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Home Sweet Home, Trip Complete – Hope

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We will arrive home today. We’ve been on the road for exactly two weeks. On my last travel update we had just arrived at the Lakehouse where we would stay til the end.

I don’t have all the exact numbers put together yet, but here’s how it went in general to give you an overview:

  • Gas – 6 tanks of gas at approx $80 a piece = $480 (includes 3 trips to TN and 2 to GA due to the camps)
  • Hotel – 3 nights = $300 (had only budgeted for 2 so this put me over a bit)
  • Groceries – $65 (additional $55 gift card spent that I had been saving for this occasion)

Total cost of two week vacation = $845

I can write off some of this as it would have fallen into my regular budget $300 for two weeks of groceries and $160 for weekly gas money.  So with that in mind, the cost of this trip was around $385 over our normal budget.

I look at that number with my debt payoff in mind and think would be a nice payment towards debt, but then I think about all the intrinsic payoffs:

  1. Two of the boys got to attend specialty camps that they are committed to pursuing at this time. (I didn’t count this in the expense for the vacation because 1) it comes out of a monthly budget line item and 2) was paid for in previous months.)
  2. We got a nice long relaxing visit with my parents who visited the Lakehouse at the same time from TX.
  3. It’s just relaxing to be away from home and not have your day to day to do lists hanging over your head.
  4. The kids had some quality time together away from distractions from the world.

For the next two weeks no one has any extraneous activities and then we will start additional summer activities which will carry us through August, more on those later, but for now I am satisfied that this money was well spent and the memories made will last a lifetime!


Work and Travel

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Someone asked a good question in my post earlier this week about travel tips.  What do I do about work? Missed income? when I travel.  This is a key point as to why I travel and will continue to travel so I wanted to make sure it was clear thus this post rather than just my response in the comments…

As you know I am self employed and have been for going on 10 years now.  My income fluctuates but minimally unless I pick up new projects or work, and I have a pretty stable group of clients who I’ve been with for 5+ years.  With that being said, with my line of work, I can work from literally ANYWHERE and typically ANY TIME.  I appreciate this blessing EVERY SINGLE DAY as it’s key to making my lifestyle work.

This works because 1) the type of work I do; 2) the equipment and tools/technology available and 3) the way I have set up my business.

First, I am trained as a software engineer, which just a fancy way of saying I read and write computer speak relatively well.  So much of my work is either developing new code or troubleshooting old code, add to that I test out the products, document the products and teach people how to use the products of this work.  With this work I am able to work when and how I want to as long as I communicate with my clients and meet deadlines.  Without my education and experience, there is no way I could have made this change in my work after my kids were born.   In addition to this work, I am not afraid to get my hands dirty doing other things and in fact, love the variety as I do tend to get bored easily and love to multi-task, so rather than marketing myself as a software engineer, do so as a high tech virtual assistant.  This allows me much more access to work and different clients and I have found that my jobs have grown with my relationships with those clients so it’s the best of both worlds.  (I’ve writting more about what I do on my personal blog here and you can find my business site that has not been updated in forever here in case you are curious or in need of a good VA as I’m always looking for great clients and challenges projects!)

Second, thanks to technology such as laptops, smartphones and tablets, I can connect to any of my clients from anywhere.  My office line is a Skype line so I can use it as VoIP from my computer headset or from my phone when I’m on the road.  And my clients just have one number that will literally reach me anywhere.  When we travelled and will hopefully travel more often in the past, I had a subscription with my cell phone company for on the go internet access, but cut that cost a couple of years ago when we cut down significantly on travel.  I see that changing in the future but for now I rely on free wifi hot spots or staying places with free wifi.  I also have several software programs that I can 1) communicate my work schedule to clients without a lot of back and forth which can get time consuming and confusing and 2)helps me track work time and project deadlines so I can stay on task even if I’m moving around doing it.

Lastly, when I set up my business I knew that my priority was my kids, that was the reason I was leaving the corporate world; so from the very beginning I structured my work around their schedules and lives and needs.  It wasn’t easy and often feels like I am juggling 1/2 dozen balls at any given time (some of them on fire too,) but it’s so worth it and I feel that the benefits have been immeasurable in regards to my relationship with my kids and my ability to homeschool them.  I have been upfront with my clients and while it does sometimes take a while to gain their trust, I have found all of my clients have responded positively to my work arrangement, I don’t pull any punches, set realistic expectations and am very open and responsible with my communication.

I hope this clears up some of the questions regarding my ability to travel without losing any income and using my frugal tips and planning we are really able to not go too far over budget in most cases without some forethought.

*Note: The exception now is my new part time job; however, I told them upfront of my travel plans and have offered to make up hours if needed.  I hesitated to offer but felt I needed too, they have been fine with me not and since I have not added that additional income into my budget, it’s still icing on the cake as far as income goes.