You can't afford not to vacation

Robert Reich


Tess Vigeland: Americans aren't the only ones bummed out about the price tag of a vacation across the pond. Tourism officials all over Europe are trying to reassure us Yanks that a holiday there wouldn't be that bad.

The Emerald Isle just launched a campaign with the tag line: "Ireland -- Can you afford not to go?"

Uh, yes?

Commentator Robert Reich thought he probably couldn't afford a trip. Then he did the math.

Robert Reich: After finishing what I can honestly say was a hard year's work, I decided to dip into my savings and take a vacation this summer. But when I looked into my savings, I discovered there were a lot less of them than when I last looked.

Well, the dollar so weak against the euro, that European vacation I was dreaming about would have cost me a fortune anyway. So I cancelled that trip and congratulated myself on saving thousands.

So many Europeans will be vacationing over here to take advantage of the strong euro that I figure America's prime getaways will seem European anyway. Cape Cod will feel like the Riviera; the Rockies will have the ambience of the Alps.

So then I decided to hop into my car and head to one of those great USA getaways. But with gas up around $4 a gallon, I figured I could save a pile of money by canceling that plan, too. "What's wrong with home?," I asked myself. It will be a great chance to walk around and sample the local cuisine.

But with food prices soaring, local restaurants are becoming much more expensive. So I figured I could save even more money by planting my own vegetable garden and eating at home. And what's wrong with eating your own vegetables? It's healthier that way.

By this time, I figured with all the money I'll have saved by not going abroad, not taking that road trip, not eating out and by growing my own vegetables, I'll just about have broken even with my losses in the stock market.

But, of course, I won't break even if the stock market keeps dropping.

So I've decided to forget about saving money this summer. I'm driving to Europe, eating at every first-class restaurant along the way and to hell with my own vegetables.

Vigeland: Robert Reich teaches public policy at the University of California Berkeley.

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Taking time off is very important. This does not mean that money has to be spent to make this time worthwhile.
Quiet times at home, leasure walks in the neighborhood, and just appreciating the things that we do have. The time will come again when gas,the dollar, and other things will fall into place.
I believe that if we take the time to plan, all will be well. It's a choice we must make to endure both the good and the hard times.

I live on the Hudson River and have not really 'seen' it. My partner and I are going to invest in a canoe and a kayak and explore out backyard - spending only the money to get to the boat dock.

Maybe we should just chill out this summer and take the time to read a few good books. Or, discover something new in your own 'hood'. But,if you must, go on an adventure and enjoy yourself. Just remember, to take plenty of cash.

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