Missing Out on Travel to Travel

Last weekend my friend invited me to spend a ski-weekend at her chalet in Switzerland, as well as attend a black-tie party held by the Rothschilds. (Yes, hosted by the European banking dynasty family that is partially royal.)

And guess what?

I couldn’t go.

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Photo from my 2008 trip to Switzerland. And I’m going to sprinkle the rest of this post with photos from Switzerland so I can further wallow.

And why, you may ask, would I miss out on a ski trip when my literal FAVORITE THING EVER is skiing? When I consider Switzerland to be the most jaw-droppingly beautiful country in Europe and the friend who invited me is very, very dear to me?

When, um… okay, let’s be honest. Opportunities like this don’t exactly fall into my lap every day. Desktop13

Previous amazing ski trips. At left, Bariloche, Argentina (2009), upper right, Vail, CO (2011), bottom right, Lake Tahoe, CA (2008)

Well, I turned the extraordinarily tempting invitation down because I’m saving up to travel. More specifically, because I’m saving up to backpack Southeast Asia in the fall and thus can’t even remotely justify the cost of a 300 euro train ticket when I think about how far that money would take me in, let’s say, rural Cambodia.

But still. I’m really bummed. Because how many chances in my life will I get to stay in a Swiss ski chalet? Not many, I assure you.

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How can you say no to Swiss cows?

And here are some bleak stats about my current financial situation- as an au pair I make 125 euros a week. And as I’ve been working here since the beginning of November, I have worked a grand total of about 15 weeks. Theoretically, I should have around 1,875 euros, when in reality my bank statement reports I have somewhere around 800. So blowing half of my savings on one weekend just wouldn’t make sense right now if I am ever to scuba-dive in Thailand, slurp down pho in Vietnam and take artsy pictures of Angkor Wat.

But it sucks. And it feels strange, to miss out on travel for more travel.

Which brings up another issue- saving up money inevitably hampers your enjoyment of the present moment. I know others have struggled with what C’est Christine calls “The Expat Dilemma”, in which she asks the exact question I am now asking myself-

“Did I move to the New York City to experience the greatest city in the world, or am I simply treating it as a stopover for my next destination? Namely: am I living here, completely in the now, or am I forsaking the thrills of today for an unpromised tomorrow?

Did I move to Paris to miss out on sipping noisettes at the café while gabbing away with friends? Spending lazy Saturdays checking out the new exhibition at Pompidou? Taking the train last minute to see a medieval abbey or 17th century chateau?

I know I shouldn’t whine because I am incredibly, absurdly lucky. I thank God every single day for the blessed and fulfilling life I’m so fortunate to live, and for my health, family, and friends… but I won’t lie- missing out on the trip to Switzerland, as well as many other little opportunities that have come my way is definitely dissappointing.

Have you ever had to miss out on the present moment to save up for something? Do you think I made the right choice? Am I just being a brat?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

26 thoughts on “Missing Out on Travel to Travel”

  1. you’re absolutely not wrong for doing what you did or feeling the way you did. last month i had plane tickets already booked for riga/tallinn (again) for a visa run (belarus). i was going to be there around 10 days. i ended up cancelling the trip as an effort to save $$ and work during those days instead. i mailed my passport to finland to get the visa…and here i am, 6 days prior to leaving for belarus and my passport is ‘lost’ in the mail. sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…but in the end it will all work out :) and believe me, southeast asia is worth every penny saved.

  2. Ah… I totally understand your point. I, too, have had to decline tempting travel invites many times (aka. a music festival at a spanish beach, a weekend in lisbon with a very dear friend I hadn’t seen in ages, a trip to Brazil to visit another friend that was temporarily working in Sao Paulo…). Saying no to travel breaks my heart – but it has always been for something greater I was saving for!

    It’s disciplined that you were able to hold to your plan despite such a tempting offer… I think I would have totally screwed my savings for a ski chalet and a party with the Rothschilds :)

  3. Such a predicament! It’s all about priorities, though. And you went with yours which means it was the right thing to do! You can still live in the present and make plans, you just have to listen to your gut! Your backpacking trip will be amazing!

  4. I’m doing the very same thing that you are doing at the moment, because I’m planning to go on a trip to Southeast-Asia myself next year and while it’s still a bit away, I’m also hoping to move to Norway for university in the fall which is probably not the best idea financially speaking. I suppose, in the end it’s about finding a middle-ground: Not depriving yourself too much in your everyday life while still making responsible choices.
    You’re right, though… it really is a dilemma and I wish it didn’t exist, but I’m sure your trip to Asia will be worth it!

  5. Yep completely agree, I struggle with this all the time. Sadly I usually give into the now as I think “I’ll never be here again.” You’ve got the right idea!

  6. I think you made the right choice. While attending a party held by the Rothschilds might seem like an event of a lifetime, it is DEFINITELY more sensible to abstain from ONE weekend to save for what is presumably a much longer time traveling Asia.
    Even though I don’t get around to commenting very much, I really love what you’ve done with your blog and am always entertained by your posts.
    Keep it up! =)

  7. Wow! That takes a lot of will power! I’ve been holding out with some of my savings too and it’s been hard. Mind you, I haven’t had to to turn down the Swiss Alps….

    • I won’t lie, it was certainly tough! If I could go back in time I’m honestly not sure what I’d choose again. And as travelers I think many of us go through this a lot- stay strong!

  8. This is a tough predicament, but I think you made the right choice.You never know what sort of opportunities will arise in your future, and they could be even more exciting than this one. I would love to go to Southeast Asia, but am focused on getting to Spain at this point, then maybe Asia after.

  9. I can relate to this dilemma so very well! Lately I had to struggle with a similar one: In February, I had a trip to Brussels all planned out with super nice Couchsurfing hosts who already had my bed ready when I canceled last minute. I felt so incredibly bad for letting my hosts down, but I had to set priorities — I realized that I just couldn’t spend a whole weekend traveling when I should be at my desk writing my dissertation. I can’t just risk letting almost six years of studying go to waste just because I can’t sit still for two months. Brussels will still be there in April. And when I go, I won’t feel like I should be somewhere else and will be able to actually enjoy it. I think the same applies to your situation: Going to Switzerland wasn’t the right decision for now, but you can go in the future — when you can splurge on a fancy chalet without any pricks of conscience!

    • Oh that sucks you had to miss out on your trip :(. But I’m sure it will be better to travel once you’re all finished with your studies- plus, then you can travel as a fully certified art historian which makes it that much cooler! :)

  10. I am so sorry that you missed that opportunity–perhaps once in a lifetime. I would and will be happy to help you financially. Just ask.

    Love, gamma

    .

  11. I totally know how this goes. Basically it was my entire last year! But when the trip comes it is totally worth it!

    Also- can’t believe you will be heading to Asia in the fall and I think I’m heading to Europe haha. Switching places basically. Damn!

  12. Sounds like my year in Korea! There were so many times when I wanted to use my 4-5 day holiday to fly somewhere hot and tropical, but I had to remind myself that I was saving to fund myself long term. In the end I couldn’t justify a pricey flight for just a few days. :\ Totally worth it now that I’m finally doing it, though!

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