When I met Jan she had an affinity for a coastal town in New Jersey which was new to me. Her family had a connection to Cape May, NJ (Exit 0 for those in the know) that traced its roots back to her uncle being stationed there in the Coast Guard during the Vietnam War. Multiple times each summer Jan and her mom would visit Cape May, often staying with her aunt and uncle whose family had purchased a home there. When we started dating, Jan took me to Cape May. Although it rained a lot that first trip, I really enjoyed myself. So much so, in fact, that as our relationship progressed, we continued going to Cape May for vacations, trips, family get-aways, etc. We came to consider Cape May as a potential place where we would possibly live, if we could make it make sense. As we brought Joshua into the world we've kept up this tradition, renting a place in Cape May for a week each summer so we can have a family vacation.
There is a lot to be said of tradition, but often times, tradition can be costly! Our summer week in Cape May would cost about $3,000 between travel, lodging, food, etc. It's fun, but for a week, that's not COMFY for me!
When Jan and I started looking around for where we wanted to spend our vacation this summer we found that Cape May was being blown away by an alternative: Spain. (Actually many alternatives: Europe, Asia, South America, . . . pretty much the rest of the world!) Since we were getting relatively free flights, our biggest costs would be housing and food. Considering we'll need to eat wherever we are, the biggest variance in cost, therefore, is housing.
In Cape May we paid approximately $1800 for a place to house the three of us and Jan's mom for 1 week. In Spain we found a place for $1000 a month! (Side note: long-term rentals, if we want to live there for a year or more, could be had for less than $400 a month!) Therefore, despite not being in tradition, we chose to check out coastal Spain rather than simply repeating ourselves in Cape May this summer.
This does not mean we'll not go to Cape May. We may, but stay with family for a weekend or something instead of the week.
Now, instead of just a week at the beach, we get A MONTH! And for less! And we get to travel in France and Spain as part of it!
Of course, we're excited about our new opportunity. Beyond that, though, this is teaching us that sometimes looking beyond our routine, outside of tradition, off our regular path, we can fall upon opportunities we did not even know existed.
We're looking around our lives in multiple facets now to pick up the rocks and look underneath. Who knows what else fun we can find to do if we stop doing the same thing over and over again. Not to mention, all the money we'll save!
What do you regularly do which could use a closer look at alternatives?
Where would you like to spend a month this summer?
Where would you like to spend a month this winter?