Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Benefits of Procrastination: A Life Lesson

I've been a tad preoccupied these past couple of weeks; one (my husband, at the very least) might even say obsessed.  A little backstory--once July hit and we had passed the halfway mark here, I knew it was time for us to start looking at plane tickets home.  This whole year, I've been holding out hope that we could swing by Thailand on the way home.  It sounds easy and just like one minute out of the way, right?  Like picking up some milk on the way home from work.  Certainly not a whole extra giant continent away.

Thailand has long held the top spot of places in the world I wanted to visit, but realistically it has always been a pipe dream.  I know, I know--everyone says Thailand is cheap once you're there, and a lot of people I know have been there.  But they were either single or traveling with a friend/spouse.  Five plane tickets, though?  Not cheap.  And while I am so, so incredibly thankful for my children that enrich my life in innumerable ways, let's face it--the teeny dip into the savings account pool for a jaunt to a foreign country can quickly become a massive drought for a family of five.

Four of which are boys that eat absurd quantities of food.

On the way to Australia for our yearlong teacher exchange, our stopover in Fiji only added $500 total to the cost of our plane tickets--a no-brainer, and the homestay we did there was something we'll all remember forever.  We wanted to have a similar experience in Thailand, but managing Australia's high cost of living this year while living on Sam's US teacher salary and my solo virtual law practice that has its ups and downs has proved to be more difficult than we'd hoped.  It was hard to justify increasing the cost of our flights to stop through anywhere on the way home; Thailand in particular, which upped the already steep cost by $1000.

I checked the plane fares for the hundredth time while the cartoon devil on my shoulder cackled 'this is a once in a lifetime opportunity--just do it!'. Just when I was sold on the idea of adventure over responsibility, the goody-two-shoes angel had the nerve to weasel its way onto my shoulder with a poof! and announce that it was far more important for us to just get home and get our finances back on track.

So, with a sigh, I did what any responsible adult would do.

I procrastinated.

And wouldn't you know, the next time I looked at those plane fares, the prices had dropped and it was actually cheaper to stop in Thailand than it would be to go straight to the States.

Clearly, it would have been irresponsible to book tickets straight home at this point--I mean, the universe had spoken, and I'm not one to tempt fate.



And since my mom had such a great time traveling Tunheim-style in Australia (coupled with the fact that she had enough mileage lying around for first-class tickets both ways), Nana will be joining us!  The airlines are surely implementing new security measures for their down comforters as I type this...

Needless to say, ever since the tickets were booked I have been completely consumed with guidebooks, blogs, talking to other travelers, and chatting with Mom to nail down an itinerary that is feasible (timewise and financially) but still awesome.  We'll be up in Chiang Mai with the elephants as well as down in Koh Yao Noi for a fishing village homestay.  I'm totally stoked; this will be a perfect last hurrah to an amazing year of family adventure.


  1. Annie
    I found your blog via The Accidental Housewife and it has become one of my favorites; since my husband and I are planning an extended trip to NZ and Australia in the near future. Reading your posts on your various camping trips is helping me plan some of our itinerary. I am curious about your comment today on Australia’s high cost of living. Can you provide some general comparisons between Australia and the U.S. on groceries (farmer markets vs grocery stores), eating out, gasoline, transit, camping fees (we plan to van camp and do a home exchange). Did you go into sticker shock on any one thing?

    1. Hi KJ,
      Reading other's blogs is such a great way to plan a trip, isn't it? The cost of living here is high--we don't keep track of every little thing (because it's just depressing), but I'd guess that we generally spend twice as much on groceries/eating out than we do at home, and we use both farmer's markets and grocery stores (as we do back home). Aldi is a bargain grocery store, so we get some things there. Gas is far more expensive, although it's a pain to convert the cost because it's priced per liter instead of per gallon. I don't use public transit all that much back home, and here I regularly use a free bus, so I'm not much help in that department.
      Camping fees vary--we've stuck to national parks where the prices are generally $10 per adult and $5 per child, plus a $7 per day vehicle fee. If you're going to a number of parks in say, NSW, it is a good idea to get a NSW state parks pass which will save on that daily vehicle fee.
      I have seen some more detailed cost of living comparisons discussed on the Expat Blog at You could try looking there.
      We're going on a final camping trip next month to visit some more parks, if you're still planning. Let me know if you have any questions about any of the places!

  2. Nana might just bring a few of those nice soft comforters for their little boys to cuddle with thanks to United Airlines :)