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pcooley
9-5-11, 7:37pm
My last - moments ago - post, made me think of this, and I hope for this to be a wide-open thread.

How does our imagination about money intersect with our perceptions of our current circumstances?

I've always thought that I would be an artistic free-spirit sort of person. Having a low or variable income, and practicing frugality have always been part of what I imagined, but I also imagined that I would do a lot of traveling.

I think that much of what I imagined was absorbed through growing up in the seventies with the echoes of hippie culture in the background.

Of course I could go to India! Poor, artistic, free spirits go there all the time!

Well our trip was fun and rewarding, but it was a hell of a lot more expensive to spend three weeks in India as a family of four than had ever entered my imagination. Just the plane tickets alone are unimaginably pricey.

Somehow, I always just feel I'm missing something on the cheap end of travel, like there's some book of secret cheap travel tricks, or a website with last minute airfare that really is inexpensive.

Many other things are that way for me. I imagine a trip to the grocery store should be around $30. In reality, it's usually between $60 and $120. That's just the tip of the ice berg.

I imagine, on $12,000 a year, I should be able to live well, travel widely, bike across Europe, winter in India, and write all those books I keep starting to write but not finishing.

Instead, I end up feeling like -- is it T.S. Eliot who coined the phrase -- I'm measuring out my life with coffee spoons. My big splurge isn't biking across the Alps, its -- gasp -- buying a latté. And I'm always trying to put off buying the ridiculously expensive scout uniform my son thinks he needs until school is out for the summer. Rather than the expansive poor free-spirit I thought I would be, I feel like a mean, penny pinching, you-know-what.

On years we travel out of the country, we compensate by penny-pinching aggressively. Somehow it doesn't all seem to balance out emotionally.

How does our imagination about what we can do with little money become reconciled with how much things really cost? I always thought I could do just as much, but I would simply spend less money doing it. Somehow, it just isn't as simple in practice as it plays out in my counter-culture imagination.

Mighty Frugal
9-5-11, 8:46pm
I suppose you can do some things frugally but travelling overseas will still cost you a pretty penny. It's great to dream about a free spirit, relaxed living but the reality is most of us have to work for someone else to make our 'wants' and many of our 'needs' come true.

Perhaps in retirement, if you played your cards right and the sun, moon, Father Christmas shined down on you then you'll have enough dough to trapeze through the 7 continents.

But wanting to do so as a middle aged parent and take along the kids and wife, well....unless your dad is rich or you got yourself some cash settlement due to a big soup pot falling on your foot in a dept. store..well...you pretty much have to work long and hard for these kid of trips.

I don't know of any travel secrets to save big....but I do see lots of deals on websites like Travelzoo....if you can leave right away they usually have great deals all over the world...aside from that..you've got to earn more money or have that pot of soup fall on your foot

Rosemary
9-5-11, 9:31pm
Traveling anywhere by air is really expensive, especially when you multiply it by the family. When I was single, I traveled a lot more!

jennipurrr
9-5-11, 9:56pm
Ahhhhh, travel...its one of our biggest money sucks. It always seems with DH and I that we think, ohh we got this great deal, and then the devil is in the details...DH loathes to be frugal when we travel and he knows I am a sucker for finding local restaurants, so we easily fall into spending more than we planned per day. Can you tell dining out and travel are our two big pitfalls? haha.

There are lots of time intensive, nonsimplistic ways to save on travel...generally coined "travel hacking." The forums at flyertalk.com are an interesting glimpse into that world. I've done some of it. DH and I have signed up for enough credit cards to get airline miles into oblivion...of course we use the required amount and then cut them up. We've scored some bargain hotel rooms and joined one of the hotel rewards programs scoring us several free nights over the past year through their online promos. Its a lot of work though and I was going there too often, so now I've gone back to school so my mind doesn't even have time to think about that stuff...I am sure with the wife, kids and new job it won't look particularly interesting.

With travel, I am just having to come to terms with the fact that I spend a lot on it and its worth it to me. But, sometimes seeing the money on paper is difficult. Like, ugh...well that could have been 5% more to the mortgage this year. In the end though I've decided its worth it, despite the high cost. I don't have any illusions that traveling to the other side of the world is cheap (although I have a friend who tells me I can get a shack on the beach in Thailand for $40/mo, hmm....) I see how you could think that with the image the media and maybe others project, but you've lived it now and you know how much travel costs for your family. So, I guess that dream is kind of shattered...which on one hand is sad, but on the other I imagine it can be freeing because you know honestly how much it will cost going forward.

iris lily
9-5-11, 10:13pm
Travel is important to us. That's one of the main things that attracted me to DH--he liked going to Europe but he was otherwise very frugal. We share the same values on what IS important to spend money on.

During our last sojourn to Scotland we stayed in Inverness in a B & B along the river. I remember walking along that river 30 years ago and looking at this B & B along with 5 others just like it in a row and thinking: maybe someday I will be rich enough to stay there! This trip was fairly modest but for our castle stay. Those B & B's along the river WERE quite comfortable, but in the end, they were only B & B's for middle class folks who travel modestly.

Now I am thinking that the next time we go overseas I'll ramp up my overnight accommodations and will stay at a "rated" hotel. Those old European hotels are always so classy looking. Mainly, I like their central locations.

It's hard to find a B & B in Edinburgh's city centre, so I may do a hotel next time. Plenty of those right in the heart of the city.

razz
9-5-11, 10:13pm
Might it help to realize that for centuries, few people were able to travel at all? That approach makes me so grateful for and really savour the trips that I have taken.

flowerseverywhere
9-5-11, 10:32pm
we have met people who were perpetual travelers in our journeys and I think what they do is unlike what most of us do. Most of us have houses to take care of and other obligations. We met a young couple in Australia who had spent years traveling. They had an old car they got when they landed and they lived in campsites and worked as divers for a company. Their visas were about to expire so with the money they saved they were going to India. Before they left they planned to sell the car and live with their few possessions of a small tent, a few clothes and sleeping bags. We invited them to dinner which I think happened to them frequently or they ate rice and were happy. There were no kids, no obligations. I am not sure what would happen if they got sick. Maybe holistic medicine?
I would love to sell it all and travel, but DH likes a roof over his head. So we compromise. In the US there are so many interesting places to see- there are so many art museums within a days drive of my house, landmarks, historical sites and of course the national parks in the US are just so breathtaking.
I think the key is to wake up every morning and be happy for your children, spouse, friends and that those of us who are lucky enough to own computers and post on forums should be thankful every day for not being born in Somalia or many other places in the world where we would not be able to post our thoughts and dreams, loves and hates, accomplishments and sorrows.

pcooley
9-6-11, 12:27am
I am grateful for everything I have. I'm even delightfully happy that I made it to India that once, (and it's all paid for). There's a part of me that would like to be a perpetual traveling family, but a much bigger part loves living here in the Southwest, having a place that really feels like home, beyond the building we live in.

I realized in thinking about it, that I think everything should be about a quarter of what it costs. $12,000 a year seems like it should be a good wage that a family could live on frugally. We make about $48,000 a year and do pretty well. I think a trip to the grocery store should be about $30. It can be about $120, (though usually it's less). I think a family trip to India should cost about $2000. It's really closer to $8000 and could be a bit more.

I think I should just take whatever my financial expectations are and multiply them by four. I wonder if that's just the measure of inflation since my previous lifetime.

lhamo
9-6-11, 1:04am
Paul,

Not all countries will consider non-faculty, but has your wife at all considered applying for a Fulbright grant? There are targeted grants for library and information science in some countries, e.g. this one for Egypt:

http://catalog.cies.org/viewAward.aspx?n=2412

The competition is closed for this year, but she might consider applying in the next cycle. Fulbright and other opportunities like it are great ways to spend an extended time overseas.

Full disclosure: I have a professional connection to the Fulbright program.

lhamo

flowerseverywhere
9-6-11, 8:12am
I am grateful for everything I have. I'm even delightfully happy that I made it to India that once, (and it's all paid for). There's a part of me that would like to be a perpetual traveling family, but a much bigger part loves living here in the Southwest, having a place that really feels like home, beyond the building we live in.

