7 month Europe trip instead of a mortgage

Two months ago in October we had a huge change of mind and heart. After the past year and a half of saving for a house deposit, my husband suggests what many people would freak out and run for the hills about – spending it all. And not on a house.

“How about we forget about trying to buy a house for now and use the money we’ve saved to travel around Europe? Let’s just do it. Money is just money. We can always make more, but we may never get this chance to explore again.” – My husband, October 2016

😁 I didn’t freak out at him at this sudden suggestion. I was more curious as to where the discussion was going to lead. I was slightly apprehensive to begin with, a bit unsure if it was doable. Then as we spoke more it all sounded so ideal, so beneficial and exhilarating.

Part of me to begin with was thinking  “really, no buying a house anymore? Is that dream totally over?” “How long would it take to start saving again?” – however I then remembered our struggles with our attempts for getting a loan and how it hasn’t been achievable for us as yet nor will it be for some time. Understandably  these questions briefly went through my mind but they were quickly dismissed moments later.

We had come to the stage many weeks back that we were resigned to trying to pursue buying a house for a while and were tossing up whether to put plans on hold. The banks make it very hard for families on a single income to buy a family home these days and Phil is the sole income earner in ours. I do the odd bit of hours here and there at market stalls etc but it’s inconsistent. We’ve been rejected once and assessed again and told it’s not possible in our current situation. I must return to work for significant part time hours before they will consider us – and I’m not willing to do that as yet. Jonah isn’t ready, he’s still breastfed 3 times a day (I’ve already cut back 1-2 feeds) So I’m not ready either as I can’t and won’t try and force him to drink formula just for financial gain. Coz essentially that’s what it would be for. Phil and I are very firm on the fact we want to raise our son and have him 90% of the week. I don’t want someone else who most likely has different morals and beliefs spending the better part of a day or week with him. So for this major reason house loans are out of the equation for us at this point. Honestly we had become over trying to exhaust the topic and our options. Those plans are a couple of years away at best. And that’s ok…because travelling will bring so much more to our marriage and family life than what buying a house would. Anyway as Phil said – money comes and goes. It’s only money. We can save again. It’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend. We’ve become very sensible with our dollars and know how to save well (as proven) – So we can do it again.

Aside from the initial reactions I did feel (and still do at times) a little overwhelmed at the scope and duration of the trip. Initially we were talking about travelling for 9 months but have scaled it back to 7 😮😬 There’s a lot to be planned and thought over. Since these first couple of long talks we had about it, Phil has researched so much, so have I. We also have our desires of where we want to go and favourite countries. We decided to explore most of Europe, the UK, Scotland, Ireland, Croatia, Slovenia and Morocco in a campervan. We have been down to Escape Travels in Bulimba and 2 lovely travel agents who work there (Danielle and Serah) have been so incredibly helpful and attentive, not to mention so thorough in planning with us the where, the how and the why for each location. Together we have begun to map out a rough itinerary which Phil and I have continually tweaked and adjusted.

We booked our flights about a month ago on the 17th November so there is no looking back. The more we have planned and organised the more exciting it’s becoming, and such a worthwhile decision that neither of us regret. May 2017 is a month that we will look forward to immensely as this is when our adventure will begin!

“One day” “Sometime soon” “In the near future” “Maybe one day” “When we retire” or the very common “When the kids leave home” are phrases that are thrown around all the time when it comes to travelling or parting with a substantial amount of money to do so. Phil was looking at this forum online when we just made the decision to do this, and the amount of comments that resembled the above were astounding! What was scarier was the amount of people who said (even tagged their partners in the comments to join them in the discussion) that they were going to do this but never followed through. Comments like “we said we would and still haven’t” were said repeatedly. Many couples or families didn’t actually get around to travelling. Life got in the way, there were other expenses, another house to buy, another car, their kids didn’t leave home until much later than they thought, poor health. The other day someone told me a story about their parents who said they would always travel but only when they retired. Well their dad only made it to his early 50’s before he died suddenly. They never got the chance. We get so caught up in trying to build a life in the suburbs instead of going out and living it, experiencing it. There is so much more life to be had outside one city or one town. By the sounds of it many people don’t know that, and may never know. Excuses pile up, or there are restrictions that have set in that will take years to live through or pass before they can have the option to leave the country. By that stage it’s a big IF or MAYBE.

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Our moto ✌🏼️

We have been met with mixed reactions to our major decision. Some people have made it known that they believe we are being foolish or stupid, that we are making the wrong decision. They feel we should buy a house instead or just keep saving for when we can, and believe we can always do all this travelling another time. Well, to those people the above is a logical rebuttal to their judgments.

