For some travelers, saving up for a simple week-long vacation is a challenge. For this family of nine, however, budgeting for travel is a way of life.
“We weren’t OK with just a humdrum existence,” Greg told HuffPost. “We got married and were living the script of ‘get a mortgage, get a job, then retire and do cool things.’ Then we thought, ‘There are other ways to experience life, and we can each have our own unique dream.’ We realized we’ve got to live an epic story and try to make a difference in the world.”
Ten years later, Greg and Rachel now have seven kids and have visited 33 countries as a family, living in 13 of them along the way.
The family chooses where to live next based on what they “want to experience,” Greg told HuffPost, and they usually rent homes through Airbnb or VRBO. They stay in the same spot anywhere from a few weeks to a few months; so far, they’ve lived like locals everywhere from Italy to India. They’ve visited castles in Austria, explored markets in Marrakech and road tripped from Alaska to Panama. They ask locals what to do for fun, play in parks and take advantage of free kids admission at museums.
“We don’t want to live like tourists because it’s more expensive,” Greg said. “Slow travel is more meaningful. We have family rituals that we do no matter where we are... we talk about key principles, study together and go out and have adventures. We ask locals what we should see and experience.”
The family mostly grocery shops and cooks at home. They occasionally fly but usually buy cars and sell them before they leave a region. All in all, they get by on an estimated $5,000 to $6,000 per month, Greg said.
The Dennings have no plans to stop traveling anytime soon: They’re currently taking a few months break back in Utah, where they’re renting a house. Their future itinerary includes backpacking in Iceland and visits to Japan and New Zealand.
Denning says any family can live abroad, though budgets will differ depending on how many kids you have and how you prefer to eat and live. For families who are curious but nervous to take the plunge, he recommends starting small.
“I always just tell people to start making little changes to give it a try, even if just for a month,” he said. “You can rent out your house on Airbnb and just try it for a month somewhere easy like Spain or Thailand. Lots of people want to do it, but they throw in the towel. They think like tourist, of paying bills at home and hotel fees. But you can hack the system if you just look at it differently.”
Itchy to live abroad? Here are a few excellent places to start.