Monday, August 15, 2011

The Cost Of Procrastination

What has happened to us?

Lori and I are great travellers. In our 22-plus years together, we've covered a lot of ground together. Just a month or so after first dating, we took off for a long weekend in New York City. We've been out east a couple of times, to England, Wales, France... not to mention all of the places we visited in East Asia when we lived in South Korea. With the kids in tow, we've been to Italy with great success.

Yeah, Lori and I do the travel thing really well. So why can't we get our shit together this year?

Today, had we stuck to our travel plans, I would be publishing this blog post from Paris. We would be on the start of our trip to France. Instead, I'm writing this post from Ottawa; as you read it, I'm at work, grumbling about the fact that we couldn't put our trip together. Annoyed that Lori, who still booked this week off, isn't enjoying the sights of Paris with Sarah and Lainey.

And I'm cheesed at the realization that at the end of this week, I'm going to start my vacation with no vacation plans.

What has happened to us?

I think part of our problem is that we've been so busy with work that we didn't make time to sit down and plan. In the past, when we'd decide on a destination, we would sit down with books—either from the library or from the bookstore—or pull up chairs beside one another and cruise the Internet. We'd rent DVDs. We'd make notes, compile lists of things we wanted to do, and devise an itinerary.

We'd plan on travel dates and schedule time off. If air travel was required, we'd book flights as soon as we found the best price (we've had a knack for finding low rates). We'd get the ball rolling and would have everything sewn up long before our departure date.

That didn't happen this year.

We decided that we wanted to take the kids to France two years ago, when we were in Italy. The girls were showing that they were natural travellers and embraced our trip with such eagerness (we had travelled with them before, but never this far and never to a place so different from home). Lainey wanted to see the Eiffel Tower so badly, we were excited for her.

As an added bonus, my folks wanted to come with us, and that idea had the kids even more excited. On top of that, some friends, who live in Europe, wanted to join us in our final week, when we planned to rent a villa in Provence. The girls were even more excited, having enjoyed our friends' company in Venice.

Lori and I bought travel books. We rented DVDs and recorded episodes of Rick Steves' Europe from PBS. We scoured the Internet, looking for ideal places to see, for inexensive yet well-located places where we could stay.

I think part of the problem came with having too many people to plan for, too many people to accommodate. I think too many people wanted a say in the dates, the places, the cost, the itinerary.

And when I say too many people, I mean people who haven't travelled with us before. And in no way am I pointing a finger, laying blame, or indicating fault.

Lori and I are used to leading the charge in planning the trip. Deciding where to stay, where to go, and when to go. Our friends in Europe have always been flexible and would make plans to join us, whenever we nailed down a date and a place. They had travelled through Tuscany with us in 2004, when Lori and I planned all of our accommodation and destinations. When they joined us in Venice, in 2009, again we coordinated the dates with them and then found a place that would accommodate us all. (Hmm... this sounds like Lori and I are a bit controlling. I hope we haven't developed a my-way-or-the-highway attitude.)

For France, our friends again just wanted us to confirm a date so that they could make plans to join us. And from what we gathered, they were content to let us find a place to stay. So far, that plan has worked out well.

My parents have also travelled a lot and like to plan. And maybe this is one of the snags that tripped us up. We had different ideas of travel dates and of where to stay. And no one wanted to take charge. And so weeks, and then months, went by and no firm plans were nailed down. Dates flopped back and forth. No one could commit to anything.

And so nothing happened.

At the beginning of July, I told Lori that if we didn't sit down and make firm plans, I was out. I wouldn't go. But I didn't do anything to further our plans. I'm as guilty as anyone else. The cutoff date for me came and went, and our plans for France came to a firm end.

Next year, we promised the kids. Next year.

The challenge before us now was what to do this year. How were we going to spend our vacation? Because we were going to get away, come Hell or high water.

Which brings us to now. Lori never cancelled her vacation time for France (it was the date that we wanted but still had trouble getting buy-in from my folks). Because we never made firm plans, I never booked this week off. But once we knew France was a flop, I booked the last two weeks of August off to do something, anything.

And again, we've dragged our asses. We have no plans. Pathetic.

This is the cost of procrastination.

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