We_Do_Not_Need_$100,000_to_Travel

Good News!  We don’t need $100,000.

Good News!  We don’t need $100,000 to travel for a year.

A quick Google search shows various sites listing $4,000-$4,500 as the average cost of a one-week domestic vacation for a family of four.  Even if we skinny it down to half that amount, imagine the cost of traveling for a year with the family!  It could easily cost $100,000.

Thankfully, normal living expenses in many other countries don’t cost as much as we spend on vacation.

I have read blogs written by couples who are traveling the world on $100 per day.  We have kids and pets and want to splurge a little more, but even at $200 per day that would be $73,000 per year, not $100,000.

For fun, I sat down and made a budget of what it would cost us to live for a month in my husband’s home city of Manizales, Colombia.

Minimum wage in Colombia is currently 781,242 COP (Pesos Colombianos) or $281 per month in US dollars.  Now that is poor, really poor, and we don’t want to live like that. Even in Colombia, they lack much of what most would consider essential needs at that wage.

Minimum wage in Kansas (where we live) is currently $7.25/hour, or roughly $1,200 per month.  No one wants to live on that here, either.  Much would be lacking.

But my point is that at the most basic level of one’s most essential needs, life in the U.S. is more expensive than in Colombia.  I realize that simply comparing minimum wage is far from perfect, but let’s carry on in spite of this.

In Colombia, public transportation is excellent, utilities are cheap (no air conditioners or furnaces are needed in most regions) and healthcare is of good quality and very affordable as long as you live in a decent sized city.  Fruits and vegetables are fresh, locally grown and cost pennies on the dollar compared to what we pay here.

I do not intend to idealize the Colombian economic situation.  I have spent enough time there to know that it isn’t easy to get ahead when earning Colombian pesos.

But what if we save US Dollars and live in pesos for a time?

With an exorbitant budget of $4,000 per month, we could live very well in Manizales.  Our kids could attend a private bilingual school, we could hire a maid and a cook, and take nice vacations.  The key is plugging into the local economy and living a more culturally authentic lifestyle, rather than living in foreign enclaves and overpriced tourist areas.

Would I rather spend $4,000 on the previously mentioned week-long vacation and return to work tired the following week?  Or live for a month on that money with a housekeeper and a cook?  This may seem like a stretch but think about it.  It is a choice we all get to make.

In an earlier blog post, I established a goal of saving $100,000 to travel for a year as a family.  Using Colombia’s cost of living as an example, I now realize we could live well on $48,000 per year so I can cut the budget in half!

But we don’t plan to stay in Colombia.  We plan to travel, and not all destinations will be as wallet friendly.  If I add in another $1,000 per month as a “cushion,” it gives us a $60,000 budget for one year of traveling as a family of four – with two pets in tow!

Many U.S. households live on $5,000 per month so it really costs no more to travel for a year with the family than it does to live at home.

Let me type that again.

It really costs no more to travel for a year with the family than to live at home.

The trick is how to save that amount of money in a chunk so we can take the trip.

It will take some time to figure this out but I obviously feel it is worth the effort or I wouldn’t take on the challenge.

It’s time for a “money date” with Hubby – how romantic!

We do not need $100,000 for the trip.  My new number is $60,000 and that is awesome news!

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