ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Travel Guides & Books

How We Took Two Years Off to Travel and Spend Time With our Kids

Updated on October 7, 2015
capobeachmom profile image

Heather Arias de Cordoba is an award-winning and recognized writer, designer and artist with more than 20 years of experience.

Ever had an epiphany?

A few years ago, my husband and I were enjoying vacation time with our two young children when he said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to work, and we could just play with the kids?” At the time, the comment seemed innocent enough, but when we returned home and entered the “real world” again, we began thinking about it more seriously.

The turquoise waters off the coast of Koh Phi Phi
The turquoise waters off the coast of Koh Phi Phi | Source

We’ve been career-driven for over 15 years. Now that we had children, our focus was changing from work to our family. Our research over the next few months suggested it was possible for us to “quit” work for an extended period, take a “mini-retirement” and enjoy the time with our children.

The only catch – it needed to be in a different county, a more affordable location, which would make us less dependent on auto transportation, and where we could simplify our lives, living accommodations and leisure time.

Counties like Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Australia, Panama, New Zealand, Ecuador and Thailand all offer a very good standard of living, at a portion of what it costs in the United States. So we did our research and visited three of our top five destinations to decide where we would want to spend the next few winters. Our decision was Thailand.

Temple and monk in the Chiang Mai Province in Thailand.
Temple and monk in the Chiang Mai Province in Thailand. | Source

The epiphany of course, a part-time retirement…a break from our daily routine…a sabbatical…a retirement rehearsal, or whatever your might wish to call it, was possible. And at a fraction of the cost of ordinary living expenses, at little or no cost to our long-term retirement plans while we immersed ourselves in another culture.

Not long after our epiphany, we found ourselves on a plane with two small children heading off on a worldwide adventure.

Celebrating the Loy Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Celebrating the Loy Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand. | Source

For the kids, it was a fantastic opportunity to go to early childhood school in another country, begin to learn another language and live and play with other children from all over the world. How do you quantify the influence of a special Buddhist monk on your five-year-old son, or an afternoon in the rainforest riding an elephant with your daughter?

For our family, it was a wonderful opportunity to bond, where we were all dependent upon one another, where we lived and played as a family and planned for our future.

Resident monks launching a Kome Loy during the Loy Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Resident monks launching a Kome Loy during the Loy Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand. | Source

After we had done our homework and decided where we wanted to relocate for the next few winters, we immediately called our financial planner and asked for advice. After much deliberation and soul-searching, the wisest choice was to sell our house. We decided we were still young enough (under 45) and if we didn’t touch the profit from the sale, we’d be able to buy back into the market when we returned.

Since we were moving to the other side of the globe, finding a time to call our financial planner wasn’t really an option, so he set up our accounts online. This allowed us to track and monitor our investments from any Internet connection in the world.

Snorkeling off the coast of Koh Racha
Snorkeling off the coast of Koh Racha | Source

We pulled out $15,000 in mad money for flights, visas, passports, etc. and invested the remaining profits from the sale of our home in stocks, mutual funds and bonds. It was crucial that we have a monthly income, so we chose mutual funds that paid monthly dividends, and stocks that we could manage easily. We didn’t want to lose money on stock simply because we couldn’t find an Internet connection that day.

Because we had chosen to sell our house, we made the decision not to touch the profit from the sale, but to live off the interest alone. Once we calculated an estimate of our monthly income, we created an expense sheet.

Monthly income (estimate): $2850

Monthly expenses for a family of four (two children under the age 6)

  • Rent: $500
  • Food: $220
  • Private School with transportation: $175
  • Transportation (2 motorbike rentals): $195
  • Entertainment: $300
  • Shopping: $300
  • Clothing: $50
  • Gifts: $150
  • Misc: $50
  • Total: $1940

Snorkeling and enjoying time on the beach at Bamboo Island.
Snorkeling and enjoying time on the beach at Bamboo Island. | Source

After our arrival, our expense sheet changed a bit. We decided to buy motorbikes instead of renting them, our entertainment budget went up, but our shopping budget went down. But over all we managed to live for under $2100/month once we were settled into our routine. We chose to have high speed Internet installed in our apartment after we arrived, which at the time for Thailand was considered an extravagance. There was literally an Internet café on every street corner, inexpensive to use. However we preferred another option: Having it installed directly at our apartment, and although it was an additional $75/month, the cost was worth it.

We work with the Rain Tree Foundation to help bring clean drinking water by installing bio sand filters to residents of Mae Pun Dung in Northern Thailand.
We work with the Rain Tree Foundation to help bring clean drinking water by installing bio sand filters to residents of Mae Pun Dung in Northern Thailand. | Source

The bonus with the Internet was the ability to blog our adventure and keep in touch with family and friends on the phone using Skype. Our phone bill was less than $10 a month.

We spent our time in Thailand celebrating their holidays, learning their culture, taking Thai language lessons and learning to cook. The kids went to Thai immersion school where they learned Thai in the morning and worked on English and other subjects in the afternoon.

We celebrated Halloween with our new neighbors, Christmas with family, and took many, many road trips and adventures. We visited a tiny village in Northern Thailand and helped bring them clean drinking water. We adventured out on treks through the jungle and foothills. We motorbiked the Golden Triangle, we travelled south to Phuket and swam in the warm waters of the Andaman Sea.

Driving a Scooter in Chiang Mai

We shopped at night markets and local shops, we designed jewelry and had it custom made. We commissioned paintings from local artists, and bought many beautiful hand-crafted items from local tribe members.

We visited Bangkok and the Grand Palace, we took a river boat cruise along the Mekong and ventured north to Pai to celebrate the holidays in the cooler temperatures.

All in all, it was a once in a lifetime, dream come true. An opportunity to grown and learn alongside our children and celebrate our life with them.

Enjoying the sunset on Koh Lanta.
Enjoying the sunset on Koh Lanta. | Source

We kept our adventure going for two years. We stuck to our budgets and we succeeded in keeping our principal intact. We would have been very comfortable living off our investments only while in Thailand. However, working part-time gave us the extra spending money to take family vacations around Asia and enjoy a lifestyle very much like what we had living in California. It also gave us a financial buffer to set up house again when we moved back to California.

An afternoon hike and elephant ride in Northern Thailand.
An afternoon hike and elephant ride in Northern Thailand. | Source

Ziplining Through the Jungle

We’re now back in the “real world” now, and living in Hawaii. But we've definitely been bitten by the travel bug. The life lessons we shared with our children are invaluable. Can’t wait for another epiphany!

Taking a Year Off to Travel

If given the chance, would you take a year off to travel?

See results

© 2015 capobeachmom

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Anna C Taylor profile image

      Anna 2 years ago from Around the World

      I am so jealous. This is the kind of bold lifestyle I hope to live someday, and I believe it will make your kids better people as well. Travel is the best teacher.

      I'm so jealous that you chose Thailand, as their culture and beautiful country is among the places I most want to visit.

      Thank you for sharing your story.

    • stereomike83 profile image

      stereomike83 2 years ago from UK

      Reading this I am so jealous that you a) got to enjoy this experience but more importantly b) were brave enough to take that leap. I've often dreamed of being able to bring up my own kids in a foreign setting but would always want/need the security blanket of a job!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)