Two weeks in:
How many days into the world trip? …18 Days
How much have you spent?…2300 USD (+ 1000USD in Disney Land but this was a separate budget)
America isn’t cheap. Not on the New Zealand Dollar. And we have been staying with family for the past 18 days. I may have been a tad optimistic with our budget.
The Travel Bog Diaries.
When I first built my website using my Bangladesh chap from Fivver, try as he may, his English would sometimes get confused, and one day he said to me “Have you written a Bog post yet?” At the time I just laughed to myself, but now it seems entirely appropriate.
You know how I love my little toilet/office at home. It’s a place where I can go, lock the door and have five minutes to have a think or a cry – depending on how the old hormones are behaving. Then I rub my cheeks so hard giving myself broken veins, take a deep breath and go back to face whatever homeschooling drama we are battling through at the time.
I’ve told you before; I am no longer the homeschooling Mother who can spend her days reading, talking and setting leaves into Borax. Those days are gone. Along with listening to my choice of music in the car and being taken seriously. Ever.
Now, if they are not slaving over an essay or telling me how to convert percentages into fractions, I don’t feel as though I’m succeeding in my job that is home educating my teenagers.
Even though it goes against everything, I believe in. I am an advocate of unschooling. I think that’s how kids learn the most. But before we embarked on this trip I have never been brave enough to let go and just see what happens. Like most parents, I’m scared of messing my kids future up. After all, I would know how to make my way in the world without a formal education but fear that they would just stand in the kitchen with their knees knocking, quivering with fear. In their pyjamas.
I was brought up in a world of school where, if you didn’t get and B+ you were a failure – and that brainwashing is hard to shake off.
Anyway, this isn’t a post on education. It’s a Bog post. A bog post is a post that I would otherwise speak aloud to myself about in the little room. Yes. I do talk to myself. All the time. Alas, I am currently attempting to travel the world for a year on 50 NZD per person per day, so I have no small room. No toilet. No bog. So here it is. Written on my laptop as we speed along the highway from Florida to South Carolina.
Two weeks in.
I didn’t realise how blunt my children could be. Blunt and outspoken. Ok, maybe not outspoken in a rude way, just confident to voice their opinion perhaps. No? Ok.
That’ll be rude then.
Not a bad thing I suppose, ( to be outspoken that is, not rude) it’s just that I’m nervous they are going to upset the hosts who are letting us sleep on their couch for free. I’m a people pleaser, and I am quickly learning that they are not. Or maybe it’s just because they are young. You don’t give a sh*t when you’re young, do you?
There we were, very kindly being taken out for dinner by our very kind and lovely family. The restaurant was beautiful, and posh, which meant that the table was huge. I started to panic as I was sat far, far away at the other end of the table from both of my teenagers. Meaning that there was no chance of kicking their ankles or squeezing their legs in a secret code to behave. My nails practically went through my palm when I heard Tessa ask my sister in law an impertinent question regarding her pre-marital activities.
I’m sorry Mrs D, I really am. If she hadn’t been at the opposite end of the table from me, I would have rammed her face into her chicken parmigiana. Instead, I tried to give the ‘mum’ look that my mother used to flash at me but for some reason, the wide eyes and flared nostriled stare went straight over my girls head. She just giggled and said “whaat??”.
By the time I could get to her, we were walking out of the restaurant towards the car. Pinching her arm just hard enough to let her know I meant mummy business but not hard enough for onlookers to report me for child abuse, I gritted my teeth and started the lecture. Too late. She’d already moved onto her next cheeky little question “How much did dinner cost? How much tip did you leave?”. I wanted the floor to open up.
I’m not joking; sweat was leaking out of me like a friggin shower, all the while trying to keep my hands off her… So that was me. Now I’m terrified of sitting down for dinners with strangers. God, shell probably ask our couch surfing hosts how much tax she pad last year and why her house smells of burning leaves.
Two weeks in:
I have a son who has an addiction. A gorgeous, kind and funny son, but all the same, one with an obsession. You know I have suspected it for a long time, now finally it has been confirmed. He is bloody INCAPABLE of walking into a house/restaurant/theme park/airport without the I phone attached hand flying, scanning wildly around in a complete 360 degrees searching desperately for just one little slither of wifi bar.
No one must talk.
Don’t bother asking if he wants chicken or fish or if he has his boarding pass. He won’t hear you. There are only two outcomes. You either see a look of immense happiness pass over that face, eyes alive with relief. Neck craned over like a shepherds crook while he furiously types away with his thumbs. Ahh. He stands up straight, the baby rectangle goes back into the pocket, and a wave of calm descends upon the room.
Or, the shoulders slump and he kicks the chair/suitcase/railing/ whatever is an inch away from his size 11 foot and sighs heavily. “I’m hungry. This place is rubbish. When are we going? How long will you be? I hate this restaurant. I’m hungry.” If I see this one, I just go to the toilet and wait for 5 minutes. I swear, in the last two weeks I must have said a thousand times “Are you even looking where you are going? All this money blah, blah, blah you’re living your life through a screen (she says) blah, blah, blah. Wasting your life on snapchat (she announces on FaceBook ’cause she doesn’t understand snapchat anyway.)
