Travel Expenses

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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The Cost of Attending a Weekend-long Improv Comedy Festival in New York

Last summer, I looked out at the audience while performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and saw an entire row of people asleep. That’s what happens at 6:45 a.m. at the Del Close Marathon, an annual weekend-long improv marathon with more than 50 hours of continuous comedy on multiple stages. We were okay with this because we had also crammed a handful of Pittsburgh improvisers into a tiny New York apartment, saw some really great shows, and had a blast.

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Think Of The Money I Could Make By Simply Ruining My Life With Airbnb

My sister is in town, staying at an Airbnb in the neighborhood. Or the neighborhood-ish. The intolerable and overpriced part of the neighborhood, that is. PEAK WILLIAMSBURG.

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Are You ‘Last Minute Trip to Burning Man’ Rich?

Emily Witt went to Burning Man and wrote about it for the London Review of Books. Nice work if you can get it, eh?

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How to Repair a Car That Isn’t Yours

Fast forward ten years and I’m stuck in Woodstock, New York, with a baby in my lap and something called a “Hooter Hider” hanging around my neck. It’s 90 degrees out. I’m texting my friend furiously but she isn’t answering. We have borrowed her car for the weekend, or actually we told her we would ‘babysit’ her car for the week, which is a thing you have to do in the city: babysit cars. That is, agree to move friends’ cars around to different sides of the street on cleaning days so they don’t get tickets.

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