I’m writing this blog from the backseat of a van with my family – racing across the Irish countryside to take us to stay in an 800-year-old castle. What an adventure.
I am moving into week 3 of our family trip across the UK. We have been to London, Scotland and now Ireland with our 3 boys. There’s been ups and downs, rain and sunshine, and a whole bunch of togetherness. It’s the trip of a lifetime, and something my husband and I have dreamed of doing for a very long time.
There are a few things I have learned about myself and money along the way. The first being – money is well spent on experiences, rather than things. There was a time (ok, plenty of time, I have to admit) where my thoughts and desires revolved around clothes, cars, jewelry and STUFF.
I spent much of my money and time buying things that I believed I wanted, and that would make me happy.
However, over time, I have realised that the stuff never really did make me happy. Sure, there was the pleasure of wearing something fab for the first time or walking out of the store with the bags in my hands, but that buzz never lasted long. It always led me looking to the next thing, and the next.
This trip for me, has represented more than anything a deep change in my view of money, and how it is spent. While we have spent a small fortune getting five of us here, it has been done in a way that represents our values, and what having money goals is all about. It has been about enjoying each other as a family and sharing experiences and adventures that will last in our memories for a lifetime.
Here are five money truths I learned for overseas travel:
- We paid for this trip in advance. Accommodation, airfares, transfers and food where we could. This meant none of it was put on credit, and I wasn’t mentally planning for how we were going to pay it back. We only booked the trip when we had the funds. This is a good feeling.
- We haven’t gone retail crazy. I bought a hat and a scarf in Scotland (it was freezing!) but other than that, I haven’t bought a thing. I bought a large suitcase full of clothes, and don’t need more. Sure, I saw plenty of things I would have liked, but it was easy to walk away. Because spending our money on experiences has given us a lot more meaningful pleasure.
- Our kids have learned valuable money lessons. Currency exchange being one of them. Our 15-year old is now regularly checking our currency against the pound and euro – a lesson he would have found boring in economics class, but fascinating when cashing in his hard-earned savings.
- We haven’t gone without, but we have been sensible. We may eat in the hotel restaurant or out one night but have taken back fruit and food to the room on other nights. While we have definitely spent every day, our costs have been variable and sometimes way cheaper than expected.
- We worked to a budget. We planned what we wanted to spend and put it on our visa in advance. We can then spend and keep track of our costs daily online, to make sure we are within our planned spend.
Travel really does open your mind and allows you to leave the routine and sameness of every day. To me it is a crucial part of life experience. Doing it in a way that is mindful of money and as a reward for a long-held family goal has been incredibly rewarding.
A trip, whether big or small, creates valuable memories that last – longer than any material item ever could.
Until next time,