I’m currently on parental leave. That means I’m not tied to a single geographical location. Of course I wouldn’t dream of travelling without my lovely daughter (she kind of needs me and I definitely need her). I’ve pondered buying a condo in Florida but, unless something significant changes, I’m no longer going to do it. Perhaps it’s the wobbling Canadian housing market that makes me nervous about getting caught without cash and being unable to seize an opportunity. Maybe it’s the litany of wise advice I received from commenters on that article, many of whom recommended that I bide my time. Maybe, because of the locations of family members, I’m not as interested in heading due south. Nevertheless, I’ve chickened out.
I do like travelling, I just haven’t done much of any lately. When I was a teen, I spent a summer in Thailand. It’s an amazing country. The culture is fascinating. Luxury is affordable. I feel like I could take my daughter and my partner there for an amazing vacation (without blowing too much coin).
I would have gone back earlier, actually. But I have a policy of only visiting peaceful, fully democratic countries. Thailand had a bloodless coup in 2006. It was part of the ebb-and-flow of their Constitutional Monarchy; they returned to democracy as they’ve always seemed to do. It just made me nervous.
An example of a country I won’t go to is Cuba. I refuse to support their horrible, murderous dictatorship. Canadian tourists in Cuba are giving blood money to communists to oil their oppressive political machine (which includes brutal gulags). Tourist dollars also float Cuba’s inefficient collectivized economy, which has pushed Cuba’s people further and further into extreme poverty. Another example of a country I won’t visit is Mexico. Mexico is a free country, but it’s essentially in the midst of a civil war so, no, I don’t want to go there.
There wouldn’t be a ton of logistics to accomplish before a Thailand trip, other than buying stuff and packing. Visits to Thailand no longer require a visa if you’re a tourist who will be staying less than 30 days. I’d want to stay for a while (but obviously leave a margin of safety for the 30 day visa limit). Thus I’d schedule 20 nights, give or take. I’d research vaccinations beforehand (forgive me for failing to itemize the cost of these vaccines in the list below). We’d stick close to Bangkok – there’s more than enough to do in Bangkok to keep us busy for three weeks.
Here’s my rough list of the projected trip costs:
- Hotels - Thailand is an amazing country for many reasons. One is that it’s extremely affordable. I could get a four star hotel room for under $60 a night. Let’s say $75 per night to make this cost an even $1500 – this would get us very nice digs.
- Roundtrip airfare - because Holly is just a baby, we wouldn’t need to buy her a ticket. I was able to find a roundtrip fare, from Toronto to Bangkok, for $1199. Times 2 tickets, that’s $2398.
- Medical insurance - I got a quote through kanetix.ca. It’d cost about $75 per person ($225 total) for $5 million in coverage for a 24 day trip (assuming 2 days each way). That policy has a $0 deductible.
- Food, Local Travel, and Incidentals - I’d budget $1,000 for spending on food, intra-Bangkok travel, and incidentals. In Thailand, $50 a day is a ton of money. That’s 1500 baht to spend each day in a country where a very good daily wage is 600 baht. With 1500 baht we could buy sit-down meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, pay transit or TukTuk fares, and still have enough to see an attraction.
- Passports - I’d need to get my daughter a passport and I need to renew my own. The cost for both would be $109 total, not including passport pictures.
That’s about $5230 in total cost for the three of us to go there, live in luxury for three weeks, see the Bangkok area, and come home. When budgeting, it’s critical to consider unforeseen contingencies (“Oh shoot, we need to rent a car and hire a driver.”) so I would definitely allot $6000 for the trip.
But I’m by no means decided. It’s a lot of money and travel is a consumable. I don’t have any debt, I’m saving lots for retirement, and I could pay in cash – but I don’t yet own a home outright. That’s the ‘last stage’ before I think I’m justified using discretionary money however I want.
Instead of simply making plans and telling you that I’m going to execute them, I’ll take a humbler approach. Does anybody agree or disagree with this idea? Am I justified spending six grand? Is it an egregious waste of money at a time when I should be saving? Does anybody have tips for getting inexpensive (but not cheap) passport pictures?