Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Explore. Dream. Discover.

I am knee deep in Trip Planning. I've even named my trip: London and Beyond 2011. The tentative departure date is November 1, which from yesterday would mark 24 weeks away.

Although I do not make a lot of money in the form of a paycheck each week, I have now saved a whopping $701.20 since April 25. Needless to say I am only spending money on essentials. I have given myself a grocery budget each week and although I've also given myself an entertainment budget, I haven't had to dip into it yet. I have also budgeted all my bills that are due this month and then I plan on putting any remaining money I have at the end of the month into savings. Doing baking orders helps too; I have designated any profit from those as Trip Savings.

In an effort to save money I have given up the following:

- Pedicures
- Seeing movies at the theater
- Drinking
- Eating meals out
- Buying music online
- Impulse purchases
- New clothes
- New shoes
- Accessories
- Make up

And I've relegated to using drugstore mascara instead of the expensive stuff. It's been tough to deal with...but it will be worth it.

Next to go is food altogether. I can live on lentils. $0.99 a day. It could happen.

My money saving scale. Yes, I am a nerd.

I've got a stack of guidebooks that is at least a foot tall. I've been obsessively making lists of the places I want to go and the things I want to see. In addition to going to Paris for a day, Nikole and I have also decided to go to....wait for it...STONEHENGE!!!!! (I think I already mentioned Stonehenge in the last post but it is STONEHENGE and it is worth mentioning twice. I mean, c'mon....IT'S STONEHENGE!!!!)

I got my passport photo taken last weekend. What a spectacle THAT was. I went into CVS Pharmacy and after 3 attempts at taking the perrrrfect photo, the associate put it through to print. 20 minutes of me standing around and waiting later...they tell me their system is down. So, as an unhappy camper - I left. I went to Walgreens and after 12 photo attempts and multiple hairstyles, I was satisfied with my photo. So, I got my two passport photos and went on my way. I already have my passport application all filled out so I just need to turn it in and get the process going.

The first big step of Trip Planning in the purchasing department is the flight. And as of right now, the plan is to buy the flight on May 31. That's two weeks away!! I have spent countless hours researching flights so I'm excited to finally make the purchase and have a set departure and return date. I'm looking forward to the layover too as I'm sure it will be somewhere on the East Coast that I've never been before. The furthest east I have ever been is Illinois I think!

Plans seem to be coming together quite nicely. The hotel room is actually a private furnished vacation apartment in a safe neighborhood, we are going to travel using the Tube (that's the Underground train system for those of you not up on the London lingo ; ) ), and we are taking two day to Paris one to Stonehenge. I have a feeling that 24 weeks is going to go by pretty quickly seeing as how that last 3 have flown by since I decided to actually go.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand, walking through the streets of SoHo in the rain...."

I'll just jump right in and say it. I'm going to the U.K. and France this Fall. The plan is to spend 9 days in London, 1 day at Stonehenge/surrounding areas and 1 day is Paris. To say I'm excited is and understatement. : )

This all came about last Monday - and last Monday I had $0.00 saved towards this trip. Today I have a substantially greater amount saved - all in a week's time! I have a savings goal of $3,000 for the trip (including everything I need to pay for; flight, room, sights, transportation, food, shopping, etc.) and I'm well on my way to making that goal within a few months.

My friend Nikole had a planned trip in place and asked me if I wanted to go. I was hesitant at first because I thought it would be a huge financial undertaking - but when she asked again, I jumped on the chance. The trip isn't for another 6 months so I have plenty of time to put away the amount of money I need. Let me just say that I'm in full-force penny pinching mode. I've even considered cutting out eating. Kidding. I have, however, cut back on my spending A LOT. I'll stick to a budget from here on out and I'll be saving more money left and right!

I'm at the perfect place in my life to start doings BIG things for me. I have slipped into the mundane and it bothers me. I get up, I go to work, I go to school, I go to bed. I repeat the process. Boring. And I am NOT boring. I am really looking forward to this trip for many reasons. I'm looking forward to going to a place I have wanted to go for as long as I can remember. I'm looking forward to the new experiences and emotions felt. I'm looking forward to actually visiting a place that is outside of the United States. (Sure, I've been to Hawaii - but that is still technically a U.S. State.) I'm looking forward to the 12+ hour flight! (Seriously! I could read an entire book in that time!) I'm looking forward to the complete and utter independence. This trip signifies me coming to a point where I might actually be considered an adult afterward. (Here's hoping I return home unscathed.)

I am so, so, so, so, so, so excited. To the point of obsession.

More on this later I'm sure.

*Thank you Warren Zevon, for inspiring my post title with a line from one of your songs "Werewolves of London" - which happens to be a favorite of mine.