The second piece is how manage work and money the rest of the time. It probably varies greatly for every person and it's changed just in the time we've been together and making it work. Just know that if you try it and reflect and document and plan, you can begin to find the trends and problem spots and ways to save and do it.
One piece is planning our income to make these trips possible, before we go. We work with a financial planner, Brian Plain. We do even though it is also an added expense. He's awesome and is focused specifically on Gen-X and younger families. Instead of being product based, selling us the next batch of life insurance, he understands and champions the lifestyle families want now and in the future and guides conversations about what changes we can make or need to make or don't need to make. He has rolled with us through us having incredible months of work but no money coming in (we called it Cash Crunch 2016) and patiently sat through my post-election let's buy gold and stash it under the mattress freak outs. We really appreciate Brian and his blend of realistic support, you can learn more about him here.
He helps us make sure we're meeting our other obligations (retirement, taxes, cash flow on the daily) while helping us map out trips as an integral part of our life.
You Probably Want to Ask: Yea, but how do we really afford the trips? For real.
How rude! I kid.
The thing folks really want to know is about how many dollars it takes and how we get those dollars. I get it. I really do. Especially once folks realize we aren't trust funders or independently wealthy. Oh, how I wish we were! I'd be an awesome independently wealthy person. We do put a ton of it on credit cards while we are here as we got that international card, but we don't spend more than we have. I'm married to someone who physically cannot do that or he implodes.
Instead, we pay for it by prioritizing the trips. Whenever we make any financial decisions down to how much clothes shopping we do or how often we GrubHub the trip is in the back of our minds. I'd order in all the time if I could. But I'd rather travel. We plan in small ways all year, setting aside for taxes and other expenses throughout the year so we aren't slammed.
If you want to do this as a whim, it's not easy. If you build it into your choices about work and life along the way, it's still not easy. Or fun. But it makes it doable. And that's worth it to all of us.
It impacts everything from the size house we have (big enough but no bigger) to our gifts to one another during the year. We drive a million year old car and, despite my deep desire, have not redone our downstairs bathroom. We don't take other big vacations during the year minus weddings and visiting family.
We took one year off as it didn't seem like a financially smart decision and have worked since then to make it feasible and responsible.
Take housing. We rent our house out (I'll share more about that on our family blog soon). That helps us set a rough budget for housing for the month. We find an Airbnb that offers a monthly discount. If you search hard and carefully, many spaces offer discounts for a week or a month. So we leverage the time away to our benefit. If we went for just a week or so, we wouldn't get that discount and we'd be inclined to spend more time out and less time working. So the longer time actually works better for us.
We pick places that might not be super central but, because we're there for a month, we don't feel stressed about fitting everything into two days.
And then there's eating. We eat at home more than you probably want to on a vacation. Because it's not a vacation. We eat out on weekends and maybe once a week, much like we do at home but even during the vacation portion of the trip, we're shopping and cooking.