I’m Back! And Almost Sober, Even.

You ever have those experiences when you realize life can be full of SUCH adventure? That sometimes we’ll miss out on it if our eyes aren’t opened wide enough? I feel like that’s what happened with this Poland trip.  I could have easily passed it up (and saved a crap ton of money) but instead I embraced it!

And Poland. Was. AWESOME.

Incredible people, incredible adventures, and most importantly, an incredible wedding!  The best one I’ve ever been to actually :)  I kinda wish all of our weddings were that way here in the States – 2 full days of being with friends and family and celebrating altogether, it was so cool. And I imagine pretty expensive?  (Although not quite as much as it would have been if taken place in the U.S. I’m sure)

The only thing that sucked was that it was too short. 5 days just isn’t enough to take in everything an entire country has to offer, esp if 4 of the days were consumed with traveling and wedding stuff. But then again, if I wasn’t thinking of it as a “mini-vacay” I probably wouldn’t have gone!  No way in hell I could have taken off any more work and gotten away with it, so it is what it is.

Here’s what the financials ended up looking like – and keep in mind travel is the one thing I allow myself to splurge on. Some people have fancy toys, others fancy clothes, but for me it’s these “life experiences.” Here are the deets:

The Total Damage:

  • The plane tickets: $829.20 – This was by far the most expensive part, and if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know why – I had to buy my tickets ONE WEEK before take off!  It was freakin’ insane, and I wanted to punch the person who forced me do this (my friend).  Long story short, he bailed on me the week before after promising me he had already bought both of our tickets (I was supposed to pay him back so that we could get good rates THREE MONTHS ago).  I’ve since forgiven him because the new me is not harboring any ill-will toward anyone anymore (much better for the soul, btw!) but he did cost me $300 here.  F’er.
  • The hotel: $181.05 – How’s that for 4 nights at a pretty posh hotel?  Gotta love that Zloty!
  • Cash withdrawals: $164.82 – This covered most of my food that wasn’t covered by the wedding, a good $50 worth of currency for my collection (mostly paper bills, but also all the coin denominations I could find), along w/ other things like beer, magazines (for the plane), taxis, tips, and a new hairdryer. The hotel didn’t have one, can you imagine?  And before you ask, it’s for my hawk.  It takes a process to get that thing up the right way! ;)
  • Wedding gift? $100.00 – Via a crisp $100 bill, baby! Nothing but the best for my friends ;)  I’m including this here in the post since it’s technically an “expense,” but I’m not including it in the total number since I’d have given them this gift anyways, regardless if I flew out there or not

Total damage of $1,175.07

Not the worst it could have been, but also not the best.  It really should have come in at around $900 I tell you!  But you know what?  I would never take it back in a thousand years.  I had one of the most exciting and adventurous trips of my life, and I met all sorts of wonderful people in the process.

So as always with my trip updates, it cost a little money but it’s now a lifetime of crazy great memories :) And it’ll have to be the last one for a while too before I get fired.  I’ve taken more vacation this year than the past 5 combined – somebody stop me!

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  1. jolie September 15, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    Close only counts in horseshoes :P

    It really is a different lifestyle over there. Sounds like you had a fantastic time. Dunno if I could forgive the friend so fast – not for bailing out, but for saying he had the tickets when he didn’t.

  2. Doctor S September 15, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    See… now it is posts like this that remind us that we are humans. I love it. Countless times we read in the personal finance blogosphere about saving, frugality, and using good judgement… all principles you demonstrated on your trip.

    But it all comes down to one thing and one thing only and the following quote sums it up…

    “Not the worst it could have been, but also not the best. It really should have come in at around $900 I tell you! But you know what? I would never take it back in a thousand years.”

    We try and be mindful and careful with our money so that we have the opportunity to enjoy moments like this. You did good with your money on the trip, a few slips, but you are not beating yourself up about it. You are human.

