The Cost of a Surprise Trip Home

I went home this weekend, unexpectedly. I had a family member pass away last weekend, and the memorial service was to be held this weekend, in Metro Detroit. I debated a bit, about coming – I was concerned that it was just too much, that I would be too stressed for the next week, that it would throw everything off.

My mom convinced me that I needed to be there for my family, so I went home. I left on Friday morning, using a personal day at school, and came back to Jackson today.

Airfare: I started looking up flights while I was still on the phone with my mom, discussing the potential of me going home. Flights out of the Jackson airport were nearly $700, so I looked into options out of other airports in the region – New Orleans, Atlanta, Birmingham – in hopes of finding some cheaper flight to Detroit. It worked out that my best bet would be New Orleans, where I used one of the vouchers I received in January to get a ticket, where I only had to pay for the “taxes and fees” portion of the price. It was $84.52.

Gas: I realized how low I was on gas somewhere in Louisiana, and then I was running late and I was anxious about running out of gas and missing my flight. I made it to the airport without filling up, then filled up my gas tank as soon as I could, when I arrived in New Orleans on Sunday. $27.91 along with the anxiety about running out.

Parking: I hate paying for parking, in any circumstances. It always feels like I’m spending a ton of money, and I’m not getting a thing or an experience that is worth anything to me. The experience I’m getting is not having my car towed, and while I would hate to have my car towed, it isn’t an experience that I pay for gladly.  It cost $41.31 to park at a parking lot near the New Orleans airport for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Food: I planned on packing food to bring to the airport with me, to save money on buying food in the airport. Somehow, in everything that was happening on Friday morning, that was forgotten, and while I ate breakfast, I didn’t eat lunch, leaving me ravenous when my mom picked me up at the Detroit airport. I stopped to buy a coffee drink on the way to the airport, $2.83, then spent $2.75 for an iced coffee at DTW before I got on the plane today. Let’s count the sushi that I bought at Trader Joe’s and ate on the way home as trip food as well, $3.49.

Total cost: $162.81. Less than I expected, and worth it, given the circumstances. Even while I was adding the numbers up, I expected it to be around $300. I’m not sure why I have such a bad sense of estimating that – I thought that I had spent almost twice as much as I did.

I write about this kind of thing because I’m endlessly curious about our attitudes, ideas, and feelings about money – there’s nothing else that makes people quite so uncomfortable and secretive than talking about how much things cost, and our own financial situations. I hope to shed a little bit of light on things by writing posts like this one.