Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. – Anonymous
Yes, it is expensive to travel around the world. And yes, most people do think it sounds crazy to give up your steady job and take off to parts unknown. Selfish, Irresponsible, Dangerous, yes a lot of people think these words apply. But if you’ve ever wished for it, read on …
Like anything else in the world we consciously choose to do for reasons we find very compelling, I can get a little fired up and rant about this question some days. Yes, I am eternally grateful that we are in a situation in our life right now that this journey is possible, and I don’t believe that is primarily because of all our hard work. I understand that much in life can be out of our hands: medical issues, social and intellectual advantages, job losses, to just name a few. But … I also think many of us make choices everyday that we are oblivious to and how they affect what we are able to do and who we are able to bless financially and emotionally. Imagine your closet, your credit card statement, your driveway, your house payment, your travel sports, your electronics, your eating out, the list goes on. Many times I feel like if I could convince someone to let me, I could sell enough of their stuff to fund a major trip for them. But really, it’s much easier to not buy it to start with.
Just a quick Dave Ramsey like example, if you buy a McDonald’s breakfast hotcakes for approximately $3 3x each week. One Starbucks Latte $3.25 2x each week. Total $15.50 per week
vs Homemade Pancake mix $0.35 per serving with syrup 3x each week. Coffee at home $0.17 2x each week. Total $1.39 per week.
For a Difference of $14.11 each week, 52 weeks in a year $733.72. Invest this for 10 years conservatively and gain 8% return on investment (Dave says 12% but I think this is a little optimistic) and after 10 years save $13,521.83.
Now, I know we can all come up with something similar that we spend that is definitely optional. What this reminds me everyday is that each time we think it’s just a few dollars, it’s not! It adds up. Whether you use your extra to change the world by adopting a World Vision child or save for a life-changing trip, it adds up! It matters. Many of us in the developed world are choosing with each purchase how we live our lives.
For us, our choices became much more conscious in 2010 when we read Richard Stearns’ The Hole in Our Gospel Special Edition: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World. We had an amazing small group of believers who walked with us and our kids as we grew up together, and we studied this book together. It changed my life in ways that I am only now better able to explain. I have always wanted to be more compassionate and loving. If you know Christ at all, this is inevitable. But, for really the first time, I realized how woefully ignorant I was of his children around the world and how they were suffering and why I needed to do what I could to make a difference. All of the sudden my 2500 square foot dream house on the side of the golf course just seemed like an affront to what God was showing me. I know it is not like this for everyone, and I don’t believe it should be, but it was for me. I loved our years in that house and don’t regret them. But God was keeping me awake at nights and prodding me all day. A monthly house payment of $1450 sounded absolutely ridiculous at the time. What were we doing? We had followed the Dave Ramsey plan: we had no debt other than our house; our house payment was less than 25% of our monthly income; and we were funding retirement, college, and emergency funds; but something still just seemed not right.
So, right before the Great Recession began in the 2000s, we decided to sell our home and downsize dramatically. Selling your house during a recession takes a long time, but after two years and a lot of frustration, we moved into a tree house in the woods with 950 square feet, with our bedroom in the kitchen/dining room. For the first time in our entire life, we were completely debt free, including our house – it was awesome!! We paid $81,000 for the house, even though the writer we bought it from said he hoped it didn’t fall off the mountain. We felt like pioneers, stoking the fire throughout the night in the winter and the windows and doors open in the summer. We hiked through gorgeous boulders after work just steps from our house, and enjoyed a full scale wilderness environment for homeschool science study. We were able to give and save money like never before. I will never regret the three years we spent on Walker Mountain.
Finally however, after the ice storm of 2015 and Walden becoming a teenager, we decided living 20+ minutes from everything was requiring too much life lived behind a car windshield. We started looking for something closer to town. Chris found a home that was a little rough around the edges close to our church, and we decided we could make it work. We did have to take on a house payment again, but it was only a third of our last one. And we decided we could rent it out easily considering its location and cover the payment if we decided to travel.
So after doing a large part of the remodeling on our own, cutting back on expenses and arguing with kids a lot about eating at home more, rolling change and selling everything I think we could part with, we funded a 3 month emergency fund and 5 months of budget travel expenses. Our next door neighbor, with the Lord’s help no doubt, brought us two sweet new graduates to rent our home while we are away that we couldn’t have handpicked better. And finally, our first flight is less than 3 weeks away!
From our heart, don’t ever let anyone tell you that it can’t be done, keep hoping and saving, and be willing to takes some risks and step out of your comfort zone.
Or more eloquently from the mother of bestselling author H. Jackson Brown, Jr.:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.