    This is my humanizing rant for the week J. Your tweets during the trip were great, I wanted to jump on a plane, slam a few yards with you, and then fly on back! Business as usual for you! Glad you had fun.

  3. Cameron H. Lebedinsky September 15, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    You should listen to the Gogol Bordello song about American weddings — then you’ll appreciate the Polish wedding you attended even more. My husband is Ukrainian and often says that American weddings pale in comparison to Ukrainian ones.

  4. Financial Samurai September 15, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    Sounds like a good trip man. Welcome back! Post more pictures. Are your friends from Poland? Or was this a destination wedding?

  5. Molly On Money September 15, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    We gave up travel this year (at least in an airplane) and it has been tough. I remind myself that the money we spent on past travel we didn’t have. It all became debt. If I think of traveling like a cake and I was eating the entire cake in one sitting rather then one piece every once in a while I don’t feel as bad. BUT I love to travel! And traveling is not really comparable to cake- it never made me sick! I gotta come up with a different analogy.
    I’m glad you had a great time- I’m shocked that even though you overspent it was relatively inexpensive.

  6. Brandon September 15, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    It’s not fun when we over spend. But as long as the experience was worth the price tag to you, then you got a good deal.

    Ok… that sounds way more touchy feely than it did in my head.

  7. Wojo September 15, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Wow…that’s the cheapest trip to Poland I’ve ever seen. :) Most of my tickets end up being around $800, even when bought 9 months ahead of time.

    Glad you had a good time, and welcome back!

  8. Sarah Smith September 15, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    I read study after study talking about how life experiences make you much happier than materialistic possessions. We want to travel more, but it’s tough when you have family in DC and Nashville and have to use up your travel budget to go home for various familial reasons… though next year we’re planning on going to Naples, Italy and Hawaii!

  9. MoneyMan September 15, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Glad u had a great trip! I wouldn’t worry to much about the price of the trip. Thats why we save and are careful so we can have the flexibility to do things like this. That’s true financial freedom. And besides, you can’t put a price on memories!

  10. Briana @ GBR September 15, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    I’m glad you enjoyed your trip J! Poland sounds like an awesome place to visit.

    The plane tickets: You still got away with a steal of sorts for a foreign trip but I’m sure you could’ve gotten a much better deal if your friend didn’t bail on you. Eh, water under the bridge, right?

    The hotel: That’s unheard of!! Especially in Los Angeles where I live. You can barely get a decent hotel for 2 nights for that price.

    Cash: Not sure about the currency exchange in Poland so can’t really comment on it. Sounds good though. I’ve done more damage in Vegas for a weekend.

    Wedding gift: What’s better than cash right? Accepted everywhere.

    Your total damage definitely isn’t as bad as it could’ve been. And like you said, everyone has their splurge. I think it was well worth the trip.

  11. Jenna September 15, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    $1,200 for 5 days in Europe including travel?!? I think you did a great job! Super jealous of all your vacations in general.

  12. Nick September 15, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    Welcome back! And I totally agree with the others that the trip was super cheap, especially with the last-minute air!

  13. Karoline September 15, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    Poland is such a beautiful country and so underrated. People say Krakow is the new Prague, and I found my experience in Gdansk was just magical. What a city! Also a great value because they are not a part of the EU quite yet.

    JMoney- which cities did you visit?

  14. Bobby September 15, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    Once I get my emergency fund set next month, I might need to start a vacation fund.

    Single guy, any ladies here want to go on vacation?

  15. Jim Juber September 15, 2010 at 11:42 PM

    I blow 1500 on a 4 day trip to Vegas. To travel abroad for that sum is Super Duper.
    As my Uncle says, “You can’t put a price on a good time”.

