In the comments section of our Italian Road Trip post Jennifer has asked:
How are you guys affording this? We only have five children and I have dreamed of taking trips with them, but we NEVER have the money. I’m sorry to ask such a personal question, but I don’t understand how these large families can do these extravagant trips.
Mike suggested I answered with a short, sharp “We’re rich” but I thought otherwise.
I began answering in the comments section but the answer grew and grew and grew and was in danger of becoming a life form all of its own so I thought I’d address it in its own post right here.
I have already spoken about going without, making sacrifices, planning this trip for years and sticking to a tight budget.
The money isn’t just “there”. It doesn’t appear from nowhere. Neither was this “extravagance” arranged or planned on a whim but for over ten years. A very long time. Half of which we didn’t have a holiday at all. Plus we’ve been paying off debts during that time too so hopefully (God willing) we will be completely debt free by the end of this year.
We don’t drink, don’t smoke and rarely go anywhere that costs. We often wonder how people can afford their cigarettes or bottles of wine every week! I wouldn’t quiz them about it though, it’s not my place. Car usage and fuel costs is at a minimum as we don’t have school runs and we generally work from home. On the whole, we’re pretty boring.
We were planning on putting our house on the market and moving. That has been put on hold. With the money which was ear-marked for that we now have a choice between re-decorating the house (most rooms haven’t been done since we bought it five years ago) and replacing furniture or doing this trip. We’ve opted for the trip of a lifetime. An “extravagance” once in our lifetime and likely never to be repeated. Re-decorating will be done slowly on an as and when basis.
As you may or may not know, we’re both self employed. Mike will be squeezing any and all work he can before the trip as he obviously won’t be able to work during the time we are away. Any “extra” money we make between us is ear-marked for the trip. I’m still going to be working during the trip, earning at least half if not most of our fuel and food costs (remember, we’re still going to be sticking to a budget and not spending left, right and centre) whilst we are on the road. We made a point of renting properties which have Wi-Fi so that I can do just that. Plus we’ll be getting any book sales revenue whilst we’re away too. You have to love residual incomes, don’t you?!
Home educating and self employment means that we can take advantage of going out of season. The beginning of April through to the beginning of June is a great time to find some fabulous bargains. We found a week in France in May for under £300. In fact, four rentals (that’s one month of our trip) cost us less than five nights at Disneyland this year did for four adults (we paid for my mother in law and as Cait was over 12 we had to pay adult price for her too. The younger children all went free under their “Under 12′s go free deal” – and we thought that was a bargain!).
Out of interest I researched and found out that a seven night caravan break at Haven holiday park in Dorset costs £949 for a maximum of eight people in August. Personally, I wonder how people can afford that. We would need two caravans if we did that yet our finances probably wouldn’t be questioned if we did. Nobody would care to do a little homework to compare the possibility of a trip to France, even to Italy for the price they’ll pay out for a camp site, automatically assuming a camp site would be cheaper. Apathy, ignorance and laziness can be costly. The entire accommodation costs for our whole trip come to less than the amount we have paid out for the last two years ordinary holiday costs. We’ll be driving, so paying out the fuel costs but we’ll be eating regardless of whether we’re at home or away, so those costs will be the same.
By arranging accommodation directly with the owners (many of whom are happy to negotiate on the advertised price), driving and arranging our own travel and keeping to a budget means that our way of making this trip a reality is much, much cheaper than automatically opting for a package deal, flights and hotels. That would be way out of the question and nowhere near possible to do financially.
We won’t be paying out our home educating curriculum costs during the time we’re on the road which will save a pretty penny. This trip is an investment of several sorts. It’s an investment in our children’s education (and our own), and it’s also an investment into the book we will be writing about the trip, which will in turn provide us with some kind of revenue and income long after the event has ended.
A couple of other commenters on our Italian Road Trip post also stated their plans or commented on similar trips. I think you’ll find a common theme of planning and budgeting mentioned in all of them.
So, having now found myself in a position where I’ve ended up having to explain myself again I’d like to ask you a question.
If you were to implement changes to your own life and budget for the next 5-10 years with a goal such as this in mind would you still not be able to achieve it? Would you take on extra work? Put takeaways on hold? Reduce the use of a vehicle or sacrifice things you wouldn’t normally think twice about paying out for? You say you NEVER have any money. I will be so bold as to say that everyone can save or earn extra money somewhere if they really want to and have a goal in sight.