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The high price of travel. May 25, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I almost fell off my chair the other day when I read a laudatory article praising a family for its newfound frugal habits. One of said habits involved sacrificing their annual $5,000 vacation for a stay somewhat closer to home. Uh, $5,000 a year for one vacation?! $50,000 in ten years, $100,000 in twenty?!!!

I’d also read two articles that cited a statistic that the average American carries a credit-card balance of just under $5,000. Hmmmm…

Here at Hawk’s Haven, our annual vacation costs more like $500, and we pay off our credit card balance every month. But reading about that seemingly astronomical $5,000 vacation made me wonder what it would actually cost me and our friend Ben to go on one of our dream vacations.

Mind you, we’ve never really looked into this before because it’s certainly a case of if you have to ask, you can’t afford it, and we know we can’t afford it, so we didn’t ask. And let’s leave out the trips abroad, to Greece and Crete, Morocco, Toulouse, Normandy, the Scottish Highlands, and the like. Instead, what about the presumably doable trips to Key West or Williamsburg? What about a train trip across Canada or a vacation in Mexico?

Uh. Checking a flight to Key West as a starting point, I see that a week’s vacation there would cost us $1554 for economy-class airfare, plus additional fees for airport parking. Add in the cost of a petsitter while we’re away, the cost to board our black German shepherd, Shiloh, the cost of a rental car while we’re in Key West, the cost of a hotel or B&B, and the cost of meals. Maybe it wouldn’t add up to $5,000, but I’ll bet it would be at least $3,000, and that’s just for us, not for us and, say, two kids. And it doesn’t include any additional costs, like an ocean excursion or entry fees for museums and the like, or the inevitable haul of seashells, or…

Zowie. What about that cross-Canada train ride? The economy fare starts at $4,269 a person (for double occupancy), not of course counting the cost to get to the starting point or any other expenses. Sound high? For deluxe service, you’ll pay $11,058 a person, again for double occupancy and not counting any additional expenses. Is food included in these fees? I have no idea, but at those prices, I really don’t care. I guess OFB and I will have to content ourselves with watching the cross-Canada train DVD ($14, deluxe meal and wine provided by yours truly). When you’re looking at this sort of expenditure, armchair travel has a lot to recommend it.

Why would it cost as much for two people to take a two-week rail trip across Canada as it would take two people to live for a year? Why would it cost as much to go to Key West for a week as it costs to pay your property taxes for a year? When did travel become unaffordable?!

Our friend Ben and I are often stung by the depiction of Americans as insular rubes who never go anywhere except to Las Vegas and Disney World. But please, people, it’s not that we wouldn’t like to travel, across our continent and across our world. We simply can’t begin to afford it.

               ‘Til next time,

                           Silence

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