Friday, March 2, 2012

Waking up too early

It happens from time to time. I wake up at 5 or so - early for me - with thoughts running through my mind that keep me awake. It's usually not a random worry, but an issue I need to resolve.

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.








17 comments:

Terra said...

I admire your planning which allows you to travel at reasonable, even modest, expense and how you are budgeting for the trips. Your granddaughters will enjoy the Hawaii trip in a future year, and your plans make great sense.

Out on the prairie said...

I like your prioritities, I just hope the grandkids get to do something else excititing.It is hard to tell kids it is cancelled, they don't catch the idea as well.

Linda Myers said...

We hadn't told the girls about Hawaii yet. Fortunately.

Galen Pearl said...

Three weeks in Ecuador for $700? You are travel ninjas! I love reading all your travel plans. And I sympathize about the priorities. You have set this as a lifestyle and you are making the adjustments to give you the resources for living it. I'm really impressed.

MerCyn said...

I love your priorities.We feel the same way - travel while we can. Hub is still working so we can't do as much as you are doing - yet. Home exchanges are a great way to go - we will be doing our third one in April.
Your grandkids will survive. Just do some special things with them close to home and they won't miss a thing. Enjoy!
And have a glass of wine with your taxes...

Perpetua said...

That sounds like a great solution, Linda. Travel of a different kind is our retirement priority too and we do the old clothes and old cars (and indeed the rest of your list) to enable us to live like this. Hawaii will still be there next year. :-)

Sightings said...

I'm more of a homebody -- I make one trip a year, usually in Feb. to a sunny clime, and this year as I've talked about ad nauseam we went to Calif. and Ariz. But, really, all I can say is: Good for you!

June said...

I think you're wise to budget and spend your money the way you do . . . using it on trips that you truly enjoy. And you DO save some bucks with your arranging!!!
Anything that makes it easier to sleep is A Good Thing, so I'm delighted you figured out how to fix your worry.

Linda Reeder said...

Your skill at arranging inexpensive travel is amazing! We just fly, rent cars, and stay in motels. It's expensive, but we like to keep on the go, seeing as many places as we can squeeze in.

#1Nana said...

I saw on the news tonight that airfare is expected to sky-rocket this summer with surcharges for gas. It's so hard to travel with grandkids once they are school age...they can only go when the prices are the highest.

DJan said...

Oh! Visiting Polyface Farm really caught my eye. I would LOVE to do that. You are very frugal travelers, and I think your Hawaii trip can wait a year. You are a very sensible person, Linda. And a good mentor to those of us who would love to apply some of your tricks to our own travel!

Janette said...

Watch Hawaiian airlines... They run some pretty amazing specials out of Vegas an d Seattle. We are going from Phx for $360 round trip! My sil is traveling from Vegas for $320! They usually run the specials four times a year- off season.

Otherwise, it is good to hear we are not the only ones who travel instead of spending bucks at home. We are in Phoenix with the family for a wedding- leaving for the islands tomorrow. The seven of us will hang out. We pay for rooms and food, they do the airfare. I'd rather do this then watch cable!

rosaria said...

You have it all together! An inspiration!

Simone said...

I am inspired by your travel adventures. It gives me hope that one day, J and I will be able to look forward to that same joy. You are frugal and wise.

Simone said...

I am inspired by your travel adventures. It gives me hope that one day, J and I will be able to look forward to that same joy. You are frugal and wise.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so impressed with your planning and how you manage so many wonderful trips on a not extravagant budget. You give me hope.
Thank you so much for the kind comment. It was appreciated.

Tracy said...

well LInda, perhaps something will come along and you can take that awaited Hawaii trip...you never know but you have a lot to look forward to!