The Cost of Travel

Travel is expensive. But you know what I’ve decided? I don’t care. I’m doing everything “right”:

  1. I have 6 months in emergency reserves, plus all of my insurance deductibles set aside. (Total: ~$24,000)
  2. I am investing 20% for retirement, including maxing out my 401(k).
  3. I have a pretty good picture of my spending.
  4. I am making a car payment to myself, automatically each month, to be able to pay for my next car in cash. Even though I’ve only had my current car for about a year and a half.
  5. I’m saving about 50% of my net pay each month.
  6. My net worth has exceeded my expected gross annual income. (w00t!)
  7. I have no family obligations (plus I’m single).
  8. I have no debt (and never have).

So I’m planning on taking all of my vacation days for travel, plus weekend jaunts. But wow, are weekend jaunts more expensive! I’m cool with it taking longer to buy a condo if that means I get to travel more in the meantime (the amount of vacation time I have will limit this from really being much of a problem though).

Thus far in my young life, I’ve been to many cities in North America and Europe:

  • Austria: Vienna
  • Belgium: Brussels
  • Canada: Edmonton, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria
  • Czech Republic: Prague
  • France: Paris, Strasbourg
  • Germany: Berlin, Cologne, Stuttgart
  • Greece: Athens
  • Italy: Rome
  • Mexico: Cancun, Manzanillo, Nuevo Vallarta, San Jose del Cabo
  • Netherlands: some town I can’t remember the name of
  • Poland: Krakow
  • Slovakia: Bratislava
  • United Kingdom: London
  • United States: 7 states

Where have I not been that I would like to go or some places that I would like to go again? I’m going to categorize these by the number of weeks I would want to spend seeing them (0 = weekend jaunt).

  • Australia (1-2)
  • Canada: Rockies (0), Nova Scotia (0), Quebec City (0), Victoria (0 – it’s been awhile)
  • Europe: Ireland (1), Scotland (1), Spain (1-2)
  • New Zealand (1-2)
  • United States: the other 43 states* :)
*I know that that isn’t super clear, but I’m not quite ready for you guys to know which state I live in.

I’m sure that I’m missing many places that I haven’t been, but this is my list for now. I don’t want to overextend myself with travel and sports. Taking a vacation a month in January, February, and March was a bit much. I think that I should look at having a minimum of a month break between trips. I’m not going anywhere in April or in May and then I’m going away for about a week and a half in June. This puts remaining trip slots for the year in August/September and October/November.

As for my June trip, I’ve already paid for the flights and the hotel in full. So all that is left is food, touristing, and airport transfers.

If I go on a trip in August/September with my mom, we will probably go to Waikiki or one of the Canadian weekend trips that I would like to do. If I go with a friend, maybe we would go to Washington, DC, but I wouldn’t do that trip in November with the election.

Soon, I should start my 2013 travel planning! (Mostly for the placement of the 2 week trip so I can plan my vacation days accordingly.)

Readers, any cities that you’re particularly fond of and you think I should visit? :) What is your favorite US city to visit and why?

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33 thoughts on “The Cost of Travel

  1. Wow you traveled a lot! It must be great to be able to foster an appreciation for these cities’ beauty. I suggest you travel in Asia too :)

    • I will probably get there eventually, but I think it will have to be with someone else planning the trip because right now, that it is otherwise just way out of something I would do. I definitely think it’s pretty and an interesting place to visit!

  2. Washington, D.C.

    Watch for Roman allusions in architecture, monuments, etc. Absolutely fascinating city and, unlike Canada, museums are largely free.

      • Yeah man. I’ve been to Ottawa and went to the “war museum” for example. Good museum but kind of ridiculous that I needed to pay like $12. Sure, they let veterans in for free, but we all have family and friends who are veterans; our government should keep it free to honour our the memory of our military and encourage attendance.

  3. I’ve really never been anywhere in the states other than Seattle, so I really can’t comment on favorite states. I think you’re doing great and you SHOULD travel a little :)

  4. Travel is extremely important to us. We love it! I’ve been to 5 continents (Austrailia and Antarctica are the two I haven’t been to). I’ve also lived in 9 different states and been to all but 4 or 5 of them (I dislike the the northeast for some reason). We’ve got a trip to SE Asia planned where we will visit Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam. I don’t feel guilty about it at all, mainly b/c like you, we have most of our savings taken care of AND I would hate to always want to go somewhere and die early never having seen it. You have to live a little.

    We just got into travel hacking. It’s work, but it’s fun for us and will probably save us some money!

    • Antarctica would be interesting… I’m kind of leaning towards Australia or New Zealand for next year as a big trip. I have the vacation days to take 2 weeks in say April. Some of my friends say that I should quit my job and go traveling with my cash instead of buying a condo, but honestly, I want to put down roots now and I can still afford to travel extensively within my vacation time allotment.

      What’s travel hacking?

      • When we get our sailboat and sail around the world, we’ll send you some pictures from antarctica!

        visit flyertalk.com or milepoint.com and be ready to learn about travel hacking. Cliff notes: using mileage bonuses and what not to get “free” travel.

        • I will definitely await those photos! I’m not much of a sailboat person, but I’m sure the photos would be amazing.

