Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sugar high

I should preface this post with the information that I am suffering from sugar high/sugar withdrawal right now due to the massive quantities of cake I had last night at work. My jitteriness is compounded by the massive thunderstorm raging outside my window that has forced me indoors when I had plans to go swimming with a friend.

Maybe it’s the sugar talking or maybe I’m just so ready to GO. Either way, I can barely even type this because my brain is moving so quickly, jumping from one topic to the next that I want to research/write about/etc. This is exactly how I feel the day before a long anticipated trip…speaking of trips, mine is just under 2 months away…

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Magic trip-planning formula?

In most life situations, I like to think I can be spontaneous.  Financial situations, though? No. I like to know what I’m getting into.  Making a travel budget is no different.  Oh sure, I’ll make sure I have some wiggle room so that if something comes up unexpectedly or there’s an activity that I just cannot pass up I can do it, but even then, I’ve financially planned for spontaneity. Some people might see that as being Type A. I see it as a way to travel better, longer, and cheaper. Judge me if you must; follow my lead if you’re smart. 😉 Just kidding, I think that everyone has a different way of traveling and as long as that way works for you, keep on keeping on.

What was my point? I know I had one…ahh, yes, my point was sometimes I wonder if I am too obsessive about being able to accurately predict what I’ll spend on a trip. Didn’t get that from the paragraph above? Yea, me neither, but I swear that’s what I was thinking about when I started writing this post.  I should really work on my editing skills. Anyway. What made me think of this was the following situation: I was researching hostels in Paris, Nice, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Salerno and narrowing down my picks for each city. I realized that a couple of the places would be less expensive than I had previously assumed. That got me thinking about my budget projection for each country, which made me question how accurate said projections are.  That in turn made me wish that there was some magic formula I could use to figure this all out, like accommodation cost = x, food cost = y, transportation cost = z, and activity costs = v. If x=n, you can use that to figure out the average costs of y, z, and v.  This made me break out various Lonely Planet guide books looking for a correlation between accommodation cost and average daily budget.  Yes, I am a nerd and yes, this is really what I’m doing on Friday night. My findings were inconclusive.  The average accommodation costs were anywhere between a fifth and half of the average daily budget for the country.  So no magic formula. 😦  Oh well, worth a try. Then it dawned on me.  As I said earlier, I think that everyone has a different way of traveling and as long as that way works for you, keep on keeping on. So I thought to myself, ok self, what is your way of traveling?  Well, I prefer to walk or take basic public transportation whenever possible.  I value price followed by safety and cleanliness followed by location followed by atmosphere when I look for accommodation.  I eat street food whenever possible for a more authentic experience.  If I have time, I like to spend a couple days just getting to know the place I’m in before engaging in any tourist activities (I find it helps me to get a truer feel for the culture and helps me weed out the tourist traps).  

Knowing all this and my previous experiences of traveling on a budget, I decided (somewhat arbitrarily) that accommodation and transportation usually take up half of my budget and food and activities take up the other half. Out of the first half, it’s probably something like a 70/30 split. 70% of 50% is 35%. Ok, yea 35% of my budget on accommodation sounds reasonable. 15% on transportation. For the second half of my budget, it’s probably closer to 50/50 so 25% each for food and activities.   I put this to the test for my budget projection for Italy.  I picked Florence as my test accommodation because I think that will be close to the average of what I spend in Italy. The hostel that is my top pick at the moment is $24 USD/ night.  If that is 35% of my budget, my budget is $68.57 USD/day which is right on par with what I had estimated ($65-72/day).  

Woot it worked! That doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for other places, because some will have lots of free activities, others will have no street food, others will be very walkable, and still others will involve sleeping in a hut.  The important thing to me is not that it worked, but that I now have a new way to be totally obsessive compulsive about my trip budget planning.  Obviously, this magic (or not so magic if you want to be completely honest about it, which I don’t) formula is tailor made for me and is based on how I weigh each of the four categories.  If you prefer eating all your meals out, but not really doing many paid activities or if you want to cook most of your meals and stay in nice, private rooms or if you are renting a car, but staying in a shit-hole of a hostel or if you…well, you get the idea. You have to figure out what is the most important thing to you.

