Happy, Happy

We received the pricing for the trip to Rome shortly after Easter. It was eye opening, but I was confident that with hard work and prayer we could make it happen. I took on writing jobs, whittled down the balance on our only credit card, and accepted another sponsored post opportunity shortly after the one that almost killed me. Our Roman holiday seemed like a real possibility, and I was getting excited. I talked about it to anyone who would listen, and even those who wouldn’t. All I needed was the final price to reflect child discounts before turning in our deposits.

The discounts came in, but they weren’t enough. I went over the numbers with a fine-toothed comb and realized that, lifetime opportunity or not, we couldn’t afford the trip. In order to go we would need to pay off our credit card and then charge it back up again to staggering heights. That’s not something we are willing to do.

We tried our best but it didn’t work out. That’s how life goes sometimes. I won’t feel sad about it because our time will come. I’m disappointed, but realistic. It’s a luxury trip, not a personal rejection or a layoff. Perspective, you know? Speaking of which, the fact we even believed this trip possible shows how far we have come from the disaster of the Mister’s layoff in 2009.  How far we have come since just last year! We can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, and if that isn’t something to be happy, happy about, I don’t know what is.


Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Finances can be so debilitating, but saying ‘no’ to say ‘yes’ to a greater good is freeing (even if it hurts at first). We’re coming to the US for 5wks this summer and there is a strong temptation to ‘do it all’ and melt the plastic while we’re at it, but of course we can’t and we won’t because we’re fighting the good fight to be responsible, good stewards. Sometimes I just don’t want to be responsible though. #humannature ? Romans 7 has a nice little section on that, ha!

  2. Jeanne says

    Here’s another thought. Rome when your kids are older will be much more memorable. If you can only go once in a lifetime (maybe 2-3 if your lucky) make it something the kids really remember. I haven’t gotten there yet and am still dreaming of Paris with my 14 yr old. There were plenty of passages and good USA trips that got us to this place. When it happens it will be treasured. Keep saving and dreaming.

    • says

      You know, Rome wasn’t even on my radar until our priest said something about it during mass. I always assumed that we would do USA trips until they were teens. But when he said we would have an audience with the Pope and could shake his hand (maybe), I felt like he was talking straight to me and my life list. Hah! Narcissism much? 😉

  3. says

    Oh yes, indeed, your time will come. Good for you for keeping your pretty chin up and moving forward. You are modeling responsibility for your children by deciding not to go until you can really, truly afford it. Not many people make decisions like that anymore, and as we see around us all the time these days, that eventually leads to financial disaster. I’m happy, happy for you, and sending a virtual hug.

    • says

      Thanks, Courtney. I think instead we are going to go to Lake Tahoe and stay at my parents’ place. It’s free, minus food and boarding the dogs. Quite different from Rome, that’s for sure. (Many thousands of dollars different!)

  4. says

    Way to go you! While not Rome – I’ve been in your vacation boat for a few years. Finally we set a date and told people we were coming, and started saving for real. We have saved for over a year for the measly scraps to take our vacation from Missouri to Iowa and on to Chicago. It probably would have taken another year if we weren’t filling the itinerary with free attractions! Unlike you though, if we incur some major setback that forces us to use what small amount we were able to save, I would be sad. Very very sad and angry. And then I’d get over it and start saving again.

    • says

      I often wonder if we would have been able to do it if we had more time to save. Well, even with a year we would have to use credit cards. I guess we would need two years. Hah!

  5. says

    This made me smile. It’s so rare today to see people stop and think about what saying ‘yes’ would do in the long run and then, gasp, say ‘no’. You know it’s not a forever no, though, so you’re keeping up the pace, knowing that someday it will happen. I love that! And I love what Jeanne said about your kids enjoying it more when they’re older. Isn’t that the truth!

      • says

        That’s awesome! :)

        I have had quite a few people tell me I was making a mistake and that I would regret my decision. Lots of people think my husband and I should just go alone, but it’s a 10 day trip and it will eat up all his summer vacation time. Doesn’t seem fair to the kids, but maybe I’m cuckoo.

        • frances says

          Doesn’t sound cuckoo to me. A weekend getaway without the kids? Sure. Lovely. 10 days in Italy? Well, ok, that also sounds lovely, but I also can’t imagine how you could leave them behind on such an adventure.
          It sounds like you’ve thought this through very clearly. I doubt you’ll regret it a bit. (Wishing that it could have worked out is not the same as regretting your decision, by the way.)
          Here’s to waiting to savor the marshmallows!

