Thursday, January 31, 2013

On our way

So, we are in the plane. After the long ride to Fargo yesterday. It felt good to hang out at our super 8 hotel last night, get a good night sleep and wake up ready for our first long day of flights. For some unknown reason. Airlines seem to have the strangest connections. We start in Fargo, fly east to Chicago and then west again to California. But, that is how is works and there is that sense of relief to be on the plane and whatever was planned and packed will be. Luckily I remembered on the way to Fargo yesterday that I forgot to pack my drivers license. We had to make a quick u-turn, return to Canada and grab it from my purse (which I always leave at home)and continue on our way. It made the 3 hour trip a bit longer. But better that than being on the plane and remembering when it would be to late. Our friend that drove us had a much longer drive. He came with us and drove our vehicle back home for us. Thank God for all our friends and family that we so strongly rely on when we travel. It makes it so much easier to leave in peace. 
The other thing we left with peace was our house and all our possessions . God provided an amazing couple that turned out to be the greatest blessing. When we first started dreaming about this trip. The one thing that was the determining factor was something that really was out of our control. The perfect couple to live in our home while we travelled. I know we were given that couple as a gift. We are 100% at peace. 
Life is feeling a little surreal right now. Sitting in the plane, watching Dean and Miranda look out the window together, I am reminded of our last trips. Right now it feels like we are right back at it. We are at our best as a family right now. I am so excited to see what is to come. I want to cherish this time together. Every flight. Every early morning. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


While we travel we love to blog about what we are seeing and experiencing. We know from past travels that it can be difficult to find the time or "good" internet connections to post as many pictures as we'd like. So we are trying something new. We have started a "facebook" page called Our Family Travels. It may be easier because of how facebooks upload speed works to post more pictures on facebook rather than on this blog. We will have to see what works best when there. If you do have facebook access, feel free to follow and "like" our page to see more pictures. I will add the link to make it easier to find.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How we do it

We often hear that people wonder how it is that we can travel like we do. People don’t ask us. They usually ask our family or often our friends. I’m sure it’s because they don’t want to appear nosy or want us to think it’s not polite to ask. Some of the answers that they get from our family or friends are.

 -   Oh, you don’t want to do what they do. No one wants to travel
   on their budget.
 -  They hunt for their own food when they travel. It makes it much   
-       They sleep in very budget places, or on the beach. No one would want to do that.
-       They hide their kids in the suitcases.
-       All they eat is bread and peanut butter when they travel(our kids would probably answer that way too!)
-       We have no idea!
-       They are nuts!
-       ????

 We on the other hand, don’t mind at all when people ask us how we do what we do. The biggest thing that makes our travel obtainable is that we make it our priority. We not only make it our priority in how we save for travel. We also make it a priority in the way we travel.

We do travel on a very tight budget. When we go on a long-term trip, our budget while on the road is usually around $100/day or $50/day in places like Asia. This does not include our flights to the location. But does include food/lodging/entertainment. This is our family budget.
$100/day works really well in countries like Central America or Asia. Does not work as well in Europe or New Zealand. But, we have been pretty close while traveling through those countries.

The best way to save money while traveling is by finding a place to spend the night that is economical. When we found out and tried couchsurfing. It changed our travel budget forever. But more importantly, it changed our way of thinking about how we can meet and get to know local people. It is one our most favorite ways to now travel.

Couchsurfing is a community of over 5 million members in 97,000 cities — and every country — around the world. Our website connects travelers and locals who meet offline to share cultures, hospitality and adventures – whether on the road or in their hometowns.
Our Mission is simple: Create inspiring experiences.
We envision a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. Building meaningful connections across cultures enables us to respond to differences with curiosity, appreciation and respect. The appreciation of diversity spreads tolerance and creates a global community.

While in New Zealand, we will not be staying in hotels.
At all.
For two months.
Why not?
Because we can’t afford to. Also, because we love to stay with people. To get to know who the people are that live in the countries that we are visiting. What a better way to travel if what you want to do is to learn about where you are and the people who live there.

If what you want is a relaxing vacation on the beach in a tropical location. Couchsurfing is not for you, or for us for that matter. If we were to go to Cancun to hang on the beach for a week, we would stay in a hotel. Maybe, an all-inclusive hotel. With Pina coladas!

But, this trip is not about vacationing. This trip is about learning about our world. Meeting the people who live in our world and educating ourselves about them. This is the type of travel we love. The other benefit to Couchsurfing is that it is a free place to stay. This makes it affordable for us to travel for a longer duration.

There’s way more to “how we can afford to travel”. It has to do with living below our means, paying off debt as fast as possible for many years, doing without while traveling, saving, saving, saving and biggest of all, making it a priority in our lives. Travel on a budget is a much different way to travel. But for us, the benefits outweigh the hardships.

It also makes for a great story!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

You can’t do that!

It’s a statement that we have heard from one person or another for many years. The latest was when I brought Miranda in for a dr’s check-up last week. I told our Dr. (whom we’ve known for 16 years) that we are heading out again this year for a 4-month travel sabbatical. After talking about our plans for a bit she said, well I guess this is good timing for a trip like this because once Miranda’s in high school then you can’t go on a trip like that again.”
 I reminded her that Colton is in grade 11 now and he is of course coming with. This is how….

When we went to Asia/Australia 3 years ago, we assumed that this was going to have to be our last extended family trip. Ever. Because now that Colton was going into high school, that was it. You can’t (according to everyone else) take a high school student out of school for 3 or 4 months and possibly jeopardize their ability to graduate with their class. That is just not fair and we of course, we would never do that. We also knew that once he was done high school, Miranda would be there and by then Colton would be an adult and off to explore the world on his own, potentially. So like I started, we assumed that that was our last family trip. Which is also what others continued to remind us of.

When we registered Colton in grade nine and talked to the principal about our sadness about not doing the type of travel that we loved again as a family, he said, of course we could. Why not!

What! But how would it work? How could we take Colton out of school and how would he still get the credits required by the school or province to graduate. Well, apparently it’s not as hard as we thought.

Colton has worked very hard the last 2 years to make sure it would work for him (and us (: ). He is now in grade 11. While in grade 10, instead of taking courses that he could choose to take, like band, choir or home ec. He took some grade 11 classes, like grade 11 history and grade 11 pre-cal. He also made sure to take a full course load and not take any spares. This gave him an advantage this year, because he could then fit in the required courses into the first term. In grade 11 you need to have 5 required classes that everyone has to take, history, math, science, physical ed and English. The remaining courses he needed he could fit into this first term and now all his requirements are done! But, this still leaves the credit requirements.

Last summer a teacher asking if he would be interested in doing a summer apprenticeship program approached Colton. Colton was planning on working all summer in construction. There is a program set up by the government that gives apprenticeship students high school credits for the hours worked in those programs. This worked perfectly into our plans because Colton could then acquire his last 5 remaining missed credits through summer work, which he was going to do anyways!
So I think, if there is a WILL than there is a WAY. If you have a dream worth dreaming, it is a dream worth pursuing. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do that! If it is your dream, figure out a way to make it happen. Even if it seems impossible to everyone else, it may be doable. 

                                        Summer dreaming