On a slippery slope with holiday planning

I’m exhausted.

Figuring out holidays is such hard work. I’ve just booked time away on what I hope will be pristine, freshly snowed-on pistes. My mission is to have an experience far removed from our last ski trip, and so far the process has been remarkably taxing.

What I do not want to replicate is mostly closed slopes because of lack of snowfall – the few that were open were so icy and crowded that having eyes at the back of my head would have turned me into an emotional wreck and taken me off the runs for the duration. It was a mish-mash of all levels and varied degrees of ski etiquette – or etiquette in general – vying for space, or just vying. At least that’s what it felt like.

There were also eastern European babushkas on sleighs with what looked like steering wheels, but were in fact just a place to rest their hands while they screamed blue murder as gravity and much-reduced friction took their course – often over people’s skis – leaving the upright among us teetering and trying not to take a dive into the mountain.

To put it mildly, last year’s experience in Bulgaria’s Bansko does not have me wanting to go back. Think major motorway in the UAE at rush hour – with the numerous nationalities, belief systems, driving standards and understanding of the motorway code. Let’s be honest, safe braking distance does not exist as a concept with some people, let alone an approach to driving. High speed, going for every gap and total disregard for what happens to flesh and bone upon high effect are the order of the day.

And so my quest to have a safer, more relaxed experience has left me in major deficit mode. This trip is not only setting me back financially – the equivalent of two weeks of my life spent earning – but it’s been a giant black hole in terms of time, effort and emails.

Yet another steep learning experience.

People who do not travel much – or do trips where it’s a jigsaw puzzle of multiple stops, logistics, places to sleep, eat, lessons to be booked, tickets to be secured – don’t understand that it’s not as simple as booking the room and sorting out connections later. The euphoria of finding room at the inn was soon drowned out by the insane cost of two one-way tickets (on easyJet, at that) from Geneva to London. I was kicking myself for not going with the Swiss Air returns I’d found the night before that came in at significantly less and got me to a preferred airport. They had tripled overnight – as had easyJet’s fares – and all because I wanted to double-check certain information with the UK-based company that had found me the room in the catered chalet. I could blame the money hole I was staring down on time differences – but the truth is that it was my dithering that did it.

Had I been decisive and booked the tickets, I would have saved myself a lot more than money. The energy that went into comparing, checking, double-checking and then waiting for people on different continents with other priorities to get back to me has cost me a lot more than the monetary outlay.

Add to this the mental energy that has been consumed, and the crazy number of emails back and forth.

Yes, I am working within the limiting parameters of school holiday dates – and my preference to sacrifice money in return for cutting down on commuting from one point to another – but more crippling is the stuff of being human: decision-fatigue, comparison paralysis and dithering disease.

The farce is that people often do the above because they are looking to save money or get more value – this being peak season (recession in Europe? Not from what I see), but for me it has cost me dearly.

The big lesson is to make a decision and let go. It’s a relief. Focus your time and energy on the next thing. Make a decision about that and let go. Ad infinitum.

With this in mind, I’m now turning my attention to sorting out my summer.

Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website cashy.me. You can reach her at nima@cashy.me


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