Travel is on most people’s bucket list. At some stage in our lives we want to venture beyond the safety and security of our own backyard and discover distant places. This year, over 9 million overseas trips were made by Australians.
When we think of travel we think holidays, exploring new cities, tasting new flavours, discovering hidden treasures, meeting new faces and much more. This type of travel isn’t a need, it’s a want. Often it’s an expensive want.
But what about when you have family living on the opposite side of the globe, on a different continent, with a different lifestyle to your own? Is travel to visit them or they to visit you a necessity or a want?
It’s a bit of both.
J’s entire family lives in Eastern Europe, most of mine do too except for my parents and my brother who live here in Australia. Overseas travel on a regular basis is a necessity as well as a want. We could just limit our contact to Skype calls but it’s just not the same as sitting together at the table opening a bottle of vodka and munching on fresh ham, lard, pickles and bread that we just can’t get in Australia…it just doesn’t taste the same here.
Such visits can get expensive and they require their own room in the monthly budget.
This year with baby J being born, his baptism and our decision to marry, we invited our family to come visit us. My parents paid for my grandparents tickets and J and I paid for J’s mum’s ticket. We offered to pay for his cousin but fortunately she could afford her own. Each ticket set us back around $1700 which means this year J and I along with baby J will not be traveling to Europe. We did go last year and the year before. We could dip into our savings and go again but that would be a mistake as we have bigger plans for the cash we currently have saved and invested.
A trip to visit family is not just purchasing a ticket, getting on a plane and paying them all a visit. There are other costs involved including hiring a car, insurance, spending money and miscellaneous gifts. Now that baby J is with us it means hiring a car seat, organising a stroller, more insurance, and an extra ticket which will only be 10% of the fare until he turns 2, and then 75% until he’s 12.
Fortunately, accommodation costs are not required because we stay with family. Most of the food is there and we simply contribute to the grocery bill. But the travel also involves taking at least 4 weeks off work because it’s not worth travelling there for any less time than that. Sometimes that’s paid leave and sometimes it’s unpaid leave.
The costs easily add up.
Our next Europe trip will be in 2016 and hopefully for at least 5 weeks. The entire trip is going to set us back around $10,000. Baby J will be 2 by then and his ticket will cost 75% of the adult price. Plus I want my mum to go with us so I have a trusted babysitter on hand when necessary so it’s more like $1700 x 4, which is $6400 for the tickets alone, another $1000 for car hire, and $2500 spending money for the entire trip which may or may not be enough. Travelling with a toddler, I’m going to want to have more just in case. It’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.
I refuse to put that trip on credit so I’ve started saving for it now. So far I’ve got 10% put away and another 12-18 months to save the rest. We’ll be purchasing the plane tickets towards the end of 2015. I need to put away around $100 per week for this trip to ensure we have enough. It sounds like a lot but it’s doable especially when I return to work after my maternity leave.
It’s fair to say that J and I will need $10,000 for every trip we take to Europe and we’d like to go at least once every eighteen months. If that doesn’t work then we can always invite his mum to visit on alternate years and we’ll visit every other year. It’s a cost but it’s a necessary cost as we want baby J to get to know his family in Europe, work on developing his second language, and show him the world.
To us, travel is a must not a maybe. It’s a choice but it’s a necessary one given how close we are to our family and the distance between us.
Is travel a need or a want for you? How important is travel in your life? How much on travel do you spend each year?