I realized in thinking about it, that I think everything should be about a quarter of what it costs. $12,000 a year seems like it should be a good wage that a family could live on frugally. We make about $48,000 a year and do pretty well. I think a trip to the grocery store should be about $30. It can be about $120, (though usually it's less). I think a family trip to India should cost about $2000. It's really closer to $8000 and could be a bit more.

I think I should just take whatever my financial expectations are and multiply them by four. I wonder if that's just the measure of inflation since my previous lifetime.

From your posts it seems like you are a happy and thankful person, one who values family and life experiences over possessions. It is shocking sometimes to understand the cost of things because prices seem to be independent of my interpretation of what they should cost too.
with only two adults in our household there are many items that I buy very occasionally and when I see the price I know my eyes kind of bug out with shock.
I know we have never been able to do really cheap travel. Some of our friends have been able to snag some last minute vacation deals, and we have done priceline a few times but it is a little tricky when you have family. We actually left a hostel type place once because of the area it was in and booked a hotel that was way more expensive than we ever would have paid, so sometimes it doesn't work out to go too cheap.
We were able to live for several years on the west coast when my kids were in school which was a great experience for them due to a work opportunity. The funny thing was a lot of people were shocked we pulled them out of school and relocated but it was the best thing we ever did. We sold the house, put stuff in storage and trooped across the country, travelled all over the west coast and traveled back. The things we saw and did we never could have afforded without the move. And I think it really made my kids so independent and able to adapt to situations.
I always wanted to work in the national parks in exchange for housing and board and explore the different areas they are located in. I am a long distance bike rider and want to ride on the various trails around the country that people have worked so hard to establish. so I understand where you are coming from. Life is so short time flies by.

I think I convinced DH to sell the house in a few years so we can travel around. We have no particular connection to our house, but do like our community of friends. There will always be apartments to rent and houses to buy but as we age there are things we won't be able to do if we don't do them now.

catherine
9-6-11, 8:57am
I've always had romantic notions of a life of the austere artist--starting when I was 12 and I decided that when I grew up I had to move to Greenwich Village. Of course, two things were wrong with that fantasy: when my mother drove me there, I didn't see ANY painters with berets sitting in Washington Square with easels propped up painting their hearts out; also, if I thought I could be a poor artist and live in the West Village, that was a real fantasy. I might have been able to get an "artist's loft" in the East Village in a rat-infested apartment below a den of drug dealers. Oh, well. So much for that.

Sometimes the "free-spirit" notion of having no money clashes violently with the demands of survival, especially when you have kids. It's OK for me to wear second-hand, but you have to be careful of that when your kids are among peers who might be cruel enough to make fun of clothes that aren't the latest and greatest. And sometimes it's not a matter of scrimping for trips to Italy---it's a matter of scrimping for a school field trip. While there are a lot of benefits to having the kids grow up not feeling entitled, and being directed towards other more meaningful values, I've found that being cash-poor when you have kids is very stressful.

That being said, now that my kids are grown--and they are thriving on their own self-made existence of minimal pay and maximum life experience (my daughter funded a trip to Barcelona while working for a non-profit in Manhattan making a paltry 28k and living in Williamsburg), I have less stress about money, even though I still don't have any (I was doing OK up until 2008 when a bunch of stars collided and messed me up financially).

I now have romantic notions of someday living in a little Tumbleweed House that I can move from kid's house to kid's house. I don't plan on doing that as long as I can stay in my own house, but if things turn downward still, that's my romantic picture of frugality.

pcooley
9-6-11, 10:20am
One of the few times I was in New York City, I was in Washington Square Park at night and a pickup bluegrass band started playing, and I found myself dancing with a beautiful woman. Every time I've been in Manhattan something magical like that has happened. It's always made me want to live there, but I understand that rents aren't what they were back in the twenties.

puglogic
9-6-11, 11:56am
pcooley, I love these sites for optimism about travel costs and living an adventurous life in general: http://manvsdebt.com/about/ and http://chrisguillebeau.com

Maybe you think things should cost 1/4 of what they do because somewhere inside you know they CAN cost that, with a little ingenuity and flexibility. Maybe you're just refusing to give in to the status quo.

I can go to the grocery store and spend $100.00. I can also go to the organic bulk store, dig out some coupons, shop sales, grow a few fantastic things in our small garden, and get the same nutrition for 1/4 of that, and all I had to invest was a little time I'd spend doing something mindless anyway. So it can be done - it's just a choice we make to spend more, sometimes (not always, but often).

Wishing you and your family great love, gratitude, and adventure -- for what you want to spend.

Spartana
9-6-11, 2:30pm
As other's have pointed out, most ultra low budget travel is done by people who are unencumbered by homes, jobs, and families. People who buy a one-way ticket and spend months or even years travelling with nothing but a backpack. camping out, staying at cheap hostels, renting a small shred apt in an inexpensive country for a few months at a time, travelling by hitching or bike or their own feet much of the way. That kind of travel can be very cheap - especeially when you don't have anything back home to pay for. And while it is more difficult with a family, there are many who do it. But it sounds like that isn't the kind of travel you want to do right now - or can do because of jobs and family - so maybe you need to just re-think travel. Instead of planning expensive trips to far flung places like India for just a couple of weeks, maybe look for something closer where you can drive your self, camp, or rent an inexpensive vacation house. Not as exotic but very affordable for a family. Put of the far flung exotic places for when the kids are grown and your time is free to go as long as you want. I have had to put off my dreams of getting rid of everything I own and doing the grundgy backpacker world traveller thing myself so I know it's hard to do. But sometimes it's the sacrifice you have to make now so that you can enjoy the other benefits in life of having a home and job and family.

As far as what my imagination believes in terms of cost for my low budget multi-year backpack around the world... well... I do keep track of things so have a rough idea of what the costs would be. I know it will cost more then when I did the same thing for 2 years 20 years ago, but I think I have a realistic idea of the costs. And more importantly I am very willing to give up certain things in order to make mny travel dream come true. I think that's the key to low budget happiness - flexibility! If it means giving up a daily latte and crossiant in a Paris cafe and making a cup o' joe in the budget hotel or hostel instead to stay within budget then I'm VERY happily willing to do that. I mean - I'm still in Paris!! So maybe re-imagining the things you'd do on trips, or even your day to day life at home when going to the grocery store, will mean you spend less but you are still living the life you envisioned. Doesn't have to be a bad vision, just a different vision - opne that may be much more enjoyable after all.

RosieTR
9-11-11, 12:51am
It is all about choices. Unfortunately with kids and a wife, that means compromise. While you might truly enjoy a fleabag motel in a sketchy part of town, you may not enjoy it while worrying about the rest of the family. $8K with a family of 4 to India isn't bad at all. DH and I went to Australia for 3 weeks in like 2004 for around $6K and we stayed all but maybe 3 nights in backpacker hostels, cooked a lot of our own food, and the exchange rate at the time was about $0.75US per Australia dollar. As far as how much stuff costs, well, again it's choices. Some happiness research would suggest you get more bang for the buck by splurging a little now and then rather than keeping a super-tight lid followed by a blowout. Of course there is a balance to be reached but a latte once in awhile when you're having a bad day or just because it's X day (Friday or the last day of the month, or whatever your frequency may be) will actually do more. If you link it to a wider goal it's even better. Constantly having unrealistic goals for money spending may be pretty detrimental though. If you know groceries cost $60-120 per week, expecting them to cost $30 is just going to be a disappointment. You could try one week to make it be that, by eating only rice and beans (if the fam goes along with this), then you'll know how worth it the other $30-$90 is. I know you've struggled with some of this before, being the "mean" guy when it comes to the budget, so it's not going to be easy. Just always keep in mind that kids will ask for more than they need, and that a little splurge now and then will be very special if normally you aren't splurging.

Marianne
9-11-11, 9:57am
pcooley, I love these sites for optimism about travel costs and living an adventurous life in general: http://manvsdebt.com/about/ and http://chrisguillebeau.com


I can go to the grocery store and spend $100.00. I can also go to the organic bulk store, dig out some coupons, shop sales, grow a few fantastic things in our small garden, and get the same nutrition for 1/4 of that, and all I had to invest was a little time I'd spend doing something mindless anyway. So it can be done - it's just a choice we make to spend more, sometimes (not always, but often).