          I love miles, but they’re so hard to use right. My flights for my June trip were paid for with miles, which cut the costs of the trip down a bit.

    • Thanks, Bridget! Why do you love SF so much? I wasn’t a huge fan of it when I was there. I should probably head there in the summer sometime, oops.

      What’s your favorite Canadian city?

  5. I think you should go back to Italy sometime and see other places besides Rome. Florence and the Tuscan towns surrounding it, plus any coastal area (Cinque Terra, for instance) are all amazing. It is seriously not overrated. I’ve been to Ireland and while it was fun, I’d go back to Italy 10x over before I went back.

    As far as the U.S., I’m not sure what coast you’re on, but in the summer, I’d consider a weekend trip to coastal Maine (near Portland). Amazing food, gorgeous lakes and beaches, fun outdoor activities and good weather (in the summer!) and also all pretty affordable once you’re there. I also like the Florida Keys a lot, but it’s a hike to get down there.

    • Agreed on Italy! I went on an organized trip and I definitely wish I had seen more of Italy or even had more than one day in Rome. I would love to go back to the south of France too.

      I’m a huge fan of coastal trips in the summer – Maine sounds like a nice idea, thanks!

  6. Haha, we don’t do any of the “right” things on your list (except 3) and still prioritize travel, so I would say you definitely deserve it!

    I haven’t been outside North America so I can’t really make suggestions. I grew up in the DC area so I know there is so much fun touristy stuff to do there and I second the museums endorsement as many (but not all) of them are free. I was shocked the first time I had/was “suggested” to pay to enter a museum in NYC. And just to see all the important buildings and famous monuments and such. It’s very dense with worthwhile sights.

    • Well, it started out as a list of “right” things and then just turned into a list of things I was doing, haha. I think you guys are doing just fine too :)

      Thanks – I definitely think I will end up making a long weekend trip to DC at some point in the next year or two. I prioritize downtime too, so I am working really hard to not overbook myself for traveling.

  7. I haven’t been able to travel much even since I moved out when I started college. My parents were no longer willing to foot the bill. I’m pretty fond of Louisville, the city I currently live but I think I could be just a little biased. If you do get a chance to visit, definitely come for Kentucky Derby

  8. I’m partial to Boston, it’s where I’m originally from and I love visited. Awesome city, lots to do, and I miss the food. Especially the Chinese food!! Nothing compares to it down here. I traveled a lot during my childhood, usually long car rides (across the US! with 2 little sisters!), and that’s made me more of a homebody as an adult. Either I’m flying, or I’m not going! :) My wish list is Fiji, Ireland, and Hawaii.

    • What is so great about Boston’s Chinese food? I traveled quite a bit in my teens and in college, as you can see from the list I made. So I’m definitely feeling like more of a homebody now too :)

      One of my crazy ideas is a huge road trip across the continent – all the way across Canada and a loop through the western, eastern, and southern-most States. That could be fun.

      I definitely love flying, though there are still some good weekend trips in my area that I haven’t done yet.

  9. “One of my crazy ideas is a huge road trip across the continent – all the way across Canada and a loop through the western, eastern, and southern-most States. That could be fun.”

    Umm….Can I come? You drive, i’ll cover the gas. :)

    • The first rule of road trips is that all passengers drive :) I don’t think I’ve ever really driven further than about 4 hours.

      • haha – even if I have to drive, i’m still in. That souinds like an epic adventure – of course it would take forever if you really wanted to enjoy all parts of both countries. :)

  10. “Some of my friends say that I should quit my job and go traveling with my cash instead of buying a condo, but honestly, I want to put down roots now and I can still afford to travel extensively within my vacation time allotment.”

    I would not recommend this, because you like your job. I imagine it would be harder to get a job with the same pay with a hole in your job history. If your employer allowed you to to take an extended leave of absence, that would be something else – still – I don’t know if I’d risk it – knowing how many perks you seem to have.

    You certainly know my mindset on travel – I’m basically going all out – and I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get back – are there other places I’d like to see? Absolutely. But I’d rather spend my time traveling enjoying it, instead of watching over every single penny.

    • If I stay with my current employer for a few more years, I might be able to take a few months off as a leave of absence. Ignoring the job part, I don’t really want to do it either.

      I’m far more interested right now in putting down roots than in extended travel. I have spent a lot of time traveling and moving so far in my life that I just want to stay put. Apparently the last few years of staying put haven’t been enough and I want a few more!

      Your trip is going to be awesome! I can’t wait to hear all about it :)

      • I have a feeling that I will want to stay put for quite some time after my trip – the big question is just WHERE.

        • You have 50 states to choose from! Pick one and if you don’t like it after a year, try another one. I would try moving as far away from your family as possible for a few years. That’s what I did for college :)

  11. I often hear that spending money on experiences rather than things is one of the keys to happiness, and I have definitely found this to be true. When I think of my travel, I think I’ve also been to more places outside of the US than here. Some of my favorite US cities are on the East Coast. I love Boston, and some of the smaller towns in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. I also really like San Fran.

    Ireland is such an amazing country for vacation- just don’t spend too much time in Dublin! The West Coast of Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been!

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