Vacation planning is a martial art

courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic

One of the few things I long for from the “good old days” is having an abundance of travel agents I could count on to help plan a trip.  For those too young to remember, these were people who spent their time finding you the best flights and quaint, undiscovered hotels, so you didn’t have to turn vacation planning into a full-time job while accumulating unpaid overtime.

I confess to another change that has taken place since the days of the travel agents and that is that my husband and I are not as flexible as we were when we were young.  Example:  We will not fly, say, from Seattle to Zanzibar to arrive in Los Angeles, for the sake of a special, low-priced fare.

We are planning a trip to Spain and would enjoy a stopover in Iceland for a few days either coming or going.  The Rick Steves’ organization is taking care of everything in Spain; we are responsible only for our flights. How hard could it be to book airline tickets?  I needed to turn to a karate dictionary to illustrate the challenges. Let’s start with the original meaning of karate:  empty hand.  This word describes my condition after devoting a good part of January to searching on-line for flights.  I haven’t found the translation for empty bank account, but that would have been useful had I paid the $6,000+ per person, coach class, offered today on

Maegeri – front kick — reminds me of the blow I felt to the belly when I learned that my one gazillion accumulated air miles would not get me anywhere on the days I selected. Kaiten — spin around– aptly represents my reaction to finding out that I could use my air miles on British Airways to get to London, but that the fees and surcharges for my “free tickets” amounted to more than $1,400 for the two of us.

My only courses of action seem to be 1) rei — bow — before my opponent (my computer); 2) hajime — begin — as in begin again tomorrow;  3) apply renraku wazu — a combination of techniques — including calling the Alaska Airlines air miles desk more often; and 4) if all else fails, try sokuto kebanashi — a side kick to the middle — of my computer screen.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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3 Responses to Vacation planning is a martial art

  1. Karen says:

    Your story makes me so pround of my accomplishment because few are like you that would appreciate how difficult it was. In 10 days, my husband and I are going to Kauai using United miles and AMEX points to stay at the Grand Hyatt. Albeit, I had to pay to transfer miles from one account to another to have enough miles for 2 plane tickets and I had to use 1/2 of our lifetime accumulation of AMEX points – but what else was I saving it for??? And I had to plan this a million months ago, but this year I was determined to be ready to escape the NW dreary weather in February!

  2. ben shimbo says:

    Ah yes; Somehow the good-ole-days are not to be found anymore. The futility of hoping to live in the past is just a reminder of our teaching.

  3. Jackie Smith says:

    You speak in tongues I fear. What you need is a commitment to use those miles and a willingness to keep trying to do so. We’ve used air miles repeatedly on a variety of airlines to get to Europe and have just booked ourselves to Singapore and back from Bali on Alaska Airmiles this coming fall. It can be done. You need to keep checking and not give in to desperation as noted on CheapOAir . . .way too much to pay. CheapOAir was the source of $500 per person one way airfares to London for us; I maintain that with perserverance, you too will find ‘a deal.’ How about thinking “Kung Fu Fighting” . . .

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