Aerial view of Prague city with red roofs in sunny day, old city center, Czech Republic, European travel

$599 to Prague!

I started this blog in November of 2017 to plan a midlife career sabbatical to travel with my family in 2020.  Then I started thinking about two years of squirreling away money without any other travel plans in sight.

Restlessness and a case of cabin fever hit hard, so I did something I know I shouldn’t have done:

I read the Groupon Getaway deals online!

Where can I go that is both fabulous and cheap?

A European escape for only $599 round trip from JFK to Prague caught my eye.  The offer included 7 days and 5 nights with airfare, hotel, and breakfast.  Deal!

Almost delirious with joy, I shouted for my husband.  Together, we devoured the information – the cost, available dates, and the fine print.

After consulting our busy family calendar, we decided the perfect time would be when the kids are on Spring Break.  March of 2018 was our pick.

I calmed myself down and pondered logistics.  We were all-in emotionally but needed to think this through in rough numbers.

There are four of us so our baseline cost is $2,400.  I hoard airline points on my Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card so that should cover most of the fare to New York City.  We could spend a couple days exploring the Big Apple, then hang out in Prague for a week.  Awesome!

Net of airline points, we will spend $400 getting to and from NYC, which bumps us up to $2,800.  Throw in a couple of Groupon hotel deals for 2 nights at $200 each and we’re at $3,200.  Still a bargain.

More math:  meals, transportation, and activities in New York City for two days for four people and let’s call it $800 ($100 per day per person).

Just $4,000 into the vacay.  Feeling happy!

Once we arrive in Prague, we’ll need additional funds for activities and meals.  We will do the usual frantic search for gluten-free food but in a wheat-centric European city.  Surely, there are restaurants that can accommodate but it may not be cheap.  I’m not sure how much that will cost but I am an optimist by nature.  We’ll be fine.

We will Google search a list of free or low-cost sights and ask the locals for dining tips, but again, we should budget $400 per day for meals and activities for our family of four.  With 5 days in Prague, that equals $2,000.  Now we’re in at $6,000.  Add in some shopping, gifts, and trains and taxis and we’re easily at $6,500.

After further research, I discovered that the temperature in Prague runs in the 30’s and 40’s in March.  After four months of a Midwestern winter, this may be the wrong direction weather-wise.

But we’ll be soaking up the ambiance of the beautiful “City of a Hundred Spires,” so who cares?  We will put on our coats and start exploring, at least until it gets dark at 6:00 pm.  Then we’ll find indoor activities after the sun goes down.

Upon our return to Kansas City, we will pay $100 to rescue our car from Economy parking and $225 to the college student who watched the dogs, watered the plants and brought in the mail.  Now we’re at $6,825 for 9 days and 7 nights.

Our $599 Travel Deal to Prague costs almost $7,000!

That is certainly doable for us financially and is probably a bargain by most European vacay standards.  However, my cost guesstimates are admittedly frugal and with lengthy flights, we will not have much time to explore for that money.

I look longingly at a photo of Prague, with its cheery red roofs and soaring spires.  I dream of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

But I have made my choice.

It is March of 2018 and we are at home in Kansas City.

Delayed gratification stinks but which would I rather do?  Spend almost $7,000 for a 9-day escape complete with jet lag and exhaustion from stuffing too much sight-seeing into too little time?  Or live for 6 weeks on the road for the same money?

In our desperation to get away from it all, we take short, extravagant vacations and never really rest or get our minds into the present moment to take it all in.  If I can delay gratification, we can stash that cash and take some meaningful time off.

Then I won’t have to pay big bucks to run away from my life.  I’ll be living it.

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