Prepare to Travel with Bender
Our eighth installment of our ongoing series, Prepare to Travel, is with Erin of Travel with Bender. Erin is the mother and wife of an Aussie family with a 3 and 4 year old traveling long term. Her and her husband, Josh’s, website, Travel with Bender, has fun tips on the best places to take your young kids on holiday. Join us as we learn how to prepare to Travel with Bender.
AfterGlobe (AG)- It seems that many people can’t believe that others are able to continually travel the world and wonder how they are able to do this. What travelers did before they left to travel always seems to be a hot topic. Would you agree? Do you get a lot of questions about what you did and how to be able to do it?
Travel with Bender (TB): For sure. This is the number one question we get asked and the number one question we ask when we meet other travellers. Finance is the biggest thing that can stop someone or make a dream come true, so it’s a natural curiosity found in almost everyone.
AG- When did you first start thinking about traveling? What changed to go from dreaming about it to actually making it happen?
TB: My husband had mentioned it in 2010 and I thought it was just a silly idea. In 2011 we went overseas 4 times and each time we returned to Australia we thought how ridiculously expensive it was to keep coming back and how much time it took. It was then my husband mentioned the permanent travelling again and I gave it serious thought. The moment it changed was when a friend wanted to rent our house and asked for it in April. It was February. I was like, “no” and my husband was like, “why not?” All of a sudden we were on a timeline to fulfilling our dreams.
AG- Once you decided you were going to travel long term, what did you do to start working towards that goal? Did you make a plan, budget or any other goals? Was this something you actually wrote down or just had in your head?
TB: My husband wrote down a plan to make it happen. We had to sell cars, rent the house, close bank accounts, open new ones, decide what to pack, decide what to sell, decide what to store. I also booked some flights and accommodations in advance to prepare myself for the life.
AG: When you finally decided you were leaving to travel, how long was it from that point and the day that you left to travel? Looking back do you think it would have been better to have left sooner or later than you did?
TB: We had decided December 2011 to go around July/September 2012. In February our friend wanted the house April 2012, so we left Australia May 2012. We had 5 months. Was it a mad rush? Yes. Was I glad I ended up with a timeline? Yes. We had no definite plans of when we were going to go, just when everything was done. Having someone move into our house and give us a timeline was much better in my books and I am glad with the way it all transpired.
AG: On your site, Travel with Bender, you talk about that you were living the “Great Australian Dream” of owning a house, car, and dog. Did you decide to sell or rent out your home? What happened with your dog?
TB: We decided to rent our home fully furnished in case we ever needed or wanted to come back. We rented it for 6 months, but it has now been tenanted over 12 months. We stored our personal items in the garage and left the big items such as the bed, fridge, etc. in the house for the new tenant to use.
As for our dog, well he was rented too. Orgiainlly our first tenant left their dog back in New Zealand and asked what we planned to do with ours. She said she would love to keep him and so we drew up a rental contract for her.
After she left the premises we organised a friend (who usually took our dog when we went on holidays) to have him. She has 5 kids and he now gets so much exercise. He also got promoted from outside dog to inside dog and I hear sometimes he sleeps on the bed! The horror! He is never going to want to come home.
AG: What did you do to save up enough money before you left? Any advice that you think will help others save for traveling?
TB: We stopped buying and started selling. All of a sudden we didn’t need to buy food, we needed to eat all the stuff in the fridge and cupboard that we had never touched. We didn’t need new clothes or household items. You would be surprised how much you can save when you just stop spending. We didn’t save too much. We only needed a safety net in case we ever had to return in an emergency.
We sold a lot of items too, because the original tenant didn’t need some of them. We got rid of all the baby stuff: cots, toys, etc. since the kids wouldn’t be using it and when we returned. We found local classified websites and Facebook groups were the easiest way to find buyers for our gear.
We didn’t have time to sell everything so we filled up half the garage with our belongings. This is locked and not used by our tenant. If or when we return we will have a lot to go through since it has been sitting there for over a year. I wish we had sold a lot more.
AG: How did you figure out how much you needed to save to travel? Do you think your savings was enough? Should you have saved more or less?
TB: I wanted a $10K safety net to be able to fly back home easily and quickly if the need arrived. As we planned on keeping our business going during our travels we did not plan on saving any more then that since our travel was actually going to be cheaper than our normal living expenses so we would be saving money.
AG: Many times when reading travel blogs, we find ourselves thinking that we need to need to buy a bunch of things to be able to travel long term. Did you experience this? What things do you know realize that you didn’t really need? What would you recommend really is needed?
TB: Oh gosh we didn’t buy anything to travel, except a few multipurpose computer cords and maybe a new sturdier suitcase. We really didn’t need any winter clothes. We spent 7 months in South East Asia in hot weather and one suitcase which contained warmer clothes was never opened. Only take what you will need – and then go a little bit less. You’ll be surprised with how little you really need. If you’re travelling to a warm destination then you can always buy warmer clothes later and save on the extra baggage costs set by airlines.
AG: What did you find was the most difficult for you while preparing to travel? Did you ever feel like your day to leave was never going to come?
TB: Getting rid of personal items was the most difficult. I might have some hoarding tendencies so I didn’t get rid of a lot. Now a year into our travel I often think of all the stuff I left back home and how I probably will not want it or need it ever again.
As for the leaving day, it happened way too fast for me, but I’m glad it wasn’t a waiting game, that might be worse.
AG: Do you have any additional advice for the readers of AfterGlobe?
TB: Book one way tickets. Plan a few days or a week’s accommodation and if you like it find something for longer time. If you don’t, move on. Have time for rest. Book a month in one place that has little to do and just enjoy a quiet time. Travel is life so you don’t want to be doing stuff 365 days of the year, take those days to sit back watch movies all day and sleep. Don’t be afraid to go back. If it doesn’t work no one is saying I told you so. They still think you are amazing for trying and doing what you did do. It’s not a competition whether you go for a week, 3 months, or a year, you did something others only dream of, so congratulations.
AG: I like that. It really doesn’t matter how long you are able to travel if that’s your dream. All that matters is that you went after that dream.
Thank you very much to Erin for sharing how to prepare to Travel with Bender. Be sure to head over to Travel with Bender to read all about the Bender family’s adventures on their travels.
All photos provided by Travel with Bender.