Summer Plans

On the island of Capri

I remember teaching a night class at a community college while I was still a graduate student finishing up my PhD over a decade ago. This class was full of working adults – a room full of post-traditional learners, many of whom also had caregiving responsibilities, bills to pay, and all of the normal stuff that comes along with adulthood. That first day in the class I asked everyone what they did over the summer. The same question, when asked to a group of “traditional” college students receives all kinds of varied and interesting responses and tales of travels near and far. With my room of working adults? Nothing. A lot of “I worked” and not much else. Major fail on my part for not considering the audience.

Today’s Economy

I was chatting recently with one of my best friends from childhood, catching up on each other’s lives. She and her husband live a modest lifestyle. She is the secretary at the elementary school her children attend and her husband is the manager at a hotel. They have enough to meet their needs, but not much in the way of extras.

When chatting about summer plans, she has a little staycation situation planned. The family will be doing a day trip a couple hours way to visit some fun kid-themed places, and then they’ll stay at a hotel where they get a free room thanks to the husband’s job. I think it sounds lovely, but she seemed a little embarrassed at how modest it was. She explained, “I don’t know how anyone can do anything in this economy!” And it’s true….inflation has really been a kick in the pants.

Money and Feelings

I know my friend didn’t intend it, but it made me feel a little guilty. For so much of my life, I have lived completely bare bones. I’ve written past posts here from when my kids were tiny about making my own baby wipes. I’ve also made DIY cleaning solutions, washed and re-used (off-brand) Ziplock bags, and shared various side-gig hustles. It’s only in the past couple of years that we’ve started to go on “real” vacations (i.e., planned destinations versus just driving to visit family). It’s expensive, yes, but I’ve been working full-time in my career for a decade and I want to make some memories with my kids before they’re grown (they grow so fast! They’ll be 12 this month!

Finding a Balance

I know this is a “me” thing, as my friend certainly was NOT trying to make me feel bad. But I had just shared with her all about my husband’s and my recent trip to Italy! How could I not feel tone deaf and dense when turning around and asking her about vacation plans only to hear they’re going to a neighboring city for one night. Definitely took me back to that night class I taught at the community college way back when. Should’ve learned my lesson then!

Has anyone found themselves in a similar situation? I’m almost entirely debt-free aside from my mortgage and last remaining bit of student loans that are anticipated to be forgiven in under 2 years. No debt on credit, vehicles, medical, or other “extras.” It was only after reaching this point that I started to do more of the fun extra type of stuff (by saving up and paying cash). I don’t want to feel guilty about having that privilege, but I also want to be sensitive to the fact that many others are NOT in the same position to be taking European vacations, etc.

How have you handled these types of situations?

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