Exploration is one of our primary motivations as we attempt to live deliberately every single day. For us, exploration means a lot of travel - checking out parts of the world that we're interested in. We've turned the traditional "travel when you're retired" model upside down and are trying to see as much as we can while we are still able-bodied and relatively young. As you probably know by now, we're not living off of trust funds, so we are happy (thrilled, actually) to be able to work from where ever we are. It's part of the life we've constructed. Because we're away from home base a lot, we also have to be mindful of expenses. Travel costs can get out of control, and that's definitely not part of our dream life.
So, after we get ignited with the spark to check out a destination, we spend loads of time looking for deals. The goal is always to maximize the dollar - getting the best experience/value we can for the least amount of money.
That does not mean the cheapest.
Most every time we're pulling a journey together, we're blown away by what you can get for a few extra bucks (read: if a 2* hotel is $45 and a 4* hotel is on sale for $60, we'll go for the 4* hotel). We are constantly meeting people who say things like... "Oh... you're staying at the ___ hotel. We could never afford that. We're at the 2* ___ hotel and that's already putting us out $___ a night." Most of the time, their $___ a night is more than what we're paying for the 4* hotel. It's about putting a little effort into finding the deals.
So, for example, we just booked a place where we've decided that we may need to sleep on top of the bed with clothes on. No biggie. We've also stayed at plenty of high-end places where we feel like complete impostors, showing up with our REI backpacks.
And, this isn't just about hotels; this mindset extends to car rentals, airfare, everything - even membership-only airline lounges.
Speaking of airline lounges, we regulalrly find coupons that get us in for a visit. We also got an AM/EX platinum card for work. The card provides free access to many of the airlines' clubs. But things are not always as you may presume. On our way back from DC, we popped into an American Airlines club to find a chex mix sort of things as the "complimentary food" offering. That was a low moment.
Bottom line... We'll stay pretty much anywhere and have no clear identity as travelers. People are always asking where we usually stay, etc. There is no "usual" place. We like it that way. It affords us the opportunity to meet a diverse range of travelers (and to try to be better travelers/people because of them). This keeps us learning from other people. Such as...
- The woman at the Four Seasons in Hawaii who insisted that the pool guy regularly move her chair to align with the sun.
- The guy in airline lounge who complained that the flavors of complimentary yogurt were unacceptable.
- The group in the room next to us who partied all night and trashed the room at a dump in Memphis.
We don't fit a travel mold and like it that way!