9 Reasons to Invest in a Family Adventure rather than your Mortgage

I write this as I sit with my family on the deck of our little Costa Rican cabin in the first month of our 3 month hiatus here in a surfing and jungle mecca.

We recently packed up our things from our expensive, rented home in North Vancouver, put our stuff in storage, removed our teenage kids from well ranked high schools and set off on an adventure that seems extremely counter-intuitive financially but a worthy investment*{in our opinion} as parents and lifelong deeper-meaning seekers.

Here’s 9 reasons why investing in your family relationships, your child’s sense of wonder and travel aptitude as well as getting outside your comfort zone are worth the short term set back to your pocket book and bank account.

1. At the end of life, relationships matter.

Just read any book about the dying, or talk to seniors, or “successful yet unhappy people” — investing in your family relationships, taking time to bond through adventures, and totally present time is always worth it. Bonding happens when you spend time together, that process gets accelerated when you go through experiences together that only you share. Even the hard and trying times of an adventure gone awry will lead to a shared memory and that in itself increases your connection. When you think of investments that build equity over time, building up the “glue” to keep your close relationships closer, pays off in the currency of happiness and memories which feels a lot nicer than cash in hand or a big, empty house.

2. There’s dividends in getting offline.

The damage of our current day, non-stop internet and phone addiction has not been fully researched, but that doesn’t mean the benefits of getting off haven’t been noticed. Getting away from the constant stream of information and access to non-stop entertainment gives you the space to think, relax, breathe and laugh. This is all fertile ground to reconnect to your creativity, energy and environment. Choosing a vacation in a place that forces you to put down your phone, not have enough bandwidth to watch Netflix and spend time either alone in nature or playing again with your family can produce health and creativity benefits that will allow you to reset your habits and create awareness around the things that were stealing your time and energy in your every day routines.

3. Travel is an incredible educator.

If you’re constantly feeling the pressure to give your kids a better education, to give them the tools they’ll need to succeed in life, travel is an immersive educational experience that can’t be replaced within the walls of traditional schools. Consider the impact of seeing first hand: different languages, cultures, currencies, lifestyles, transportation methods, animals, foods and so much more in just one day in a foreign country compared to hours and hours discussing these things in a classroom. The sensory experience of seeing these things first hand will have a far greater impact and lasting impression to a young and inquisitive mind. The education of youth should really be about creating and feeding curiosity for this will fuel the intrinsic motivation of learning, which is the key ingredient to ensuring kids will develop and find success in whatever endeavour or career they choose.

4. Self-directed learning builds stamina and discipline.

While we travel, our kids are following an online schooling program. Because they don’t have a teacher at the front of the class telling them when and how they need to do everything, they have to schedule, initiate and motivate themselves. This skill, often lost in well-coddled high school classrooms can quickly catch up to students, especially when they hit their first year of university and all of a sudden, realize they have to motivate and schedule themselves, nobody is there to prod them along and make sure they don’t fall behind. Building skills of personal responsibility is another investment worthy venture in the process of parenting and building responsible citizens and a nice, add-on bonus to bucking the norms and stepping outside of the traditional schooling box.

5. 1:1 attention can’t be replaced.

There’s time together, as in being in the same house at the same time, and then there’s time TOGETHER, as in being fully present with each other at the dinner table, in discussions, in activities and in the moment. Time away from home, and in a new place means less distractions. Taking advantage of that to engage and interact feeds your relationship (see above) but also creates better patterns of conversation when you go back. When you’ve been given space to have that more intimate and heart-opening conversation with your teen while away, you can continue that conversation, that level of trust and openness when you get home.

6. Health is wealth.

This is obvious but can’t be underrated. Rest, relaxation, exercise, sun and nature are the best medicine. Taking time to nurture and reset your body from unhealthy habits is one of the greatest investments in long term happiness and wealth and is much easier in a new environment without your regular triggers and pressures. Ask anyone, without health — it’s extremely hard to enjoy anything else in life. As a parent, prioritizing health in your own life, also helps your children create habits and make decisions that will be investments in their own lifelong journey.

7. It can be cheaper to live away than to live at home.

Cost of living outside of North America can be an eye opener! You realize how expensive your lifestyle is when you simplify and leave it for a while. Living in a foreign country, with less stuff, less activities and less of the daily conveniences we feel we can’t live without, costs LESS. A lot less! Spending a winter in chilly Canada with the added costs of transportation, utilities and clothes that come with dealing with colder weather can be avoided completely in a country where you don’t need them. Yes, there are travel and temporary dwelling costs, but the “snowbird” movement isn’t just about loving sunshine, it’s much cheaper to avoid winter completely! You can easily see if your desired country will cost more or less than living at home on sites like Numbeo.

8. The value of doing nothing.

In extended travel and long term adventures, the advantage of getting out of the “rat race” is the enhanced opportunity for space. Time to think, reflect, meditate or just be without a schedule. Schedule”less” living is becoming rarer and rarer. The value of waking up to a completely unscheduled day can create a canvas that opens you up to better ideas, more energy maybe even epiphanies that have been evading you for years! The value of doing nothing comes when pressure to DO is taken away, and the conscious mind can shut off for a little and the intelligence of the heart and soul can come out and play.

9. The pay off of paying off your mortgage isn’t really a payoff.

Confused? I know I won’t explain this well, or convince the majority of the population with this reasoning, but you can read what James Altucher talks about in his popular post, It’s Financial Suicide To Own A House. Basically, even if you do pay off your home, it’s never really yours (just try not paying your property taxes and see what happens) and the payoff of your investment is paltry compared to other investments. So if, “I’ve got to pay the mortgage” is your number one excuse for not heading off on an adventure, perhaps it’s time to reconsider.

Remember the saying, “The things you own end up owning you.” hmm…

On your never-ending journey to “Healthy, Wealthy & Wise”, I challenge you to consider stepping outside your “box” and into your next adventure. Gain the Healthy & Wise part from travel itself, and the Wealth will come from the results of how your journey changes and enhances you.

Our family is on a 3 month adventure in Costa Rica and blogging about our experiences at www.definitelynotthejoneses.com
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