The F Word

I’m talking about Finances!

I want this blog to be a resource for families that are planning or considering their own epic journey. One of they ways I plan on doing this is to do a monthly breakdown of our expenses once we hit the road. It is my hope that this will not only help people budget for their own trip but dispel the myth that this kind of trip is extremely expensive and thus unobtainable for the average family. Most people in our culture are uncomfortable discussing finances but the more I think about it, the more I feel it is important for me to discuss. One of my goals for this blog is to inspire other families who have wanderlust to take the plunge!

I have already discussed in a previous post how we plan to finance our trip but since the only person who was reading my blog at the time was my Mom (Hi Mom!) I thought I would give a quick explanation.

We have been planing this trip for the last six years.  It all started when Mike and I were on our honeymoon.  Our plan was that after our ten months in Asia we would come home and start a family.   At the time, I had it in my head that we would still travel with our children, we would just do different kinds of trips.  You know, like Disneyland and camping.  Then, when we were in Vietnam, we kept bumping into two different families who were traveling up the country.  I thought to myself, Wow! Having children doesn’t equate to the end of backpacking.  And the idea was born.

So for six years we have been dreaming and planning for this trip.  We purposely had our children as close together as possible so that we wouldn’t have to wait longer until we could leave.  Our criteria for knowing the right time to pack it all in were:

  1. The kids had to be potty trained
  2. They had to sleep through the night
  3. They had to be old enough to effectively communicate
  4. They had to be able to walk for a reasonable distance without getting tired
  5. They needed to be at a developmental stage where they would be gaining knowledge from the experience
  6. They needed to be past the stage of putting random objects in their mouths
  7. We needed to be in a good place financially

So, how will we be financing our trip?  For the last six years we have been playing the real estate market.  We have built and sold two houses and we are living in our third.  We have an advantage over your average flipper in that we build the houses ourselves.  Mike is a Carpenter and we have put a HUGE amount of sweat equity into all of our homes.  We have just listed our current house on the market and are sending out all of our positive energy for a sale this spring.

Once the house is sold, we will pay off all of our debts, invest a chunk of it, and use the rest for our travel expenses.

As far as budgeting goes, it is so hard to nail down an exact figure of how much it will cost us.  One way flights for the four of us should run about $2000-$2500 depending on destination and time of year.  I think it is reasonable to say that our monthly expenses should be between $1000-$2000 but that depends on what country we are in and how many expensive outings we decide to experience. An example of this is a two day Elephant Rescue Center outing where we will bath, feed, and play with elephants which, if we decide to do, will cost us $500.  An expensive experience, but one that I think the benefits would outweigh the costs.  On the other side of the coin, when we decide to settle down and set up house, our costs should come way down.  I have talked to a family living in Chiang Mai who budget $700 per month all in.

So what if the house doesn’t sell?  Ugh!  Don’t think such things!  If the house doesn’t sell then we are stuck until it does.  A prospect I don’t even like to think about.  The house is only one year old, it is beautiful , and we did our best within our budget to make it environmentally friendly.  We live in a part of the country where retirees with lots of money like to come and soak up the sun and we built our house with that kind of buyer in mind.  Only time will tell but we are staying optimistic that it will sell this spring.

So, if you are one of those people who would love to take your children traveling, stay tuned.  My hope is to make this site a resource for you.  Know that there are as many ways to finance a trip than there are people taking them.  I’ve know of many families who sold everything like we plan on doing, but there are also those who have saved for years, those who have found location independence, and those who have rented out their house.  Nor do you have to take a trip of such length….how about a month in Thailand or a summer in Europe?  Whatever your dream, it is possible.  You just have to want it bad enough to make it happen.

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2 pings

  1. Shelly says:

    Hi Amy. When James and I and the boys got back from Vietnam just over 3 years ago we did a rough calculation and figured the 5 of us lived off of about $50 a day there. That included food, hotels and getting around the towns we were in.

  2. worldschooladventures says:

    Wow! That’s great to know! So that would be $1500 per month, right in the middle of our budget and you guys saw a lot of country in six weeks! Cheaper than living at home!

  3. wandering educators says:

    i love this – and you’re right, no one talks abt money. i hope that the house sells, and you can get GOING! brava!

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Thank you!

  4. Shelly says:

    Forgot to add, it wasn’t just your mom reading your last Blog – I was too 😉

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Of course Shelly, it should have said ‘My mom and my travel obsessed cousin Shelly!” I always appreciate your support!