You beat me to this - the links and the food choices. Our oldest is currently in the middle of India somewhere. He lives on less than $350 a month with no problem. Often times he's invited to stay with families and share their meals. When he's in the states, he cooks with the same ingredients that's he's purchased from ethnic markets -vegetarian-gobs cheaper than our typical midwestern diet.
He's had some amazing, also a few life threatening, adventures. But it's not a lifestyle that I dream about, nor is it a lifestyle if you have little kids.
Occasionally we talk about 'selling our crap' and doing the full time RV thing. But right now, I'm where I'm supposed to be.

Sissy
9-11-11, 11:19am
In our household, traveling is pretty much out of the question. We are poor people with no provision for old age, health care, etc. We are in the same boat as a lot of people and I don't feel that anyone or "thing" should be responsible for that except us. We do put back cash, but as Paul stated, we are fooling ourselves if we think it is anywhere enough.

I am always and forever trying to budget, but after a couple of weeks it just all falls apart. Unexpected car repair, doctor visits, or bills that come in 2 years after the fact, inflation, etc. So, we are able to get what we need for now, and save a bit and call it good. Did I ever mention that I work as a bookkeeper? :) LOL2F (too funny)

My dh buys the groceries and always spends more than I would allot on a budget, but then, I don't have to do the shopping. I always spend more too, if I do go.

Utilities are hard to estimate due to weird climate changes, grown kids leaving every lite in the house on and all manner of wasteful things that we do not do. But what is more important - family or fighting about leaving the fridge door open??? Good question.

Also, since I am slowly trying to minimalize our lives, I really do underestimate the amount of things that we need. Family again. We need enough kitchen stuff for 6 adults. I want to have enough for only 2. That doesn't work, except in my dream life. (maybe that is why I like to sleep so much!) We need more towels so that babies can have a bath when necessary, or anyone for that matter.

I have worried this thread long enough......................Sherry

Gardenarian
9-12-11, 5:40pm
Yes, I'm pretty shocked when I have to pay a dollar for an apple. Shouldn't that be about ten cents? And the sticker shock get worse every week with inflation.

I think travel is the one area where my simple living values clash with my desires. I want to go on a family trip to Europe next year, and there is nothing simple or frugal about traveling. But I want dd to have the life experience that comes with experiencing other cultures, I want the memories, I think it will be a good thing for my marriage and for our family as a whole. That said, I'm completely lost when it comes to trying to put this trip together - too many options!! - I may end up doing what I did in college; just buying tickets and packing a copy of "Let's Go!"

I am not a frequent traveler and in many ways I no longer even enjoy it at the time - the discomforts, the health issues I have to deal with, the worries of getting around in a strange place. I don't like flying and the carbon waste is a disgrace. Yet I have many great many memories of trips I took when I was young and single. I'm kind of embarrassed of my reluctance in this area - I have this idea that travel is somehow supposed to be the ultimate experience.

Most of the people I know either travel a lot, talk about traveling, want to travel more, and greatly admire those who have seen a lot of the world. He's been to 20 countries! 40 countries! There is a weird sort of class/status/coolness factor attached to travel. I think you can see it even on this forum, which is very down-to-earth. I do try to separate that from my own thoughts, though it is difficult when it comes to dd.

So anyhow, we will go on this one big trip, together. After that, I will look out for inexpensive opportunities for dd to travel with groups, as I really feel it is so important to personal growth - taking risks, learning to make decisions, understanding other people - there are so many benefits of travel for young people.

As for me, most of my dreams now revolve more around my creative self. It's about bringing together all of the things I love and making it into a whole. I am very fortunate in that I know I have a pension coming to me in about 7 years, my house is paid for, dh and I both are well employed in what we consider our right livelihoods.

Gardenarian
9-12-11, 6:20pm
Not all countries will consider non-faculty, but has your wife at all considered applying for a Fulbright grant? There are targeted grants for library and information science in some countries, e.g. this one for Egypt:
lhamo

Thanks lhamo! I am a librarian and will keep this in mind!

kitten
9-14-11, 12:51pm
I don't know if this makes any difference to you, but I just saw an article that stated the official poverty line in 2010 for an American family of four is $22,113. You think you should be spending half that. Anyway, I don't think you should beat yourself up for not being able to squeeze down to something unreasonable.

I feel for you on the travel. I'd love to do it too. I'm not really one of these people who thinks life is getting worse, or that everything was better and cheaper when I was a kid. But daily living is definitely getting more expensive. Inflation is a reality! It's not that you're not seeing it correctly or not managing your situation properly. We're all up against something real here economically.

Gardenarian
9-14-11, 8:00pm
Isn't that ridiculous? A family of four on a little over $20k? I live in a pricey area (San Francisco) but it's hard to imagine anyone living on that, anywhere. Even with staycations. Even on ramen.

kitten
9-19-11, 6:00pm
Yep, ridiculous! I'd be interested to know why you guys think the government puts the official poverty line so low. I imagine doing that reduces the possible pool of people applying for assistance.

I've noticed a cavalier attitude about this kind of thing my whole life though, starting with my own parents - the belief that I should be able to live on way less than I actually need. With my folks, they really didn't think of me as a real person. I was like a cute little doll to them, a person with no real bills, no kids, no whatever. They conceded I needed food, but their support of me while I struggled through college was sporadic and vaguely grudging (their argument for giving me a $25 monthly allowance in college was that they thought it would spur me to find a job...but it didn't have quite the intended effect). I am grateful they paid for my school. But crap. My father had a closetfull of bespoke suits. They took expensive vacations. My mother wore dresses to galas that cost thousands of dollars - but little kitten should just be able to live on air. sheesh...

Gardenarian
9-19-11, 6:27pm
Kitten! Our parents are clearly from the same gene pool! I won a scholarship to study in England for a year and earned money for airfare by tutoring and waitressing. My parents told me not to worry about spending money, and then proudly presented me with a check for $200. For one year!!! They of the 8000 sf house, ski chalet, 6 cars etc. People just don't believe it - rich parents do not make for rich kids!

Well, I guess I know where I got my frugality from - I just hope I'm a little more realistic with my own dd.

kitten
9-22-11, 1:25pm
Oh no Gardenarian - they definitely pulled the rug out. You could have made some other plans if you'd known how much (er, how little!) you were getting. Man.

I mean there's nothing wrong with parents saying, if you want x, y, or z, then you gotta work to pay for it. But kids don't have the same resources as adults, obviously, and they often need some help...

It sounds like you're a frugal parent who's loving and supportive, and aware of what things cost these days! :)



Kitten! Our parents are clearly from the same gene pool! I won a scholarship to study in England for a year and earned money for airfare by tutoring and waitressing. My parents told me not to worry about spending money, and then proudly presented me with a check for $200. For one year!!! They of the 8000 sf house, ski chalet, 6 cars etc. People just don't believe it - rich parents do not make for rich kids!

Well, I guess I know where I got my frugality from - I just hope I'm a little more realistic with my own dd.

mm1970
9-25-11, 10:22pm
Ah, travel. I love travel. I have this idea that I should be able to get a plane ticket for $300 and stay cheaply wherever I go.

In reality, tickets are a lot more and trips are expensive. Even a trip to visit family for 2 weeks (where we have maybe one night in a hotel) costs $2000 for the 3 of us. I have started to look into more "local" and "camping" vacations, but those are also expensive. I've considered renting out our house when we go (to make up the cost), but spouse has no desire for that (understandably not wanting people in our papers...I think we can lock them up).

How to vacation cheaply with a family? I haven't quite figured that out. My favorite vacation is a trip to Hawaii, but that's 4000 bucks however you slice it. OTOH, a long weekend camping in Joshua Tree is only a couple hundred bucks (mostly gas). Not quite the same though.

pcooley
9-25-11, 10:31pm
Gardenarian and kitten -- I was worrying that I was being a little stingy with my kids. They get $100 a month thrown into the budget for them, though we usually excede that. And that mostly goes for camps, activities, and after-school popsicles once a week from the paleta man. But we have no cars, a small house, and all my clothes come from Goodwill and are a little frayed at the collar. I guess I'm not being such a cheap skinflint with them.

