This summer I’ll be traveling for two months with my daughter to the following places:
- Reykjavik, Iceland (three days)
- Paris/Chartres/Annecy, France (nine days in the heart of the Latin Quarter)
- Carouge/Geneva, Switzerland (five days)
- Rimini/Venice/Rome, Italy (ten days)
- Lisbon/Porto, Portugal (15 days)
- Marrakech (and beyond!), Morocco (11 days)
- Madrid, Spain (five days)
Sounds like a trip for either an heiress or a student backpacker, doesn’t it?
I assure you, I am not wealthy. I do not have a rich husband (or an alimony) to support my travels. Nor am I a backpacking student. Ha! Far from it. In fact, I am a single mother (who doesn’t receive child support!) living in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Brooklyn!
So, you might wonder, how is this happening? Here’s a short list of the steps I took:
- Promised my daughter we’d be making a trip.
- Told everyone in my life that we’d be making a trip.
- Started keeping this blog to announce to the world that we’d be making a trip.
- Downsized (moved from a huge loft in a great neighborhood to a (still) huge loft in a less desirable area).
- Worked my ass off to develop my own business that would enable me both an income and time to travel.
- Cut expenses (rarely went out to eat, served my kid a lot of beans and rice, stopped buying new clothes, walked instead of took the subway, and only took a car service if it was late at night and I didn’t feel like getting mugged in my ‘hood or on the train).
- Made monthly deposits into an online savings account (I used SmartyPig) that was kept completely separate from my other accounts.
- Contacted old roommates, friends and family from around the world to see if we might stay with them for a spell.
- Used AirBnB to find apartments in areas where we don’t have friends and family (I’ve rented beautiful apartments in Iceland, France and Portugal).
- Connected with travelers via social media and on networks such as CouchSurfers.
Yep, that’s it. I wanted to change my life, and I wanted to travel with my kid around the world, so I shifted my world view. Honestly, telling people I’d be doing it and setting a date really helped. With friends, family and even naysayers asking me when I would be departing, it would have been humiliating to not follow through.
In the beginning of my trip planning, I thought I’d take my kiddo to somewhere in South America or to Thailand- somewhere inexpensive where I could get the biggest bang for my bucks. But my girl was clear where she wanted to go: Italy. Then I realized that I could really use some time in Paris to do the research for my next book. And then I thought, how perfect, we’ll be sort-of-kind-of close to Morocco, a country I’ve always wanted to see. The rest of the trip evolved from there, and it looks very different from the relatively inexpensive trip I had first imagined.
Is the trip going to be expensive? Yes. I won’t pretend that I’ll be making it happen on a dime. That said, my accommodations will be $450 less than if I had stayed in New York. This was accomplished by renting out my apartment and taking WEEKS (yes, weeks) to do research on the places I rented in other countries. Amazingly, for very little, I booked a gorgeous apartment in my favorite neighborhood in Paris with a 250 square foot private terrace, and secured an out-of-this-world home in Iceland with breakfast provided and a guide who will take us caving and to hot springs that are off-the-beaten-path. Oh- and the place in Portugal? It’s not a luxury apartment, but it’s HUGE, very clean, filled with art, and, for two weeks, it cost me only $200.
It’s really only the flights and spending money that I’ve needed to come up with. And, even then, in looking at the budget of what I would’ve spent had I stayed in NY, I’m only over by about $2500 for the entire summer (this is after I include all the various museum tickets/admissions /meals/trains/etc). That comes out to about $1250 a month to travel (in the way I want to travel). In my world this is still a lot of money, but I’m happy to say that I’ve worked really hard to make it happen. Do I still have some debt? Yep. And I’m working hard to take care of it before I leave for the summer. But if I’m not able, I know I’ll be able to cover it when I return in the autumn. If I continued to wait until I was completely debt-free before I took my daughter on a trip, we’d forever stay in Brooklyn. See, life has a funny way of throwing single mothers expenses that two-parent homes and single people simply don’t incur. Therefore, I’ll continue to do what I can, when I can. And in the meanwhile, I WILL go on this trip. I think my daughter has been waiting long enough.
For years I thought that being a single mother meant I couldn’t travel with a kid. I said that it would be impossible. I was jealous of my single friends who showed me their travel pictures. By re-prioritizing and taking some risks, I will now be able to whip out some amazing albums of photos. The best part? Unlike my single friends, I’ll be taking this trip with my heart and soul- my little girl. Somehow, looking at the trips others have taken, I’m no longer envious.
So… it IS happening. The apartments are booked and so are (some of) our flights. The trip is coming up so quickly, I can almost taste it.
My advice to anyone out there who thinks he or she can’t travel? Well, if you want it badly enough (you have to want it!), then pick a day, today, for instance, and send an email to everyone you’ve ever met announcing that you’ll be traveling the world. Tell your kids, tell your parents, tell the people who own the bodegas in your ‘hood. Then figure out a few key steps that will make it happen. For me the steps were clear- downsize, restructure my work life, quit spending and network with others who had made it happen.
If I can do it, anyone can. I swear.
Need more convincing? My post was written as part of a writing project with a group of traveling families. Read how others are making it work (below)!! But first, make sure to friend me on Facebook so that you can keep up with my travels!
Anyone can travel by Mary at Bohemian Travelers
Diet shouldn’t stop you from traveling by Amy at livin’ on the road
If Anyone Can Travel Why Don’t You? by Keryn at Walkingon Travels
Anyone can do this! – Kate at Experiential Family
Not Everyone Can Travel – by Living Outside of the Box
You Have to Be Special Like Us if You Want an Awesome Life – Discover Share Inspire
Anyone Can Travel, Just Let Go by Diya at a Minor Diversion
Anyone Can Travel…Just Find Your Way by Kate at Experiential Family
Pity, Envy, and why anyone can travel — Clark Vandeventer of FamilyTrek
Travel – Possible? by Wandering Photographer
A Family Travel Lifestyle by Loreena at Little Aussie Travelers
Anyone can travel, can’t they? by New Life on the Road
Our Path to becoming Lucky enough to Travel by A King’s Life