I hate phones. It’s official.
Why doesn’t he start a blog? Then I’d be happy. Maybe read a bit of Jane Austen. Do something productive. Something. Anything. But I realise this is just to quieten my insecurities. The worries of a mother who has taken her kids away from formal education for a year. I ask myself if Diary of a Wimpy Kid counts as an education.
Two Weeks in:
The money is worrying me. I knew it would. I’ve worried about money all of my life. Even though I luckily have never had to beg for food or a place to sleep (apart from tonight). Not that all that worrying has done me any good. Who can remember what they were worried about three years and two weeks ago? It’s pointless. And I know that. I’m trying to train myself. It’s just taking a time that’s all.
It is weird not having a regular wage coming into the account. It’s frightening when you see the bank balance going down every day. But that’s what we decided to do. We have worked hard for years and years for this.
I know that in years to come I won’t remember the money but I will never forget this experience. Whichever way our adventure turns out.
Some days I am onto it. I am whizzing around the computer screen finding bargains and free places to stay. Those are the days that I love. I’m sure when we are a couple of months into the trip it will become second nature. And it is only natural to be nervous about finances, but I know that I don’t want to taint the experience with the constant worry of money. I must become more mindful. Recognise when those thoughts take me down a road that hasn’t even happened yet and probably never will.
With the exchange rate, NZD 200 -which is our budget for a day- works out to about USD 130. That’s how much we have a day. So, you can see why we need somewhere free to stay.
And I’m happy to report that for the next week we have it. We are couch surfing. Our first experience will be tonight. The lady seems nice. Not a mass murderer.
Again, my little kiddiwinks have come across as over-privileged by saying things like “I’d rather sleep in the car than in a cellar”.
Our host for tonight has very KINDLY said there is a pull out bed in the basement. Unfortunately, Sonny has just finished reading Stephen Kings Misery. He believes he will be tied to a metal bed in the cellar and fed pig stew. Personally, I wouldn’t say no. Not if there was a glass of Merlot to accompany it.
All Tess thinks about is what sort of food she will get. “Will we be able to make spaghetti bolognaise?” I want to say “ I’ll make it every night for a year if you promise to stop asking people personal questions” But I don’t. I am nice. I am mindful. I do not pinch children’s arms.
Brian has caught something. He is coughing, and his chest and throat are hurting. I don’t want it. Brian does not suffer from man flue; he is a trooper. I am not. I’m a wimp and like to convince myself that what I have is fatal, so no. Please stop coughing over me, Brian.
I didn’t want to leave our family in Florida. It was lovely; they looked after everything. I can’t tell you how relaxing it was to have someone else decide what we would be doing that day. But that’s not an adventure, is it? No, Liz. Get your big girl pants on and start organising. Brian doesn’t seem to care where we go or what we do. He just wants’ s me to stop bickering at the kids.
Ok, I’m going to try really hard. It obviously doesn’t work my way, so I’ll try Brians approach.
The other way.
Watch this space.
Two weeks in:
On a positive note, when we are together, all together, without wifi, it is gorgeous. We all relax so much more. We talk and compare our experiences. We look up. We give hand and back massages. We try and work out how to save money. I love that part. I love seeing how every one of us has got their own little experience going on.
We had a fabulous time in Florida! I’m not a theme park fan, but I loved Universal Studios and riding the Hulk rollercoaster with the kids – my arms in the air. I may be 46, but I will never tire of being thrown upside down. Another thing my teenagers didn’t know about me.
I can see them both getting bigger in front of my eyes. I am with them every day, and I love it. Sonny is looking more like a young man every day and Tessa is 13 going on 26. Is that possible? It’s only been two weeks. Please don’t let me be ageing as quickly as they seem to be doing. I’ll be a toothless old hag hobbling home next year.
We have just driven into the state of Georgia. I started to sing like Ray Charles, but I just received a look of pity and disgust.
I wonder what we will do for dinner tonight at the couch surfers house?
I’m not sure about the etiquette of couch surfing, but I suppose I’m about to find out.
I have told the kids that while we are in America, we will be sharing meals. They seem ok about his. At the moment. Easy for them to agree now. They’re not sitting in the restaurant – hungry. This is America. The portions are huge. We can at least try it. Rather that than throw a load of food away. I just know Sonny will need more food though. Poor boy hasn’t got much meat on him as it is. We will see. I could always give up wine. God. I can’t believe I actually wrote that down. Forgive me.
We are paying $430 to stay four nights in NYC. That gives us $30 for the day for food and activities. I think we will have to make money up elsewhere. I love doing this. If I only knew it was only going to work out ok, then I could just relax and enjoy myself. But if it were that easy, everyone would do it wouldn’t they?
Ok, that’s it. If you’re still here, thanks for reading
Bog Travel Diary #1 – flushed and away,