When I woke up last week, I didn’t know I’d be buying a plane ticket to Italy. Actually I thought I’d be buying a ticket to Barcelona. But that’s not what happened.
A few weeks ago, I signed up for travel deal emails from Scott’s Cheap Flights. Daily, deals land in my inbox. Most of them I ignore. Last Monday I saw a deal for $400 flights to Spain – from Richmond.
And this wasn’t a cheap airline: it was Delta. How could this be happening?
Sure enough, it was true. I found $400 flights from Richmond to Barcelona in May and August and a few other odd times. I had to get in on this. Spain has never been the top of my bucket list – not even in the top 10, maybe the top 15 – but $400? Who could say no to that? It’s like passing on an open bar at a wedding.
I wanted to explore dates more and what other Spanish cities I might venture to, so I added “Spain” to do my running to-do list that I keep in the Notes of my phone—as in “Buy plane ticket to Spain.” I put it right below, “Polish boots.”
The next day (Tuesday), I arrive to my evening class. I haven’t bought the Barcelona tickets yet. But then my classmate says, “Delta is having some wild deals today. My friend just got a flight to Paris.”
Me: “I know! I have it on my to-do list to buy a ticket to Spain.” (Who says stuff like that?)
While the professor begins her lecture, I hop onto Delta’s website and, instead of putting RIC to BCN, I search RIC to VCE, as in Venice. I gape. I find flights in August to Venice for $405.
This can’t be real.
On my list of countries to see, Italy is number two. When I tried to study abroad in college, I would’ve gone to Florence. $405 to Venice? I quickly Google distances from Venice to Rome, to Florence, to Milan. I find a blog outlining doing Italy in a week. I read that Italy can be done on a budget. I am sold.
My classmates help me decide if I should go for seven or eight days. Eight days, we agree.
I click “Confirm.”
Walking home from class, I call my mom. I know she’ll be upset. That’s how my parents process my trips. I’ve wanted to travel since childhood, and trips to the Appalachian mountains are not the sort of traveling I meant.
This past January when I booked my first trip abroad, solo to Copenhagen, I thought I wouldn’t tell my parents until the day I left. But then I was so excited so I told them.
Mom: “…What? You’re going to Europe? By yourself?” And then, “Oh, that’s…nice…” She struggled to identify an adjective that didn’t reveal her trepidation at her baby child departing U.S. soil unaccompanied.
The day I returned from Copenhagen, I booked a trip to Amsterdam for three months later. I called my mom to relay the news.
“Don’t you think it’s too soon?” she said. “You just got back…ten hours ago…”
“Yeah, but I loved it,” I try to explain. “And it’s only $538 to go.”
When I got accepted to a free trip to Qatar through my university, my parents asked if I was actually going. As in, “That’s great you got chosen to go, but you’re not surely going?”
And then, this September, I bought a ticket to Germany in March. I made a promise to myself after returning from Amsterdam with Qatar already on my calendar that I would always have a trip planned for my future at any given time. And Germany would be next.
I wasn’t going to tell my parents about Germany, I knew they would call me reckless (me? reckless?), but it slipped out a few weeks later.
Mom: “Are you going alone again?”
Me: (pauses) “Well, if someone wants to go with me, they’re welcome to…”
So here we are. I haven’t even gone to Germany yet, and I’ve bought a ticket to Italy. For $405!
Me: “Mom, I’m so excited! I have something to tell you, but you’re going to be mad.”
Mom: “I won’t be mad. What is it?”
Me: “I’m going to Italy! In August! For $400!”
She tells me she’s not angry, though she should listen to her tone. She tells me I just got back from Qatar, I’m going to New Orleans in January and Germany in March, what am I thinking. “It seems a little impulsive,” she says as if that’s an insult. “You’re like a travelholic lately.” Also another attempt at an insult. “Are you trying to see every country in a year?”
Me internally: Ding ding ding.
Just kidding, Mom.
I try to explain: “While it might seem that way, and I understand why it seems that way, (and maybe it is that way,) but I still have a head on my shoulders, and the trip isn’t for ten months so it can’t be that impulsive. And it’s $400, Mom. Do you know how cheap $400 is?”
Mom: “But what about going with someone? Why do you have to go alone? Why can’t you make plans with friends and just wait a little? Not just fifteen minutes?”
Me: “Because then the deal will be gone! Duh.”
We continued bickering for several minutes, and I pondered why I called her in the first place, let alone why she was my first call (after posting a Facebook status about my purchase). I finally lied to calm her down: “I have 48 hours to cancel the trip. It’s not a done deal.”
Mom: “You can cancel it?”
Me: “Yes. I have two days. I’m going to think on it. Maybe I won’t go.”
(As if I won't go!)
My mom immediately calmed. The waves ceased crashing on the craggy shoreline. I stopped cowering beneath a metaphorical umbrella.
Once we got off the phone, I still had to walk the rest of the way back to my apartment, and I was left confronting my mom’s (valid) points: Why couldn’t I wait to go for someone? Why couldn’t I wait at all? Was I impulsive? (Yes—is that even a question?)
My first retort to anyone is, I have wanted to travel since kindergarten. I remember wanting to go to England as a kid and then Egypt and, later, Italy and Switzerland. My parents (and a lot of people) severely underestimated that desire. A lot of us want to travel. I’m no different—but I do think I might be a bit more hell-bent.
And why wait? I’ve written about this before: travel is a privilege. Not everyone can travel. I am blessed that I have a budget (and no retirement plan, LOL) so I can afford to go. I am blessed that I have a job (aka I’m a PhD student, let’s LOL again) that allows me to take off a week in August. And I am lucky to have “found” a deal to Italy for $400.
When the opportunity presents itself, you seize it. I don’t advocate being reckless. But my motto is,
Live while you can, save for when you can’t.
If I waited, the deal might be gone. If I waited, I might not find a friend. If you can do it and you want to do it and the benefits far outweigh the risks, then you should do it. I imagined the other scenario: I had a friend, we decided to go to Italy, but there were no deals, and it was $1,000. I wouldn’t go. I know myself. I’m a tightwad.
But in these circumstances, I could go. So I am.
And, thankfully, this story has an even happier ending. In the resulting two hours after my flight transaction, I convinced four other friends to join me. So this August, Sara, myself, and three other friends will be jetting to Venice together.
I gladly removed “Spain” from my to-do list. Now I just gotta polish my boots.
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