Travel Expenses

Share, Don’t Scroll: How to Do Internet on Vacation

But I won’t stress out about whether I’m living in the moment so much that it makes me ignore the moment.

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Around the World on $80 a Day

$7 for a double room with private bathroom (cold shower) and overhead fan. Geckos are free of charge.

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The Real World Cost of a $22 Gadget

The “knee defender” (great name, dude) costs $21.95 and keeps the person seated in front of you on an airplane from being able to recline. It’s also a great way to start fights between strangers!

The spat began on United Airlines Flight 1462 because one passenger was using the Knee Defender, a $21.95 lock that attaches to a tray table and jams the reclining mechanism of the seat in front. The male passenger, seated in a middle seat of Row 12, used the device to stop the woman in front of him from reclining while he was on his laptop, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. A flight attendant asked him to remove the device and he refused. The woman then stood up, turned around and threw a cup of water at him, the official said.

The pilot made an unplanned stop in Chicago, at which airport the feuding passengers were ejected, and the plane continued on to Denver where it landed an hour and a half late. So, in case you’re thinking of getting your own Knee Defender, buyer beware: the hidden costs might be significant and include your suddenly having to figure out how to get you, and your water-logged laptop, to Colorado.

Business Insider offers a refresher on airplane etiquette here. The publication supports your right to use the seat you’ve paid for however you see fit, but cautions, “make sure to look behind you before you recline. Maybe warn the fellow traveler whose space you are about to invade, so they can hang onto their drink or adjust their laptop. And stay upright during meals.”

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The Total Cost of Being a Guest at a Convention

Last week I wrote about the cost of flying from SEA to DCA to be a guest at a convention.

Today, let’s look at the total costs, as well as what I earned while I was there.

The cost of getting me from Seattle to Rockville, MD, as tallied in my initial post, was $297.24.

Y’all noticed I didn’t include the cost of the flight itself in that tally (I was only counting every time I swiped my debit card on that actual day). The full cost of the round-trip plane ticket was $622.20, but I had a United voucher since they bumped me off a flight earlier this year, so it only cost me $322.20.

So that’s over $600 out of pocket even before the convention starts.

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The Cost of Flying Across the Country to Be a Guest at a Convention

Opening Uber, seeing the “Surge Pricing” notification: $0 (because NOPE)

Yellow Cab to SEA: $50.70 (I’m going to this convention to talk about freelance writing, but I’m also going as the “occasional nerd musician” part of my bio, so I have music and merch stuff in two big bags. Otherwise I would have walked to the metro.)

Checking two bags: $60 ($25 for bag one, $35 for bag two, and why is it more expensive to check a second bag? It seems counterintuitive, economically; you want people to think checking two bags is a really great deal.)

Airport breakfast, SEA: $5 and change (I didn’t get the receipt so I don’t have an exact figure; included a banana, a lemon currant scone, and an enormous cup of coffee.)

Airplane WiFi, SEA-ORD: $9.99 (First time I’ve used internet on a plane, but I was able to complete five articles on my travel day so it was WORTH IT.)

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The Costs of Moving to Kazakhstan

A friend of mine sent me a job posting for a university library in Astana, Kazakhstan as a joke. My initial reaction was, “Too weird, even for me.” I was feeling ready to move on from my current job in Vancouver and I had always wanted to work internationally but I didn’t know anything about Kazakhstan.

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Saying “No I Can’t” Because of Money

It is so hard to say no! It is especially hard to say no to our friends, who we love, or who we like well enough but think for whatever reason that it is imperative that they love us. And it especially hard when the “no” is because of money. Or is it easier, money being an inarguable reality like the weather? “It’s raining / I’m broke.” No, it’s harder, because it is hard to acknowledge to our friends that we might be coming up short, that the thought of spending is making us hyperventilate, and that even though we love them maybe we don’t have or can’t afford to part with the $1,000+ their wedding will cost us.

WaPo advice columnist / demigod Carolyn Hax shows us the way:

Q. HOW TO DECLINE WEDDING INVITATIONS I’m getting many wedding invitations these days and unfortunately I just can’t afford to go to all of them. Some friends understand, but how do you explain that to the brides who just don’t seem to get it and keep pushing you on it?

A. CAROLYN HAX You don’t. You’re under no obligation to explain at all, though with a good friend you’ll want to say something, of course: “I would love to go but I can’t afford it.” Done. If pressed, you ask them please to respect you enough to accept that you’d go if you could. Beyond that, the couples’ behavior makes for a good sorting tool. Remember who was gracious and who was pushy, and then, as you continue to be called upon to invest more money and energy in your friends than you have to give, choose to give to the gracious ones.

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Link Round-up! Cheap Hotel Rooms, Egg Sandwiches, Commutes

+ How do you get the cheapest good hotel room? Go through an exhaustive 7-step process that involves several different websites and Skype. (“It gets easier with practice!”) If you’re feeling more like satisfising rather than maximizing and you’re okay getting a pretty cheap, pretty good room, though, even following one or two of the steps will net useful results. Like this one:

If you’ve already booked a flight, or are going on a longer, more complicated trip, package deals won’t work. But this straightforward, in-and-out New York-to-Paris trip is exactly the sort where a package deal might be the trick. (Trips to sunny destinations in the winter also work pretty well.) I went to Kayak’s packages page and it led me to a promising deal on Priceline.com: a round-trip, nonstop flight for two from New York to Paris, plus four nights at the Crowne Plaza Paris-Republique, for $2,505. The cheapest nonstop fare on my dates was $2,503. In other words, four nights at the four-star Crowne Plaza would essentially cost 50 cents a night. I even contacted Priceline to make sure there were no hidden charges.

+ “How much should a bagel sandwich cost?” Step off, Gawker. This is our corner, and we’ve got bats. 

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The Things We Did to Fund Our Honeymoon

After a lot of deliberation, we decided to break the cycle of “we’ll do it one day.” We could go on our honeymoon. We just had to be creative about it.

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“So, What’ll You Have?”

Bars! So alluring. So inviting. So terrifying to the uninitiated, the cash-poor, the afraid-of-doing-something-wrong. When I studied abroad in Denmark, everything about the drinking culture was more relaxed. Kids are allowed to buy alcohol starting at age 15 and virtually the only drunks you see stumbling about or yelling on trains are rowdy visitors over the line from Sweden, about whom Danes roll their eyes.

Once my friends and I stopped at a supermarket for beer on our way to one of Copenhagen’s zillions of parks, where we planned to drink and watch farmers bring sheep in for nighttime grazing. The guy at the check out patiently scanned each bottle and placed it, clinking against its fellows, in our backpack, until the backpack bulged like Santa’s shoulder bag. Finally he looked up at me and said, “ID please?” I gaped at him with the suavity of Urkel. He grinned and said, “Just kidding, welcome to Denmark!”

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