Sunday, November 20

The Ying Yang of Living Without

Life is all about ‘living with’ and ‘living without’. Have kids or don’t; eat healthy food or don’t; travel the world or don’t. Live with, live without. Each path has its definite perks and downfalls. So, we’ve chosen to travel the world, we’ve chosen to stack our cards and organize our lives in a way that has enabled  long-term nomadic family travel. It’s the cosmic ying-yang of our life choices.

Has it been easy? No. Have we had our doubts? Often. Has it been worth it? Absolutely.

How It All Began

When we started toying with the idea of becoming a nomadic family, we knew we had to change the way we lived. Every drawer, shelf, countertop, closet, nook and cranny were overflowing with more junk than we could ever have use for. We were consumers, and not just to the material stuff. We enjoyed taking our kids to shows; we had our weekly date out; and loved family vacations. We were happily living our “American Dream” in Israel, until we realized we could choose to live another way of life.

What We Did

We did simple mathematics: Make more, spend less. We took on extra jobs. For two summers I ran an all-day summer camp out of my home in killer heat, while teaching parenting groups at night and taking clients in the evening hours. I almost died (I actually did have a physical break down), but I did it for the goal in sight.  Kobi stayed in a J-O-B he hated well passed what he could endure because hi-tech jobs in Israel make really good money. And when he was (painfully at first, but thankfully) fired, he worked like a maddog as a professional dog trainer to bring money home, and for our goals.

And, we spent less by living without We lived in voluntary frugality. We lived without new clothing, babysitters, family vacations, shows, restaurants, attending weddings and celebrations (in Israel the acceptable gift is a check), too many car drives to Kobi’s parents in Jerusalem (the gas), and luxury food items. In the ‘living without’ came a delightful way to fill the void. Share and pass on clothing between friends, second-hand stores, dates at home, extended family get-togethers during off-season and tons of camping out, in-house entertainment and time in nature, and enjoying ‘special foods’ when they were on sale or for a special occasion.

We got so good at saving that a few amazing things happened. In four short (but really focused) years, we paid off the rest of our house mortgage, paid off our student loans, and saved $50,000 for our world travels. We found creative and powerful ways to save money that still allowed us to live joyful lives. Our Saving For The Dream e-book is a great start to figuring out how to re-organize your life to financially make your travel dreams come true.

The Harsher Hue of Our Ying Yang

We found that we could live perfectly joyful, rich lives while spending a third of what we used to. And while watching our credit card bills go down to half was awesome; other parts of it were not. It was not easy explaining to well-meaning friends (again) that we could not join them for that cool event this weekend or that our kids won’t come to bowling and pizza (again). It was in those moments that we were depriving our kids of normal, everyday cool kid-stuff that all of their friends were enjoying that we felt guilty and confused. Is this trip worth this? Can I look my friend in the eyes (again) and explain why we can’t afford full private-school tuition on three children and really need a discount? Do I really want to have another “we choose to spend our money on this” talk with my child? And when my son’s best friends’ mom paid for him to participate in some event, trust me, I wasn’t feeling mother of the year. I was embarrassed that I acted like a pauper while I was hording all of our money for round the world travels.

The Payoff

So, “living without” has truly become a ying yang for us. While we sacrificed on many of the conveniences and temptations in our everyday life; we enabled our family to taste a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The same friends who judged what we put our family through to make this trip a reality, now tell us with envy how they could never afford such an amazing journey. And I agree. So long as we don’t “live without” in one category, we won’t be able to “live with” in another.

When we worked so hard to make our dreams come true; so often, we’d wonder where were the bells and whistles that pay off all of our hard work. Had we indulged in the unripe fruits of our labors rather than save it away for this world-travel dream, our family would have never become the nomadic family. And so, for us all there is a payoff, a turning point where there’s just no going back, a ying yang that we calculate on a very personal basis and decide ‘do I live with or without?”  

What are you willing to ‘live without’ to make your dreams come true? Is the long-road toward world family travel worth the daily cuts and sacrifices for you?  Have you ever felt uneasy or alone in the presence of those who live and spend their lives fully now, while you’re saving for your dream?

We’ve decided to go for it- to live this one life to the max, to do some ying in order to taste the yang.  Many other inspirational families have made the leap too. Our most popular blog entry to date 10 Nomadic Families, 7 Continents: How They Afford It reflect how much people are fascinated with affording their travel dreams. 

And as we relish every color, taste, and sound of exotic Colombia; we know we’ve chosen the right path for this family of five.Please, share with us what your road to ‘live without’ has entailed, and what color it has added to your life palette.
It is my honor to be a part of a community of nomadic family travelers. Be sure to check out their inspirational reflections on “Live Without”.

The Great Family Escape- What Can We Live Without?
 1 Dad 1 Kid – Living Better With Less
Family on Bikes- Living with Less: What can you ditch?
Tripping Mom – Less stuff, more life
Living Outside of the Box – Living without
A King’s Life: Living with Less & Spoiling Ourselves
Globetrotting Mama – Living without the stuff
With 2 Kids in Tow – After 10 Months of Living With Less
Raising Miro – Living Without the Norm
A Minor Diversion – What we’ve learnt to live without
New Life on the Road – Living the simple lifestyle but would still love one thing
Carried on the Wind -  Living Without
Livin on the Road – Living Without
Bohemian Travelers – More experiences are easier to collect


Cant wait to join you on the road!

