Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Ok, dear readers. It’s time for our first-ever roundtable discussion.

Since my husband and I recently got back from our wedding and honeymoon, and are now embarking again out into the wild blue yonder, I’ve been fielding the same question over and over and over—particularly from those I work with (since they know I will be taking time off from work soon). What is it, you ask?

“How do you afford to travel so often?”

I have many-a-thought on this topic.

A) When did it become socially acceptable to ask people what they do with their money? I do not ask you how you can afford that brood of children….or the car you drive…or the home you live in…or your smoking habit. Why? Because it is none of my business.

B) What exactly are they looking for in an answer? Is it just a rhetorical question meant to belittle the way you spend your money vs. the way they do, or do they want a day-by-day breakdown of my expenditures?

C) Of all the times I've been asked this question, I can only recall being asked this once by someone of "my generation." The rest have been a generation or two older than me. Is this a generational thing? Is it a regional thing that can be attributed to living in a relatively conservative part of the country?

When asked, I am always taken aback--no matter how many times I've been asked the question. Once I regroup, I always stutter through the standard, “Oh, it’s just a priority for us—we choose to spend our money there rather than elsewhere.” There are usually alternative responses running through my smartas*sed mind that I’d love to give ("I deal drugs on the weekends."), but have resisted the urge thus far. ;)

Anyway, back to the roundtable. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Am I overly sensative? Am I missing something? I’ve included some polls below, and please feel free to add additional comments in the comments section.


RACHEL said...

Yep, that ranks right up there with "how big is your engagement ring?" and "how much did your wedding cost?" and "how much do you make for a living?" It's not a generational thing or a regional thing. It's just a lack of tact and a sense of being entitled to know things that are none of your business.

Sarita said...

I think I'm in the minority here...but I'm not of the opinion that it's necessarily a rude thing to ask.

People are naturally curious about money and while I understand it may not be a comfy question for you, you're also putting your travel experiences out here on the WWW as it's a big part of your life, so you should sort of expect the questions to be asked. I think you should just take it as a compliment and share a little bit with your readers about how you manage to stretch your budget to include so much travel! If it's really just a part of your normal budget, then you should be comfortable answering questions about where you "find" the money, in order to help others do the same, if that's really the purpose of your blog. Does that make sense?

I also think some people are secretly hoping that you will share some juicy secret about an inheritance or some other exciting form of income/wealth that allows you to have all these travel experiences! ;)

Stacy said...

I don't think you are being overly sensitive. Personally, I don't get really upset when people ask me similar questions if I think it is because they are genuinely curious as opposed to nosey. Like a wedding vendor, for instance, if they are considering that place and want to know ballpark figures, I see the point. If it is a mother and all her children are married and she just wants to know for kicks, then that is not okay.

I think it is in poor taste to ask, but it is about 50/50 split on whether I mind if people ask me.

In terms of your blog, I have to disagree with Sarita in part. It is my understanding that your goal through this blog is to inform people of fun places to travel and not necessarily how to afford it. So I don't think you owe your readers any explanation whatsoever.

We all have priorities, mine are shoes ;), yours is travel, some people it is dining/drinking on the weekends, etc. So if people wanted to travel the way you do, it isn't brain surgery...you just shift priorities.

And generally speaking, I just hate when any person puts you on the spot for any reason whatsoever. Beyond money talk, putting people on the spot is in poor taste as well.

I will now shut up and go vote in the nice little poll you prepared :)

MissRancher said...

I agree with Sarita. Your tag line is 'Real travel for Real people with Real budgets'. You cover the first two in your blog - why not the last?

I think most people are really bad at budgeting. They probably look at you and think, 'Wow, how the hell can they afford that? And why can't I?? What's the secret? Let me in!!!!'

Ashley said...

First of all, let me state that I really appreciate the discussion happening here. :)

In support of the disussion, I am going to add a few things from my end.:)

The scope of this blog is not to share my financial status--it's to hopefully provide people with some budget-friendly options for places to go/see. :) I've done a few posts on how to save money when you are travelling (specifically my Hawaii post), but I am not in the business of being a financial advisor to anyone. The scope is moreso "If you have a travel budget, here a few places to check out that are beautiful and may stretch your budget a little more.I try not to post things that would be out of reach of the average person, which is why I have the tagline "Real people with real budgets". :)

I guess I don't feel that just because people blog/share their lives with other, they are obligated to open up their checkbooks and share the balances with others. I do not ask for a budget breakdown on wedding blogs, nor would I ask for a budget breakdown on travel blogs. That is JMHO, though, and something to keep the discussion rolling. :)

Sarita said...

I think you can share/not share whatever information you want to on your blog and I love it no matter what! But I guess I don't get why you're so sensitive about it - I think if I were you, I might find the question a bit invasive but ultimately I would just be honored that people want to know how to achieve something so great and be ready to share the details.

