This time it was about our travel budget. My husband Art and I have decided to travel when we can, while we can, but we're not expensive travelers. We put away a certain amount every month for travel, and if we don't have the money in the account, we don't go on the trip.
Our 10-day trip to Hawaii before Christmas was to a timeshare, as was our 18-day trip to Arizona in January. We bought these timeshares a while back, when we were both still working and when I was a sucker for timeshare presentations. Now and then I think about selling them, but not yet - we'd take a very large loss and all we'd get out of it is freedom from the annual maintenance fees, which are doable, and we're still enjoying using the timeshares. Our February trip to Ecuador was actually pretty inexpensive - we used miles for our airfare and the lodging was a home exchange. We were gone three weeks and spent a total of $700. Not bad.
These trips got us out of the discouraging Pacific Northwest weather for a good part of the winter.
For the rest of the year, I'd lined up a trip to Appalachia for April, a schooner cruise in Maine for August, a week south of Cancun for October, and a week in Hawaii with our 12-year-old twin granddaughters between Christmas and New Year. Plus, we're still planning on renting a park model in Tucson for January and February of next year.
And that was what kept me awake. The travel plans exceeded our budget. So, for the first time since we retired, I prioritized the trips as to feasibility.
The Cancun trip is a necessity. Our daughter Laura is getting married in a town south of there. The wedding will be only siblings and parents and a very few close friends. We have agreed to split the airfare for eight siblings and spouses. That commitment takes a chunk out of our travel budget but it's very worth it.
The April trip is a necessity in that we have to be out of our house between April 15 and April 26. That's the time when our home exchange partners from Ecuador will be staying in our house to attend their daughter's wedding in Seattle. We could go anywhere, of course, but we decided on Appalachia because (1) we've never been there and (2) I am a genealogy buff and in Kentucky and Tennessee there are several cemeteries full of my relatives and (3) there's a "Crooked Road" in southwest Virginia offering numerous Appalachian music and craft venues and (4) we want to visit Polyface Farm in Virginia, site of one of the discussions in "The Omnivore's Dilemma". I've whittled down the cost pretty well by having us fly into St. Louis and depart from Charlottesville, staying with couples who belong to the Evergreen Club (online group, you call and make arrangements with fellow empty nesters and pay $15 a night).
The Maine trip is a treat. This will be our fifth cruise out of Rockland in the last ten years. It's profoundly relaxing and beautiful and is probably Art's favorite time of all. We've already paid the deposit. We'll use a companion fare certificate from Alaska airlines so one of us will pay only $100 for our ticket. We'll stay with friends for a couple of days before and may be able to set up a home exchange for a week afterwards.
The Hawaii trip was something I've wanted to do for my granddaughters, who live quite locally in Oregon. I'd gotten permission from their parents, but when I checked out airfare I found to my distress that each seat costs $800. Then, when we get there, I'm pretty much on my own managing the girls, because when they're with us (in July and in December), Art does the cooking but pretty much relaxes and lives his own life when they're visiting. I realized I'd be paying $3200 to wear myself out. I thought about inviting the parents, too, but then I'm paying $4,800. Too much money for our budget. So, reluctantly, I decided to forego the Hawaii trip until a year when we don't have much other travel scheduled. Maybe 2013.
Once I realized Hawaii was the budget buster, and let the trip fall out of my mind, my sleep issue went away.
All this travel is our extravagance. We drive old cars and wear mostly old clothes and have only basic cable and our TV is a 27-inch box rather than a 47-inch flat screen and we only see movies when they come out on Netflix and we get our books mostly from the library rather than a bookstore. There will come a time when the energy required to travel will be too much, or we'll have a major expense that will wipe out the travel budget, or one of those other life things that happen. For now, we want to go and see and do.
Now I'll get back to the income taxes. For some reason, they're not keeping me awake.