  6. Sarah says

    Your trip will be a lot more relaxed if you don’t have to come home to credit card bills. This may be a blessing. My husband’s mother, grandmother, and aunt all went with a church group to Italy. They were gone from dawn until way after dusk every day, and were never able to linger and explore, or stop at a cafe. They saw site after site, but felt rushed the whole time. You may be better off planning a trip where you can be flexible, and add in some downtime if it’s needed.

    • says

      That’s what we concluded. The itinerary sounded AMAZING, but very full. It might be a lot for the boys to handle, and coming home to that credit card bill would make the rest of the year tight. We were talking to another family (Emma’s family, actually!) and we’re thinking of doing the trip on our own, a combined family trip some time in the next couple of years.

  7. says

    Yes, try, try and try again . . . that must be our motto in life!

    I’m right there with ya. This was the year my mom and I had hoped to visit Sweden (where my brother, sister-in-law and nephew–my mom’s only grandchild–live. Rude.) But, alas . . .

    So yes, I’ll keep working . . . you’ll keep working . . . and I’ll keep sending up a prayer or two for you and a trip to Rome that exceeds your wildest dreams. Until then, a good weekend to you . . .

  8. says

    I’m so pleased for you that you’ve come to this decision with happiness and peace. We have the same kind of discussions all the time because my Scottish husband hasn’t been home to Scotland in years. And our youngest son has never been. But it’s outrageously expensive, even with family to stay with. We’ll make it at some point, just as you will, and our kids will be older and more able to appreciate it.

  9. says

    Jules, we took a trip to Italy when my kids were 5 and 8. In our case, it was wonderful because we went with my husband’s cousins and their 3 kids (all a few years older than mine). The older ones helped the younger ones – in fact, my 5 year old took a nap while riding piggy back or on someone’s shoulders EVERY day. :-) The boys will get tired and you’ll need down time – quiet time for them in the afternoon means quiet time for you and your husband too. My suggestion: go without the boys if you have the funds to do it now – it would be a wonderful trip for you and your husband (10 days is not that long – I’ve left my kids and they’ve turned out just fine – I think 😉 ) Or wait till the boys are just a wee bit older or you can go with other family. The boys will be able to handle the non-stop touring and you’ll want a night out with your husband. Besides, once you get to Rome you’re going to want to do day trips to other parts of Italy. Oh, I could go on and on. Email me if you decide to go!

  10. says

    Italy and Rome are awesome but not worth years of cc debt. There are quite a few blogs about cheap travel to Rome with kids. You might be able to find a b&b for 100 per night with breakfast. Lunch can be a simple sandwich for 3 euros each. You can also by bread and make your own sandwiches. Pizza is usually no more the 5 euros for cheese. Italy can be affordable if you get some insider tips. Something to think about for next year.

  11. says

    For me it wasn’t about going to Rome as much as it was about going on a Catholic pilgrimage with my church and meeting the Pope. Without that, going to Italy isn’t as pressing, though I do want to go eventually.

  12. says

    Oh, I’m sorry it won’t work right now!

    But a few extra years could actually make the trip better for the boys – they’ll remember more! Of course, it’s not the same as actually getting an audience with the pope, but who knows what could happen?

  13. Sally says

    I really appreciate your sharing this. It’s a disappointment that’s for sure and you’re brave talking about it when it’s raw. Truly, there will be other opportunities and the boys will be older and they will appreciate them even more and you can even save slowly. And for now, they will be very happy with Lake Tahoe and this will turn out ok…but sheesh don’t you hate it when people say things like that when you’re in the middle of disappointment? I know…but even making a decision on such realistic terms is liberating. You’ve given a us a good model here. Thanks for being so honest.

  14. Jennifer says

    Look on the bright side, when you are able to go your kids will be older and will be more able to appreciate and remember the trip. That’s what I tell myself when I’m sad about never taking great vacations.

  15. says

    I so appreciate the fact that this was a decision you really thought about, and even though it’s exactly the kind of decision I hate (boo practicality!), I really love that you’re choosing to say no right now, so that one day, you can say yes, and more fully. Debt is such a burden, and while the trip would have undoubtedly been so fun and so fulfilling, I think coming home to large amounts of debt would have been frustrating. One day, you’ll be able to take this trip, and there won’t be any negative consequences, only positive ones. And I’m with the commenter above: If you start purposefully saving now, even just change in a jar, you may be able to afford this trip more quickly than you thought. And perhaps your church will plan another go around… who knows? Proud of you, Jules (is that lame to say?), and grateful for your example!

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