Money

It’s less expensive for this family of 9 to travel year-round than stay home—here’s how

The Dennings are leading the life of their dreams, one that at first they worried was out of reach.

The family of nine travels full-time without a home base, GOBankingRates originally reported. Over the past ten years, they've visited 39 countries.

"I literally remember thinking, 'Is this even possible? Is it just a dream? Can it actually happen?'" Greg Denning, the husband and father, tells CNBC Make It.

By "interrogating" countless travelers, "voracious study" and a lot of "trial and error," Denning and his wife Rachel found that the answer was yes.

What's more, he says, they found that "it's actually significantly less expensive for our entire family to be traveling around the world than it is to be set up at home, with the mortgage and the cars and the insurance, etc."

Here's how they made it possible.

World School Family

They were open to risk

When the Dennings decided to begin traveling in 2007, they had to make sacrifices.

"I grew up in a broken home and ended up out on my own at an early age," says Denning. He was living on the streets. So, when he landed a job as a high school religion teacher, he was comforted by the financial security and told himself, "This is it. I'm in until 65, man."

Rachel, meanwhile, was making money doing some writing, photography and web design.

But the dream to travel kept calling them. "I ended up resigning from the job, and it was hard, and it was scary," says Denning. Especially because, "at the time, we had some investments in the stock market in real estate. That was in 2007, and we all know what happened."

Nonetheless, with only $10,000 in savings and four kids, they set out for Costa Rica and began their journey.

They gave up their routines

"If people can minimize their expenses at home," Denning says, "then all of a sudden these wonderful experiences become much more affordable."

In his case, that meant getting rid of their house in Utah and selling most of their belongings. "It just takes some changes in the mindset," he says.

If you want to stretch your legs but aren't ready to commit to a permanent change, though, there are alternatives. For instance, you can use a facilitator like Home Exchange, an affordable house-swapping service, to travel for a shorter amount of time. "So far, I've yet to hear one negative story," says Denning.

Or you can house sit, which is effectively free. Denning says his in-laws have been doing so for the past four years all over the world.

World School Family

They realized "education" doesn't have to mean "school"

Leaving home also meant having to home-school his kids, who now range from almost one to 15-years-old.

Early on, Denning says he and his wife asked themselves if that was for the best. He says they always try to act in the interest of their children. "We want our kids to have a world-class education," he says. "We want our kids to have a really healthy worldview."

The children take courses online, meet local tutors and read a ton. "We have literally carried around about 400 pounds of books everywhere we've traveled for the last seven years," says Denning.

They found ways to make money anywhere

"The opportunities to earn an income location independently are literally as varied as the people who are doing it," Denning says.

He has met hundreds of people around the world, and they're all doing something different, "from selling electronic cigarettes to handmade watches," or doing "any kind of coaching or consulting."

Typically, people he meets have businesses they can run no matter where they are. "Very few are actually based on traveling, which I think is kind of a misconception," says Denning.

As for how he makes money himself, he says, "I lead expeditions around the world for youth and families." Most recently, he took 54 people up to the base camp at Mt. Everest in Nepal.

The Dennings also have a blog, World School Family, and Denning runs an online business speaking and presenting on youth leadership, which contributes a regular source of income.

They travel like locals, not tourists

This is the No. 1 tip Denning says he would recommend to anyone planning on traveling. "There's a distinction between traveling and tourism," he says. "If we're going out and doing the tourist thing, it's super expensive."

But, if you go out as a traveler and have local experiences, he says, it's cheap.

That means not staying at a hotel but renting an apartment, perhaps via Airbnb. It also means eating what's available. "Buying imported foods in foreign countries is crazy expensive," Denning told GOBankingRates. "By eating local produce and foods, we've enjoyed wonderful foreign meals and saved thousands of dollars over the years we've been traveling."

World School Family

Never does he say that this lifestyle is easy.

"That's the big thing about our trips. They focus on challenging ourselves, doing hard things, and then having what I like to call reality-busting experiences with the culture and people and ways of life," he says.

"It just changes the way you think, and the way you see the world, and your own life. It's pretty powerful."

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This story was originally uncovered by GOBankingRates.