My parents did cut me loose when I reached college age. They had saved $4000 for me to go to school (mostly from my father selling his coin collection). I wanted to go to an expensive private college rather than the state school where I had a scholarship. I had to declare financial independence and work my way through. At that time, the late eighties, early nineties, it did not seem to be an insurmountable problem, and I was able to pay my student loans off quickly.

I do worry about my kids' college. We haven't been able to put any extra money away for them, but we hope to pay our house off as quick as can be so we can be of more help.

Sissy
9-25-11, 10:56pm
I now have romantic notions of someday living in a little Tumbleweed House that I can move from kid's house to kid's house. I don't plan on doing that as long as I can stay in my own house, but if things turn downward still, that's my romantic picture of frugality.

That (or something close) is very much my intention should I be left alone when I can't work anymore. My husband is a walking time bomb at 53 so it could easily happen.

flowerseverywhere
9-25-11, 11:18pm
I do worry about my kids' college. We haven't been able to put any extra money away for them, but we hope to pay our house off as quick as can be so we can be of more help.

Once piece of advice we received early on was to fund our retirement and pay our bills because if something happens you will be in big trouble if you worried more about your kids than yourself. We lived off one income until the kids were older then I went to work part time transitioning to full when they were in high school. We had no bills and had been saving for retirement all along so when they got to college age I was able to put my entire salary towards their schooling, and both DH and I picked up extra work through those years on top of working full time jobs. Now there were other alternatives. We had a big enough home they could have stayed home and taken classes at the local community college. If we were not doing well when they got to college age they could have worked and gone to school part time. In this day of corporate downsizing that scenario could very well happen despite peoples best intentions to send their kids off to college. So take care of your bills and do the best you can to help your kids get to college. The stories here of parents living in huge houses with fancy dresses and vacations who don't help are the other extreme. We lived very frugally and the kids knew it. We were solidly middle class and my son who went to a state uni graduated with no loans, and the one who went to private school had a very manageable loan, less than half of one years full cost due to financial aid, grants and our contribution. Not bad I think.

One thing to be aware of today though is the cost of college and is it really cost effective unless you have a specific career in mind, such as nursing, engineering, teaching etc. Even our state schools cost over 25 thousand all inclusive per year and private schools easily reach twice that. That is a lot of money in this economy where getting a job may be difficult. Even teaching is pretty tough these days.

jp1
9-28-11, 1:09am
20 years ago when I got out of college I was a single guy in a fairly low paying job. At the time I traveled a fair amount around the US and occasionally to Europe. I was able to do so relatively inexpensively because I was single and either traveled alone or with other single friends so I/we could take advantage of last minute deals and such, as well as stay almost exclusively at hostels. I've no idea what they cost now but in the early 90s I thought $20/night for a hostel was insanely expensive. Doing so with a family would've been infinitely more complicated and probalby less enjoyable. Now that I'm in my 40s I've traded that style of travel for having an SO that works for a major hotel company and getting the employee discount. We both make a lot more money then I did back when I was young, and since we get cheap lodging we splurge on pricey meals, etc.

I'm a lot more rigid in terms of what I'm willing to put up with now (the hostel in SF with the guy using the jackhammer outside half the night was unpleasant but acceptable back then. Today I'd be down there screaming at him) so I have no real interest in doing any sort of super-budget cheapy travel. At some point when I'm ready to retire my plan is not necessarily to do a lot of travel (although an uncle and aunt spent years doing the RV/live/work at national parks thing and loved it, which I might also enjoy) but rather to find a cheap home somewhere in a place I adore (we'll not be retiring anytime soon if we plan to stay in san francisco...) and be happy there.

DonkaDoo
9-30-11, 5:10pm
My imagination - thinking that a college education will lead to a lucrative career resulting in loads of comfort, loads of luxury and loads of freedom.

Current circumstances - student loan debt as big as my imagination.

flowerseverywhere
9-30-11, 7:50pm
My imagination - thinking that a college education will lead to a lucrative career resulting in loads of comfort, loads of luxury and loads of freedom.

Current circumstances - student loan debt as big as my imagination.

your blog explaining how you got into debt is very interesting and others would do well to learn from you what went right and what went wrong. Good luck on your journey.

kitten
10-4-11, 3:38pm
I had a couple of chances to travel when I was younger - in college I was set to study in England, but my mother got terminal cancer, so I stayed home. Then my job was going to send me to Ireland, but the plans were cancelled without explanation. That would have been sweet, to travel on their dime! I'm still kind of in pain over that, and it was almost twenty years ago!

I've been envying a young friend of mine who's 22 and traveling in Spain right now. I don't know how much money she took over there, but I think she has enough to buy food and transporation for a couple weeks. She didn't have a place to live, so she stayed in a hostel, sleeping on the floor, until that got old, and has arranged to stay with host families in the different towns she's been traveling to. I think she has a friend who has been traveling with her part of the way, but I don't know if he'll be there for the duration.

I think she's having fun, but the whole thing sounded scary to me when she first mentioned it - a very young, physically slight woman traveling alone. I'm following her blog - so much of her day is spent arranging where she's going to sleep. I'd be so worried about that that I'm afraid I wouldn't enjoy the trip much, but that's just me. The other thing is - she got robbed a couple days ago, by two thugs on motorcycles who saw her necklace. They grabbed her from behind an yanked it off her neck! It was her St. Christopher medal no less, which is supposed to ensure safe travel! It was horrible to read that and not be able to be there and help her. Although I don't know what I would do. She's a little girl, I doubt if she weighs a hundred pounds. It's not like she needs to be more careful. It could happen to any tourist. Just scary...

Spartana
10-4-11, 5:50pm
I had a couple of chances to travel when I was younger - in college I was set to study in England, but my mother got terminal cancer, so I stayed home. Then my job was going to send me to Ireland, but the plans were cancelled without explanation. That would have been sweet, to travel on their dime! I'm still kind of in pain over that, and it was almost twenty years ago!

I've been envying a young friend of mine who's 22 and traveling in Spain right now. I don't know how much money she took over there, but I think she has enough to buy food and transporation for a couple weeks. She didn't have a place to live, so she stayed in a hostel, sleeping on the floor, until that got old, and has arranged to stay with host families in the different towns she's been traveling to. I think she has a friend who has been traveling with her part of the way, but I don't know if he'll be there for the duration.

I think she's having fun, but the whole thing sounded scary to me when she first mentioned it - a very young, physically slight woman traveling alone. I'm following her blog - so much of her day is spent arranging where she's going to sleep. I'd be so worried about that that I'm afraid I wouldn't enjoy the trip much, but that's just me. The other thing is - she got robbed a couple days ago, by two thugs on motorcycles who saw her necklace. They grabbed her from behind an yanked it off her neck! It was her St. Christopher medal no less, which is supposed to ensure safe travel! It was horrible to read that and not be able to be there and help her. Although I don't know what I would do. She's a little girl, I doubt if she weighs a hundred pounds. It's not like she needs to be more careful. It could happen to any tourist. Just scary...

Travel in Europe doesn't have to be expensive or dangerous. If you can travel off season, stay longer (the cost to get to europe is usually the most expensive part of travelling), and find a shared rental apartment or room for rent you can greatly reduce expenses. I lived in a small coastal town in Spain (L' Estartit where there was a US Coast Guard station - and I had just gotten out of the Coast Guard) for 8 months for about $250/month. Yes, this was 20 or more years ago but even then it was comparativly inexpensive. It was off season, I had a shared apt with a spanish girl, I got my food from markets and ate at home rather than expensive restaurants, walked or biked everywhere I could and took trains or buses for further trips where i would stay at hostels and NOT have to sleep on the floor but a nice bed, often with breakfast included. Many tourist places in Europe like museum and castles have free days or times that are greatly discounted. I've done several other shorter term trips to europe of about a month each and they were also verty cheap since I stayed in hostels and used local transportation.

