Have you ever dreamed about a month in Europe, wintering in the Caribbean, or hunkering down in a ski cabin for a few weeks? The trick is figuring out the time and money. As a family, we’ve done several trips like this and met many others who have done it as well. Each person and family figured out an approach that worked for them. If you want to break away from the rat race, explore a place you’ve only dreamed of and not break the bank, here are a few ideas to consider:
Turn your home or apartment into an asset:
Last year we spent three months driving the Canadian Rockies and the Pacific Coast Highway camping in such places as Banff in British Columbia, Yosemite in Northern California and Joshua Tree in Southern California. We sublet our apartment to help pay for gas and campsite fees. We prefer to sublet to friends and friends-of-friends. If it’s legal in your area, try the AirBnB thing. If you own your home, rent it month-to-month.
Turn your car into an asset:
We’re currently traveling Europe for five months. We didn’t need our minvan for this trip so we sublet it too. We put the word out to our Facebook friends. You’d be surprised who might need a basic car short-term. We keep our insurance in place and our friend Venmos us the price we agreed on each month. They cover their own gas and tolls and oil changes. Bigger repairs, we cover. If there’s an accident, they pay the deductible.
The longer you travel the cheaper it gets:
I helped a friend race his sailboat to Bermuda. Everyone else on the crew had to leave the day after the race ended. I was fortunate to spend six days in Bermuda. They paid $125 for a scooter for one day. I paid $250 for a scooter for six days. $125/day versus $42/day. A lot of the charges on rental items are one-time only charges, like cleaning fees on an apartment. Spread those costs over a longer period of time and they drop fast. Consider the value in staying longer.
Leave of Absence
How do you stay longer? Consider a leave of absence. It can be scary to walk away from employment to make a dream happen. When we started taking longer trips, I would ask for a leave of absence. I’d usually used up my two weeks of paid vacation on other trips, but I asked for more time anyway. My employer agreed to the time off. They didn’t pay me but kept my benefits in place. My benefit contributions were paid from subsequent paychecks. My first “sabbatical” was a week. The next was two weeks, then a month and then two months. Eventually I quit and took my family sailing for a year, but leading up to that it was nice to have some security as we learned how to travel longer.
Buy then Sell
You don’t have to own something forever. We house sat in Hawaii for two months. We wanted to learn how to surf. We bought basic surf boards the day we arrived and surfed for eight weeks. We sold the boards two days before we left for 65% what we paid for them. The buyers got two lightly used boards at a bargain price and we surfed multiple times a week for a fraction of the cost of renting boards.
Create Your Own Flight Connections
For longer flights, don’t always book the fare your favorite app or website shows you. We just booked a flight for our daughter to come see us over her university break. We’re in Southern Portugal and she’s in Salt Lake City. The search engines showed $1,279 as the best deal, a steep price for our budget. We researched each leg of the trip and booked each flight individually. We allowed plenty of time for connections so there’s no problem if one of her flights is delayed. Her trip will take longer--she gets to explore Dublin where she’ll spend most of a day--but her flight costs $549 dollars (43%) less.
We know it can feel impossible to travel with jobs, responsibilities and kids. Yet we’ve seen countless families like ours—without deep pockets—as well as couples and individuals of all ages traveling foreign lands and exploring gems close to home. The right solution will be the combination that works best for you, but know that it is more possible than you think. Happy travels!
Erik Orton – blogs with his wife, Emily, at Fezywig.com. They are co-authors of Seven at Sea: Why a New York City Family Cast Off Convention for a Life-Changing Year on a Sailboat.