  5. Colin Burns says:

    Great article. I can’t wait to hear more about your budget once your on the road (and before)! Being location independent rather than a long-term traveller I tend to indulge a bit more than I really should so our budget is normally very easily blown :).

    I think it might be a different case if I had a chunk of money set aside that I was seeing get smaller each day :)…

    Sending all the positive vibes I can your way!!


    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Hey Colin! Yes, I’m sure it is a different mindset. We won’t be earning money while we travel so what we have is what we have. Although we are in the process now of scheming different ways to make a passive income. Thanks for sending us your positive energy! You and your family rock!

  6. Stephanie - Finding The Freeway says:

    Wow! Nice houses:) our travelling adventure wont start for another four years, so i know what you mean! Its never too soon to start planning though and i agree that having a realistic budget in mind is important.

    Thanks for “re”sharing how you got to this point:)

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      That is so great you are committed to a four year plan! I think that setting a goal and feeling certain you can attain it is the secret to success. It is all about empowering yourself and exuding positivity. I hope that my budget posts help you in your own budget planning!

  7. Keri says:

    Thanks for discussing the F-word:) I find it very helpful to get some insight to your process during this stage of your journey. It does inspire me! You don’t have to be rich to do this sort of thing, and in fact, what I hear is that most people are able to live on much less (even with children in tow). This blog gives me hope that once our family moves from Europe, bigger adventures can be within our grasp.

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      You are welcome, I’m glad you found it inspirational. Europe and North America are extremely expensive to live in. I know we will be spending less traveling the world than we would spend if we just stayed at home! Good luck on accomplishing your dreams, I am sure you will do whatever it is you set your mind on!

  8. Mom says:

    I smiled when I read this Blog and reflected how many times I’ve told my children as they grew up that it is possible to do anything and be any thing that you want! I’d say, set your goals , make a plan, and then start with small steps to accomplish your dream. But most important focus on your dream! and be happy! Dreams present themselves in many forms as we are all so different , so it is important to really discover yourself to achieve this goal.
    I’m so proud of you Amy ( and your family) for following your DREAMS!

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Aw, Mom Thank You! You are such an amazing woman! But I don’t need to say that here, I’ll just tell you how wonderful you are in person!

      PS. You better be planning to come visit us!

  9. The Dropout says:

    Holy moly, you’re patient! I can’t imagine waiting six years before taking off.
    Our plans are constantly changing but we’ve managed to take our little miss from Australia to Vietnam at 11 weeks, Vietnam to Singapore at six months and we’re heading back to Australia in April. Naps, mushy food and nappies (diapers) have all been do-able on the road. And so far, all the tantrums have been thrown by me, not her. She’s as laid back as her Daddy.
    I am looking forward to following you on your big adventure.

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      I am definitely a planner! Spreadsheets and vision boards are my friends! But honestly, we waited so long because we weren’t comfortable traveling with babies. We all have our own comfort zones right!? As well, we also wanted to be in a really good position financially and that took a lot of time and hard work.

      I hope that we can meet up with you guys in Asia! Maybe if you end up settling in Chiang Mai we can meet there?

      1. The Dropout says:

        I hope we can meet up too.

        I’m rethinking Chiang Mai today after reading about a spate of tourist deaths there. I’ll wait for the dust to settle on the sensational media reports before making a final decision.


        We’ll be around, though!

  10. Yanna Seabra says:

    I hope I haven’t come later for this great discussion! Would be good to have a forum for it!

    Think there are many variances on this matter: Where do you travel: in cheap or expensive countries?? Do you travel short or longer? Do you try to visit many places or stay longer in few?? Which kind of accomodation do you get: confortable ones bit more expensive or basic ones? Which kind of “extras” are in your budget beside accomodation, food and transport?? Which kind of programs you may allow yourself: expensive ones worth to see or cheap/free ones more alternatives.. and how do you plan to mix it in your budget? Someone is making or consider to work while travelling?? Which kind of jobs may be possible?? Someone has this experience?? One more, especially for the longterm travellers: How to have an interesting and rich travel without freacking out about saving money to make it last longer!?

    I’d also love to hear from the other travellers!!! Amy, just in case, you may be able to make it arrive somehow to them!!

    Enjoy guys!!!

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      All good questions Lanna! Budget is contingent on all of these things. For us, we are thrifty by nature and this is extended to all areas of our lives. As far as accommodation goes we are quite happy in simple digs as long as they are clean and have their own bathroom. We also won’t mind splurging when we feel like we need some extra comfort. And of course traveling slowly will bring our budget much lower than someone who is moving quickly and ticking off sights on a list.