I don't think anyone can make people's natural curiosities go away, or dictate how people behave - people will be people. I think it's just a matter of finding a way to deal with it, or just ignoring them. I do think that inquiring about a travel budget is in a whole different ballpark than asking someone point-blank how much their rock or wedding cost, IMHO. My point in mentioning the aim of your blog is to bring to light that people might think it's OK to ask you these kinds of questions since you've started a blog about travel for real people on real budgets - so you might be unnknowingly inviting the questions!

On that note, I totally agree with Stacy that it's pretty dumb of people in the first place to ask how you afford it - obviously you make it a priority and that's that. I think lots of times people will just say "how can you afford it?" because they see travel as a huge luxury that they would never even consider.

After all, 25% of the US population holds a valid passport. SAD, SAD, SAD.

Love this roundtable!

RACHEL said...

I can't walk away from a good debate. It's a character flaw.

So I have to whole-heartedly agree with Stacy and Ashley on this one. Although blogging is certainly a means of opening up your personal life and passions to the world, it by no means implies an invitation to overstep the bounds of decency and ask such a personal question. I blog about living in southern California, but would be appalled if someone asked me how we can afford to live here. Stacy blogs about shopping, but I would be equally appalled if someone asked her how she can afford her purchases.

There are plenty of blogs, books and self-help websites out there on money management. This simply isn't one of them.

And I think Stacy is right. There are certain instances when it's less about being rude, and more about being informed (because it somehow applies to you personally, perhaps?). But if the asker is just nosy (or worse, jealous) then
my tolerance level is pretty low.

Stacy said...

I agree with Rachel and with Sarita in terms of the general curiosity of people and the "what can you do" about it stance.

I KNOW friends of mine get ticked if I say I can't afford the girls spa weekend to Arizona and then see me buy $400 shoes. I have admitted my problem but have yet to seek professional help ;)

That is an interesting statistic, Sarah 25%, that IS discouraging.

Ash, I KNOW that one day I am going to come to you for your wisdom and say to you that Rachel has ticked me off to high heaven for going to the One and Only ;) and that I need you to help me re-prioritize so I can go too (while wearing my new shoes)! I know you do your best to tell me to "step away from the virtual shopping cart" but I never listen.....getting off topic, but since this comes up a lot with you, I am glad it is being discussed!

Sarita said...

Ash - out of curiosity, how many q's are you getting on this? And how many ask them based on your blog? (just a general idea...) If it's outrageously high, then I think you have a problem!! If it's just been a couple isolated cases, I think you can chalk it up to nosy curiosity...

BTW people ask me all the time about cost of living/salaries in Spain, I guess I just never gave it a second thought!

Sarita said...

Stacy, I have so many friends just like you, who complain openly about money but then shop like maniacs! It IS a problem but admission is the first step! LOL

Ash, I guess in thinking about this on my walk home from work, that most of this is perception. It obviously bothers you but I think in this life there will always be those people who overstep your bounds, and we just have to find ways to deal with them. In this case, I think you're on the right track with your "drug dealing" comment. Here are a few more for your use:

"Actually, we're drug runners and frequently travel to Caribbean islands to move the goods"

"We travel often to get away from nosy, small town folk like you"

"Vacation is the only time we can eat and drink our faces off without being judged by idiots like you"

"My family left me an inheritance which I can only spend on travel"

and my personal favorite:

"Mind yo' own beeswax!"


Courtney said...

While I neither agree or disagree if it's appropriate to ask HOW you afford it, I think that part of the reason you get asked is based on 2 things.
You are a student. Thus implying that you are dirt poor, living in a basement with no windows, eating Kraft Dinner, never washing your clothes. People don't know that you ALSO work and make a living (and don't live in a basement with no windows)
Everyone is secretly hoping you have your finger on some sort of hidden deal on travel that you'll only divulge if asked.

I also trust that if you ever do come across the deal of all deals, that you would pass it on to your faithful readers :)

Mamacita Chilena said...

I'm 24, just to clarify which generation I belong to, and I don't think it's rude to ask someone that, or to be asked that. People often ask me money questions about traveling, the cost of living in Chile and even how much I make.

I have to admit that I think it's really weird how almost offended you seem by the question.

But, at the same time, both Sarita and I have spent significant portions of our lives living in a Latino culture where questions about money don't have as much stigma as they do in the U.S. Maybe I am just desensitized to it since I've been here for so long.

Rhonda said...

I'm way late on this but I just want to say that I am completely jealous of all your travels : )

I do think it's rude for someone to ask what you do with your money.....are they maybe asking for pointers so they can travel too? If I was to ask you that would be my only reason...but I would come up with a different way to word it....like, could share some of your travel budgets or something like that.