  16. J. Money September 16, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    Yes! Back in action and reallyyyyyy not feeling the excitement here in the “real world” ;) Thanks for all the well wishes my friends! Some responses:

    @jolie – Yeah, I was pissed for a good 24 hours straight, and then realized I had to just forgive and move on or else I’d keep dwelling on it. It was actually a REALLY refreshing experience getting it over with so fast! I felt this wave of calm come over me, gonna try doing this in the future :)
    @Doctor S – Thanks man :) You know I would have gladly welcomed your visit too! I’m serious man, we really need to get together sometime in the near future. I think there is just way too much fun we’re missing! Glad you enjoyed the post, and my kinda-but-not-really slip up.
    @Cameron H. Lebedinsky – Oh okay, I’ll check it out! Although I don’t need much more convincing to know that US weddings aren’t nearly as extravagant ;) At least in the time department. A whole weekend of celebrating is just amazing. So much time to spend with family and friends on such a big day – I love it.
    @Financial Samurai – Thanks mate. My friend married a Polish chick :) I was gonna post the pictures but too many with me in them! haha…. figured I’d spare everyone the random building and drunk pics.
    @Molly On Money – It would def. be hard to not travel, but good for you in managing your money like that! Not *as fun* traveling when you know it’s adding to your debt pile, so I don’t blame you. I never traveled this crazily when I had no money… not that I wouldn’t if I ever went back in time, but still ;)
    @Brandon – Haha…. let it all out bro, let it all out.
    @Wojo – Oh really? Interesting….maybe I ended up getting lucky then? And maybe next time I’ll go back to Poland with you! :)
    @Sarah Smith – Ooh la la very nice! And you better remember ME when you’re back in DC crazy girl – all the coffee or beer or both on me! You and your celebrity husband ;)
    @MoneyMan – Amen to that!
    @Briana @ GBR – I know, I just about lost my $hit when I found out how cheap the hotel was! I’ve spent more than that in ONE night in NYC before – haha… just goes to show how different other cultures and parts of the country are.
    @Jenna – Awesome! Maybe it was better than I thought ;)
    @Nick – I’m beginning to sense that :)
    @Karoline – I would have loved to visit Krakow! Esp. considering Prague is my new all-time favorite city :) But just means another reason to go back one day, eh? (I went to a really tiny village in Poland, you probably haven’t heard of it)
    @Bobby – Haha…. dude, lots of hot chicks reading this blog, believe me :)
    @Jim Juber – Yeah, but I bet your Vegas trip consists of a lot more adventure ;) Unless you just lose it in Hold ’em, in that case no fun.

  17. Donna Freedman September 16, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Not a word about the sausage or the pickles? You disappoint me, friend.

  18. Serendipity September 16, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    I think you spent nothing on your trip for what going acorss the Atlantic. :)

  19. Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog September 17, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    I may be a bit out-of-touch with international travel, but I dont think you spent all that much, considering your ticket was around 80% of your total cost.
    Glad to see you back J dollaz

  20. Mrs. Accountability September 17, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    Wow, sounds like you had a great time! We spent more on our trip to DC from Arizona so I think you did fantastic on the costs!

  21. Karoline September 18, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    I only really know one small town and that’s Rdzawka. My cousin just got married there, and I wish with all my heart that I couldve been there to visit with my beautiful family. We drank some champagne here in their honor but it wouldve been way cooler to be there ;) Glad you got to go and visit. *envious* :)

  22. J. Money September 19, 2010 at 11:27 PM

    @Donna Freedman – Sausage or pickles? What do you take me for? :)
    @Serendipity – Could be true!
    @Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog – Good to be back… kinda ;)
    @Mrs. Accountability – Hey, thx! You probably spent way more time in AZ though too.
    @Karoline – So cool! Haven’t heard of that town before, but we did pass a lot of quaint ones on our way to our wedding. Visiting other countries is really just so amazing to me – such different culture happening every day that most of us will never see!

  23. bart_smithson September 29, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    @Karoline: “Also a great value because they are not a part of the EU quite yet.”
    What you mean by that? The currency is Zloty and not Euro? I’d say thats the only what’s left. Poland joined European Union in 2004, babe.