Some things to do before going overseas with a child
Planning, preparing, then – finally – going
Here are a few things you need to consider, as written for and by an Australian Single (older) Mum.
Don’t mind if some are obvious, but they are often the ones you forget.
As a single parent, I am it …. especially if things go wrong, or I get sick. So I err on the side of caution. Therefore, I am extremely well organized and prepared.
But as I am a mother, tour guide, teacher, driver, travel agent at times, itinerary planner, cook, cleaner, nurse, financial provider, and anything else you can think of, I need to BE PREPARED!
So here are a few of my ideas and tips.
Start saving $$ NOW!
If you are thinking of traveling, or are a parent, or especially if you are a single parent, then this word is not new to you.
If you have a good life and are oozing wealth – fabulous! But if you are the norm, like me, you are going to have to make your money last.
So now as a Mum, I am proudly known as the “Voucher Queen”. I take my title onboard with pride.
If we go out for dinner, we only go to ‘Kids Eat Free’; we use our dockets or have bought cheap specials off eBay. (You can get some great restaurant vouchers on eBay), sometimes entirely free meals – which makes me wonder who is flogging them off – maybe nabbed by the staff or the printing company!!
Keep this in mind for when you travel too.
- Buy your fuel on the cheap days. Watch and learn if your area is mid-week price dips for example.
- Shop online, and at recycle and charity stores, and garage sales.
- Check the web – as hotels and kids sites will give you great ideas on where to eat, or who has free activities.
- Only buy food on sale tags, and teach your child to select their cereal or dessert treat with a sale tag.
- Shop at places like Aldi in some Australian States (you can even get wine for $3 a bottle that is nice!) and Rite-Price in South Australia. Gourmet frozen pizzas for $2 – buy 6. Get that freezer going. Add some toppings.
- Start to go out on weekends to only free activities.
- Go hiking to get fit and ready for your trip, and only take a packed lunch.
- Buy large juice on clearance – I get mine for 3 liters for .79 cents at Rite-Price and pour it into a small drinking bottle for my son for school
This way of life is about to become long-term, so get used to it and make it fun. It also allows you a treat without feeling too guilty. However, always think before you spend.
As I am a ‘work from home Mum’, I need to get out on weekends, so Sunday is our ‘together day’.
We often go out for a nice meal, but it is at one of our bargains finds, and our treat. Don’t feel guilty, but be wise.
Budget how much to live on
Don’t pay bills until they are due, but don’t pay late and incur fees.
Get a credit card that earns you points for spending. (I use the Commonwealth one as I can also get free travel insurance – see that section later).
Make sure you are not getting fees for using the credit card. Use this for all your shopping, and bill paying as long as there are no extra charges. If you sell on eBay, have your fees charged to the credit card. If you run a small business, pay for everything on this credit card.
Oh, and enter competitions. I won a few local newspaper competitions, and a couple of the prizes were double movie passes, so that helped too.
Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?
But seriously – make a list. Take time to sit down, go get out the Atlas (or pop down the Op Shop and buy one), sit down with your child and talk. We did this over a shared great Sunday lunch. We had so much fun – listing the places to visit and the countries we wanted to see. It grew faster than we thought. We then prioritized what were the most important, and the less important ones. This then gave me an idea of the duration of our departure. Ours grew from one year to a longer duration.
How are you going to get the money for this trip, besides knocking off a rich relative – darn we didn’t have any; robbing a bank – a poor example to my child – ditch that one; winning lotto – unlikely odds; sell off your wedding ring and family antiques and jewelry? … the list goes on.
What will be out of date if you go for more than 2 years (technology changes, and it might not be worth keeping that 2-year-old computer, 5-year-old TV, or 10-year-old stereo)?
I read a daily blog from one single traveling Mum, and after two years, she headed back to the motherland, only to have to waste a month selling all her possessions on eBay. These were the items she had kept at the homes of friends and relatives. She sold them at a lesser price than they were before she left.
What will you be doing? I have my own thoughts on that for us too! At the end of the day, you know why you want this adventure, and ‘never say never’.
Grab a quote and put it on your fridge. Mine is:
My son and I each made a destination page. We spent an afternoon cutting out pictures of places we wanted to go to. We then had it on our noticeboard. This was our dream-page.
Make yourself a dream page. When you develop any doubt, go and look at that page and tell yourself not to quit or give in.
Renting or buying a rental property as an investment for your trip
I know a couple who did this with disastrous results. The place got trashed; they had to cut their trip short and head there to sort out filth and unpaid rent and were left with debt beyond what the rental insurance covered.
The real estate market also collapsed, and their rental home was worth half what they originally paid. They also faced months of a dry rental market with no tenants and massive repairs to the home that left them more out of pocket than had then never ventured down this road.
Budgeting needs before you even leave for the trip
Make a list of suitcases and bags; computers and accessories; travel insurance; immunizations; clothing; bedding; cooking, eating utensils and all you think you will need before you even leave home.
For us – this was about $7000, and most material items were on sale, second-hand or purchased cheaply.
We needed new luggage and lightweight bags; I needed technical assistance with computers and setting up my blog; you will need to subscribe to some memberships like home carers, or youth hostels; buy passports; we had to fly interstate to get our visa; buy international licenses; electronic equipment and camera; I purchased new mobile phones, international sims; ID bracelets and the list goes on.
We started to use our spare room as a dumping ground for our purchases.
Stop giving away things – sell them – notes on that later. OR -Pop aside anything you no longer need to keep for a big Garage Sale – notes on that later.
Stop buying anything you don’t need – if it is not a need, do not buy it. Allow guilt to rule here. Feel bad, and return it if you really didn’t make a good decision, then forgive yourself and feel proud you made the decision to save.
You have made a monumental task ahead of you. Now is the time to move forward. Jam the “what if’s and doubts” ‘down the dunny’ now, and flush them away! There is no turning back.
I started lists, selling off what we didn’t need, buying what we did. Even one year later, we are not ready (I thought we would be gone by now – but we will).
Deciding on your trip needs
Accommodation standards; transportation to get there; transportation once on land; dining requirements; living expenses; hobbies; entry and participation in activities; souvenirs.… and the list goes on.
You might be able to wear the same top, shorts, and undies for 6 months, and wash them out each night until they rot. Personally, I would go bonkers. I sell clothes for a living. I will be taking a few clothes!
Decide for yourself on these things to do before going overseas that you need to do.
I am excited. My son is excited. We are excited!
- How often do you plan for a trip?
- Do you find yourself spending more than you had planned for trips?
- What challenges do you face while planning for trips?
- Please share your comments with us below.