As far as safety goes, I think europe is way safer than the US as far as travelling goes. You can avoid most problems by un-touristing yourself . Loose the visual stuff like the camera around the neck, expensive jewelry (I don't ever wear jewelry when travelling), etc,,, that marks you as a tourist and you'll usually be safe. i've had many night where I had to sleep in the train station because I missed a connection - often one that was pretty abandoned - but always felt safe.

iris lily
10-4-11, 10:10pm
... I'm following her blog - so much of her day is spent arranging where she's going to sleep. ..

Funny you should zero in on that because i'ts exactly what I remember about traveling for 6 weeks on my own,after college. I went through the UK, from Penzance up to the Orkneys and the arrangements for overnight accommodations took much time. That was 30 years ago, but things haven't changed much, students don't have much money to just stop anywhere, they are on a strict budget.

jp1
10-4-11, 10:20pm
Personally I've never traveled, nor wanted to, in such a free manner as that. Part of me likes the idea of being able to take a long leisurely trip and go whichever way the wind blows, but the control freak side of me is more powerful so I like to have all the arrangements made before I leave home. I also much prefer the "being there" part of travel as opposed to the "getting there" part, so I'm not generally in favor of a mobile trip, but instead prefer to get somewhere, settle in and maybe do day trips from a stable sleeping spot.

When I was young I had a number of friends who did the serious long term cheap travel thing. Sometimes I'd be jealous of their adventures, but I know myself well enough to know that it was pretty much a "grass is greener..." type of envy. I think that thought was truly brought home to me when one of these friends went to Alaska to work in a fish cannery to pay off her travel debts. 3 months of living where there was nothing to spend money on, working crazy long hours digging tumors out of fish and she'd not only paid off her debt but saved up enough for the next year's worth of adventure. It worked great for her but, wow, no thanks. Not for me...

Acorn
10-5-11, 5:09am
I share your discomfort between the yearning for a footloose life and providing a secure environment for your family. There seems to be innate friction between meeting the traditional goals of parenting (safe environment, with safe as self defined) and defining yourself as an individual. Funny, but I also grew up in the 70s and have yearnings to live a bohemian lifestyle, but I also recognize there is a big portion of my personality that requires a lot of fiscal security. I think you need to self evaluate in order to figure out where to balance. It seems like you've done a good job at squeezing in travel, but there still seems to be something out of balance otherwise you wouldn't have posted.
If you have a life with traditional trappings (kids, mortgage, job, school) then it is very difficult to take advantage of the low cost travel opportunities out there. We are American, but live in the UK and when our kids were young we would pull them out of school in order to take advantage of off peak fares. Still, even staying in hostels and eating in, travel is very costly.
I know a couple with children who live a pretty bohemian lifestyle. They travel about every 6 weeks and are always on the go. They don't have a big home, or fancy cars and are self employed. For years I admired their relaxed attitudes and lifestyle and then I recently learned they were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. They were fortunate to find a windfall and managed to come out okay, but I know i couldn't have lived that way knowing our finances were so close to the edge. I'm not saying everyone who lives a less constrained life as a family are fiscally irresponsible, but it does seem that you need to be pretty well set fiscally before you live such a carefree lifestyle.

Suzanne
10-6-11, 4:15pm
Regarding the way the poverty level is worked out: the government analysts estimate the cheapest food cost for a week, then multiply that by the number of people for each family size, then by 52 to get a year's worth of money needed. Not figured in: cost of accommodation, transit, clothing, utilities, health insurance, school fees...

jmac
10-8-11, 12:03am
There is a website called marriedwithluggage.com it's about a couple who pretty much sold everything, quit their jobs to travel for 1-3 years, they now plan on making it a way of life. There are amazing tips for money stuff, reaching your dreams & goals. They actually have an ebook coming out in a week or two. The blog has wonderful tips for travelling inexpensively as well.

H-work
10-8-11, 12:10am
Many other things are that way for me. I imagine a trip to the grocery store should be around $30. In reality, it's usually between $60 and $120. That's just the tip of the ice berg.

I think that too, grocery prices are thru the roof these days!

DonkaDoo
10-8-11, 1:30pm
There is a website called marriedwithluggage.com it's about a couple who pretty much sold everything, quit their jobs to travel for 1-3 years, they now plan on making it a way of life. There are amazing tips for money stuff, reaching your dreams & goals. They actually have an ebook coming out in a week or two. The blog has wonderful tips for travelling inexpensively as well.

I would *love* to do something like this. Once we are debt free - I want to save for a year and then slow travel the world until savings runs out.

Spartana
10-10-11, 12:41pm
Funny you should zero in on that because i'ts exactly what I remember about traveling for 6 weeks on my own,after college. I went through the UK, from Penzance up to the Orkneys and the arrangements for overnight accommodations took much time. That was 30 years ago, but things haven't changed much, students don't have much money to just stop anywhere, they are on a strict budget.

Now a days almost all hostels have websites and take reservations and allow you to pay online with a CC so it's super easy. No more standing around in the rain waiting in a long line of grundgy backpackers for them to open HOPING they have room for you.

Spartana
10-10-11, 12:47pm
I share your discomfort between the yearning for a footloose life and providing a secure environment for your family. There seems to be innate friction between meeting the traditional goals of parenting (safe environment, with safe as self defined) and defining yourself as an individual. Funny, but I also grew up in the 70s and have yearnings to live a bohemian lifestyle, but I also recognize there is a big portion of my personality that requires a lot of fiscal security. I think you need to self evaluate in order to figure out where to balance. It seems like you've done a good job at squeezing in travel, but there still seems to be something out of balance otherwise you wouldn't have posted.
If you have a life with traditional trappings (kids, mortgage, job, school) then it is very difficult to take advantage of the low cost travel opportunities out there. We are American, but live in the UK and when our kids were young we would pull them out of school in order to take advantage of off peak fares. Still, even staying in hostels and eating in, travel is very costly.
I know a couple with children who live a pretty bohemian lifestyle. They travel about every 6 weeks and are always on the go. They don't have a big home, or fancy cars and are self employed. For years I admired their relaxed attitudes and lifestyle and then I recently learned they were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. They were fortunate to find a windfall and managed to come out okay, but I know i couldn't have lived that way knowing our finances were so close to the edge. I'm not saying everyone who lives a less constrained life as a family are fiscally irresponsible, but it does seem that you need to be pretty well set fiscally before you live such a carefree lifestyle.

Most of the friends I have who do the budget travel thing and have a more traditional lifestyle with a home, job, kids, etc... usually work as teachers - or some kind of profession where they can take off for several months each year, kids in tow, and budget travel. Generally they stay in hostels (which now have family rooms), and use local transportation to get around, eat cheap, etc.. Several of them have done very long multi-year bike or sailing or RV type trips with their kids. They save up some money, sell their home and possessions, and take off. Home school their kids - who get a great multi-cultural education while seeing the world.

jp1
10-10-11, 10:08pm
Thinking back to when I was a kid I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I would have found nothing more dreadful then our family doing a lot of traveling, cheap, expensive or otherwise. I needed the stable routine of daily life. And if we'd done much travel I would've made sure everyone else was as miserable as I was. Even now as a 43 year old man I like the consistency of a steady daily routine. I'm able to let go of it when we travel and do enjoy going new places, seeing new things, etc, but still I look forward to coming home and getting back to 'normal' life.

Spartana
10-12-11, 2:05pm
Thinking back to when I was a kid I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I would have found nothing more dreadful then our family doing a lot of traveling, cheap, expensive or otherwise. I needed the stable routine of daily life. And if we'd done much travel I would've made sure everyone else was as miserable as I was. Even now as a 43 year old man I like the consistency of a steady daily routine. I'm able to let go of it when we travel and do enjoy going new places, seeing new things, etc, but still I look forward to coming home and getting back to 'normal' life.

I think most people who travel long term with their kids do try to have a fairly routine day to day life. Many will stay in one place for a fairly long time, often enrolling the kids in a local school. That sort of perpetual travelling life is very different from just taking an endless vacation. It can be as routine, stable and predicable as you want it to be. I grew up in a career military family (Dad in teh Air Force for 30 years) and we moved constantly but we kids still had a very set routine and life. Many kids thrive of the change and diversity of that life too. I did and found it very exciting and stimukating and adventurous - still do :-)! o it's probably just dependant on the kids - and what their personalities are like - as well as how structured their day to day life is.

