Lately, I’ve suffered from writer’s block. Since February 2019, I’ve done a great job of meeting my once per week posting goal. But this blog has had a bit of an existential crisis. What is its true niche? We are pursuing financial independence and early retirement (“FIRE”), but I often feel like we don’t have much to add in that space. We are following a roadmap and models set by others. Nonetheless, I believe it is helpful to share what we’re doing and to chronicle this path. In part I want a record for our own experience and if we can inspire someone else along the way, even better. The monthly progress updates do a good job of this. Other blogs are probably a better source for the how-to of achieving financial independence.
What about cooking? I love cooking and enjoy sharing some of the foods we eat. I also like writing about how we grocery shop and save money on this necessary expense. But this will never be a cooking or recipe blog. I don’t develop new recipes and have little desire to start doing so. I find cooking to be a relaxing, creative outlet. It is one of the ways I plan to fill my time during early retirement. It is a reason we like vacationing in places that have a kitchen. Cooking and food will still show up here and on our social media outlets even though recipes will not become central to this blog.
Our identity has always been about travel. That’s what I really want to write about. When I started this blog, I imagined it as a travel blog (hence, the name Traveling Vines). The timing of the launch coincided with belt tightening efforts and job changes that reduced our capacity for travel. But we still feel a strong sense of wanderlust. Our travel priority right now is squeezing a lot of adventure into a smaller budget and busy careers. In 2019, we booked fewer trips but experienced the same number of travel days. One of the primary reasons we’re pursuing early retirement is for the freedom to have more adventures.
In an effort to be true to this essential part of who we are, I’m committing to write two travel-related posts each month starting in January 2020. There might be some overlap between travel and my other favorite categories, like this one on saving money by cooking on vacation. Or, I might write about our planning or budgeting processes for travel. We are also dabbling with credit card travel hacking.
When we first signed up for travel rewards cards, we planned to use an “earn and burn” approach, where we expected to redeem the points regularly. We hacked a trip to Japan in 2017 and have an upcoming trip to Costa Rica that we’ve hacked as well. More recently, our credit card points approach has changed to stockpile rewards for early retirement. The reason for this is twofold. First, we earn high incomes now and can absorb travel expenses through our regular cash flow. When our income drops, we’ll appreciate offsetting the costs of flights and lodging through the use of points. Secondly, the best value for redeemed travel points require flexibility. Our careers make that flexibility a challenge at this time. When we no longer have limitations on vacation time or deadlines to meet, we’ll be able to travel hack more efficiently. I’ll write about our progress, although like cooking, credit card points will never dominate this blog.
I’m excited to spend more time talking about our travels. I hope you’ll join me. Please chime in through the comments section to share your own adventures and anything travel-related that you’d like to read about more.