When Stasha and I started traveling, one of our goals was to make the most of it before we decided to settle down and have children. Our plan was to travel for 3-5 years, depending on how things went, and then settle down in the location we liked the best of the ones we had traveled to. But life has a funny way of not going according to plan and on April 1st of 2013, my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy: Carter James Crawford. Yes. April Fool’s Day. Apparently our son came with a good sense of humor.
I’ll never forget the moment my wife came out of the bathroom after taking a self-pregnancy test nine months earlier. Like many parents, we of course went through the normal cycle of emotions: fear, excitement, anxiety and “OMG we are having a baby!!!!” I think there is a special part of the brain reserved for the realization that you are going to be a parent because it is unlike any other feeling in the world. Once we were over the initial shock, we realized we had some major decisions to make. At first we thought our traveling days were over. How could we make this work with a baby? But the more we thought about it, the more we realized not only could we make it work but it would work out to our advantage.
I’m sure a lot of you are wondering how a traveling lifestyle works with raising a newborn baby but hear me out. We decided to play out both scenarios: one in which we moved back home closer to family and one where we continued to travel. Our biggest challenge was that I would have to go back to work. If we were forced back to paying rent or mortgage and utilities, we would need more income. With me working, we would also need a babysitter. Not only did we not like the idea of someone we barely know watching our newborn son, but we would also have more costs to pay.
The alternative would be that Stasha and I work opposite shifts so that we could take turns working and babysitting. We didn’t like this idea at all. We would only see each other one or two days a week. It would also have been too hard to work a full shift only to come home and have to stay up with a baby all night or day and not get any sleep. Everyone in our family has full-time jobs so we were on our own with this. Things started to look better when we looked at option two: continue to travel.
From a financial aspect, traveling with a baby wouldn’t be much different than our current traveling costs. Whether we were traveling or settled, the cost of raising a baby would be the same. It would actually cost us more to settle because we would have to pay for a babysitter. Add that to the cost of housing and utilities and traveling starts to make a lot of sense. The majority of my income would have to go toward costs we would not have if we decided to continue to travel.
The only other obstacles left were whether I could handle being a stay-at-home dad for three days a week and whether it would be too hard to travel with a baby. I decided that instead of working 40 hours a week, I could handle 36 hours with my newborn son. I’m not going to lie, this has turned out to be a lot easier said than done but I’m getting better. As far as it being too hard to travel with a baby, we figured it would be easier than finding a babysitter and the hassles of scheduling and picking/dropping him off before and after work. Back to making our decision, here’s a basic comparison of our options:
Disadvantages of settling:
- Work opposite shifts and never see each other
- Allow someone else to care for our child
- Babysitting costs
- Housing and utility costs
- Settle down before we’re ready
Disadvantages of traveling:
- Much harder to travel with a baby
- Potentially too far from family for visits
- Would have to buy a trailer to have room for baby items
The disadvantages associated with ending our traveling dreams outweighed the disadvantages of continuing to travel by a long shot. We realize this decision might not be the best for everyone. It’s been hard knowing that our parents won’t get nearly as much time with our son as they would if we had decided to move back home. But the reality is that Stasha, Carter and myself are our own family now and we knew this decision was best for our family. We’re still in the early stages of this so it’s possible we could change our mind but we just don’t see that happening anytime soon. We love traveling and the excitement of arriving at the next destination, eager to explore the area and find our next adventure. We’ll just have to make sure those adventures are baby friendly for now on.