Last year we became a ONE car family. The reasons were threefold. First, I was not working. Second, we moved to a house that was within shouting distance of the subway. Finally, our second car had a major malfunction that we decided not to get fixed. Giving up that second car was a blessing in disguise.
We had always thought we would end up getting a new car when I went back to work. It would be that new car that we would drive across Canada in two years time. Now we do not see that happening. The question now is if our current car can handle the task.
While working at Walmart I adopted the practice of committing to only three things at any time. I found that spreading myself across many initiatives resulted in little progress against any of them. That practice from my work life has transferred well to our family vacations. For the most part, we try to keep our vacations focused on a couple key objectives. Our recent trips have been centred around escaping the grind, spending time with the kids and reliving our youth.
This brings me to an important part of goal setting for a family trip. It is important to establish the goals of your trip before you depart. It is equally important to share them with your family members AHEAD of time.
Apparently I started this blog about 200 days ago. The time did fly by and hopefully I can make more progress in the next 780 days. The ambition had been to share the progress our family is making towar our long term goal of traveling around the world with our children. We had set a date of July 1, 2022 for our departure and we would spend the next 2+ years planning how to make this dream come to life.
One of the purposes of the blog was to strengthen our resolve to actually undertake such a trip. We find that telling people about our dreams is a good motivator to see them through. We felt a blog was a great way to hold ourselves accountable. In the end it is our version of the “if you build it, he will come” mantra from Field of Dreams.
While out on our morning walk I suggested to Paige that we keep our eyes out for a good deal on camping gear. Our current tent is in some rough shape and definitely needs to be replaced. We decided whatever tent we look at buying should also be the one we want to take across Canada in two years time. It got us thinking what else will we actually need for the camping leg of our trip. When we delved deeper we quickly realized that a decent amount of the gear we currently have is more than adequate. Yes there are a couple pieces that will need to be replaced but now we have two years to take advantage of sales and promotions to get the best possible deals. I am also hopeful some of these can become well received gifts for upcoming birthdays and holidays.
I have always limited my loyalty program participation to a narrow range of companies. As I continue to research our upcoming trip it makes sense to expand the list of programs that the family is affiliated with. With still over 2 years of time until we travel, some might end up justifying the sign up effort now. When we eventually take off, I can not wait to see what cost offsets these loyalty programs will have helped deliver.
With schools shutdown here in Toronto, I get to spend the majority of my day with my two daughters in tow. Throughout the day I find myself reaching for my phone to take candid photos of them playing around the house. Today I handed the phone to Isabella so she could review the pictures and somehow she ended up changing the settings on my android phone. I have had that phone for over 2 years and I realized I have only ever clicked on the “take picture” button with the camera.
One component of our trip that was always going to give me some anxiety was that of schooling our children on the road. I do not believe I would shirk the responsibility but I think I would have had doubts as to if I was doing it the “right way”. It is something completely new to the family and I imagined I was going to have a tough time doing the right research and pulling it altogether. Right now nothing could be further from the truth as I have been inundated with suggestions and resources around teaching children when faced with a prolong absence from the classroom.
Let me call a spade a spade. I have not made any progress on the other elements of the trip planning in the last month. Even my attempts at a blog posts did not make it to fruition. However on the finance side things we have moved things along nicely. We are now about 1/3 of the way towards our goal and we did it just by changing our priorities a little bit. Essentially we decided on another way to allocate money towards the trip.
Today I learned something. The Schengen Visa that we would have taken advantage of due to our Canadian nationality, is a short stay Visa. It allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen area for stays up to 90 days in a 180 day period. I do not know why I did not pick up on this sooner but I always had this idea that people backpacked around Europe for months at a time when I was younger.
What does this mean for our plans? At a high level we had planned on staying from September to the beginning of January in the countries along the Mediterranean. That would have been something closer to 120 days which does not fit into the parameters of the Visa. We have a few options but two seem most likely.
This post might seem early but completing this task will probably take the most time. Since we plan to base ourselves in each country for at least a month, it makes sense to know some language basics before we go.
During my solo backpacking life, I used to ensure I knew the language basics before disembarking. Phrases like hello and goodbye, counting up to 100, the days of the week, directions and how to book a hotel room were something I would normally invest a couple hours learning. Something happened the last few years where this fell by the wayside. I attribute this to staying in western style hotels where English is often enough to get by in that setting. For this upcoming trip I think it is important to get back to our traveling roots and spend the time to engage with locals in their language. The most basic reason is that it really is the polite and respectful thing to do. The benefit for us in the long term is that any language basics we acquire should make each stay a little bit more stress free. We know we will get in some jams. Knowing the language might help us make the right decision at a critical time.