Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Impromptu Travel & Lightbulb Moments & Blather

I think in less than two weeks I'm going to go visit my sister in Provence, where she's studying for the semester. (I would, in fact, be leaving on my blogoversary, which I somehow find funny, like my blog and I are going on a cruise together to celebrate our relationship.) I haven't actually bought a ticket yet, but they are oddly inexpensive for only-two-weeks-away travel: a round-trip plane ticket to Paris, nonstop, is available for $575. My parents are footing that bill as a birthday present (I find it funny that what I wanted for my birthday was a machine that makes seltzer and a plane ticket to France), and I'll be using their birthday check ($240) for spending money...except I'll probably need some more of it. I guess I'll try to cashflow what I can, and pull from the travel fund what I can't. It's not going to be super-expensive, though: I'm staying on my sister's couch, and really do need a chance to veg out, so I anticipate a lot of reading books in cafes and taking walks and making dinner in my sister's kitchen, and not a whole lot else, though my sister did mention perhaps doing a day trip to Marseilles, which sounds nice.

I've never really taken a budget-conscious vacation before. I lived in Berlin for awhile, but that was living there--it was different, somehow. All of my other travel has been with my family or some kind of group. So this should be new and different. Planning it, even though I'm not actually paying all of the costs myself, definitely gives me a new visceral understanding of how expensive it is to take a vacation--especially an international one (and with the dollar so weak, too!). If my parents weren't helping me out, I'd simply have to skip it--I wouldn't be willing to drain the travel fund entirely, not when I've got my sights set on a big, exciting trip before I start graduate school (whenever that ends up being). It's one of those important kinds of "aha!" moments, when I realize that I'm lucky, because on my own means, this would be a big, big financial deal, and I'm not sure that a little week off where I get to see my sister and hang out--but in France, instead of here--would be worth that big of a financial deal, you know?

I'm a total gibbering idiot about this trip--I've found planning it very difficult and anxiety-producing, but it seems to be almost all set now, and I know I need the week off. Badly. (This whole thing makes the rest of the year at work feel way more manageable: it's week of work, week off, week of Thanksgiving, three weeks of work, Christmas break. Easy.) And I miss my sister. And I've never taken a high-speed train before.

And so that's the way decisions are made when you're spending mostly someone else's money. Which is how this experience becomes one more lightbulb moment about luck and privilege.


Strange Bird said...

Sounds like it will be awesome. I wish I could travel that way, but my parents are rather travel-averse and probably wouldn't help even if they could, because they wouldn't see the value in it! But what I was getting at is that I'd love to go somewhere interesting and just hang out, but since travel is so expensive and difficult I feel like I have to get my money's worth. It's good to recognize the privilege, I guess, but don't let it keep you from really enjoying the trip. Have a great time!

plonkee said...

I hope you have a great trip. I'd probably go to the south of France just to laze about on my own budget, but then it's not as far from me :)

SJean said...

I love love LOVE planning trips, but unfortunately, am not quite ready to foot the bill.

It sounds wonderful!

GG said...

Oh, that sounds wonderful and I'm completely jealous.

Escape Brooklyn said...

It sounds like an amazing trip and it's so nice to have something like that to look forward to. How generous of your parents!