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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Some things to do before going overseas with a child

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Planning, preparing, then - finally - going
Preparing to go overseas for an extended time takes A LOT of preparation and planning. 
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.
Also bear in mind I am taking a little more, as I have to handle it myself.
So items need wheels, hands need to be free where possible, and extra caution needs to be taken.
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 organised and prepared. 
You can be in a right pickle if you don't have what you need and you can't easily get it.
But, you can always give things away, or sell to fellow travellers if you find you are not using them. 

But as I am 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!

First thing is to plan, plan, plan.
Then next thing is to prepare, prepare, prepare.
Then finally, you get to go, go go!

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 the 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 on-board with pride.

I register for every on-line Deal of the day I can lay my hands on; I use Shop-A-Dockets
(which you find at the grocery store, and on-line http://www.shopadocket.com.au).

If we go out to 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 on-line, and at recycle and Goodwill 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 SA.
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 litres for .79 cents at Rite-Price,
and pour it into a small drinking bottle for my son for school.

Soon you will be saving.

This way of life is about to become long term, so get used it, and make it fun.

It also allows you a treat without feeling too guilty.

But always think before you spend.

A $30 meal that lasts 1 hour, is equal to a day or two’s living in a 3rd world country on your trip.

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 bargain finds, and our treat.

Don’t feel guilty, but be wise.

Budget how much to live on

Start to work out home much, or how little you can live on. 

If you have left overs, bank them in a Savings Account that earns interest.

Any money in your accounts to spare, transfer over for a few days.

Every $$ counts.

You can transfer back when the accounts are due for auto – deductions.

Set up a money calendar so you know what day you have to transfer funds.

Don’t pay bills til they are due, but don't pay late and incur fees. 

You can pop that money in your savings for a couple of weeks and earn the interest.

If you are a single parent, register for any deductions you are entitled to on utility accounts.

If you are on Centrelink, you are entitled to interest free loans too. 

Use them; bank them, and make some money!

If you have a good car, now may be the time to trade down to a cheaper run-about wagon.

Bank the difference.

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 everything on this credit card.

As soon as you have spent, try to transfer the funds within a week or two straight off.

This works as trickle payments and you are not spending what you do not have.

Keep track, so this works for you, and not against you.

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?

Now is the time to talk, and work out how long you want to go for go for, where you want to go,
what you want to see, and how much you think you will need to travel.

And the list goes on.

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 prioritised what were the most important, and the less important ones.

This then gave me an idea of how long we would need to go on our trip for. 

Ours grew from one year very quickly to longer we hope.

I read other blogs with parents traveling with children and this gave me some ideas on cost.

Also to remember you must travel slowly with children or they burn out and it is a drag
– more on that later.

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 – poor example to my child
– ditch that one; winning lotto – unlikely odds;
sell off your wedding ring and family antiques and jewellery?
… the list goes on.

Are you going to sell your home or unit?

Are you going to sell your car?

Are you going to sell your possessions? 

Are you going to sell your stamp collection?

What will it cost you to store your items if you keep them?

What will be out of date if you go for more than 2 years
(technology changes, and may not be worth keeping that 2 year old computer, 5 year old TV,
or 10 year old stereo).

Where do you want to live at the end of this next chapter of life?

Are you returning to where you now live, or starting again elsewhere?

 If so, then what do you really need to keep, or can you re-buy at the end destination?

I read a daily blog from one single travelling Mum, and after two years,
she headed back to the motherland, only to have to waste a month selling all her possessions on ebay that she had paid or used relatives homes to store. 

Worth less than it was before she left, and a big waste of her time. 

After she had been bitten by the travel bug, she has decided the tropical life is for her,
and not the cold and gloomy days.

So she made a radical decision to clean out the past chapter of life, and start a fresh.

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’.  

You may have to make it a working holiday, if so, set that up and get those studies happening now.

Also keep in mind you will need to show substantial savings at some borders
 if you only have a one-way ticket. 

And have emergency funds.

Investments of a short-term nature might be also good to look into whilst you travel,
as you can access if and when the money starts to dwindle.


Visualize

Grab a quote and put it on your fridge.

Mine is:
“Unless I change, nothing will change. 
I have to make positive changes in my life.
I will move forward each day, towards my goals.
I will live the dream I have imagined.”

My son and I made a destination page each.

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 doubt, go and look at that page and tell yourself not to quit or give in.

A good site to buy these is
http://worddecor-n-more.com

FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS Motivational Wall Quote


Renting or buying rental property as investment for your trip

Be careful if people talk you into renting out your home, or buying a rental property.

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 repairs to the home,
that left them more out of pocket than had then never ventured down this road. 

If you feel you want to go this way, please do your home-work,
and find an agent some-one whom you know goes with already,
or you have a friend renting from them
(who constantly whinged on how tough the Real estate company is - perfect!).

Also if you do decide this is the way for you, see if you can source a really good handyman yourself.

Why cheaper and probably safer than the Real Estate’s added rates.



Budgeting needs before you even leave for the trip

You will need to consider many things.

Make a list of suitcases and bags; computers and accessories; travel insurance;
immunisations; clothing; bedding; cooking an eating utensils;
and all you can think of 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. 

I am going to blog, and I am going to home-school – there alone is two laptops.

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 homecarers, or youth hostels;
buy passports; we had to fly interstate to get our visa; buy international licences;
electronic equipment and camera;
I purchased new mobile phones, international sims; ID bracelets,
and the list goes on.

Try and start early with purchasing anything on your list. 

Buy and shop each week for something you require for the trip, and tick it off.

We started to use our spare room as a dumping ground for our purchases.

I will give you lists of things I think you might need, but we are all different.

If you are working, can you save funds – how much and how long?

Stop giving away things – sell them – notes on that later.

OR -Pop aside anything you no long 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.


Daily Steps

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.

Once we made the decision to go, we decided on daily tasks.

Not a day went by, when we didn’t work towards the trip.

Both child and parent had things to do.

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).

Trust me, you will not get up and go in three months if you want to go long term,
unless you want to buy each time a new disaster strikes – not so easy in some remote places.

Be aware, you are going to have to face a few unexpected obstacles before you get to go. 

Things will go right, and many will go wrong, so get tough.



Deciding on your trip needs

What will you spend on this trip?

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.

I also read a blog where the family spent less than $100 on souvenirs in 2 years. 
I can’t do that. 

Part of my travel will be purchasing beautiful items to remember special places and events.
 
This needs to be factored into your budget.

Then I am going to have to work out exactly where I am goinh to ship them to.

I am shaping my new life, with new things.

I am cool with that.

You might be different.

You might be able to wear the same top, shorts, and undies for 6 months,
and wash them out each night til they rot.

Personally, I would go bonkers. 

I sell clothes for a living.

I will be taking a few clothes !

I am excited. 
My son is excited. 
We are excited!

No matter what gets in our way, no matter what goes wrong, no matter how long it takes,
I am thankful for the things that go right, and that the longer it is before we go,
the better prepared we are.