Zoebird
10-13-11, 9:55pm
it is a lot more expensive, but it can be done.

here, it's part of the culture. whole families will travel for 5-6 months or more straight -- usually once the children are over 10. even the educational system has an allowance for this, which they call "world learning" and you can pull a child out of school for X number of months and "homeschool" them so long as you are travelling and each year the children report on their travels. Cool, right?

So, how do people do this?

First, they decide they are going to do it.

Then, they work really hard and save up a lot of money to do it -- more money than you think you might need -- and then second make connections in the countries that they're going to that will help them get support (financial) while they are there if they need it. Many work with small volunteer organizations that can provide food/housing OR stipends during the person's stay.

WOOFFing is very common. this is where you work on organic farms for food and accommodation. You work two days and get three days, or some other method with the family farm owner, and you can travel in/around those days. This is harder with families, but there are lots of farms who will allow families to attend -- you just have to ask first.

Then, they find a renter for their homes. They'll pack up all personal items, and leave the house pretty bare-minimum, and find someone to rent their house (furnished) for the duration of their journey. This way, they don't have to pay the expenses. Typically, a management company will manage it for them, which takes a percentage of the rent. Usually, they rent for enough to cover their expenses on the house AND the management fee, so that they are breaking even on that front. The renter pays power, rent, blah blah blah and their insurance (the home owner's) usually covers any issues. Likewise, the management company "fronts" the expenses for things like a plumber, and you get a reimbursement invoice at the end of your journey.

One family i know is home from their trip, and they are STILL renting out their house, and renting another place for a lot less money. So, they are now making money on renting their house. They are currently looking for another rental, because the one they are in -- the family is coming back from THEIR trip, and want their house back.

Finally, it's important to note that people work here very differently. It is pretty common -- from what i can tell -- for most people do to some kind of contract work and be independent contractors for most of their working lives. THis means that they can jjust go away for a year -- something htat most companies do not like. DH had a hard time using his 3 weeks vacation consecutively with his company! THey wanted him to spread it out, but he always refused, wanting to spend the whole time on vacation at once (it's when we travelled). Here, it's pretty common to take 3-6 weeks straight if you work for a company or government office, and no one bats an eye, but 4-6 months means you're taking leave, and it may mean you don't have a job when you get back.

For people who work contracts, though, they usually pick up contracts as they go, doing whatever they want/need for income during that time, and then drop those contracts when they travel. Also, several of them -- like my husband -- do writing/editing work, which they can do from everywhere, so they may be in Vietnam, and still doing work (maybe 5-10 hrs a week) via internet, and able to get money into their accounts via internet banking/deposit.

And, when they return, they can always find a new contract, though many set up a contract for their return before they leave on their trip.

THere are a lot of ways to travel as a family, and inexpensively, but i takes a lot of planning.

In our case, because we own our own business, we are able to work extra hard several months before our trip, and save up the income for it. From there, we usually rent our place to travellers while we are gone -- usually friends of friends -- even if only for a few days to off-set the costs of keeping house. we also usually host housesitters as well (which means people get free housing), which gives our home a bit of security while we are away, too.

At our business, we always pick a low-volumn time to travel, so that we aren't missing out on peak incomes. We leave our practitioners in charge of each other, and have certain "power points" or "phone trees" even though we also work every day, managing from where ever we are going. And, it works out nicely for us.

We always stay in hostels or camps (usually in rooms at camps), where we have shared kitchen facilities, and when DS gets a little older, we're also looking at WOOFFing. We're going to start by doing it in NZ, and see how it goes. OUr friends did it with their 10 and 12 yr old through India and much of asia, and their next plan is to go in two years WOOFFing through africa. They have family in europe, so when they go there, they tend to stay with family.

We are able to keep our expenses down, the greatest expense being the transportation itself, followed closely by food (because food in NZ is expensive). But, the activities here are endless and free -- it's mostly hiking in beautiful scenery and enjoying yourself. SO, simple and affordable once you get here. :D

Spartana
10-14-11, 7:29pm
Thanks for all the really great tips and ideas Zoebird. You Kiwi's get to have those lonnnnngggggg vacations :-)! My sis lived in NZ for a year and many people there with kids travelled long term exactly as you laid it out. We don't quite have that option in the USA because of the SEVERELY limited time off work (2 weeks a year is average) most can take. Only way to do it is to quit and hope something else comes along when (if) you need it. Of course lots of people thru out the world - and in the states - do just that -up and quit the job and go. Grab the family and hit the open road. Most sell off their possessions and homes and are debt-free with savings. You can live very cheaply if you aren't paying for a home, etc... depending on how you choose to live/travel. There are lots of blogs out there from people who are doing this kind of thing - Loneyl Planets Thorn Tree forums have stuff like that. One I saw recently is www.manvsdebt.com about a guy who's motto is "sell your crap, get out of debt, and do what you love" (although he spends WAY TOO MUCH money on fuel for his RV to be a budget traveller IMHO). PBS recently did a story about a family of 5 who had a sailboat and spent years sailing around the world and spent very little money - a few hundred bucks a month. My step-brother (single and childless) also did the sail around the world thing for years and years. His boat was his home and he lived on about $700/month or less on average over the decades he was doing this.

Anyways, lots of very inexpensive ways to do it if you either don't need to maintain a home base (and all the expenses that entails) or you can rent out your place and earn enough to cover all your expenses. One of the books I read when I decided to retire early (at 42) and travel was by Paul and Vicky Terhorst called "Cashing In On The American Dream: How to Retire at 35". They didn't have kids and had about $400K so it was easier for them to retire so young and live on the investment income plus temp work. What they did was to sell everything, be debt free and then how they travelled the world was to rent very inexpensive - yet nice - homes/apt in inexpensive countries for sevral months - even years - at a time. They lived all over the world like that and seemed to spend very little. Something that could easily be done with kids. Google Paul Terhorst and you canb find their website.

Here's a little bit my step brother:
"In February 2008, lifelong adventurer and photojournalist Mike Harker successfully completed a one year circumnavigation on his yacht, Wanderlust III, a 2007 Hunter 49 equipped with Raymarine electronics.

Living his dream to sail around the world is an extraordinary accomplishment considering the extensive injuries Harker suffered in a 1977 hang gliding accident. Outdoor Life Network’s series “The 20 Most Courageous” profiled Harker in 2004 for his bold exploits pioneering the sport of hang gliding in the 1960’s and 70’s. In 1977 he fell from a height of nearly 400 feet, breaking over 30 bones and putting him in a coma for 11 months. Despite predictions that he would never leave a wheelchair, intense determination pushed him through an aggressive recovery program eventually allowing him to walk and hang glide again.

At age 52, and with very little sailing experience, Harker bought a boat and completed the 2000 Ha-Ha. 18 months later, he singlehanded across the Atlantic, and during the next 20 months cruised 24,000 miles between Miami and Malta, Malta and the Marquesas, and the Marquesas and his home in Manhattan Beach – much of it singlehanded. In this podcast Harker discusses his experiences, along with the challenges he faced, during his nearly year-long sail around the world."

ljevtich
10-22-11, 3:00am
OK, I read through all of the posts and one BIG Suggestion is staring you all in the face: why not travel in the US? I am will to bet that over half of the folks here on Simple Living Forums are Americans, so why do you consider your ideal vacation is so far away?

Maybe you should instead, check out your own state or region before bemoaning the expense of travel. How many of you have gone to your own state capitol, or the Capitol of the USA, Washington, DC?

You want culture? New York City or another large city
You want art? Any big town with art galleries, or small towns for that matter.
You want history or prehistory? Go to Gettysburg, Boston, or in the Southwest to see cultures from 10,000 to 4,000 years ago.
You want fossils or animals or science or stars? Go to a National Park

In regards to how much things cost, especially to the OP: When I read your post, I thought, yeah, an artist who has NO idea how much things cost. Living on only $12000 a year for a family of four is not possible living in a house. Even if everything was paid off, you still have to deal with property taxes, home owner's insurance, health insurance, food, basic necessities like electricity, water, sewer, clothing. To be able to do that on $1000 a month for four people would be hard.