We love reading these stories...they give us inspiration to keep going with our dream of travelling :)
How amazing that you managed to save for your trip, pay off your credit card bills, and save so much money - that is so inspirational!

Dearest Rebeca,
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. We're waiting for you, or rather, the world is waiting for you! Come on and join those of us whose souls wander this globe. How close are you in the process? Dreaming, saving, about to leave? I'd love to hear more and be a witness to it. It's just amazing when you touch your dreams. Amazing!
Much love,


Dearest Lisa,

I also get so inspired reading the stories of others. I do. When we were planning and saving for our dream, others websites and lots of books helped keep us inspired to go on. The road is not always so easy. We know. :-)
We just hankered down and paid for it all in a very short amount of time. You can too! You can! You can! You can! Let me know how it goes. I'm so honored to serve as any sort of inspiration. We all need more of that in our lives.

To your journey as well, cheers,

I love reading your posts, Gabi! This one comes at just the right time. Great inspiration for us as we have finally committed to take the plunge into traveling starting next August. I am starting to sell stuff on Craigslist and ebay to downsize and store away the little bits of money that will help us stay on the road. It feels so good!

Everything in life is a trade-off. You are living without some things. But you are living with much more!

Great story and so impressive that you managed to save so much money in 4 years! I can certainly be hard to stick to your family values when they are not in line with those of the others around you. hopefully now those people will see the payoff in those decisions of 'living like a pauper'! We too used to 'live like a pauper' but by choice even before we decided to travel. Western society just tends to waste too much money without thinking. Hurray for you!!

Great article on the realities of saving and choosing how to spend your money. Not everyone can do that. We have become a culture of "now, now, now" and forget that sometimes, it's worth the temporary sacrifice.
When we moved to Costa Rica, we learned great lessons on how freeing having less things and spending less money was. It is less stressful and ultimately, allows you to enjoy your true passions.
Best move we ever made and there is no going back now.

Paige, Yes! Go you! OMG, you're taking the plunge and leaving in August! Good for you guys. We never thought of selling our stuff, really. I think it could have brought extra income. Oh, yes, I remember, we tried to sell some higher valued stuff and it just ended up a huge headache with zero income, so we gave it all away in the end. I do hope you can make money on your things.

We also looooooved simplifying, getting rid of, downsizing. it feels better than buying new stuff- then, you know you are changing. Be sure to keep us informed how things go.


Clark, I totally agree. The tradeoff. the Ying Yang. Yes. I love your trade offs too. Thanks for commenting on it. It only strengthens our joint paths. Gabi

Dear With 2 Kids in Tow,

Thank you for that. You put it so well: Western society tends to waste too much money without thinking about it. So true. It's makes you feel good to 'reward' yourself with those treats in life.

I'm less concerned with what those others think, just like I tried to move away with what they thought before we left. One day, when we return home and stop being 'the nomadic family' again, we will live among others who don't see life and spending the way we do, and most likely, again, I'll feel like a pauper (which I hate). We'll just keep knowing inside that this IS our choice for the next and the next and the next dream.

Your writing helps us remember that. In your article as well, I found great inspiration to keep believing in our new way of life. Thank you so much,


What sincere dedication!!
I have enjoyed the article, as well as delving into your blog - loving the bits about Costa Rica!

Hiya Gabi

A huge well done for your saving - the discipline is a helful experience as well, and will serve you well in the future. It is inspirational and a
lesson to all who see consumer goods as being something to aspire too.
I have lived on a budget for most of my life - and have had times when I have been able to buy little gifts - as a surprise - for my bairns, and other times where every penny is needed just to keep coal in the fire and food in our stomachs. I had a period of 14 years without a holiday, and worked full-time, as well as looking after a house, husband and five children.
I can look back and see lots of lessons life has taught me - and I still have no mod cons - no ipod, no flat screen tv (mine is over 20 years old)and no fashionable clothes or house furnishings. To me the most important things in life are our families and health. I have very poor health at the moment (for 8 years now) but I am still much more able than a lot. With the love for, and from, my family I don't want for anything <3
Keep up your blogs, and I am sending you love and wishes for a safe journey

Wendy xox

Oh...such a good point that "living without" provides an opportunity to "live within". SOOO true. We too found ourselves turning down all opportunities to spend money, and when we finally paid off debts we didn't just pay them down...we jumped ahead by leaps and bounds! We learned a lifestyle of fragility...and my hope is that we can keep it up, despite all of the temptations!
Your hard work and success in doing it all within 4 years is awesome!!

Stacey dear. Thank you for strengthening my dedication. At times, it's so much easier to declare it, than to do it, I admit.

Dearest Wendy,

You've spoken of your health often, and now, it is time to take care of it, once and for all. I send you all the light in the world, so that, you too, and delve into all the blessings you have, and all the wisdom you have learned in raising your marvelous children, and now sharing with your grandkids. All my love, Gabi

Living Outside the Box,
Thanks for the support. The four-year stretch was not simple, at all. Turning down opportunities to spend money is SOOO HARD. Good for you dear. Though it's tiring to explain to the kids (again), we really do with to 'live without, so that we can more 'live within', exactly as you have said.

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