When my husband and I were planning our honeymoon, we had no idea where to go. He had spent over a decade traveling the world with the Navy while I had done the same, except for pleasure and sticking to a strict rule of never going to the same place twice. Whatever was left to see or do after we met, we had managed to do together and for the most part, were really only traveling based on professional needs.
However, one of our most surprising points of excitement in preparing to welcome our exchange student was the thought of being able to traipse all over with her… maybe it was nostalgia or maybe it was the sudden realization of our geographical location being a conduit to some pretty cool spots, valuable from both historical and pop culture perspectives. During our first skype sesh together, before she even had a chance to awkwardly laugh out her nervousness, hubs was asking her what she wanted to see and do while in America, and I was giving her a rough outline of what I had already planned for us during her year. In fact, at that point, we had both taken-on work-related projects that required travel so that we could take her with, as well as submitted time off requests for long weekends where we had traditionally worked longer hours in the past. The fact that she was here for school first or that we hadn’t even had a chance to connect and bond with her didn’t even cross our mind.
Because we have no other children and both work, it is reasonable to think we could absorb the cost of an extra person no problem, but because there are only two of us, a third person is quite noticeable on the budget all around. So from first contact with her and her parents we were transparent, not only did we make all travel opportunities optional, but we were open and honest about the expenses, what we were willing to cover, and established a “co-parenting” relationship where decisions were made collaboratively. This also included being willing to teach our student about budgets, saving strategies, discerning between “splurging” and “wasteful” spending, as well as overall value of money outside ourselves (read: what it means to pay a little more to the local business, overpaying less to a large corporation for the same product/service). It doesn’t sound very glamorous or fun to have to do all that when all you’re trying to do is adventure a little, but we aren’t sorry about it and it’s worked magnificently in contributing to the bond that has made us a family. Plus, its really fun when we get to empty out our “party pig” – a colorful piggy bank where we all deposit our extra change between adventures!
Our adventures thus far have taken us from coast to coast plus a few states in-between; we’ve eaten, experienced, and photographed every last detail as if it was the first time ever. She’s gotten to know her American grandparents, aunties, uncles, and has been embraced wholly by all the loves in our lives, from friendships that go back twenty plus years to the friendships formed in booking the specific AirB&B stay. Traveling with our student has definitely been a highlight to this year and it’s not even over yet!