Lots of people would love to travel more, abroad and domestically, but face the same hurdle: how will they pay for it? There are loads of travel bloggers and professional nomads who will tell you that it’s not as big of an issue as it seems. “Just go for it!” they say. “It’ll work itself out!”
Sure, that’s great when you’re 22 years old with no kids to feed and a retail job you can’t wait to leave behind.
What about those of us with a family? We can’t couch surf from place to place when there are 5 of us to house. When you want to travel long term with a family, some sort of job portability is pretty much a necessity (unless you’re independently wealthy, in which case, stop thinking about it and do it already!). For me to be able to take my job with me took basically no innovation, since my job is already 90% online-based.
John had to think a bit more outside the box to make his work as a therapist portable. He loves his career, and he’s worked very hard to build a successful therapy practice. John decided to transition his practice to teletherapy to allow him to continue his work, and even expand access for people who aren’t able to attend face-to-face therapy, due to factors such as lack of access to available counselors (ahem, rural Idaho), leading a nomadic or travel-heavy lifestyle, or feeling uncomfortable with face-to-face therapy.
Some other ways our family is making the financials work:
- Selling our home: Many families keep their homes and either rent them out or use them for house swaps, which is a great option for people who want to keep their home. Another bonus to house swaps is that it allows swappers to avoid paying for lodging at their destination. The downsides are that your destinations are limited by where you can get a swap, and it’s better suited to short-term travel. Since we’ll be traveling long-term, this didn’t seem like a great option for us; additionally, if we have to continue to pay a mortgage here in the States, it will be very difficult for us to afford the move. We considered renting it out for roughly 0.58 seconds, but that scares the bejeezus out of me, so I vetoed that idea.
- Selling nearly everything we own: With very few exceptions, if it doesn’t fit in our packs, we’re selling it. It’s amazing how much stuff we’ve accumulated that isn’t meaningful or even worthwhile–I think it’s just easier to shove it in a closet than figure out what to do with it, and it feels so good when that stuff goes out the door. Bonus: people are paying us for this stuff, helping us fund the move! This process is hard on the kids sometimes, because they are my spawn, which means they’re at least 1/3 pack rat. At some point in the near future, that band-aid is gonna get ripped off, and I predict that will be more than a little painful. Sorry, kids (sorta).
- Curbing our expenses: We’ve tried to be very thoughtful about how we’ve spent our money over the past two years, not buying things that won’t come with us, and not saying “yes” to every invitation. This has been hard sometimes, and we could have done much better at this one.
- Working extra hours when possible: John spent the past year working toward teletherapy credentialing, which didn’t earn him any money, but still took up lots of his free time, and will allow us to have much more income while we’re traveling. I took on as much extra work as I could, and cursed myself for it more than a few times, when I’ve had to miss out on fun times with friends, or when I’ve worked until 1am and had to get up and mom the next day while feeling like an extra from The Walking Dead. But we’ve watched our savings grow, which means more money for our travels, and that’s definitely worth it!
Other than keeping our travel expenses low, that’s how we’re working the money thing. We aren’t opposed to using some of our savings (that is why we’ve been saving!), but we hope to work just enough to keep us out of our savings account, for the most part.
Do you have any tips for curbing expenses while traveling with kids? Please share them in the comments–I’d love to hear them!