Friday, September 12, 2008

My Financial Kryptonite

Since I was feeling a bit blue and melancholy recently, I did what I often do when I’m feeling down – I flipped through my vacation scrapbooks.

While I was growing up, my parents couldn’t afford to take my sister and me on very many vacations. I spent most of my life listening enviously to other people’s tales of travels to far-flung, exotic places.

I can still recall how I was instantly transported to Italy when my high school classmate, AR, described the beautiful frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. I eagerly eavesdropped my law school classmate, DP's, tales of her sailing trip to Costa Rica during winter break. I remember how I looked longingly at my friend SB’s pictures of himself cuddling tiger cubs in Indonesia.

In 2003, I received a nice bonus ($7,000 after taxes) from my company. Rather than using the bonus money to pay off debt, I blew it on a fabulous, extravagant trip to Australia. I was instantly hooked.

I no longer wanted to travel cheaply like I did when I was in school. I live frugally day-to-day, and a vacation is my escape from the daily drudgery of life. If I’m going to vacation, I want to stay at luxurious accommodations and I want to eat extravagantly!

I watched a documentary on MTV called A Map for Saturday, where Brook Silva-Braga, a 20-something year old, documented his year’s travels through 26 countries on 4 continents. Silva-Braga’s budget travels required him to deal with lack of privacy in hostels, bed bugs, cheap eats and travel scams. As much as I envy the breadth of his travels, I know I don’t want to explore the world through this type of prism. I can live with the trade-off of not being able to travel so frequently or extensively when I have a relatively expensive travel budget.

Traveling is clearly my financial kryptonite, my Achilles' heel. But I'm okay with that since I don’t toil away in a cubicle 9 hours a day because I find it rewarding - it is merely a means to an end.

Although I don’t regret one bit that I used my bonuses to travel rather than to pay down debts, I do rue the fact that I often used my credit cards to finance my vacations. The biggest difference now is that I will budget my trips, save, and will never go into debt to go on a little holiday anymore.


Leakkhena said...

Hope you enjoyed oz. I've spent too much on travel already and I know that it's not even as much as what some of our friends have spent.

Luxury vs backpacking, luxury wins hands down! The most I've ever spent on a single trip was $12k and it was SOOOO fun and memorable :) Memories last forever.

L @