Author Topic: To travel or not to travel?  (Read 6335 times)

Adventine

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To travel or not to travel?
« on: March 07, 2012, 07:19:12 AM »
Hi, Mustachians! I need your combined wisdom about a dilemma I have.

My sister's going on a business trip to Germany for a week, and her company is sponsoring all of her expenses. They're allowed to bring family members to tag along, at their personal expense. It will cost around 2350 USD per person to participate, which is the tour package rate offered by the travel agency contracted by my sister's company. That fee includes the airfare, hotel, and land transport. Not included: food. I've been to France twice before, on trips sponsored by my own company, but never to Germany, and I would love to go.

But should I? The travel agency's fees represent about 25% of my total savings (correction: 25% of my total savings = 3 months of my current salary. And I have no debts whatsoever.)

That is a LOT, and it hurts to think about it, but I am weighing it against the rare opportunity to travel. One of me and my sister's most cherished dreams is to travel the world together, which is something we could never afford to do on our own, without some kind of company sponsorship. My previous trips to France were both sponsored by my company, but since then, I transferred departments and I don't think I'll get the opportunity again. So now that my sister has this opportunity, I want to jump at the chance. The last time we were in France, we couldn't afford to go beyond the Ile de France region, let alone other countries in Europe. That's how shoestring our budget was!

I've thought about making my own travel arrangements, such as staying in a different, cheaper hotel, and booking a cheaper flight, but it would take a lot of fun out of the trip if I spent a great deal of time away from my sister. It was fun travelling alone in France, but at times it got really lonely without someone to explore with. Also, the cheapest flights to Europe from my part of the world hover stubbornly around the 1000 USD range (the rate I got in 2010), so my only real room for cutting costs is with the hotel.

So what do you guys think? I really need some advice because I need to confirm my participation by tomorrow! Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2012, 08:19:03 AM by Adventine »

Physics

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2012, 08:06:32 AM »
My knee jerk reaction is spending 3 months salary and 25% of your savings on a 1 week trip is ludicrous, so take that for what it is worth!

Adventine

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2012, 08:16:33 AM »
To be more precise, it's not both. The 3 months' salary = 25% of my total savings. And I have no debts whatsoever. It's just that I love Europe, and travelling, so this opportunity is really really tempting...

arebelspy

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2012, 08:20:19 AM »
I feel like you could do that far, far cheaper.

The wife and I traveled around Europe for 2 months in Summer 09, and spent about $2500 each (5k total) on the trip (including food).  Depends on airfare from your location, but $2350 not including food seems really expensive. 

If traveling is important to you, plan a time to go do it, look for cheap fares, set up a Mustachian way to do it.  Tagging along on an expensive trip for someone else (that is paid for from them, but you pay full price) doesn't seem Mustachian at all, sorry.

You may want to do it anyways, to be with your sister, but know then that you're doing it because of an emotional thing, rather than financial. And that can be okay.  But know going into it that it's not a good financial decision, and live with that.  :)

We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
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onehappypanda

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2012, 08:53:41 AM »
I'd pass on this opportunity. It's a lot of money for 7 days, which really isn't much of a trip when you think about it.

BUT I would talk to your sister and plan on doing something similar down the road. Find cheap airfare, stay in a cheap hotel or hostels, do inexpensive things that are still awesome. I bet you could work out a 14-day trip for about the same cost if you're money-savvy and go on an off season, which would be way more worth it, at least to me.

Guitarist

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2012, 09:11:47 AM »
You need at least two weeks if you are changing that many time zones. You will need 2 or 3 days just to get adjusted.
Luckily I have family in Germany so my trips there are pretty cheap.
You should go one day, but this is too much for 7 days.
And in my opinion, chartered trips are boring.

Melissa

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2012, 10:11:25 AM »
Here is a question for you-Are you really even going to have that much time with her?  If this is a business trip are there meeting and such that she will have to attend?  I know that you could very easily explore on your own, but if the point of the trip was to be with your sister then this might not be the right time.

I have to agree with everyone else on the cost vs the amount of time you will be there.  You could easily plan a trip on your own for the same price and be able to go for over 2 weeks.

AJ

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2012, 11:41:03 AM »
Since this is a business trip for your sister, will she be getting her own hotel room? *Must* you buy the package, or could you DIY it for yourself? I'm thinking, if you could bunk with your sister, you could just buy your own plane ticket and tour on your own.

Mrs MM

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2012, 12:24:52 PM »
I would also recommend looking into other flight options and bunking with your sister.  I'm not sure what the "land" transportation includes, but if it's just getting from the airport to the hotel, then I'd look into other options.  If you arrive at the same time as your sister, perhaps you could share that cost?

