I’ve been horribly sick all week with a nasty, nasty sinus infection so I guess I’m just in a whiny mood right now so please excuse me for this post if it really is overly whiny. I’m in the process of trying to choose and plan our 2018 trips right now and this always gets me in a twist about how much I think we should spend versus what experiences we really want to have (and how much time we have as well). Stephen and I do pretty well in terms of making a living and we are also frugal in how we live. We’ve been in the same small 2 bedroom house for about 15 years now, his car is fully paid for and I don’t drive a ridiculously fancy car, we don’t have children and we do save a lot for our retirement and in general we don’t have any credit card debt and don’t buy much, if any, luxury items. We look for travel deals, sometime use a travel agent to get extra perks and travel during shoulder season a lot but still, some things are just flat out expensive.
So, we can afford nice vacations on our disposable income but then I still kvetch a lot about how much to spend. I know a lot of bloggers can do their amazing trips because they are getting things comped, which is great but I don’t have the time to monetize this blog or make it super fancy. I don’t have a marketing background and I have a full time 50+ hour a week day job. So, I don’t think that will be an option for us anytime soon. I will say that I read some travel bloggers and I suspect that several of them must have an inordinate amount of credit card debt that they don’t disclose because some things just don’t add up or I am really clueless about blogs and how much money people make on them, which is a good possibility.
The way we do vacations in our house is that I pay for the airfare and the hotels and I do all the planning. Steve pretty much pays for everything else on vacation, including meals, entertainment, tips, drinks, rental car, museum tickets, etc… I’ll pay for a few things on my own like if I really want a pedicure or a massage or something that is strictly personal to me. That balance works pretty well for us given our individual incomes.
Right now my dilemma for 2018 is looking at airfare. I’d really like to take a nice trip to either Europe or Japan early next September – maybe a 9 or 10 day trip. Some ideas are Paris and the French Riviera, Rome and Tuscany, Greek Isles or maybe Amsterdam and Brussels. Here is where I start to wring my hands. Steve and I would really like to fly business class. We sucked it up and flew coach to Tahiti earlier this year and we were SO miserable. I hate to sound like a prima donna but Steve is 6’4 and I swear the seats have gotten so tight, narrow and uncomfortable that it’s almost a joke. Even I was horribly uncomfortable on that flight and we didn’t sleep a wink.
Flights to Europe are showing a business class ticket cost of about $3500 per person ($7,000 for two) on American. That seems almost unconscionable to me to spend that much on airfare (coach fare is about half of that). Yes, we can afford it but I actually feel guilty for even thinking of paying it. On the other hand, it will also get us a ton of points that we can use for a business class ticket to Hong Kong or Japan for 2019 (which is even pricier at around $6500 per person). I know American is now offering “premium economy” but it looks like all you get is an extra inch or two on the recline and seat space plus some beer and wine is included. I’m not sure it’s what I really want or makes a big difference in terms of comfort. I’m always skeptical of the airlines.
That then makes me think about hotels. If I spend that much on airfare, I’m more likely to pull back on hotels. I hate going all that way to spend time in subpar hotels. I’ll admit it – if I’m traveling 10 hours plus and am going someplace on my bucket list, then I want the hotel with the amazing view, the great pool, the cool cocktail lounge and the top notch service. I also know that can easily cost over 600 or 700 euros a night, even for the basic room. The most I have ever spent on a hotel was $1,000 per night and it was for our 10 year wedding anniversary and was only for 3 days. That was hard for me to swallow and still is today. We usually try to travel during shoulder season to save costs but still the cost of airfare and hotels seems crazy to me now. I have never been one to set a hard budget on any trip like “we can’t spend a penny more than $8,500 for everything” but I do watch the overall cost.
So, for 2018, I haven’t made up my mind at all. I’ve got plenty of time to decide as airfare for most of September isn’t even up yet so maybe the cost will go down a little. I’m leaning towards sucking it up and paying for the business class air to Europe and cutting out a weekend or two trip like we usually do each summer to Austin or California to make up for the extra spend. Oh, and yes, I realize the above are nothing more than first world problems and I should probably just shut up.