There's an old saying in this part of the world that says "you can't take it with you." It means that you can't take your money with you when you die so you might as well spend it and enjoy life now. This has come to play in my life recently when my 16 year old son was nominated to be a "band ambassador" to Europe. That means that he has been invited to join an honors orchestra and tour 8 countries in Europe next summer, sightseeing and performing in London, Paris, Venice, Switzerland, Austria, and several other cities. It sounds like a great opportunity for a youngster to see the world! The only catch is the price, which equals about 1 month's worth of my wages per person.
When my husband and I attended the information meeting, we thought the price would be about half of what it actually turned out to be. But oh well, what the heck! My usually thrifty husband threw all caution to the wind and said "I think we should all go." (Adults are invited to participate also, for a slightly higher fee.)
So now we are considering taking a European vacation that costs 20 times what we normally spend on our trips. Up until now we have traveled in the eastern half of the U.S., only venturing as far as a one day drive could take us from our home base which is in Ohio. (I hate long car trips.) We have gone as far north as Vermont and as far south as Virginia, and never left the U.S.A. We have only stayed in a hotel once. For many years we camped in a tent until recently we went all out and bought a truck camper - the kind that perches in the bed of your pickup truck. There's about enough room inside for two people to stand up and turn around, but it keeps you up off the ground and keeps the critters out of your food.
So now we are considering jumping on a plane, flying for 8 hours across a vast ocean, and spending 14 days in cities we have only dreamed of or seen pictures of in travel documentaries. We will be spending a quarter of a year's wages in a two week period, and exposing ourselves to jet lag and possible terrorist plots, not to mention hours on buses with 150 loud and rambunctious teenagers.
Are we crazy? Should we do it? Will it be the experience of a lifetime, or something we will regret, especially when we look at our savings accounts? I don't know. I guess there's only one way to find out. Our son is excited for the opportunity to play in an orchestra in world famous European venues. My husband and I are not getting any younger - we are both within 4 or 5 years of retirement age. Who knows when an illness will strike one of us down and we will no longer be fit for travel? We've always wanted to go to Europe "someday." Why not now? If we don't go now, will we ever?
All in all, I think we should go. Yes, it's a lot of money. Yes, there are risks to traveling, but there are also risks to staying home. Do we want our son to grow up adverse to adventure and afraid of broadening his horizons and stepping outside of his comfort zone? He will meet some wonderful people who share the same interest in music. He will have the honor of playing with some of the best musicians in the state. He may have the time of his life, and so may we.
I believe I've talked myself into it. After all, you can't take it with you, but you can take it with you to Europe. Watch this blog for future updates.