One year ago I sat down in front my calendar with a glass of wine and too much euphoria. I blocked out dates and linked them to destinations I’ve been compiling on my bucket list. Healdsburg CA in September, Costa Rica in October, Turks & Caicos December, Whistler Canada in March. For some, this is the travel light application, but for me, it is a bundled version.

I went at it like sport, as if I were out for revenge against all the years I hadn’t traveled. Dueling web browsers open in private mode to Skyscanner, other booking sites and direct airline carriers, all loading, and reloading as I monitor for price fluctuations— convincing myself there will be fluctuation. I am basically playing whack a mole with departure dates and times. But when the time comes to actually book the trip, I swoop in and buy at a bargain. I resemble a day trader caught up with the big emotions of doubt, fear, greed, boredom, anxiety, depression. Oh my god, that actually describes my character perfectly! If I filled out one of those career quizzes I bet day trader would be #1. 

Anyway, what makes my process so difficult is that I’m flexible. There is nothing worse than being flexible, it makes me feel naked in a windstorm. Too many choices typically based on ill-conceived ideas of saving money and time. When I do lock in a trip at a price I will later claim practically free, the exhilaration is lost on my palpable remorse. Each time, fear. Fear I made choices based on a price tag that will ultimately exceed the cost of a 5-star resort where everything is ala carte. Fear my husband and son will wish they had a staycation. Fear that even the nonstop flight I wrestled to get will experience delays; that the six am departure from JFK, while being direct to our destination, is still two hours from our home and requires either a three am wake up call or a stay in a sketchy motel near the terminal which to my earlier point has already racked up the cost of the trip. While it may only be by two hundred dollars it’s just a sign of things to come. Fear that I will be disappointed in the trip itself and maybe not lastly, fear that I was being impulsive in choosing to take a trip in the first place. No matter how many hours I spend researching a destination, juggling the particulars and determining what fund I should cash out early to pay for my “dream,” it still feels like I am being impulsive when I proceed to check out.

Beth Cramer is the author of WHY DIDN'T I NOTICE HER BEFORE? a memoir about dying to live. Irreverent, painfully honest and often hilarious, Why Didn’t I Notice Her Before? is a beautifully observed memoir that finds courage and humor in the face of undefeatable odds.


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