It is fair to say that Hannah and I have always had a sense of adventure and desire to see the world. I have fond memories of family holidays youth hostelling in Wales, travelling to Scotland as well as long summer trips across Scandinavia. Hannah had holidayed in the Gambia, as well as having spent time working in Africa during her degree.
Upon my graduation, we spent a month inter-railing around Northern Europe seeing the sights and sounds. We’d taken three weeks touring around New Zealand in a camper van. We’d even spent two weeks at Walt Disney World before we had kids and had an excellent time (I thoroughly recommend Wilderness Lodge for a relaxing stay – especially if you are jet lagged). I also had the opportunity to travel with work, taking in places as diverse as Chicago, Johannesburg and Tokyo.
That isn’t to say that having kids deterred us from travelling. One month after Alfie was born, we had whisked him away to Cannes where I was on business, and by the time he was six months old he had added Australia (visiting relatives) and Malaysia to his passport.
Despite rarely returning to destinations, we still had a long wishlist of places still to visit as well as places that we would like to return to with family. Through it all there was this hankering desire to take some proper time out to do some real travelling and see the world.
However, as our family grew, the lifestyle did not get any cheaper. Our household income became less certain. The big holidays became a luxury which would often be dropped in favour of more pressing financial priorities.
My work, while rewarding, had become increasingly fraught over time. Company re-organisations resulted in ‘interesting’ decisions about the future, which in 2015 sealed my office’s fate and I was made redundant. Though I received a redundancy package, at the time I had no certainty as to how quickly I would be able to find work again. It had been 18 years since I had last tried to find a job, and I was unsure of the job market at the time. Despite having plenty of free time and not being in a massive rush to go back to work, I could not bring myself to use this opportunity for travelling – it seemed a frivolous option when I might need the money to allow the family to get by.
In the end, I managed to find a job starting January 2016. With a guaranteed income lined up, we took up the chance to spend Christmas in Australia. The holiday managed to tick all of our boxes:
- Unhurried / relaxing schedule
- Visiting new places – my first trip to Australia (so basically all of it)
- Living an outdoor lifestyle (Rottnest Island and camping along a creek – with most of Australia’s population of midges)
- Good company – courtesy of Hannah’s relatives.
As the holiday came to an end, Hannah raised the suggestion that maybe now was the time to consider doing some serious travelling. Due to our sons secondary education, if we did not try travelling in the next 18 months, then we would not realistically be able to take the time to travel again for up to 9 years. There were plenty of reasons and challenges why we shouldn’t go travelling:
- Eating into our savings
- Churning the boys school life (again)
- What do we do with the house?
- What about my work?
But these all got offset by the thought going through my head:
If I do not take this opportunity now then I will forever look back on it with regret.
By the time we were in Perth airport waiting for our flight to take us home, my mind was made up – we would make this happen.