Twenty-six and 7

Twenty-six months remain until we launch our 7-month Midlife Escape!

My original goal was to be ready to leave for a full year by November 11, 2019 (my 50th birthday) but our career break has been bumped out and cut shorter. What happened?

I have agonized over multiple considerations in coming to this decision:

Happy wife, happy life.  Actually, it’s not all about my happiness.  My husband and kids think I am crazy and are less than enthused about leaving home, school, and steady employment to travel for a year.  Since I will not be traveling solo, I have to be willing to compromise.  Dragging unhappy campers around the globe for a year is no one’s idea of a good time.

The Wonder Years. I sat through a New Parent Orientation meeting last month and learned about the awesomeness of my eldest daughter’s upcoming high school years.  She is very involved in music and will be enrolling in Honor’s classes.  College prep all the way.  She will be attending a fairly large suburban high school, but everyone was so friendly, and they made it feel like a genuinely caring, family-like learning community.  Maybe I’ve just been sold a line, but even my daughter (who tends to be a glass-half-empty personality) is enthused and thinks it will be great.

Road-Schooling is an option and yes, both of our daughters will be fine academically.  However, some counselor-led adjustments will have to be made to keep them on track for graduation. Also, some courses work better online than others.  Playing the trumpet in a musical ensemble and doing science experiments in a well-equipped laboratory is less doable on the road.

We work hard for the money, so hard for it honey! The cost of the trip itself is really not the issue.  I have already been saving for a year and with another two years before launch, we can cover the trip.  With only 7 months of travel, my $5,000 monthly budget = $35,000.  I am shooting for $40,000 so we will have a cushion and some extra fun money!

The real expense is the lost wages, benefits and retirement savings, and we don’t know what the job market will look like when we return.  However, we suspect our current employers will be more willing to consider this a temporary leave if it is only 7 months in duration, rather than a full year.

“Health is not valued till sickness comes” (Thomas Fuller)Unfortunately, both sets of our parents have crappy health and that limits us somewhat.  We truly love them and don’t want to go a full year with them feeling like we have abandoned them with their various health and mobility challenges.  Nor would we enjoy the trip with too much time and distance between us.

Home Sweet Home. We plan to rent out our house while we are gone so it will be occupied rather than empty.  However, we will feel a lot better about life if we pay off the mortgage before we go!

This is a daunting goal in only two years and will require us to live on one income while throwing the other at the mortgage.  We started 2018 with $125,000 owed and have cut that down considerably.  But even with increased monthly payments and a portion of our quarterly bonuses allocated towards this goal, it will be a nail-biter up until the end.

I’d rather just don a tie-dye Mumu, hop in a VW van and take off.  Dreamy, wide-eyed optimism intact, it would all work out somehow.

It’s a bummer to have to be so practical about this.

Also, the shortened trip means we can’t travel as broadly as we would like so again, compromises must be made.

Decision:  We will spend half the time in South America and half the time in Europe.

My husband is Colombian and speaks Spanish to our children.  It would be great for them to solidify their language skills while in South America and to spend a chunk of time in Colombia with family.  Europe is on my husband’s bucket list and he’ll get no complaints from me!

If we only do a South America/Europe split, then we will miss out on Asia, Africa, Australia, and Oceania.  What about Antarctica?  Or Canada, our lovely neighbor to the north?  What about the Middle East?  How can we skip Mexico and Central America?

I don’t want us to run ourselves ragged circling the globe in a contest to collect passport stamps.  My husband and I already feel over-worked and tired, and this trip needs to flow at a more relaxing pace with at least a couple weeks in each destination.

No worries about the shortened itinerary, though.  My mind is already skipping ahead to a Midlife Escape Sequel once the kids finish college.  If the kids are busy with work and family of their own at that point, we can go it alone.  If they want to join us, they will be old enough to help plan it all out.

Whew!  I don’t have to get it all done in one fell swoop.  There can be other trips at other times, and that actually takes a lot of pressure off.

I realize this is not perfect, but it does represent progress.  I know when, where and for how long we will travel.

Now that these decisions have been made, I can dive deep into the details of planning it all out!



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