That Little Trip to France

Remember that time that I mentioned that I am going to France for 8 weeks? I kinda snuck that one in there and you might be thinking “what the what? Frugal fail!” Today I’ll share a bit more about both the personal and financial aspects of my trip.

The details

On May 31, BF and I will be taking off on an 8 week adventure in Europe. We’ll be based primarily in Paris, where we have rented an apartment via Airbnb. BF will be a visiting researcher at a university in Paris, and I will be writing this blog and trying to adopt a more relaxed, European way of life (you might say that I am generally a high-strung person). We’ll also be travelling around France and to a few other countries in Europe. I’ll be updating this blog with the financial aspects of our trip and various travels along the way.

How are we able to take an 8 week trip?

A few factors combined to allow me and BF to spend such a substantial amount of time abroad. For BF, the situation is pretty simple. BF is a graduate student and therefore has a flexible schedule. As a visiting researcher at a university, his routine in Paris won’t be all that different from his routine in Cambridge, with the exception of the added daily croissant breaks.

For me, there were more details to work out because my schedule is much less flexible than BF’s. I am expected to be in the office from roughly 9 am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday and I only have two weeks of paid vacation per year. Luckily, a few factors coincided to make this trip feasible for me. The first is that my department is currently experiencing a bit of a lull and it isn’t expected that we will be very busy again for a few months. There really isn’t any way I could have predicted this, but when the situation became apparent, BF and I realized that there was an opportunity available. I was able to negotiate an unpaid, two month leave so that I can join BF in Paris while he is working there. We really benefited from the ability to plan this trip at the last minute (the whole idea for the trip became real during the course of a single dinner!) and take advantage of an unforeseen situation at my workplace. In this instance, timing really was everything. Had my office been extremely busy, there is simply no way this trip would have been possible for me.

I also believe that the fact that I have a strong history and reputation at my company impacted the willingness of my manager to grant me my requested leave. I’ve been at my company for five years, quite a long tenure in today’s job market. (According to this article, the BLS found that the average job tenure for people ages 25 – 24 is only 3 years.) During my five years, I have been able to demonstrate time and again that I am a dedicated, hard-working and loyal employee. My manager knows me and knows that I am not taking this opportunity lightly. Having proven myself over the last five years, I am able to take this leave without fear of damaging my carefully cultivated professional reputation.

How are we paying for the trip?

Now that we’ve covered the personal, let’s get down to the finance. Remember my ode to savings? This is what I have been saving so hard for – this fortuitous, opportunity-of-a-lifetime kind of moment. Yes, it will be difficult to go without income for two months and see my account balances go down instead of up, but I know it will be worth it.

While we’re doing what we can to offset or reduce costs, this trip is still going to cost us a pretty penny. But that’s OK. I’ve always wanted to take an extended trip like this. It will be an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I might miss my money today, but I’m pretty sure that when I’m 60 I will be remembering the local café I visited every day, not the money I spent there.

Have you ever taken an extended trip? How did you pay for it?

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