Sometimes the quest to save a few bucks only serves to bite you in the ass. If there’s one thing that living out of a backpack for six months taught me, it’s the importance of making smart financial decisions, often on the fly. Here are three instances in which scrimping ended up costing us…
I have never been in the unfortunate position of having an airline lose my bag (likely because I’ve mostly traveled with just one carry-on), but these statistics from The Los Angeles Times is heartening: 97 percent of “mishandled bags” are eventually recovered by airlines worldwide.
[Urban planners] have tried various strategies for discouraging car use in cities around the world, including expanding railways and building bike lanes. One of the most common strategies is hiking up the cost of on- and off-street parking—an intuitive approach. Its effectiveness has been difficult to verify, though, because so many different factors contribute to car volume in any given city.
Suzanne McGee has lived in six continents on three continents, and understands the allure of wanting to jump on a plane, head south, and never turn back — especially when it looks like you might not be able to retire until you’re 125. Imagine! Living in some cheap place for $25,000-ish a year and never enduring another winter like this one again. I certainly spend every January swearing up and down I will do this some day soon.
But of course there are downsides — cultural differences, complicated visas, leaving behind friends and family who you’ll have to pay a lot of money to go visit. Also these more practical challenges I hadn’t thought of:
Amtrak’s new residency application, which will grant a lucky 24 writers a free train trip of 2-5 days duration in which to focus on their projects, has caused a stir in the literary world. One source tells me that nearly 7,000 proposals have swamped the train line; even if the number is half that, however, the chances of being given a ticket to ride (.6%) are slimmer than getting into Harvard (6.3%).
To laypeople, this perhaps sounds crazy. Who competes for the opportunity to take a long-distance train trip, without even a city like Rome or Prague to greet you on the other side? Remember that episode of “Sex and the City“? (Sidenote: God, Carrie is insufferable.) But writers, especially fledglings — and in this economy, we are almost all fledglings — have so little. No funds, no structure, no support. Everyone is always telling us to get a real job. Writers’ residencies, which offer crucial time, space, and community, can be a boon, but most of them have associated costs, making them prohibitive for someone just scraping by. Amtrak is filling a need by offering writers a temporary, mobile Cabin of One’s Own. So why are people so angry?
Chloe Schama at the New Republic cites a litany of ways we’re willing to pay a premium for good ol’ peace and quiet. We text instead of call, we stake out the quiet car on Amtrak (and then rage at the people who don’t abide by the rules), we pay more for fancy automobiles that don’t make noise, we live on quiet blocks, and we soundproof conference rooms. My personal favorite: “You can buy John Cage’s 4’33’’ on iTunes.” (omg)
Like tens of thousands of other travelers this winter, Reuter’s Lauren Young had to deal with attempting to fix her travel plans after her flight was canceled due to bad weather. Young runs through the various things she should have done when she started to receive travel advisories, namely, she should had rebooked her flight.
The idea of the road trip was hatched in the dark corner of a bar in Cambridge, sparked by the restlessness that accompanies all college graduates, ready to start the rest of their lives without a solid road map. I was moving to California, because it seemed better than spending a year sitting on my dad’s couch in upstate New York, and Wendy and Kyle, friends from college, were coming with me. We’d sleep under the stars, drink a lot of regional cheap beer, and spend a lot of time gazing pensively at corn fields out a dirty car window, writing in our journals. It was the perfect plan, the best way to delay adulthood, and an efficient and somewhat cheap vacation.