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Smithee’s First Vacation with Cash

This article was written by in Travel. 12 comments.

I’m currently winging my way down to San Antonio (where The Alamo is), except in a car and not with wings. My wife and I are signed up to join some of the members of The Atlantic Paranormal Society with an investigation of spirit activity in a gorgeous inn. We’ve been talking and daydreaming about doing something like this for years.

Even so, I know some of you will laugh at me, so I won’t spend any more time discussing what’s real and what’s not. Instead, I’ll talk about how much it’ll cost for us to go on Vacation #1.

First, here’s the equipment we’re bringing, which has already been paid for, and not on a credit card:

  • Digital voice recorder for capturing electronic voice phenomena – $50 – I wanted something high quality, not only for possible EVPs, but also potentially for on-location interviews for some other future creative endeavors
  • Electro-magnetic field detector – $20 – at this price point, it’s basically a toy. More serious investigators get the kind that engineers use, and the one we got actually had the word “ghost” in the name. It’s pretty cute.
  • Infrared digital thermometer – $14 – even though this is also inexpensive, it feels pretty solid and seems accurate so far
  • Extra batteries – about $9

And then there are the pricier items, the stuff that isn’t paid for yet, and which we won’t be able to make use of again in the future:

  • A five-hour class and a four-hour investigation – $300 for the two of us
  • Somewhere to sleep Friday and Saturday night (what’s left of it) – $200
  • Gasoline to get to and from San Antonio – $50 at the outside, since I recently filled up the car
  • Optionally, one of many downtown walking ghost tours – maybe $40 for both of us
  • Lunch and dinner – I’ll have to get back to you on that, but it doesn’t have to be expensive

So, ignoring meals, we know we’ll be spending $590 this weekend. Normally, when we go on vacation, I approach it with some excitement and some dread, because 1) I don’t go into a vacation with any estimate of how much we’ll be spending, and 2) most things get charged to a credit card.

This trip is going to be different, because we’re armed with an estimate, and more importantly, we have enough cash in the bank to pay for everything. True, we’re using the money that more prudent people would call an emergency fund, but a twinge of guilt about that is still preferable to the slow panic of knowing that your vacation is going to be charging you interest for a long time to come.

Not this time.

No, that panic will likely come in May, when we go to California for Vacation #2. However, we pre-paid for that conference, which includes lodging and meals. All that’s left is the airplane tickets and the car rental, and the other day my wife said she was going to set aside some of her recent bonus money to help pay for that. The conference tickets themselves went on my credit card, which I’m aggressively paying down, so that sounds fair.

Vacations seem smarter this year, relative scientific merits of ghost hunting notwithstanding.

Published or updated February 18, 2010.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

The most important answer is missing. Will we see you “TONIGHT ON GHOST HUNTERS”?

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avatar 2 Anonymous

Searching for ghost? Well, you might have a better chance of success than searching for good interest rate of return. The PRE-PAID though is a real plus – good on you.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

That’s awesome! Congratulations on your cash free vacation!

Sounds a lot better than the “all credit” trip my girlfriend (now wife) and I went on a few years back!

We bought a 7 day package for under $1,800 to go to the Bahamas for “Spring Break”. When we arrived at the hotel we realized we weren’t anywhere near the “cool” beaches and we needed to find a better place to stay.

We were unable to get a refund on our hotel but we still went ahead and booked a week stay (at full price) at one of the nicer beach front hotels on the island. We were paying for two different hotel rooms the entire week!

All told the trip racked up an additional $5,500 on my credit card.


Good look with the paranormal activity!

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avatar 4 Anonymous

Sweet! That’s always been one of those things I’ve wanted to do. Which of the TAPS members are you going with? And if you don’t find any ghosts, you can at least go to the Alamo and keep an eye out for Pee-Wee’s bike…I hear it’s in the basement.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

I once stayed at the hotel that overlooks the Alamo, can’t remember the name now but it has something to do with the Yellow Rose of Texas. Having visited the Alamo and reading all the lists of people that died there, you really shouldn’t have any problem detecting a few spooks. Hope you speak a few languages though because there was certainly a broad mix of all nationalities that met their demise within those walls.

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