In part one of The Traveling Lifestyle series, we covered how important it is to make time for your family to find the magic. If you didn’t get a chance to read the first installment of this series, you can catch up on it HERE. Today we are going to go a little further into how you make this all-encompassing lifestyle change and make a start on your first adventure.
Have you got your notebook ready? Let’s begin.
It’s easy for significant changes to feel overwhelming at first. There will be times when you think this is crazy and convince yourself that it is all too impossibly hard. The truth is, these are the challenges that will set you apart from the rest; overcoming each thing will push you forward and help your travel dreams come true. Everyone will reach this feeling at different times so let’s start by agreeing that whenever it hits for you, you will push through. Don’t give up. You’ve got this.
You will need to make sacrifices to achieve your goals, and your whole family needs to be a team when it comes to making them and understanding why. Because you need everyone’s help, be sure to keep them all involved in the planning of the trip to encourage that camaraderie and sense of achievement when you reach each target. The best motivation comes from refining your goal as well as having specific and attainable objectives for each person to contribute to, even kids.
It’s time for a family meeting. Throughout this series, when I say family, I want you to interpret that as your traveling family. They do not need to be related to you. There are no rules as to who you can travel with, though it is best to go with people that you know reasonably well and you can trust to make shared travel arrangements. If everyone is new to traveling, then you will most likely become the designated planner, so be prepared to take on a lot of the pressure (and power) that comes with being the one in charge.
Time to call that meeting. Order a pizza and grab some drinks because this could make for a long evening. Come to think of it, when you make your order, subtract one item from your list. Take that money you didn’t spend on the one thing and put it to one side. We will elaborate on this later, but make a start now. Making small adjustments and banking the difference will be the new way of doing things, so you may as well get used to it.
Grab your notebook; we won’t be adding a lot to it at the moment, but you will need a page or two. Does that first page have a destination on it? If not, take a moment and go around the table see what interests everyone in your group, even the little ones. You are going to be raising them in a household with new priorities, and it is never too early for them to understand the benefits.
Again, we are going to be focusing on Disney locations for the sake of this series; however, you can use these tips to make any travel plans work, so don’t be put off if the mouse isn’t on your to-do list.
Once you have all agreed on your destination, make a note of it on the first page of your book. This page is hereby reserved for the official facts of your trip, confirmed dates, reservation numbers etc. Leave this page alone until you have something established to add.
Seriously, turn the page.
The next discussion will be focused around when it makes sense for you to take time to be away. This conversation is probably one for the adults, so why not let any kids in the room go and play for a few minutes until you have a rough plan in place. Talk about when you can all take time away from work/school/family commitments. Making time for yourselves can seem overwhelming and selfish, but you can make it work. The workplace will survive without you for a week or two, and everyone deserves a break from their extended families to focus on their core unit. You deserve it — so find the time. Some people are reluctant to pull their children out of school. Personally, I believe that traveling is the most educational experience there is no matter what age you are; however, if you prefer to travel within school breaks, work out when those will be.
Your first vacation does not need to happen this year. In fact, as someone who pulls out a new notebook several times a year, I can tell you it is often 1 – 2 years later by the time we board our flight. Time moves incredibly fast, so don’t rush this process only to feel defeated when you can’t make it work in a few weeks’ time. Somewhere at least 12 months in the future and no more than three years ahead should work nicely. This gives you enough time to work towards sustainable lifestyle changes to accommodate your new passion without it feeling too far away. The goal is to not only have ultimately paid off your vacation before you head out on it, but to have also half paid off the following one which already has its own mostly completed notebook. In theory, you will never have so long between adventures again.
You will be opening up a new bank account, an offset account to whatever you currently use that has little-to-no fees and potential bonus interest for not withdrawing funds. Assign this task to the person best acquainted with your household finances. Now it is time to bring the kids back in. Sit them down and explain what you want to do. Tell them the truth: this won’t be easy. It will require everyone to pitch in to save money and make plans. As a starting point, do another lap around the table for ideas on how you can make a few simple changes to start the saving process.
Adults, make your coffee at home, take what you would have spent buying it elsewhere and transfer it from your regular bank account to the savings account.
Kids, do you nag Mom and Dad for a toy at the shops every other day? Do they usually give in, telling themselves you deserve it, but indeed the price of the toy is less than what they would pay to make you quiet? That’s not on anymore. You get one allowance per month so save it for something you really want. Each other time you ask, you will be told, “do you want more pokemon cards or do you want to go to Disneyland?” Don’t worry; you don’t actually get a say in this, it is rhetorical despite the question mark. Mom and Dad, take that money, the exact price of the toy you usually would have purchased, and transfer it to the adventure fund.
Does your family go to the movies once a month? Consider making that once every two months and dump that money into the savings account just as if you spent it. Work out the cost of your family to visit the cinemas, concessions, drinks, tickets, the works. Now deduct $5 from that cost for the movie you are going to rent from iTunes instead before sending that money to your adventure fund. This part here is imperative as you MUST consider this money spent. It is no longer yours — it is not accessible, it is not for a rainy day, that money now belongs to your adventure. We will get more into the budgeting side of things down the track but for now, take four ideas you can all agree on and make a start in changing how you all think about money.
Next time we are going to delve into the planning phase. Making decisions, creating a budget, setting more new house rules and looking at a frequent flyer program with the right rewards to get you where you want to go.
This step will require a computer that has internet access, as Research is about to become your middle name. We will be looking at different Disney locations such as Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Aulani in the USA and using them as a rough guide for how to achieve your travel goals from either a domestic or international start.
This week’s homework is to buy each of your children a money jar. Something clear, so the money is visible, would be perfect. Later on in the series, we are going to look at making your children accountable for their own savings and spending while on vacation. Since it is never too early to start, grab cheap ones now, and any spare change or pocket money they get can go right into the jar.
Remember, you can do this. One step at a time. Adventure awaits.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.