finance

“After years of saving, we finally made it to Saigon.”

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A good five years after my husband and I got together, there was still one thing we hadn’t done together – travel overseas. It wasn’t because we didn’t want to. It wasn’t that we didn’t dream about exotic destinations and getaways and exploring the world together. Life just kept… happening.

First there was the decision to re-route his career pathway. This jolt in our direction siphoned all the extra money we may have otherwise used for a holiday, but it was worth it and it was only two years of our lives.

Kate with her daughter. Image: supplied.

Then he proposed to me. So of course the wedding became the next in line, dominating our extra time, our thoughts, and keeping the leash tight on our budget. Again, no question it was worth it, but even our ‘budget’ backyard wedding all added up, and after we exchanged our vows, wiped away the tears of joy and packed up the next day, we were back to ground zero financially.

I knew travel was missing from my life. I felt the yearning for it, always in the back of my mind. You know, the slightly jealous feeling you get from dropping someone else off at the airport, wondering when it’s going to be your turn.

And the destination we coveted the most was Vietnam.

The food, the people, the history and the culture. Not too far away, not too expensive, but just different enough, just far enough away to open up our eyes and minds.

Taking my daughter, it would be our long awaited “family-moon” and my daughter’s first ever overseas trip. We did all the calculations, worked out a lean but reasonable target – $5,000 and spending money – and estimated what we could put away each month. It would take us almost a full year to save this, which, with my feet itching for the adventure, felt like an eternity.

And yet, life kept… happening.

Enter our cat Milo. He came inside one day and hissed when we touched him, and presented with what seemed like a broken spine. It turns out it was a cyst that required day surgery – all without pet insurance. That was a $2,000 bill right there.

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"He came inside one day and hissed when we touched him, and presented with what seemed like a broken spine." Image via iStock.

Next month came a car service that cost a lot more than we’d planned for. I started feeling like we’d never get there. We’d never even make it to the airport at this rate.

But my husband assured me we would; we’d just had a run of bad luck.

I would check the bank account all the time, so grateful that it was starting to at least look like we were getting there. I honestly didn’t realise how hard saving for something was. But I felt like it was teaching me to be so mindful about what we were spending our money on. Every little thing counted. It became routine to take lunch every day to work from home, to suck it up and cook leftovers instead of ordering in; we rarely ate out and I pulled right back on new clothes. (It’s amazing how that forces you to actually wear what you have.)

Then, we hit the $2,000 mark.

Soon enough we were at $3,000. We finally booked the plane tickets. Poring over brochures and books, planning and carefully researching our itinerary options.

Kate's family pored over brochures and books, planning and carefully researching itinerary options. Image: supplied.
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When we hit the $5,000 target – the rest would be spending money – we finally booked our accommodation. It was real. We were going. All of us, together.

Finally in September, we headed off.

From the moment we arrived at the airport, excited, bleary eyed from the early wake up call, we were on. The adventure had begun.

When we bundled into a cab in Saigon, our senses were awashed by the rush of colours, motorcycles, the heady feeling of newness, of discovery.

We went on a bicycle tour of the green rice fields beyond Hoi An. We ate the most delicious fresh Pho in Saigon. We travelled by boat along the Mekong River, and swam all day long in our hotel pools, and napped under a giant white mosquito net, listening to the sound of autumn rain.

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"When we bundled into a cab in Saigon, our senses were awashed by the rush of colours, motorcycles, the heady feeling of newness, of discovery." Image: supplied.

I knew, in every single one of those moments, the days, weeks, months and years of saving were worth it. The sacrifices were worth it.

This realisation reinforced our desire for more travel. More exploration. More time together, outside of our collective comfort zones.

So where to next? Europe, of course. Let the savings begin.

What holiday are you saving for?

Here are a few more shots from Kate's holiday:

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