The Best Souvenir You Can Bring Back from an International Trip

This weekend, Mr. ThreeYear came back from spending a week in Brazil. He brought back the best souvenir from his trip, as usual.

He’s been on a lot of work trips, and while he doesn’t always bring back souvenirs, he did this time. It was his first trip to Brazil and he wanted to make sure to bring back something special.

What did he bring us? Well, I’d argue it’s the best possible souvenir you can bring anyone from anywhere in the world.

And he got it all at Walmart.

A São Paulo Walmart, of course.

He brought us…

food!

Brazilian coffee–yum!

Specifically, he brought us non-perishable food: Brazilian coffee, of several different strengths, chocolates, cookies, and snacks.

Continue reading “The Best Souvenir You Can Bring Back from an International Trip”

Our Year in Pictures: Post-Location Independence

On Monday I shared the first half of our year in pictures, everything that happened in 2018 from January to the end of June, just before we officially became location independent. Today, here’s a visual post on what our lives have looked like in the second half of the year, from July to December, since moving to North Carolina and enjoying more location freedom.

Continue reading “Our Year in Pictures: Post-Location Independence”

Our Year in Pictures: Pre-Location Independence

Inspired by Tanja Hester’s post of her first year of retirement adventures, I thought I’d create a similar post of the ThreeYears’ 2018. After all, it was a big year for our family. We became location independent, we bought a new house, we went on several big trips, and the kids started new schools. As I was putting the post together, I realized that we had a lot of pictures! So I decided to break our year up into our pre- and post-location independence, which happens to fall right in the middle of the year (so handy!).

Here are the ThreeYears’ adventures from January to June of last year.

January

We started off 2018 in Chile, in the last week of our three-week long trip to visit Mr. ThreeYear’s family in Santiago. We also took a side trip to northern Chile, to the San Pedro de Atacama desert. That trip took place in the final days of December, so I won’t include pictures here, but read all about it in this post.

We bought lots of fresh fruits and veggies (because it was summer in Chile!) at the feria, the local market two blocks from our apartment.

Continue reading “Our Year in Pictures: Pre-Location Independence”

5 Ways to Save Up Money for Travel

About this time every year, I get the travel itch. It’s the feeling that I need to book a trip for my family so we can go somewhere we’ve never been before, see something new, or just get out of the daily grind. Winter feels long, and the beautiful beach pictures in Instagram are calling me.

Yesterday, my friend sent me a picture of the little town in Northeastern Spain they’ll be visiting this summer. I. want. to. go.

However, our family just moved 1000 miles away to a new state last year, we bought a new house, and we have spent plenty of money on it. Plus, I’m not bringing in a steady income, since I’m taking a year off teaching to help us get settled, so it’s hard to justify setting aside thousands of our savings for a big trip (how much should you spend on travel, anyway? Answers here).

I’m not giving up so easily, however. Here are five ways I’m planning to save up for travel.

1. Save the Extra

This is about as obvious a tip as they come, but it’s not always easy to follow. This year, every single extra check, refund, tutoring payment, or gift is going straight to a fund called “Trips.”

In our Capital One Savings account, we have several subaccounts where we save for different goals. In our “Trips” fund, I’ll be saving all of the extra money we get, immediately, before I even have a chance to think otherwise.

I deposit any checks using my mobile app, then immediately transfer that amount from my bank to our Capital One subaccount.

The trick is to deposit the money immediately into an account or fund you can’t access or won’t let yourself touch.

It’s too easy to put the money in your general account, and attempt to save what’s left over at the end of the month. But in my house, that money will get spent, so I need to set it aside as quickly as possible to save for travel.

Continue reading “5 Ways to Save Up Money for Travel”

Why a Prepaid Disney Vacation is the Best Vacation

Have you ever taken a prepaid vacation? Maybe you went to an all-inclusive resort, a cruise, or a tour vacation. By prepaying before you go on the trip, you cover the cost of lodging, food, transportation, and oftentimes gratuities and incidentals like phone calls. We just got back from a prepaid Disney vacation, and I am convinced it’s the best way to enjoy Disney World.

Our family got back from our epic week-long Disney trip two weeks ago. It was the very first trip Mr. ThreeYear, Junior Three Year, and Little Three Year had ever taken to Disney World. I’ve been several times throughout my life, but we were never interested in making a trip with the boys until now.

First of all, my brother-in-law is a big Disney fan. He and my sister have gone multiple times since they’ve been married six years ago, and they invited us to go with them about a year ago when they started planning the trip. Second, they agreed to plan 100% of the trip for us. If you’ve ever been to Disney, you know that to get the best experience requires some major planning. And my brother-in-law was more than up to the task.

He read Disney blogs, researched the ways to get the best deals on places to stay, reserved our fast passes exactly sixty days before we left so we could get the best ones, and even filled out our online Disney Destinations profiles for us. All we had to do was pay for the trip and show up.

Disney World is very expensive, unfortunately, especially when it comes to food, so we made the decision to go all-out on this trip, which will be our one and only Disney trip while the boys are young.

Here’s how we did it. Continue reading “Why a Prepaid Disney Vacation is the Best Vacation”

How We Save Money on Travel with Kids: Guest Post on M$M

Travel with kids can be a scary concept for some people. Just thinking about flying with your baby can inspire terror in the most stoic of travelers.

