It’s the financial aspect of a journey like ours that leaves most people scratching their heads in wonder – how can it be possible to pay for a multi-year family vacation? Although I don’t claim to be an expert in planning long-term family trips, I guess I am somewhat of an expert seeing as how we’ve now been traveling full-time as a family for three years so far and plan at least another year on the road.
There are many ways families finance a long journey. Some spend many, many years diligently saving. Others take early retirement. Others sell everything and use that money to finance their travels. We did none of those.
John and I worked as teachers for many years and always saved a large part of our income for retirement. When we taught in international schools, housing was included as part of our contract so we saved what we would have spent on housing, plus more. We were very conscientious of the fact that – since we worked overseas – we would not have a pension of any kind. It was up to us to save for our old age. Although we don’t have huge amounts of money stashed away, we do have some.
When we decided to take off and travel with our children, we decided to spend some of our retirement money. We figure we will have to work a few more years before we can retire, but we will have a bucketload of memories. We will have had time with our children – now, before it is too late.
The way we see it is that we only have one chance at parenthood. Our boys are now 12 and they will never be 12 years old again. If we don’t spend time with them now, we will lose the opportunity – and that is something we didn’t want to do. Kids grow and change and become adults with lives of their own. Before we know it, Davy and Daryl will have left home and married wonderful girls and have children of their own – and then it’ll be too late for us to spend this kind of time with them. If we were going to do it, it had to be now.
And so – we made the decision to go for it. Life was too short not to. No, we didn’t have “enough” money. No, all the pieces didn’t magically fall into place. But we made it work – because it was priority for us.
Traveling the way we do is fairly cheap. We spend, on average, about $1500/month for the four of us. That translates into about $50/day. I’ve broken down our expenses here.
The bulk of our expenses are covered by the rent from our house. Before we left, we packed up everything and have rented out the house. We own the house outright and are not making payments – so the income from the rent pays around 50-60% of what we spend.
We also get some money from our website, articles I write, donations, or sponsorships. Whatever is left at the end of the month comes out of our retirement account.
There are some who will call us foolish – to spend our retirement now is sheer folly. Perhaps that’s true. But I know that I don’t want to be old and gray someday, sitting in my rocker saying, “I wish I woulda…” I want to be sitting in that rocker (or teaching in my classroom since I won’t have the luxury of sitting in the rocker) saying, “I lived life on my own terms. I headed out, took risks, spent a few wonderful years traveling with my children, and have no regrets.” To me – that’s what life is all about.