My husband and I travel. We travel with a RV. We do not have kids, but we have met great people with kids and living the lifestyle of RVing. It is cheaper than a house and you get to travel. I have personally been to every state in the continental USA. I have not gotten to Alaska or Hawaii yet. But I am sure I will some day.

I do think that some should lower their expectations a little or the pre-conceived notions that far away is better than where you are. Yes, Paris is beautiful but it can also be dirty and smelly, just as New York City can be beautiful, as well as dirty and smelly. Maybe you can't get to Hawaii, why not try Florida or the Keys or the Gulf states instead. Maybe go to Baja rather than Hawaii, it is closer and our money goes farther.

An apple does not usually cost $1 for one apple, but getting a deal on apples means you have to constantly be watching out for the deals. Or you can go to a farm, pick the apples for $0.50 a pound and get an experience.

I guess it all depends on your priorities. But I would suggest checking out your own town, state, and region first, before you go for that fancy trip across the Atlantic. Who knows what you might find?

Spartana
10-23-11, 3:26pm
I guess it all depends on your priorities. But I would suggest checking out your own town, state, and region first, before you go for that fancy trip across the Atlantic. Who knows what you might find?

Couldn't agree more. Especially if it is a short term vacation of a few weeks rather then a lifestyle type thing of full time travel (like you are doing). Not only can it be cheaper - depending on how you do it (i.e. your own car and a tent) but it is usually just as enriching with much less hassle - especially if you want to travel with kids and pets. Trying to vacation in a foreign, far away place with lots of people having to buy airline tickets, car rentals or train/bus fares, hotels, etc... is crazy expensive. And while there are cheaper ways to do that - maybe a package tour thing - it will always be cheaper to pack up the camping geaar and hop in your own car - kids and Rover in tow - and drive to a somewhat local destination. But overseas travel can be cheap (often times even cheaper then travelling locally) if it's done fairly long term and if you can give up alot of the things you have at home - like the house and car - making it more of a lifestyle rather than just a short term vacation. It's often much easier to travel overseas too once you get there - especially in Europe - since trains, buses and ferries are available everywhere, lots of hostels, pensions, apt rentals, and B & B's that are very low cost. That's really the only way I'd travel overseas myself - long term - just because it is so nmuch cheaper. For now I'll be staying in North America (and maybe C. & S. America too if I can drive there) and doing my upcoming long term full time travel bum thing here.

Zoebird
10-23-11, 7:33pm
well, i lived in the US most of my life, so I do know how working conditions (and vacations) are there. people either quit their job to travel (most common) or are contractors. :)

anyway, as for the accusation that i haven't travelled locally, that's just nuts. I've been to every place on that person's list. The only states I havent' been to hare HI and AK. That was due to the expense of getting there and not knowing what to do with myself once there. Not that there aren't things to do, it's jut that i'm not terribly captivated by those spaces.

I've also been to canada -- mostly the eastern part of it. So, when i'd finished seeing what i wanted to see in New England -- w hich included hiking much of the AT -- I started to go to canada.

I've also been to mexico -- though not as much of it as I would have liked to have seen.

I've also been to africa. I'm now feeling that I could go back.

I would like to see asia and more of europe (i've seen a lot of scandinavia, and whiel I love it, I feel no pull t go back now -- i'd like to see other parts of europe first).

I would like to see more of NZ and Aus. I have not been to Aus, and it's pretty much a life long dream. Since we now live in NZ, we have toured the south island (still a lot more to see), and we are touring half of the north island this christmas. I look forward to it. We do a lot of 'stay-cationing' in wellington and it's surrounds -- it's great.

Our current plan is to see NZ, then move on to see Aus, and then start moving into Asia (since it's close and inexpensive from here -- relatively speaking). And then eventually head back toward africa and europe, and we are also interested in western canada.

for some reason, other than macchu piccu, i have no interest in central or south america. don't know why.

Zoebird
10-23-11, 7:42pm
i might also point out that "stay-cationing" is part of my family's way of doing things. my parents feel that they can never take vacations, so at most we would do long weekends. this meant we couldn't go far. whenever we moved to a new place, my parents would get some tour guides of that place, and we would go and tour our city, our state, and then our region. this is partly why i have been to so much of the US. We lived in CA, AR, and PA.

I continue this tradition. After seeing pretty much everything in PA, NJ, NY, DE, VA, KY, WV, and OH, I started to go to New England. A friend of ours moved to CT around the same time, and so we did much of the northern part of the AT with him, plus walked across CT over a week, plus did most of canada. We also did the Blue Ridge parkway with him, and hiked the southern part of the AT.

When I lived in AR, we not only saw AR, but also MO, MI, AL, LA, TX, OK, TN. We took a family vacation once up to Yellowstone, and drove there, so saw many states along the way, plus the states all around Yellowstone. I was particularly captivated by the Dakotas in summer.

I had family that lived in CA, so we would drive across the southwest to visit them. Usually, we'd arrive and be ignored, so I suggested that we spent more time "on the trip" than at the family's house. My parents took up this suggestion, and it's why we ended up seeing all of the SW up through Utah and down through the northern part of mexico.

I have family that lives in Seattle, and friends in Portland -- so I went to visit them and we spent the better part of a week exploring each state.

Now, those plces are too far for me.

Here, we have toured wellington and part of the hutt valley, and are looking at exploring the wiarapa and kapiti coast. We don't have a car, and training it is a bit more difficult for us. We just haven't really taken the time, to be honest. LOL but having a car will allow us to weekend and day trip in these areas.

Truthfully, I do agree with travelling locally, but it's also ok to go where your heart wants to go. It's a big and beautiful world.

iris lily
10-23-11, 8:23pm
We are not all the same, and the fact that I find Europe interesting seems like a personal choice thing rather than a lack of imagination or knowledge about what the U.S. has to offer in travel.. hmmm, Paris or Oklahoma city? gosh what a dilemma. Not.

I am saving much U.S. travel for when I get old and can't face the long plane rides. I want to get to Asia 1 or 2X before I get old. er.

ljevtich
10-24-11, 1:19pm
Paris vs Oklahoma City are like comparing Apples to Corn, no comparison. However, Paris to Paris in Las Vegas - Hey! Not too bad, you get to see an Eiffel Tower, and eat at outrageous prices. You can go to museums all around the strip, or go away from the strip and see even more museums.

I too have been to all lower 48 states. However, I do not claim to KNOW those states, not even the ones I lived in. There are just too many hidden variables that we have not found.

I have thoughts of "themed" vacations - Wineries throughout the nation, exploring our history, fossil hunts, looking for the darkest skies, etc. Yours may be different. Someday, someday, these will be done.

Spartana
10-25-11, 4:25pm
Paris vs Oklahoma City are like comparing Apples to Corn, no comparison. However, Paris to Paris in Las Vegas - Hey! Not too bad, you get to see an Eiffel Tower, and eat at outrageous prices. You can go to museums all around the strip, or go away from the strip and see even more museums.

I too have been to all lower 48 states. However, I do not claim to KNOW those states, not even the ones I lived in. There are just too many hidden variables that we have not found.

I have thoughts of "themed" vacations - Wineries throughout the nation, exploring our history, fossil hunts, looking for the darkest skies, etc. Yours may be different. Someday, someday, these will be done.

What about Paris, Texas :-)? Even though I find it to be SOOOOOOO much cheaper and easier to travel in the USA - especially with a family - and am choosing to do that instead of overseas travel, I do have that deep yearning to see castles (REAL castles not the one at Micky Mouse's Land), catherdrals, the works of the Great Masters like the Sistene Chapel, etc... I want to go to Bhutan and Outer (or inner) Mongolia and see the nomads living in their yurts. So I think even though I can travel eaily, cheaply and certainly with less hassle in North America, it doesn't quench my desire to see other, more culturally and physically different places around the world. But my "master plan" is to still get rid of everything (house is up for sale already) and budget travel around around the USA for now and the world eventually - with my little dog too if need be ;-)! For now I'll enjoy all the great and wonderous things the US has to offer. That's the best way to go IMHO if you only have 2 or 3 weeks vacation like the OP did. I would never fly to India with a family in tow for a 2 week vacation. The airfare cost alone would be staggering! Plus the time to get there and the jetlag - UGH. I'd much rather spend my 2 or 3 weeks close to home in a varied and interesting place. Now if I had 2 or 3 months....... well, India here I come :-)

As for my "Theme" vacations that would be "Great Botanical Gardens of the World". Also Zoos and especially the long distance walking paths of the world, trails and climbing routes. Some day... some day.... OK so I'm working on it now.

ljevtich
10-28-11, 10:32pm
Some real castles in the USA: Scotty's Castle in Death Valley, Mega Mansions in Newport Rhode Island, Hearst Castle in California.
Some culturally diverse places: Go to any Native American reservation and see how they live.