      Thank you for your thoughts and questions, all great ones to consider if you are planning your own adventure!

  11. theGREENCTrealtor.com says:

    Hi Amy,
    (Just spotted you on Twitter TTOT and had to say hello!) My husband and I are travelers too 🙂 We’ve always traveled with our kids too, and it’s been a wonderful experience. (They’re now 4 and 7 – I have some tips for travel with kids if you’re interested – many from the perspectives of my children!) This past summer we took the kids from Connecticut to France, Belgium & Italy for a month. While I’m very comfortable in Europe and speak French (thanks to growing up in Quebec) and Italian (thanks to studying abroad!) I find Asia very intimidating, and I’m very impressed with your plans. We spent $10K for a month, but $5000 of that was airfare, 3 weeks of international car rental, and when we weren’t staying with friends we rented a breathtaking villa that was pricey, and a few B&Bs that just made the trip magical. I did A LOT of research ahead of time, a lot of planning, and I don’t regret spending a single dollar. You won’t either.

    I’ve read articles & stories of families who’ve done what you’re planning, and while we don’t plan to embark on quite the endeavor, we will be applying for a year abroad fellowship through my husband’s work when the time is right, and we are already planning the next trip: Greece, Croatia & maybe Turkey! Every year we host exchange teachers from other countries and after spending 2 weeks at our house, they’re always happy to open their homes to us in exchange. It’s a wonderful way to enrich everyone’s experience.

    Enough from me already 🙂 I will be following your blog and hoping to hear of your adventures. Cheers!

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Thank you for stopping by the site! Twitter is such a great place to meet like minded people!

      Wow, 10 K for a month! But what an experience! I want to take my children to Europe too but it can be so expensive! Our eyes are on Asia because Mike and I have been there before, we are comfortable there, its cheap, and has so much to offer.

  12. At Home in the World says:

    Hi Amy!
    Thanks for writing this and sharing so openly with the world because finances are a BIG factor. It hit me how similar our stories are. When Brian and I backpacked through SE Asia 10 yrs ago we came across several families travelling with children in all developmental stages and really inspired us with the possibilities of family travel for our future. 8 yrs ago Brian and I began in the real estate market by flipping a few houses. We were doing renos ourselves when I was pregnant with our 2nd….a very stressful time in our lives as it was our first house and we were so green! Our RE business developed into holding/rental properties over the yrs and we were fortunate to have ridden the RE boom in 2006. Now it is through the passive income of our properties that we are able to travel full-time. It is so great and inspiring to see you work towards your dreams and document it to share for all the families who are desiring the same thing but don’t exactly know how to get there!
    :=) Jenn

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Wow! Our stories are so similar! We love flipping houses, I design them and Mike builds them. We’ve never got into the rental business but it is something we have talked about. You must have someone you really trust taking care of your income properties! I REALLY hope we can meet up in Asia. I’m sure we would have oodles to talk about!

  13. Marilia says:

    Amy, that´s so nice of you to share your finances about traveling, so open. right on to have a long plan before the traveling begins.

    If anyone thinks it´s impossible to travel, they can try making plans for the next 5 years, or 10 years, anything except simply not doing it ever 🙂

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Exactly Marilia, if someone really wants to do it, they will find a way. It won’t happen over night and will take hard work and sacrifice but if you want it bad enough, it will happen!

  14. mom-in-law says:

    I read it too!. Love it, and you all! Go girl!

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Thank you! Muah!

  15. Nadine Hudson says:

    Dear Yanna, dear Amy and dear other travellers

    I would like to answer some of Yanna’s questions, please also feel welcome to click on tips for travelling parents on our website (especially the FAQ download) for more answers (also about finances, but much more too):

    First of all, I would like to say that I hope future travelling parents (including you Amy) don’t have answers to all these questions. I hope you will leave most of this to your actual mood and feeling once you are away and not plan every cent before you are leaving. (Believe me, it will always turn out different than planned anyway!) I think it’s great to have a vague idea of how much money you will spend, but try not to get too fixed on it, as thinking about money all the time might spoil our travels… We are actually in that situation right now. We have only been on the road for about six weeks (this time) and spent most of our one year or so travel budget already due to problems with the truck and with our health. Sometimes I get wrapped up in worries and can’t stop thinking about this, but most of the time I manage to give this problem a back seat and enjoy the moment nevertheless.

