In part one, I wrote about some serious about-faces we’ve had during our travel. In summary, we went from:
Before we started we imagined ourselves some kind of quasi-backpacking family – agile and light! Yeah right.
As great as the idea to travel “light” was, it really didn’t jive well with our reality. Traveling with young kids made it difficult to just suck it up and deal with some of the inconveniences of not carrying much. For example, simple concerns like, worrying if our kids would be cold, meant traveling with additional sweaters and coats. We started off with just a couple of stuffed animals as toys and now we have a collection of 40+ Hotwheels:
I know, it’s ridiculous. However, it does bring some sense of consistency to our kids, especially our youngest, so we decided it’s worth it.
We started off with one pair of shoes for everyone and now we have those pairs… plus sandals, water shoes, rain boots and some sexy AF heals I bought my wife for a party we attended in Guatemala. Stilettos are not easy to pack, let me tell you.
In essence we decided the convenience of packing light was not worth the inconveniences of not having what we needed, especially with our kids. Or conversely, the inconvenience of traveling with so much stuff does not outweigh the benefit of having some important but not essential items with us.
If you’re planning a similar trip, I would advise you to think long and hard about this decision. We chose wrong to begin our trip and unfortunately it cost us time and money as we ended up re-purchasing some items we gave away before leaving. I believe either way works, you should just be clear on the sacrifices and benefits of each.
The other decision we completely reversed was how we were going to homeschool. As I mention in part 1, our initial plan was to be as paper/book-less as possible and do everything online. Nope. We quickly realized Wi-Fi can be painfully slow at best and completely unreliable at worst, even when we only stay at places were Wi-Fi is “available.” When schooling was dependent on internet access, this became a serious problem. The solution? Good ol’ trusty paper and textbooks. Pain in the ass to lug around but an incredibly effective way to guarantee school continues. If you’re thinking about homeschooling as well. Keep this in mind. Being fully online is great… if you can get online.
Lastly, we have completely changed how and for how long we travel. Initially we set out to visit a location for a week or so, maybe 10 days. The idea was to cram it all in, not unlike we used to plan our vacations. Now, we’ve just begun a 6-week stay in Costa Rica. Big difference. But why? In no particular order – cost, convenience and effort.
Cost: although we are enjoying an indefinite travel adventure, we are still on a budget. We factor in the cost of housing into our decision as it obviously plays a major role in how we spend our money. One thing we discovered was the many AirBnBs offer substantial weekly and monthly discounts. For example, the beautiful colonial home we stayed in Nicaragua had a price of $80 per night. However, if you booked a week there was a 25% discount and if you booked a month, the discount was a whopping 65% off. Essentially, booking a month cost us the same as if we only stayed two weeks. We stayed at a beautiful home for a month at the equivalent of about 10 days at regular price. Bam!
This type of deal isn’t unique either. We’ve learned the longer we stay at a place the more cost effective, and not by just a little. The longer stays have allowed us to take “mini-trips” within the greater stop, as we did in Nicaragua. Yes, we do end up paying for a home we are not sleeping in but the net effect on our budget is the same – with the added benefit of being able to see a different part of the area.
Additionally, we don’t have to drag the 2-tons worth of luggage during these mini-trips. We’ve reduced the amount of travel days, AKA “how-long-will-it-take-for-dad-to-blow-a-gasket” days. Win/Win for everyone.
Again, I highly encourage you to think about what you’d like to get out of your prolonged travel. Extended stays are both cost-effective and stabilizing while at the same time may “limit” the amount of places you see. We feel the benefits easily outweigh the cost but you’ll have to decide for your self.
All in all, this trip has been an incredible learning experience. We’ve made our mistakes and hopefully we’re learning and growing from them. There are plenty more but the above three have really been eye-opening for us.