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We Paid Cash: A Month-Long European Family Vacation

We paid cash!
A testimony from Jessica who blogs at Life as MOM and Good Cheap Eats

My husband and I honeymooned in France and assumed we would return every year. Then life happened. Graduate school, unemployment, a baby, a house, miscarriages, more babies, more debt, more stuff got in the way of our newlywed dreams of travel.

After we paid off all our debts, we started dreaming big dreams again — a trip to France for a month with our six children to commemorate our 20th wedding anniversary was one of them.

Folks looked at us like we were crazy!

Not only had we dared to do something big like to travel with kids, we notched up the crazy by saving up the money to do it. It took two years, but we pulled it off.

Here’s what we did to make it happen:

1. We said it out loud.

Part of the success of a goal is to be brave enough to put it out there publicly. We talked about it enough that we would have been really embarrassed if we didn’t pull it off. Sometimes, pride is a good thing.

2. We envisioned our kids.

Just like when we did the really hard work of getting out of debt years earlier, we explained our plans to our children so that they would understand why we were making cuts to our spending or doing extra things to increase our income.

3. We created a budget.

I planned a hypothetical trip and calculated all the price quotes. The total was staggering, particularly when I added extra to allow for inflation and a weak dollar.

4. My husband worked overtime.

Getting up at 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday wasn’t his favorite thing to do, but my husband did it.

5. We opened a separate bank account.

I opened a dedicated account in a different bank from where we do our regular banking. I also chose not to get an ATM card. I wanted that money liquid but as inaccessible as possible.

6. We put all other vacations on hold.

We put off other travel plans, instead banking the money for France. Staycations and family visits were a great way to do family travel while we worked toward a bigger goal.

7. We socked away all extra income.

Even though we have two incomes, we choose to live on one. Any income that came in over our regular expenses went toward the France fund.

8. We deferred lots of “extras”.

There is a lot of excess in our lives, lots of things that are fun, but that we can certainly live without. We cut back so we could divert that money toward our vacation instead.

Now that we’re home and finally unpacked, it’s been so encouraging to look back at what we pulled off and the great memories we created as a family. It was an amazing trip, one we plan to do again in 2016!

Jessica Fisher is a happy wife and a homeschooling mom of six kids under 18. She loves French cheeses, sandy beaches, good books, and Jesus. Not in that order, of course. Catch up with her on her blogs, Life as MOM and Good Cheap Eats.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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  • Lana says:

    That is awesome!!! It is a family memory that will be remembered for the rest of your children’s lives!

  • Leah says:

    This concept is really “wow” worthy! Great job! 🙂

  • annie says:

    I loved reading your posts about your trip. Waiting 2 years is an amazing goal. I liked your “say it out loud”. There must be a lot of oomph in that.

  • Angela says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Both my children are studying French (a 9th & 7th graders), & I was just thinking how taking a trip like this is 2-3 years would be a wonderful way to use what they are learning. Plus it’ll give us time to save up money and research where we want to visit.

  • Good for you! I love hearing stories like this and can’t tell you how much I strongly agree with paying CASH for life’s luxuries. I would hate coming home from a trip to a bill. Take care and good luck!

  • Jessica says:

    That’s very cool. I’d like to know more details about how you got quotes for things like your food expenses and incidentals with kids and how you dealt with healthcare / travel insurance.

  • Susan says:

    Great post Jessica. I’m so glad you were able to pull off a trip like this with your family.

    I’ve taken my 14-yo daughter on many trips throughout the U.S. and abroad. It is such a great experience for both of us. The experiences, memories, and family time is so worth it.

  • Oh, this is so inspiring. Just goes to prove that you can do anything if you put your heart into it. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips! 🙂

  • This is absolutely amazing!! Awesome job and special memories. My husband and I hope to travel overseas with our own little ones some day <3

  • Brittany Atkinson says:

    I love this!! Our family had a similar experience this summer. We stayed in Costa Rica for 6 weeks. The plans were in the works for about 15 months. We cut out all extracurricular activities and birthdays and Christmas was one gift (my kids got luggage last Christmas).

    My youngest son (6 yrs.) speaks Spanish so we knew we just wanted to stay in one area the entire time. This saved a ton of money because we rented a condo, ate almost all meals in, and we walked or rode a bike everywhere (no car rental). The costs for us ended up being similar to the 9-day vacation we had at a resort in Mexico.

    We are planning on doing something similar every other year and just picking a new country to explore.

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