Eyes on the Prize

Today has been quite the day.

I’m about to tell you about a bunch of dumb junk that happened, but if you want to skip down to the good part, be my guest.

Summer classes started today, so I found myself back in my office on campus, where the air conditioner had apparently been running nonstop for who knows how many days. I never turn it on, but someone did, so it was absolutely freezing in there. I despise air conditioning. There is nothing worse than artificially cold air blowing on you.

Okay, fine. Some things are worse, I suppose. Like genocide. And canned asparagus.

Moving on. I also had a student-loan payment freak out after I got to work. Long story short: my payment amount changes every year based on income, but it’s always been very reasonable. This year, after I sent in my tax return (first ever joint tax return filed with my husband), they raised my payment amount. By a lot. It’s now about four times as much as it’s ever been before. (Note: our combined income is NOT four times what my single income was. It’s a little more than twice as much.)

I don’t know what’s going to happen there — they may be able to recalculate it for me based on additional information — but I suppose I will resolve the issue somehow. It may involve a lot of ramen noodles, and probably no new clothes again ever.

OKAY. So my day was off to a rocky start, but HERE’S THE GOOD PART:

We finally booked our honeymoon trip today and y’all, I am SO EXCITED. Yes, our honeymoon is going to take place eight months after our wedding. That still counts as a honeymoon, right? CW and I knew we couldn’t really take a big trip right after we got married because our wedding was in the middle of the school semester. The next big break was Christmas, which involved family travel, so we decided to hold off until summer break when we’d be free to go away for as long as we wanted.

We discussed a few different options, but the places we kept coming back to were Ireland, Greece, and Italy. Although it looked like a trip to Ireland might be a bit less expensive than the Mediterranean, we both just felt a bit more excited to see Greece and Italy, so we decided that was our goal.


(Rome – image source)

I have to note that I really was NOT eager to try to plan a big trip. There are so many variables (which cities? how long in each city? which dates? which hotels? which flights? tours? activities? how to get the best deal? how to stay in a safe/pleasant location? how to travel from city to city?). I didn’t feel like researching and deciding so many different things. I tend to get decision-making paralysis in these situations. Plus, as you might guess, after we had researched, planned, and organized so many wedding-related details, well. I basically wanted a fabulous Mediterranean trip to just materialize on my calendar with very little input from me. Was there some kind of travel fairy who could make that happen?


(Athens – image source)

Due in part to my resistance to plan/organize, we briefly considered the idea of a cruise. Neither of us is really a “cruise person,” but CW made the point that we could just leave all our things in one place on the ship without having to unpack/repack every few days and yada yada. I wasn’t super enthusiastic about the idea, so I was strangely relieved to discover that Mediterranean cruises are hella expensive. So that option was out. OH DARN.

(I don’t really have anything against cruises, I feel I should say. It’s just that I’ve read David Foster Wallace’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” Also, fine; I’ve never been on a cruise but I still am pretty sure I don’t want to.)

We searched plane ticket prices and balked at how expensive even that small element was. Spending money stresses me out quite a bit, and travel is something I’ve historically refused to spend money on. A thousand cheap cardigans from Target? Yes. I will buy those. A couple of plane tickets? That’s what, to me, is a Startling Expense (and thank you, Swistle, for that blog post that explains the concept perfectly — if anyone hasn’t read that post or Swistle’s blog in general, consider this your encouragement to do so). Although I was always enthusiastic about the idea of taking a trip to Europe for our honeymoon, it took me a while to adjust to the idea of just how much it would cost.

Finally it got to the point (a week or two ago) that we decided we needed to make the decision and then pull the trigger. This shit needed to get BOOKED.

What wound up happening is that I called a travel agent whose business card had been included in the race swag bag from that 5K I recently ran (how’s that for research?!) and started asking questions. It turned out that they could use a company that sold packaged tours and basically customize the trip any way we wanted. So, for example, while this company offered trips within either Greece or Italy, but no packages that included both countries, we were still able to create the Mediterranean combo trip of our dreams.


(Hydra – image source)

I won’t go through all the planning details, but what we wound up deciding on was five days in Athens followed by five days in Rome. While in each city, we’re setting aside one day to take a day trip out of town to see something nearby. From Athens, we’ll take a day to visit the nearby islands of Hydra (above), Poros, and Aegina. From Rome, we might take a day to travel by train up to Florence or down to Sorrento — we will probably decide that in the moment. CW said he wanted to “plan for some element of randomness,” which amuses me, but I agree. It’ll be so easy to just…hop on a train to Florence! Or Sorrento! Or get a boat to Capri! Or whatever we please!

Greece! Italy! Oh man oh man. I can’t believe we are really going! It has been fifteen years since I have traveled abroad — in 1999, I lived in Germany on student exchange and visited Denmark and France while there. The only reason I took that opportunity was because I was strongly encouraged by my professors, who also helped me get funding for the program. See? I just won’t spend money on travel. People practically have to drag me kicking and screaming, and also help me pay for it.  I feel like travel will always be a Startling Expense for me. So I never even stopped to wonder when I’d ever be able to travel abroad again — I just assumed that as a single person on a non-tenure-track faculty salary, I never would. But now, we are so fortunate to have a little money set aside for this trip, thanks in large part to generous wedding gifts, and we are so grateful and excited.

At this point, all that’s standing between us and our fabulous honeymoon is the summer mini-semester. I can barely think about lesson planning because my brain is now largely devoted to Athens and Rome, but somehow I will muddle my way through. We take off in 55 days. Eyes on the prize.


  1. I’m so, so excited for you! And I find it kind of hilarious how different people are about planning travel. I LOVE the planning — if I liked dealing with people, I think I would be a great travel agent. I love the research, I love the feeling of finally nailing down that YES! This! This is what we are going to do! I’m kind of a weirdo about it, I think, but to me, it just adds to the excitement of the trip itself. Glad you found a good solution that works for you!


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