Wednesday, March 4, 2015

We Could Never Afford That

That being international travel. With 4 kids.

If I had a quarter for every time someone has said we could never afford that to us, we would probably be well on our way to financing our next trip.

But, it still brings up a very good point. International travel is expensive. International travel times 6 is that much more extensive.

Our trip to Japan/Indonesia was about $14,000. Our trip to Spain was close to $8000. A big money saving factor for both trips is that we stayed with friends for at least part of the trip. That kept our housing and food expenses down to more normal life prices.

Both trips cost a good chunk of change. We did not go into debt for either trip. We don't have a larger income than most people. (we are in the $30,000-$35,000 bracket) How could we afford the trip to Japan/Indonesia, and then to Spain?

1. Mindset of delayed gratification. It's a mindset of choices.

I'd rather travel to somewhere (relatively) exotic fairly regularly than live in a bigger house. I'd rather drive dependable, but older vehicles, and be able to travel-than to drive all the new models.

What would you rather?

2. Saving regularly. We save $500 of our income every month. That is about 20% of our monthly salary. We treat saving money just like any other bill. Our savings account has to be paid. It is set up as an automatic withdrawal. It works for us.

In addition to regular savings, any time we get an unexpected chunk of money, we try to put it into our savings account. We don't just use our savings for travel. It also often covers business expenses and big purchases. But, anything above and beyond what we need for our daily life and our business expenses, we plunk into that savings account. We almost always put most of our tax refund in our savings. At least it sits there a while, earning interest.

Every contribution, big or small, helps the amount grow bigger, faster.

We found saving money to be a bit addicting. In a good way. Once that snowball starts, you want to keep adding towards your goal.

Maybe $500 isn't feasible for your income. But, could you save $100? That's $25 a week. Sure, $100 is not going to add up as quickly as $500, but in 5 years or 10 years, you can afford quite a trip.

Also, one other thing we do to have money for vacations and dates, is scrap aluminum. Mr. Hippie does both roofing and siding, and there is a lot of aluminum that can either get thrown away or get recycled. We've accumulated a good chunk of cash from this over the past several years.

3. While There:
We have used AirBnB for a couple of our recent trips. AirBnB is in a lot of major cities around the globe. Search the destination combined with the travel dates and generally a whole lot of options will come up. You can choose to rent a room, or an apartment, or a whole house. You can filter your results by the amount you are willing to pay. The prices are comparable to, or better than, a hotel. As we need two rooms at hotels now, AirBnB was definitely the more affordable option.

We eat out, but we try to eat two meals per day in. Buying groceries is almost always cheaper than buying meals. Although, eating out in Indonesia was much cheaper than eating out here in the States. Eating out in Spain was much more expensive.

We do free. Free hours and days at museums. Free walking tours with Sandemans. Generally you don't have to pay to see the outdoors of things. And you can choose which indoors are really worth paying to see.

We use a travel agent to purchase our plane tickets. Travel agents often have access to discounts that the general populace doesn't have.

4. Income lost. This is another realistic consideration for us as we travel. Being self-employed, we have no paid vacation time. We have to consider not only the money we need to save in order to go on the trip, but the income we lose for not working while we are gone. Sometimes our guys are able to continue working while we travel. Sometimes they can't-based on weather and jobs. We almost always hit a tight spot soon after arriving home from vacation. Regular bills have to be paid-whether we were home or not. We have learned to save for this post-vacation time also. We use some of our savings to keep our boat afloat until our income rights itself.

Btw, my dream is that She Plans Dinner would take off to such a degree that we can travel and supplement our income from that. Being an internet based business, I can work on it from anywhere.

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Can I just say that missionaries are my affordable travel inspiration? Every time missionaries return home-whether for furlough or not-they pay for their travel out of their own pocket. Obviously their own pocket involves the support they receive as missionaries. But, regardless, they need to budget every month in order to have funds to come home for furlough. If they can do it-saving to travel home on a limited income, and often with multiple children-so can I.

This post is a realistic laying out of the numbers. Money is such a touchy/private subject in our culture. Our trips were expensive. But, this is how we did it. I hope this post encourages you to look at possibilities in your income, if you want to travel.

What's your dream travel destination? Which of these steps can you take to make your dream a reality?