We have considered all major factors and have spoken at length about them. Most of these factors or points were clear cut and obvious and we didn’t need to over think it – they were advantageous if anything. I’ll briefly include these points below and perhaps they can encourage others in some way if they are considering doing something similar to us. Perhaps the points I will make may help overcome a particular hurdle in your brainstorming if you are considering making a large trip overseas also.

✖️ We have a passion for travel we want to share together ✖️

Phil has travelled quite a bit more than I have. Before we met and whilst we dated. When I met Phil he had a one way ticket booked to travel most of the globe and maybe never return!! He’s a bit of a drifter and hippy at heart and exploring new countries and cultures is very appealing to him. My first overseas experience was our honeymoon last year when we went to Vietnam and the Philippines and it triggered a passion in me to continue to travel. I’m so glad I waited to travel with my husband and didn’t do it with an ex boyfriend or ex friend so I don’t have any negative memories or attachments to any country I’ve been to 👍🏼 After doing a small spot of travelling in New Zealand in a camper last year when I was pregnant with Jonah, that cemented that I wanted to travel further with my husband as we had a ball together. Because Phil and I haven’t actually been together long (we got married just shy of our 10 months) and fell pregnant with Jonah quite quickly (7 weeks post honeymoon) we didn’t get the chance to travel together like many couples pre children. However that’s no reason for us to not still enjoy travelling together now just because we have our little man in tow. Children should not make you neglect enjoying your life, embracing adventure and change, or making new memories. You must enjoy each other after you have children, not cease to make plans out of the normal because of society making you feel you are at a standstill. This leads me to my next point we considered.

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Switzerland view while on the road

✖️ We have a young child ✖️

“But you have a child?” People will say, and have said.

Yeah so? Having a child means you’re chained to suburban living for the rest of your life? Who decides that our lives as parents must cease to be exciting once a child becomes part of the family? Phil and I still have a passion for adventure and travelling and don’t see having Jonah as a deterrent in fulfilling our dreams and aspirations. We intend on including him, not allowing him to become a preventative. The only thing between allowing children to be a prevention instead of an inclusion is simple – making a choice and putting it into action.

Jonah is such a good boy who has such a chilled personality. Aside from the odd clingy moment he is low maintenance and wouldn’t be hard work at all. Besides, he is small enough to be very portable 😂 He is also young enough not to be stubborn and refuse to join us in any day trip, escapade or journey anywhere. At 15 months he will be too young to have a hormonal moody outburst and ruin the plans made for the day, or wander off rebelliously somewhere to get away from his parents 😂 He will be happy to fit in with what we do and so enjoy the stimulation, the sights, sounds and tastes of new cultures. He will learn so much and gain a real advantage when it comes to social interaction compared to what many other children his age would get exposed to. Admittedly it will be manageable because we have just him to watch and cater for between us, not multiple children. This is one significant reason we are choosing to make this trip now. Before we have a second baby and there is more work involved.

✖️ We are a team ✖️

This is a huge reason to consider if and when you travel. Some people may be puzzled this is a reason to consider. It’s actually very important. You can’t have one person being stuck with doing all the work, all the research, all the planning leading up to the trip and DURING the trip. Not to mention the mundane everyday things that need to be done once you’re overseas. Basic chores, responsibilities and schedules still exist and need to be maintained. If both husband and wife are a team they can both get things done and also feel like they are enjoying themselves on their holiday. If you are someone with a lazy, complacent or non-enthusiastic partner who doesn’t show initiative, this may be a big reason NOT to travel as a family. Without teamwork a trip of this magnitude with a child isn’t possible. Or it may happen with a lot of help from a travel agent but once you’re over in another country doing all the work you may not feel up to being adventurous or that blissfully happy about your holiday plans after all. Sharing the workload and all travel responsibilities is the way to ensure everyone gets the most out of their overseas adventures. Hubby and I are a united and supportive team so this makes our daily lives so much easier here in Brisbane. We are in unison and harmony about everything. We consider each other and we help each other – with chores, with cooking, cleaning and all things Jonah. Travelling won’t change any of the above, merely the environment in which we do so.