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Waiting for my head to catch up

I tried to do some trip research today, but I guess my head still isn’t up to par because I couldn’t make heads or tails of what I was reading. Blech. Ok concussion, I’m done with you, go away nowwww.

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My favorite order is out of order…

Today I bought plane tickets for my stint in Spain in October with the ‘rents. So what?, you may ask. You need those plane tickets. To which I answer, why yes I do, but I should first probably buy the ticket that is going to get me to Europe. Minor detail.  My proposed departure date is a mere 2 months and 3 days away and I still haven’t bought my flight over there.  I really need to get my ass in gear, but this damn concussion isn’t helping anything.  

I’m a week behind on my spanish lessons, I haven’t bought my flight to London, I need to finalize details of the France portion of my trip, I need to rework the Italy portion, I need to take a second look at the financial projection (which may lead to nixing Morocco and overhauling Spain and Portugal), I still haven’t opened a Schwab savings account (hello no ATM fees!), I need to figure out how to best utilize the airline miles I’ve been accruing, I’d like to compile a list of possible work leads for Australia, get a YHA membership, buy travel insurance and a dozen other details.

So yea, that’s what I need to do. It would be helpful if I would do things in a logical order, but I know that’s not going to happen. I’ll at least try to get things done by the time they have to get done…for the moment that means getting back on track with my spanish lessons, buying a flight to london, sending in the info for my schwab account and figuring out the first 3 weeks of my trip. Ok, yea, that’s manageable. Those will be my goals for the week.  Paying my rent should really be on that list too…and going the bank to deposit some checks so the rent check doesn’t bounce. Ok, now that’s my list…until I think of more things.

Now, I’ve got to go lie down and try not to think for a while.  If you’ve ever had a bad concussion, you’ll sympathize. 

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I know I just wrote a post about something similar, but I just stumbled across this article that perfectly puts into words how I feel about this adventure I’m about to embark on. Hopefully this will inspire someone else to take the plunge 🙂

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The difference between vacation and real life

This is me pouting. I just found out Lindsey can’t come to Italy with me. Boooo, I’m so disappointed! I was really looking forward to exploring a new (to us) country with her! At the same time, I absolutely get where she’s coming from. The airfare alone was looking reeaaally expensive (boston-rome rt = >$900) and i know she’s got other financial commitments (student loans, anyone? not to mention an apartment in boston).  So I do understand. I’m not happy about it lol, but I understand.

It all comes down to priorities and lifestyles.  For her, this trip would have been a much needed vacay from “real life”. For me, this trip is “real life”.  I want to make travel my norm.  I want exploring new cultures to be my everyday, not once every 10 years. That is not a life most people want. Oh they may say they do, but when they really look at what is important to them, a nomadic lifestyle doesn’t fit in. After all, look at what I’m giving up to live this life.  Security, first and foremost.  A steady paycheck. Friends and family that are just a short drive or a phone call away.  My cat.  Routine.  Comfort.  Watching my niece and nephews grow up.  Getting together with cousins, aunts, and uncle in the fall to watch football games.  The American Dream.  Etc.

It’s a lot to give up. 

Don’t feel sorry for me, I’m getting a lot as well. Complete independence. Freedom.  Something new every day.  Experiences most people can’t even dream about. Fresh perspectives. First-hand knowledge about the world.  A chance to live my dream. Travel experience that is sure to come in handy when I start my ecotourism company.  The opportunity to meet countless people from all different walks of life.

Whoops, got off on a tangent (again).  The point of this was to say, Linds, I absolutely understand that it’s not a priority and that is ok.  You’ve gotta do what is right for you.  If somewhere down the line you want to meet up, let me know. 🙂 You will always be welcome to join me! ❤

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I am the biggest klutz I have ever met

Sorry about the brief hiatus folks.  I got a concussion friday night from my moped.  The crazy thing is not that I got a concussion due to my moped, it’s how I got it.  I wasn’t even riding it.  As I was pushing my moped up the ramp into my house (durham has a lot of theft), it fell on me, knocking my big head (and shoulder, and hip) to the pavement.  Then, after I stood up and righted my scooter, it fell on me again, bruising my other side.  Probably because I was woozy from getting a concussion.  So yea, FUN. Sorry again for not adding anything new in a few days, but at least yall know why now. As soon as I can look at a computer screen without getting a massive headache after 15 minutes, I’ll add some more content.

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