How We Save Money on Travel with Kids: Guest Post on M$M www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

And while I admit that flying with our youngest was the reason that we have two, rather than three, kids today, traveling with kids can be done in a way that creates good memories for the whole family. Yesterday our story was featured on Millennial Money Man‘s blog and in it, I shared some tips we’ve gathered during the past few years for traveling with kids and sticking to your budget.

Related Reading:

Bobby is the millennial behind Millennial Money Man and his story is pretty cool. He used to be a high school band director, but after paying off $40,000 in debt on his teacher’s salary, he started a blog, and then decided he was going to turn the blog into a business. He shares his monthly blog income reports and he’s been pretty successful so far. While our family is obviously far from the millennial category (although my sister tells me I am now officially a millennial because they’ve decided to include ’79ers), I know there are a lot of people with kids, or thinking about having kids (like Bobby and his wife Coral) and they’re wondering how to fit kids into their travel plans.

While I didn’t include details about how to survive the plane rides (drug your kids), I did include other tips about making travel work with limited travel dollars. So read on! (And I’m kidding about the drugs–sort of).

A Weekend in Montreal

We got back from a weekend trip to Montreal, Quebec, yesterday. We’ve been wanting to take Junior and Little ThreeYear for ages, and we finally bit the bullet and put a weekend trip together (here’s my philosophy on travel spending).

A Weekend in Montreal www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

We normally travel for longer periods of time, but once in a while, maybe one or two times a year, we’ll go on a weekend adventure. These short trips are usually expensive, since we tend to eat most of our meals out and stay in more expensive lodgings, but we pack a lot of sightseeing into a few days and make lots of memories.

This was the boys’ first trip ever to Canada, which is sort of embarrassing to admit since we’ve lived two hours from the Canadian border for eight years, but I definitely subscribe to the adage “better late than never.” We drove up to Montreal, three hours from our house, on Friday afternoon. It’s a beautiful drive through the mountains of Vermont, which then give way to the glacial plains of Upstate New York around Lake Champlain.  Continue reading “A Weekend in Montreal”

Your Complete Guide to Location Independence for Families

Have you ever dreamed of having the freedom to live wherever you’d like? Have you thought about moving to a warmer/cheaper/bigger/smaller town or city? Have you dreamed of being able to travel for longer than two weeks a year with your entire family?

Our family is pursuing a dream to become location independent, in order to be able to be closer to our families who live on two different continents, enjoy warmer weather than we currently do in New Hampshire, and travel for longer stretches of time.

For the last year and a half, we’ve been exploring ways to make that dream come true. We’re investigating overseas employment options. We’re saving and investing in order to double our net worth. We’re looking into non-traditional work arrangements.

What is location independence?

Location independence is a term used to describe a lifestyle in which you’re not tied to one location. You are free to travel for long stretches of time, if you so desire. You’re not tied to a place because of your job. You don’t have work obligations that mean you need to report to an office each day. You may live in one city, but you’re free to choose that city. You’re able to practice geographical arbitrage, and live in a region of your country or the world that costs less.

It’s generally a term that’s used when people are still working, and haven’t yet reached financial independence, but because of the way they’ve structured their lives, they’re able to work from anywhere, or almost anywhere. Location independence for families is building a lifestyle where your entire family can come with you. Whether you’re a family of 2, 5, or 25, location independence can work for a family, but extra planning IS required.  Continue reading “Your Complete Guide to Location Independence for Families”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Moose from MSoLife

Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or practice location arbitrage, as is the case with today’s guest poster.

Today you’ll hear from Moose, who blogs about FI at MSoLife. It isn’t everyday that you meet a fellow Carolinian with ties to Chile who speaks Spanish fluently. We’ve had fun ribbing each other in Spanish over email. I couldn’t wait to hear more about his plans for the future once he reaches FI in a few years.
This interview will cover:
  • Where Moose plans to move to live more cheaply once his family has reached FI
  • Who geoarbitrage is right for, and who it isn’t right for
  • How a mini-retirement can fit into your FI goals
For the complete story of how Moose plans to retire to South America, read on.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Moose Cartoon Head Making Sense of Life MSoLife www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
I was born in France and have lived in Mexico, the UK, the USA, and
Germany, so it’s hard to say where I’m from, but I currently live in Los
Angeles, California and am from Charlotte, NC. I’ve been married for a
little over five years and we have one daughter, who’s two years old. I was
an Army officer for six years before going to business school and I’ve
worked in investment banking (for a short time and it sucked) and investment research for private equity and hedge funds.

The Best Advice I Know for Becoming Location Independent

Our family is currently on a three year experiment to double our net worth and become location independent. While we’re not there yet, we’ve learned a lot on this journey.
The Best Advice I Know for Becoming Location Independent www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
If you’re thinking about cutting the ties and becoming location independent, here are a few things we’ve learned (some, the hard way):

Kill the Debt

First things first, get rid of your debt. There is nothing more binding than owing someone or some entity money. Pay off your credit card balances, student loans, and car loans as fast as you can. Consider selling your house to rent. When you owe money to a person or an institution, not only are you beholden to that person or entity, you’re stuck working long hours, in order to pay your fixed expenses and pay back your debt, as well.
If you’re thinking about traveling, living internationally, or taking on a job that allows you to live anywhere, I highly recommend paying off your debt first. There’s an inherent unpredictability that can come with location independence, especially if it involves living in an international location or traveling for long stretches, and being out from under the burden of debt payments is freeing.

Continue reading “The Best Advice I Know for Becoming Location Independent”