✖️We are healthy, fit and in our prime ✖️ 

This was one of those very logical points that we didn’t have to touch on very much. It’s a huge advantage to us travelling NOW instead of later. Its also one reason why we will find it easier raveling with Jonah – we are energetic enough to manage looking after him and also enjoying ourselves at the same time. If we were 60, we would have a more limited amount of energy (just from living life longer) and less get up and go. As you get older the tendency is just to kick the shoes off and relax over exploring tirelessly for 10 hours a day! Understandably too! Phil and I are both in great health with no physical ailments aside from a couple of old injuries that surface from training occasionally. We have no intolerances, no allergies and no physical conditions that would prevent us from travelling anywhere or eating anything. God willing we will always be this fortunate but as life goes on there is no guarantee is there? SO our health is perfect and our ages of 29 and 32 put us directly in our physical prime. A very easy point explored and answered for 😛

✖️ We don’t want to be a “conventional” couple yet ✖️

This is just our way of thinking. It doesn’t have to be everyone’s, and we realise some people may like being conventional. We can’t relate to them at this point really but hey – we are all different and desire an array of different things – and it’s a great thing we do! There are a few different ways to not fall into the trap of being a conventional couple or family, this is only one way not to be. There are others. I am not saying going on holidays makes us non conventional. That’s silly. I am saying our ability to follow through with what we say makes us non conventional. Our ability to not let fear rule our lives. Our ability to say we will be adventurous together and ACTUALLY live that out. Make plans and follow through by experiencing them. Diving in the deep end. Really taking the repetitive phrase that is used by so many “YOLO (You Only Live Once) seriously. Phil had said when we first got married and we would talk about the future and not slipping into the same boring trap of monotonous married life – “I really don’t want us to say we will do these things like travel yet never do.” We made a promise to each other that we would not get caught up in the suburban life (or trap) of slaving away for bills and house repayments with a dull repetitive rhythm. To us, not being caught up in this repetitiveness means that we are less likely to take one another for granted and grow a gradual distaste for the other.
As human beings we can often have a recurrent nature and slip into a systematic, dull and tedious pattern of work, work and more work. With our limited downtime we may often go to the shops to buy things we don’t need, drink alcohol, eat takeout, go to the gym, talk about going to the gym, spend copious amounts of time online, gossip about others over coffee dates, fight with friends or family, fight with our spouse, get angry at our kids, spend time reminiscing, spend time daydreaming etc etc the list goes on. When does the pattern or mould break? For many it never does. How much strain can this sort of life have on a marriage or close relationship? A great deal, but over many years – so you don’t notice right away. For us the mould breaks – it has too. It’s one reason we wanted to start a life together…our attraction of this trait in each other to pursue a life free of conventional restraints was prominent right away. It’s a promise we made to each other, and we are following through on our promise which shows our commitment to not only being non conventional but more importantly our commitment to our marriage.

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We will spend 3 weeks exploring Italy and the coastline is something we don’t want to miss. So beautiful!

✖️ Life is short ✖️

Before you realise it and in a blink of an eye you are 40, which is only a decade from being halfway to a century old. People say age is only a number. I agree with this to an extent, but age does alter us physically and is reflected in the energy we output. The months and years are escaping us all. They slip through our hands like grains of sand and can never be retrieved again. I look at my son now and cannot believe he is 10 months old. It’s so bittersweet this time that passes us by so quickly! We all make comments about time escaping us in relation to something or someone in our lives. We have all wished we had done something more memorable with our year every time we come to the end of another. So…maybe you can?
After discussions and many thoughts on the alarming fact that life is short, we have agreed to make a decision to seize this exciting opportunity and take flight on a fearless journey NOW before we blink and are middle aged.

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Tulip season in Holland – can’t wait to see this!

~
I will endeavor to blog on my experiences in each country whilst we are on the road. We do intend on staying in some hotels in certain countries (so I will upload my entries when I have wifi) but will write as we travel day to day in our van. We depart May 3rd and fly to Abu Dhabi to spend 3 days there, and then continue on to Heathrow Airport. Once we arrive in the UK and spend a week recovering from flying we begin our summer journey in Belgium, then onto The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Rebublic, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, back to Italy for the west coast, France then Spain. After that we will catch a ferry over to Morocco and spend 2 weeks exploring – it’s actually one of the places we are most excited about visiting! From there we spend Autumn in UK, Scotland and Ireland, then will finish early December for winter in Norway and Sweden to see the Northern Lights and for Phil to experience a husky sled ride (on his bucket list.) I am sure in 7 months I will have many experiences to blog about being a tourist travelling in a campervan with a young family. My entries will also be like a journal that we can look back on of this once in a lifetime trip, and one day I may even look back on them as further inspiration to travel again! I hope some of you enjoy reading my blog along the way and find it insightful, entertaining and inspiring at the same time. 🌎

Take care,

J xx

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The Nothern Lights in Norway 😍 Can only be seen after November so we finish our Europe trip in December so we don’t miss it!

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