When you’re focused on productivity, a lot of us find ourselves in the “time is money” mindset. You don’t want to waste time, and it kind of goes without saying that none of us want to waste money. But when you’re traveling, this mindset can get you in trouble – and it actually might be a good idea to just spend time and money.
Sarah Von’s recent post on how to have a (nearly) stress-free trip reminded me of this lesson, and it’s one that we could all do well to remember when we’re running into problems on trips. I, for one, get very stressed out when things don’t go my way… but sometimes it’s worth putting it into a broader context. Is this a life or death matter? And, how easily can it be solved with just a little time and money? In the end, it’s just some time and money… and a little time and money is worth a lot of peace of mind.
A few years ago, I went to Belgium, and traveled from Brussels to the tiny town of St. Niklaas for the Zythos Beer Festival. I had an amazing time, but had quite the adventure on my way back to Brussels from the festival. In short, I had to make a train connection in Antwerp to continue on to Brussels… and I completely missed the connection. It was 12:30am at night, and the Antwerp station was about to close for the night, so I was literally going to be stuck out on the street until the next train arrived at 5:00am. Since Antwerp is a bit of a seedy place (or so I heard), I wasn’t really all too keen on just roaming the streets or hanging out in a late-night bar until morning. (Though that would have made an awesome story!) Instead, after using my French skills to get advice from a policeman, I opted to hire a cab for $150 to take me back to Brussels. It killed me to “waste” money like that, but it got my trip back on track. Years later, I’m really glad I made that decision quickly instead of stressing about it for too long or doing something unsafe.
But to be honest, I didn’t completely learn my lesson in Belgium. There were lots of times that I didn’t follow my own advice, and I’ve stressed for hours about something because I didn’t want to “waste” time or money. Take for example, right now! (Ugh, I suck.) I am supposed to be in NYC tomorrow and Thursday for a quick visit, but my place to stay tomorrow night fell through and I can’t seem to find anywhere else to go… outside of a super expensive hotel. (My god, how do non-New Yorkers afford to visit NYC? I am floored by these prices.) I’ve been stressing about this all day, and even considered ditching the NYC leg of my trip and just heading straight upstate to see my family. But after reflecting on this lesson, I’m trying to remind myself that it may actually be worth the money to just not worry about it. I’m excited to see my friends, and I don’t want to let a little money stand in the way of catching up! That doesn’t mean I’m booking the hotel just yet – I’m going to try my luck on HotelTonight and see what I can find in the morning, in one last attempt at frugality – but I’m going to try to keep in mind that spending the money may make me a lot happier than any satisfaction in “not wasting it.” In the long run, I’ll remember the time visiting my friends more than I’ll remember the money I spent to make that happen.
Two weekends ago, when I was stuck on top of Mount Princeton due to two flat tires, I inadvertently threw my mom into a panic by tweeting out my situation. But while the tweet might have come across as (overdramatically) dire, I was actually fine. I knew that in a worst case situation, we could either pitch the tent and stay up there for another night, or we could hike down to the bottom of the mountain. In the end, we caught a ride down with some other hikers – and from there, it was just a matter of time and money to see how fast we could procure a tire and get it back up the mountain to fix the car. It was an annoying, uncomfortable, sucky situation, sure… but I was really proud of myself for realizing that it was just going to take some time and money, and it wasn’t the end of the world.
So, maybe this time around, I can make that lesson stick and just get over my fear of “wasting” time or money? Even if I’m not consistent with it yet, I’m hoping that I can at least pass that wisdom on to some of you 🙂