"I Wish I Could Afford That Trip"

I hear it all the time.

Because the lovely Robin and I travel regularly to the Holy Land, and have enjoyed amazing trips to places like England and Peru, and are even now preparing for a 2013 cruise-and-land tour of New Testament sites in Turkey and Greece (read about it here), some friends and family react with longing and regret, saying often, "I wish I could afford a trip like that."

But that's not how we have made those trips--even though I am as cheap as they come (my last name is Hostetler, after all).

Robin and I were still in our twenties when we determined that time was a-wasting, and we wanted to see Israel as early as possible in our ministry, because we knew it would enrich our teaching and living for many years to come. So we took out a loan to make that first trip, in 1987. Today, I can't even tell you how much it was for or how long it took us to repay it, because neither of those things was important once we had experienced that first life-changing trip.

We also wanted to take our kids with us to Israel, though we couldn't really "afford" it. But we scraped and saved and planned and prepared, and they traveled there with us in 2001. Looking back, I honestly can't imagine having foregone that blessing for any amount of money (and in the company, not only of our children, but--as pictured in the photo above--our niece Elissa and Robin's dad, Dick).

That's not to say we haven't postponed trips or rearranged plans for money reasons. We do that all the time. And we take advantage of every possible way to cut expenses and make trips more affordable. For example, when we committed to a 2009 mission trip to Peru, we tacked on some vacation days for a visit to Cuzco and Machu Picchu; since we were already in country, it made financial sense (even though it still involved some sacrifice). Our visits to Jordan and Egypt were extensions of Israel tours, which made them much more affordable than they would have been otherwise. A few days in Germany and France in 2010 followed a speaking engagement of mine in Germany. On a cruise that docked in Nassau, Bahamas, I had researched a free walking tour of the area rather than buying an expensive excursion. And so on.

My point is, our most rewarding travel experiences have not been something we could easily afford. Far from it. But we have long prioritized life-changing and mind-expanding experiences over many other expenses. We plan and prepare far in advance (for example, I could tell you where I hope to take the lovely Robin on our fortieth and fiftieth anniversaries). We scrimp and save. Rather than confining ourselves only to "affordable" trips, we do everything we can to make our most desirable trips affordable.

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