If you’re fortunate, you might someday arrive at a place in life where your first response to an opportunity is no longer “Can I afford it?” Maybe your personal budget finally has a line-item for fun, adventure and improvements, however you choose to define that, and it’s no longer necessary to monitor each expenditure quite as closely as you may have once.
Perhaps the response now prompted becomes instead two questions for you alone to answer: “What is it worth to me? What am I willing to pay to do this?”
I’m sure I’ve had this conversation before, be it in writing or in real life, but being in this position is pretty new to me. After decades of monitoring my expenditures and keeping a tight grip on my purse strings, releasing that hold with grace remains a challenge of sorts. A recent situation, however, reminded me of how my own decision making has changed as my financial circumstances have improved.
Let me explain.
Summer 2022’s calendar did not include a trip to Cape Cod. For the first time in 23 years I did not have a rental property booked, a fact I tried to ignore because it was so dismaying to me. I really do love that annual tradition.
An offer for accommodations in P’town presented itself, however, and I made the quick decision to commit for three nights. Great – I’ve never stayed in Provincetown before and imagined it would be a fun and novel place to spend some Cape time.
As the date of my departure drew closer, I began to dread the drive – 5+ hours, alone, on a route that would take me directly past the rental property I, along with Jeter, had fallen in love with and were not staying in for our accustomed, (yet not taken for granted), week this year. That drive was going to suck.
I considered what I wanted: to get away
And what was stressing me: getting there.
What were my options?
I recalled my son had once met me in Provincetown, having taken the ferry from Boston. I decided to explore public transportation availability, finding that it was possible to take a ferry r/t from Boston for less than $120.
Now, I needed to get to Boston.
As I considered train and bus routes, I saw that Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited goes directly between Albany-Rensselaer and Boston’s South Station and was (oddly) priced at only $13 one-way. The trip was approximately 5 hours, significantly longer than driving between Albany and Boston, but the identical length of time it would take for me to drive from home to Provincetown.
I decided that sitting with my feet on a well executed foot rest, rather than rotating them around a series of three pedals on the floor of my car, sounded a lot more appealing than a solo drive.
It sounded luxurious, actually.
However, the train schedule and the ferry schedule didn’t align all that well. The journey began to grow more complicated as I concluded that my best choice would be to arrive in Boston the evening before I was due on the Cape and spend the night somewhere.
I was now considering an added 4th night. But, I’d also being adding time on Cape. The early morning ferry I was looking at would get me to McMillan Pier hours earlier in the day than if I had driven – without even factoring in the time to locate parking in an area with extremely limited availability.
Hmmm. This was evolving into a much more pleasant, albeit expensive, trip.
I checked out the neighborhoods where the train arrived and the ferry departed, and selected a hotel that was convenient to both. I had some Hilton points that I could apply to the rate which brought the price down to a reasonably comfortable level. I booked a room.
No longer diminished by the dread of the drive, my anticipation and excitement began to build. Yes, it was going to cost me approximately $400 for this alternative means of getting to the tip of the Cape, but shouldn’t the journey be at least as important to consider as the destination?
I could afford to do this. I made reservations and bought the necessary tickets for the trip. The upcoming mini vacation now prompted excitement, not trepidation.
Days before my departure, I met some retired friends for happy hour. One of them is suffering from a progressive and debilitating illness, the other is their caregiver. This is not how they planned to spend their golden years, at all.
Suddenly, the gift of a less daunting trip I had given myself seemed less an indulgence and more an investment. The expense of the train, hotel, ferry and bus was, for me, money well spent. It was most certainly worth it.
Provincetown, here I come.