I like your themes - some of the botanical gardens are right here in USA - the one in Washington, DC is great, plus, you can do google searches on others.
Appalachian Trail plus others in the USA, huge distances for walking but great ones too.

Congrats on getting the house up for sale, you are 1/3 the way there! (selling it, and getting the rest of the stuff out is steps two and three!)

Zoebird
10-28-11, 11:45pm
I love garden-related tours. It's what i'm setting up for when my parents come here. Most of them are private gardens that open to the public, so I'm doing my best to create a list that I hope will be open (and calling/emailng them to see if they will be open christmas-to-new years). My second tier of awesome entertainments is Farmers Markets of NZ and also Roadside Produce Stands of NZ.

Look, you don't have to 'get' my hobbies. :D

Rosemary
10-29-11, 9:41am
I, too have been to most of the states - about 40 on last count, including Alaska & Hawaii, and I've traveled to Germany, Taiwan, and Korea. I would love to see more of the world, including more places in the U.S., but these days, even traveling by air in the U.S. is prohibitively expensive, and my DH does not get sufficient vacation time to allow us to travel around the U.S. by car. I understand the sensibility of traveling locally - and it is what we do most of the time. But it is not only fascinating, but also valuable, to be immersed in an entirely different culture for a week or longer, as time allows.

Zoebird
10-29-11, 4:35pm
I find that, being in another culture, i learn a lot about myself.

JaneV2.0
10-30-11, 1:27pm
My tourism themes would be Hunt Down the Ancestors (Germany and the UK), and Ooh, Shiny Things!, which would involve lots of time in Italy.

Spartana
11-1-11, 4:01pm
Congrats on getting the house up for sale, you are 1/3 the way there! (selling it, and getting the rest of the stuff out is steps two and three!)

Thanks! I'm getting excited. Will be nice to be homeownerless again. I miss the freedom to just...go whenever and where ever my mood leads me. I don't like the "travel" part of travel much, but like staying in one place awhile and becoming part of the day to day life there. Been wanting to do this along time but one thing or another happened and I couldn't. So hopefully this time it'll work out.

flowerseverywhere
11-1-11, 4:35pm
This weekend we visited a national trust site, and we want to do the entire length of the Lincoln highway. We have been to 47 states (I have moved 14 times), we are only minus Alaska, Washington and Oregon. Each state has its historical sites, parks, beautiful old churches, battlefields, museums, crafters, the list goes on and on. We also distance bike ride and went from Buffalo to Albany this summer, 400 miles and all along the way stopped in museums and historic sites. DH wants to stop at every sign along the way as he is a great history lover. Each trip leads us to taking books from the library to investigate further, and we visit presidential libraries or birthplaces, find churches with windows by Chagall, or a Frank Lloyd Wright house, or an Erie Canal museum- the variety is limitless. Next summer I plan to ride my bike from Pittsburgh to DC along the C&O canal. We tent camp and can fit everything we need in a car.

I have been to several spots in Europe, Asia and Australia and each has it charms. Seeing the Sistine Chapel was one of the highlights of my life, imagining Michaelangelo and Raphael working on their masterpieces, and seeing Buckingham palace, the great wall of China, and climbing Bruneleschi's dome, all fabulous. But due to physical limitations it is very difficult for DH to fly long distances so we are content with seeing the wonderful sites in our area.

loosechickens
11-1-11, 5:42pm
"Seeing the Sistine Chapel was one of the highlights of my life, imagining Michaelangelo and Raphael working on their masterpieces," (flowerseverywhere)

Yes, definitely.....and the highlight of our visit in Florence was being in the church where the bodies of Michaelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and Dante, among others, were interred. That and walking right by the house where Galileo used to live.....WOW!!!!!

HappyHiker
11-1-11, 5:43pm
I, too, have a pent-up desire for off-shore travel and am exploring options. Beer budget, beer tastes. Or actually, I prefer hard cider. My friends met some Dutch travelers while on a trip to Machu Pichu.

These intrepid Dutch travelers do their travels with a couple of back-packs, sleeping bags, and light weight tents. Their next trip is going to be a tour of our national parks while camping. I love their idea--I've seen very few of our national parks. But first I want to walk/bike through the Loire Valley and the Lake District of England--and don't get me started on my bucket list for Italy!

This opened up my mind...just might give it a whirl for our next trip...the Dutch couple said they always met kind people and had more memorable experiences while camping than when staying in hotels and inns. They plan the weather window part very carefully.

Anyone else done camping trips of Europe? Love to hear of your experiences.

Weston
11-1-11, 5:52pm
This weekend we visited a national trust site, and we want to do the entire length of the Lincoln highway. We have been to 47 states (I have moved 14 times), we are only minus Alaska, Washington and Oregon.

Made it to 48 (only missing Hawaii and North Dakota) expect to scratch Hawaii off the list in the foreseeable future. Not too sure when I might be getting to N.D.

Got to tell you Flowerseverywhere, that you have left 3 of the best until last. Washington, Oregon and Alaska all tend to range from very pretty to breathtakingly spectacular.

ljevtich
11-4-11, 2:29am
While I have not done "camping" in Europe, I back-packed through Europe, using the rail pass to go from place to place. And then youth hostels, b&bs or cheap lodging in Italy. It was great to do in my youth, but I would not do it now with a husband. Just the flight itself would be prohibitively expensive. No thanks!

I also agree that Flowerseverywhere best three for the end. Oregon especially, I loved that state. And again, can't wait to see Alaska.

loosechickens
11-4-11, 2:57am
Happy Hiker, several years ago, we spent almost three months traveling in Europe, camping in a VW camper van (rented), from Amsterdam to Rome and most of the points in between.

Camping is DELIGHTFUL in Europe....unlike in the U.S. where campgrounds are out in rural areas, campgrounds in Europe are very close in and very nice, for either tent camping with a rental car, or with a small RV or van. Even in large cities, campgrounds are right in town...in Paris, we were in a campground right on the Seine, a block from public transportation, so we could just leave the van all day in the campground and use public transportation to sightsee without having to worry about traffic or parking. Same thing in Florence (where the campground was in an olive grove overlooking the city and right on the bus line, or Rome, along the Tiber river, etc.) Nearly every small town in France had a municipal campground within walking distance of stores and restaurants.

We NEVER met another American camping in those several months, but met numbers of delightful Europeans on their vacations. Since we live in an RV here in the U.S., it seemed like an appropriate way to travel in Europe and we weren't disappointed, and in fact found it more convenient and nicer than doing the same in the U.S. I don't know why more Americans don't seem to camp in Europe....we were there through the fall, so perhaps it was toward the end of the season and more may have been present had we been there in the height of the camping season. September and October are wonderful months to travel and camp in Europe, no crowds of tourists, lovely weather, etc.

Facilities were pleasant, folks were lovely, cost of campgrounds ranged from free (in some of the small municipal campgrounds in France), to about $30 in several of the big city ones, with most costing in the $10-15 range (in U.S. dollars)

It was expensive to rent the van and I think if we did it again for a period of several months or more, we would buy a van when we got to Europe and just sell it when we were ready to return to the U.S. as we've heard several people we know have done. Or we would just rent a car and do tent camping, because since all the campgrounds had restrooms, hot showers, some had restaurants even, even tent camping wouldn't have been "roughing it".

There are several books about RVing in Europe, written by some folks we've met a few times in our travels here in the U.S. Mike and Terri Church. you could check out their books on Amazon.com We used their campground books for locating campgrounds, etc., and they were very useful.

hope this helps.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Mike+and+Terri+Church&x=16&y=25