I also agree that you'll want to know how much time your sister will actually have to spend time with you.  I would probably also stay a bit longer, if possible.

Basically, avoid the travel agency, share accommodations and other costs, and hopefully you can save money and get to spend time with your sister!

Note: I spent $8000 CAD to travel through Australia and New Zealand for THREE months (including a flight over $2000 CAD, although this was in the year 2000), so that does seem like a lot for just one week!

sol

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2012, 03:02:06 PM »
Note: I spent $8000 CAD to travel through Australia and New Zealand for THREE months (including a flight over $2000 CAD, although this was in the year 2000), so that does seem like a lot for just one week!

Shocking, I was in those two countries in 2000, shoestringing it.  My day to day expenses ran about $1k/month, but that didn't include airfare.  Thinking back on some of that trip's misbehaviors, I really hope for your sake that we never met.

To the OP: chartered trips are basically ALWAYS a waste of money.  If they weren't there wouldn't be companies making money off of offering them.  I'd skip this opportunity and do your own thing later on.  If you have time off, or are retired, you can get free sea passage to Europe for minimal labor, get a train pass and hostel membership, and slum the whole continent on pocket change.

I met a Bulgarian girl in Australia who showed up in Sydney with $100 to her name and managed to stay for three years by stripping about one weekend a month.  I'm just saying, there is ALWAYS a cheaper way.

Parizade

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2012, 03:58:02 AM »
That is a LOT, and it hurts to think about it, but I am weighing it against the rare opportunity to travel.

I think I may be missing something here, but paying $2350 for a one week trip without food doesn't sound like a rare opportunity to me. That sounds like an every day kind of opportunity.

If traveling with your sister is a dream, then plan for it and take a trip that fulfills your dreams without busting your budget. Don't settle for a trip that sort of gives you a little taste of your dream while you go broke.

catalana

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2012, 06:42:17 AM »
I would agree it doesn't look a good deal - plus if she is working then you're going to be spending a lot of time on your own anyway.

Oh and if she wants the company, then I suggest she pays half your costs.  This is what my OH does whenever I join him on a work trip.  To be honest I rarely join him at the time, because he is busy during the day, and often heads out for dinner with colleagues in the evenings.  Usually I come out at the end, and we get a cheap holiday because we've saved his air fares.  The rest of the costs (my flights, our shared accommodation and food) are split evenly.

Adventine

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2012, 08:10:34 AM »
So I came to my senses, and decided to wait for a more convenient time and cheaper fares/hotels/everything.

Thank you to all who replied. I thought I was doing pretty well in the Way of the Mustache (I've saved 50% of my salary since I first started working 3 years ago, have zero debt, and live without credit cards). I thought I was past making stupid money mistakes due to judgment clouded by emotions. But no, I am not. It's a humbling but good reminder to have. :)

Special thanks to the poster who mentioned the Stripping on Vacation Technique. I definitely have to look into it :D (Not. Haha)

Mrs MM

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2012, 09:44:52 AM »
Note: I spent $8000 CAD to travel through Australia and New Zealand for THREE months (including a flight over $2000 CAD, although this was in the year 2000), so that does seem like a lot for just one week!

Shocking, I was in those two countries in 2000, shoestringing it.  My day to day expenses ran about $1k/month, but that didn't include airfare.  Thinking back on some of that trip's misbehaviors, I really hope for your sake that we never met.

Haha!  I guess you never know... I was there from Jan-Mar 2000.  Looks like you out-bad-assed me financially, sol.  We had quite a few flights and we had an Oz Experience pass, plus we went on a lot of tours (Northern Territory Adventure tour, sailing trip, etc.)  It was a pretty decadent trip, although the individual cost of most things was pretty cheap.  We did stay in hostels, but most were about $20-25/night AUS.  We also consumed a great deal of alcohol.  Most people I met were on their last dime and many were working - most were there much longer than 3 months.  They were all having great fun though.

Sorry to hijack, Adventine.  I think you're pretty badass for saving 50% of your salary and not having debt!  Everyone is tempted by a nice vacation, but it's true that vacations are where people feel justified in spending a whole bunch of money, even though many cheaper options might be available.

shdrdr

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Re: To travel or not to travel?
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2012, 12:45:41 PM »
When is the trip?  I'm planning to go to Europe this summer, and plane fares vary depending time of the year. Round trip fare now is about $800, but in the summer the cheapest I found was $1200.
Take that out of the $2350 the tour company charges, and that leaves about $1000 for the week. Not bad if you plan to stay in a decent hotel. If you don't mind sleeping in a room with 10 other people, you can stay in a hostel for $20/night. Even private rooms in a hostel are cheaper than a hotel.