We often get asked how we can afford to travel with all three of the kids. Jonnie and I have had this talk with each other as well. It basically comes down to wanting to spend money on experiences with our kids instead of material things for them. We scrimp all year and budget our spending 12 months a year. There are many things we decide we do not need and other things we do our selves to save a bit of change here and there. For instance, instead of using our electric heat, we run our wood stove during the colder months and Jonnie cuts all our own fire wood from our land. For a lot of years we drove one vehicle to cut down on costs of maintenance and gas. Now, we are fortunate enough to have two cars but we still usually drive one together and sometimes our second one will sit in the yard for a week or two without getting driven at all. The boys wear mostly hand me down clothes and I sew some of the their other clothing. Their grandma also knits them each their mittens/hat and a sweater each year. We rarely go out to eat and brew our own coffee instead of going to a drive through. We chose our house based the land that came with it and not the house itself. There is a lot of work to be done on it and as the years go by it is slowly turning into our home instead of a fixer upper house. Each month we put a little money away in a special account that we allow to add up throughout the months. It doesn’t cover all the costs of travel, but it certainly helps with expenses.
I am the biggest road block with the spending habits. My friends who own their own businesses are something I spend a little too much money on.(: Jonnie gently reminds me from time to time that we can’t be frivolous if we want to show the boys the world. I slip up…a lot. Jonnie is always there with coupons or deals going on at our local stores that help us get back on track. It is hard in this day and age to save and not spend. We see something we want and we get it.
We have to conscientiously choose to let things go so we can afford trips with our children. Would we rather them have memories of dinner with the Ninja turtles than a ninja turtle action figure. Its get hard, and I feel guilty for saying ‘No” and have a tendency to say yes more than I should (Hence the Jonnie reminders!). Both sets of grandparents are always anxious to spoil our children which also makes it easier to say “No” when the boys ask for something. The boys have chores and usually will save their money to bring on our trips. That saves us A LOT on trinkets that ding you at tourist shops. They rarely spend it on toys or games unless it is something they have been thinking about for a while. If that is the case we will work out a deal with them and have them earn it. The boys, minus Jack who is still a bit young to understand money, choose to save their money now instead of buy knowing how hard they worked for it.
We believe that the kids are learning through their experiences lessons that cannot be taught anywhere else in their lives. They have accepted that people live different ways in different areas of the world. There are always questions they have that we don’t have an answer for and we encourage them to try to find the answer themselves. One of the first times we were in Costa Rica Jesse asked a little boy we met at the pool why he skin was so tan. The little boy said he had never wondered that and didn’t know then proceeded to ask Jesse why his skin was pink and reddish! They concluded that it must have something to do with the sun. Jesse had a sunburn and Orlando,the other boy, was tan from the sun. Both were happy with that answer.
Joshie has learned to do math by changing our dollars into American money or Costa Rican colones. He knows that 500 colones is about 1$ american and that 1$ american is still a bit more than our Canadian money. *nuts*
Jack has learned the hard way that the black sand at some beaches in Costa Rica get really hot in the afternoon sun.
All of us have learned a little bit of different languages throughout our travels. At the end of our of trip in Costa Rica the boys will know how to converse in English, French and Spanish. At the ages of 4, 6 and 8 they will be multilingual and that is something that will help them immensely in this world.
So I guess the reason we travel is so that our kids will grow up loving the world they live in. A world that can be big and scary and daunting. They will look back on their childhoods and have happy memories of things we did around the world. They will have problem solves skills when language barriers get in the way and will see that their parents chose to do hard things with them. Traveling with kids isn’t easy, it can be down right challenging but the pay off for us is worth every single hair pulling moment. Looking back on our family pictures and hearing the boys tell stories makes our hearts want to keep going and makes leaving things on the shelves at stores a little bit easier. Just a little bit! You also end up with awesome pictures like this one after a 16 hours on an airplane! Framer!