For me, it seems that the best memories that I take home from a trip are usually the ones that are unplanned. Therefore, I now always include an allowance in the budget for the unplanned-but-just-can’t-miss-it-moments or experiences.
Here’s how that started:
Years ago I was traveling with two of my kiddos (Jeff and Holly) when we found ourselves in a dark alley in the maze that is Venice, Italy.
Ahhhh…Bella Venezia……………! (If you’ve never been to Venice, I would definitely recommend putting that on your ‘bucket list’ as there’s nowhere else in the world quite like Venice!)
Anyway, it was nighttime and we had just arrived. We were on the hunt for our hotel when I found my kids with their noses pressed to the window of a then-closed costume shop that featured 16th & 17th century clothing, complete with powdered wigs and all. They made me promise to come back the next day when the shop was open to take a look. As any good mom would, I gave in to the pleadings of my offspring and we were again off to find our hotel.
The next day found us once again navigating the maze of Venice’s streets, looking for the little costume shop. After many offers of rides from gondoliers, a few times asking, “haven’t we already been here?” and more gelato that we really needed, we finally found the little shop that I’ll call, Paola’s Place (mostly because Paola was the owner and I can’t remember the name of the shop).
The costumes that we admired ranged in price from about $2,000-$4,000 dollars and rented for about $350/day during the Venice Carnevale celebration that happens each year in February. I’m not sure what the kids were thinking would happen here, but the next thing I know they had talked Paola into letting us rent costumes for just an hour and negotiated a price of $25 for each of us.
At that time I was pinching every penny and I’d not budgeted the extra $75, which seemed like a fortune, but this was just too much fun to pass up and I dug out the emergency visa. After all, who can resist being Marie Antoinette or Casanova for a day!
We spent a fair amount of time getting into the costumes, but the kids were pros! These two had worked at the Colorado Renaissance Festival for years and had their own get-ups already. That would have been good information to have mentioned to poor Paola – who just knew that her English was failing her when Jeff said that he wore tights every weekend. Her expression was truly memorable!
We spent considerably more time than had been allotted (with Paola’s permission of course) just walking around town in costume waving at tourists going by in gondolas, taking pictures with babies, signing autographs, posing with families on vacation and saying, “Bon Giorno” a lot. We were in our element. That afternoon turned out to be one of the highlights of that trip, and even though it was not in the budget, it was truly one of the best ‘memory investments’ I’ve ever made!
It was also the last time that I planned for a trip without leaving a ‘Memories In the Making’ line-item in the budget!