Is it weird that we can afford to travel like this?

Speaking of weird, I look like the mothership has just returned for me in that photo.  Anyway…

I know it is unusual for a family to take a six-month trip anywhere, let alone to pack up and go to Europe.

I do; I know that. I am incredibly lucky to have a chance to do it, to have a boss who understood how important it was to me to do it now, to have friends at work who are the ones who are making it work.

But I don’t feel like I am able to take this trip because I am rich.

Again, I know that I am “rich” in many ways. We have two incomes and we are both healthy enough to work, for now. We have jobs and cars and a house and medical insurance. Many people don’t. We are undeniably rich in those things. But many other people who have all these things think they could never afford to travel like this.

The thing is, we are able to afford this trip because we have been saving for twenty years. Twenty years of used furniture and shopping at Goodwill and decorating in “Early Hand-Me-Down” style and rarely going out (except for way too many Dollar Menu hamburgers) and being as frugal as we know how, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

When I hear “Oh, it must be nice!” I think, it IS nice, but we had a whole bunch of not-so-nice while other people lived it up in little ways that added up over the months and years. Heck, that’s even true about the trip itself! We are renting apartments wherever possible because its cheaper than even youth hostels in most cities, especially since – with a kitchen – we can cook for ourselves and save on eating out. We go to museums on the free days and eat in the cheaper tascas, and we aren’t paying for any tours or guides or even souvenirs, for the most part. Would it be fun to stay in a fancy hotel and eat at amazing restaurants and buy fabulous souvenirs and mail them home? You bet it would! I’d love it. But we could only stay two weeks at that rate of spending, instead of 24. This is better, for us.

Now that I’ve written this, I’m contemplating not posting it. It is sooo not meant to be a “Look what we did!” post, but a “Look what you can do!” one. I especially don’t want anyone to think that I was always happily frugal all those years; you can get David to verify that! But now, I must say, I am happy with the end result.

Daily Check In:

  • I’m grateful! to everyone who helped make this trip a reality, and especially to David, for cracking the whip. (I’m kidding; I take care of the finances, but I have certainly learned how to be a cheapskate through his shining example.)
  • I’m lighter! by about 4 hours of sleep… argh. I really need to get this sleeping problem under control. It’s just that I would so much rather blog than sleep…

7 thoughts on “Is it weird that we can afford to travel like this?

  1. I am afraid that this post sounds “guilty” — like you feel guilty that you are traveling to Europe for six months.

    RIDICULOUS! (must be said like Ricky Ricardo 🙂

    No three people deserve it more, and never explain again! You don’t owe anyone any explanation except “I know! We’re so happy!”

    You are right: Many more people could take trips like this if they were frugal, smart, determined and have planned it all out so well like you guys did. I ADMIRE you all that you have made this come true.

    “I Know! We’re so Happy!” And everyone is happy for you 🙂

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  2. Yeah… probably feeling guilty. I was talking with the Portuguese massage therapist about the economy here, and she was telling me that the average person in Portugal makes 500 euros a month – less than $1000. (She had asked me if my hotel had a jacuzzi, since it might help my leg, and I was explaining to her that I had neither a hotel nor a jacuzzi.)

    This was also written in a fit of insomnia – how can I fall asleep in public at every sight in Lisbon, but not in my bed at night? – and a terrible funk. Blah.

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  3. Lori. Relax and enjoy your holiday. You are only responsible for spending your own money, you are not responsible for european recession! Try not to feel guilty and attempt to reframe your thinking – every euro that you spend at local shop, museum, restaurant etc is making a positive contribution to the local economy. As a family and as tourists, trying seeing yourselves as a modern mini-marshall plan for eu region 🙂 Brian said he noticed increased signs of poverty last year in portugal, when he was on hols in oporto. According to media, there’s big demand in portugal for food/soup kitchens. You could make a donation to a local charity in lisbon. Or volunteer.

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  4. Well, since everyone has offered warm words of wisdom (ooo! alliterative!) with wuv, I won’t. Surprised? I just wanted you to know that I love the photo of you, all the more because you (said it first) look like the mothership has just returned for you. My advice: don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

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