver, because as it turned out, he spent several summers here doing internships and climbing fourteeners, and still maintained professional and personal contacts that he wanted to visit. He suggested that we go out while he was in town. Needless to say, it went really well, and we definitely wanted to see more of each other.
It also happened that I had already planned and booked a trip to my parents’ house in Michigan over Labor Day, about three weeks later. Travis is originally from Northeastern Ohio, and approximately halfway between his family and my family lies the greatest amusement park in the world, Cedar Point. We met there for our second date, which fulfilled my high-school-era fantasy of going there with a boyfriend and snuggling up while waiting in line for the Gemini, as I had jealously watched other girls do.
After our second date, it was pretty clear that we were onto something and that we needed to see each other again. It turned out that Travis had acquired some vouchers on Northwest Airlines. He had traveled the previous year with his buddy, Kent, who was an avid world traveler and very into “the game” of it. Kent had taken Travis to southeast Asia, they had taken a bump (voluntarily denied boarding) in order to get the vouchers, and in the process, Travis had acquired Silver elite status with Northwest… which he had then done absolutely nothing with. The vouchers were expiring, so why not use them to come visit Denver?
Travis booked a series of three weekend trips to see me that fall. We hiked a lot, we went out, we stayed in, we got to know each other, and by the end of those three trips, we were officially a couple. “The rest is history” for our relationship – we never looked back. But it turned out to be just the beginning for our travel adventures.
At that point, Travis realized that with just a few more trips to Denver, he would earn Gold status on Northwest, so he booked enough visits to do so, including a fairly crazy mileage run on our way home for Christmas that got rather honked up by the Holiday Blizzard of 2006, which shut down the Denver Airport for a day and a half.
We learned the ropes of the frequent travel game, making it as cheap as possible. We took advantage of mileage earning and fare discounting promotions, took (nearly) every bump available to us to earn vouchers, flew to every podunk airport in New England to get the best fares, earned elite status on United – first Premier, then Premier Executive, then 1K. We took occasional big international trips or trips to other domestic locations where both of us flew, but mostly we were flying to see each other.
When Travis relocated to Denver in the winter of 2009, about six months before we were married, we realized that (a) we didn’t have to fly any more, or (b) if we did keep flying, we could go anywhere we wanted – not just Boston or Denver. Of course we continued to fly, unable to let the mass of knowledge that we had acquired or our top-tier elite status go to waste.
Our son was born in spring of 2011. We had had many conversations about whether we’d be able to continue to travel with baby, and we agreed to try and see how it went. By December 31, our son was 8 months old and had achieved Premier Executive status. He was 1K one year later.
On January 1, we were surprised to discover that his little sister was coming along. All of the conversations we had had about travel with one child happened again – travel with one was going well, but could it be done with two? We again, decided to give it a shot.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Our kids have been all over the US and all over the world. They’ve traveled in coach, in business class, and in first class. We’ve forgotten to bring diapers and formula (thankfully not on the same trip). I have breastfed babies all over the world. We’ve got a lot of lessons learned, and we hope that some of what we know will help you feel free to explore the world.