    We’ve travelled / worked abroad most of the time since 1996. First alone, then as a couple and after that with our children. At the moment we travel in a camper, so we sleep on parking lots or camp grounds. Before that, when travelling with our backpacks, we stayed mostly in small, cheap guest houses – for several reasons. I write about this extensively on our website.

    And yes, we have worked when travelling. We have never looked for work, sometimes opportunities just present themselves. Many travellers teach English (or Spanish or French or German…), some earn money by cutting hair (many travellers will rather have their hair cut by another foreigner), some write and publish stories, some make money with their blogs, some have other jobs that they can do anywhere in the world with a laptop and internet, others help in hotels or bars. We have done several of the above and have met many innovative, inventive travellers on the roads.

    Your last question is interesting and sometimes I “freak out” myself. However, most of the time we just enjoy what we have. I think the key to this is, that we are happy even when we are settled in our home country. It doesn’t feel like we need to stretch the time away as much as we can because what comes AFTER is horrible. It feels more like our whole lives have become one big travel and what ever happens at the time it happens, it’s just part of an interesting and enriching journey.

    I hope this answers a few of Yanna’s questions or gives a little insight into our way of thinking. All the best, may your departure day finally arrive!

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      As always, thank you for your insightful comments Nadine!

  16. yseabra says:

    Thanks Nadine, above all, to have made me feel suddenly so light! Think you’re completly right: not to have always the control – especially about $$ – can be the best way to live. And when life becames the journey, we simple have to carry on as we would make anyway, in any other circunstance, wherever we would be. Gold insight!

    Amy, I miss your posts. I also miss you at the forum.. when you can, come in!

    Big hugs!!
    Yanna Seabra

  17. Lisa says:

    Wow! My husband and I similarly took a trip to SE Asia before starting a family, as a sort of last big backpacking trip. Now that we had our second (and last) child a month ago, I’m already dreaming of backpacking again, but with the kids. We are both teachers, and I had convinced myself that summers would be enough, but I’m dreading leaving my daughter next August and want so much to just give it all up and hit the road. One financial question I worry about is, even if we could afford to use our savings now, what will we do when we get older and would want to retire? How do you plan for the long term future, or do you?

    1. worldschooladventures says:

      Really good question Lisa. I do think about our future but not at the expense of living now. We are in a position where we will be able to invest some of our money so we won’t be flat ass broke when we come home. We also have the extra trick up our sleeves of being able to build our own houses so we are still talking about building another one to flip when we come back. I definitely don’t think that someone should do something like this and then be totally destitute when the come home (unless they are comfortable with that) But I feel very strongly that we need to live our best lives. Working the daily grind all your life, waiting for retirement is something I shake my head at. We never know when our health will fail us, or some accident will claim our lives, and our children are only children for a short time. For me, living the life I dream of is more important than saving for the future. Wow, I’m feeling a whole new post coming on……..

  18. Lisa Wood says:

    A great read – thanks for talking abou the F Word! Good to know how your finances are funding your trip. We sold off nearly everything to buy our Motorhome!!! We even sold our house the year before.

    We are so looking forward to working out what we will need to live on while travelling – its a great idea trying to work out a budget. Not thought of doing that before!

    1. worldschooled says:

      I am very big on budgets. I do it at home and will continue to do it on the road. i am just a geek that way though……I really like spreadsheets 🙂

  19. Lauren says:

    I love what you are doing. It is also my dream to travel the world with my kids. I traveled so much as a single gal and now that I have a family I’m itching to get out on the road. But of course traveling for just one and planning for a whole family is a different equation. did you start small and try little trips at first?

    1. worldschooled says:

      Thanks Lauren! We do small trips a few times a year. Just things like camping around BC or going to a hotsprings for a weekend. But we have really been focused on saving for the big trip so we haven’t done anything that costs too much money. I am confident the kids will adjust well though, they are almost as excited as I am!

  20. Harry & Ivana, WorldOnaBike says:

    Just stumbled on your blog, thanks for sharing. It sounds like a great plan!

    We just finished our 3 years bicycle trip from Alaska – Argentina. Living on the road is so much cheaper (even in the US/Canada) than just sitting at home. It did not take much income (I work from the road), to end up with more ‘F’ than when leaving.

    Once we have a family and get over the upcoming random stuff in the mouth phase, we will head out again. Living minimalist/happy until then ensures we won’t have to save in order to do so. So much world to see and to show 🙂


    1. worldschooled says:

      That sounds great, we also planned our upcoming adventure before we even had kids. I believe travel is the best education you could ever give a child. Thanks for stopping by!

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