Choosing a Vacation Destination Based on its Economy

by Honolulu Mother

Vox put together this Vacation Index showing which countries are the best – and worst – bargains for vacationers at the moment. According to the article, it’s not intended to compare bang for the buck in absolute terms, but rather to show which countries are cheaper or more expensive than they usually are. Do you think the index is an accurate representation of that? Would you consider choosing a vacation destination based on it?

Our next vacation is to the very worst bargain listed, and yet the exchange rate is still better than it was the last time I was there. I think the index is looking at a relatively short-term timescale.


113 thoughts on “Choosing a Vacation Destination Based on its Economy

  1. Interesting, but fairly useless. People, at least this person, make decisions like this based on criteria like:
    – is 2016 a good year to go to X?
    Me: Yes. DS2 has a fellowship there and I’ve never been, so it seems like a good excuse.
    – is the expected cost within reason?
    Me: Yes.
    – is the specific time good (given work, family, school, other obligations)?
    Me: Yes.
    – if we don’t go now, is it reasonable to think we’ll ever go?
    Me: if no, then that’s a point for going now.
    = Go for it.

    In 2014, DW & I looked at going to Hawaii over/between Christmas and New Years. Expensive no matter what, but the costs really looked out of bounds, so we deferred. The trip we took in 2015, same time of year, was probably 30% less expensive. Only because we priced it out two years in a row did we know 2015 was a relative bargain vs 2014. And that was not a consideration. The absolute cost and how it fit our wallet was.

  2. I think I mostly pay attention to air fare. That’s probably dumb. So for instance last fall I went on the yoga retreat to Costa Rica, because Denver to Costa Rica is pretty cheap. But this year the retreat is in Italy and the air fare from Denver to Italy is giving me heart attacks.

  3. I agree that this is a short-term timescale. If the goal is where to visit over your lifetime, you should be paying attention to where the country is on a more historic scale. “Hey, the UK is 3% cheaper” isn’t such a great deal if it’s still 2x as high as it was a decade or two ago.

    Our recent vacations have been driven more by the time available and our work constraints than by where is the best deal. Which means that sometimes we get lucky on the deals, and sometimes we do things in the wrong order. We lucked into Portugal at a very down time and have never been treated more nicely — people were SO happy we were spending our money there. Same with our first trip to Italy. OTOH, last year time was tight and we ended up in Scotland when it was wicked expensive; this year we planned a bigger trip back to Italy, which was cheap last year but not so much this year.

    You know, I think this is a big-picture version of “grocery shopping without a list and coupons.” The first time I realized I could afford to diverge from my tight little list-of-coupons-and-deals, it felt like a huge degree of freedom. Vacations were the same for most of my life, driven by deals and budgets (my mom even bought her Rehoboth condo in part so she didn’t have to pay for hotels and restaurants). And then we took that first big trip @ 5 years ago, and the world didn’t end, and I realized I didn’t have to think that way any more. So now I appreciate the mental freedom of *not* having to worry about optimizing the best deals over time.

    Of course, I will probably revert to my old ways when we retire, when I have more time available to travel and more head space for the planning and dreaming, because that’s still kind of who I’m always going to be deep down. :-)

  4. We chose our honeymoon destination (New Zealand) based largely on the exchange rate, which at the time was ~$2.50 NZ dollars to the US dollar, compared to ~$1.40 NZ dollars to the US dollar now. Our savings on lodging and transportation more than covered the difference in airfare between Hawaii and New Zealand. (Gas was about the same real cost as in the US, which is unsurprising since oil is a global commodity.) We figured Hawaii was more doable in a future week off work, but New Zealand required more time for an appropriate visit.

    I loved New Zealand. I’ve still never been to Hawaii and if I never make it, I’m OK with my decision.

  5. Our big trip this summer is second worst on the list (Iceland), and I really don’t care. Our thinking is similar to Fred’s but more concise:

    Does this fit in our schedule? Yes.
    Can we afford it? Yes.
    Let’s go.

    We’re trying to economize a bit by staying in AirBNBs, which seem to be the same or cheaper than hotels anyway, plus we can save some on not eating out every meal. But we’re just going to use that savings on excursions and activities while we’re there. I am shocked at how expensive rental cars are there, though.

    Bottom line is even though it might be cheaper or a “better value” in a few years, we want to go now and we can afford it, so we’re going.

  6. Gas was about the same real cost as in the US, which is unsurprising since oil is a global commodity.

    But countries tax it very differently. We went to England for our honeymoon and gas was significantly more expensive there.

  7. “Our recent vacations have been driven more by the time available and our work constraints than by where is the best deal.”

    that’s been true for me, also. But now with more time and flexibility, I’ve been thinking of taking advantage of deals. However, I’m not adventurous enough (for now) to just pick a deal and go with it at short notice. I worry — what if the hotel is crappy, what if the flight falls through, what if it’s monsoon season, what if, what if, what ifs galore. Right now I saw Secret Flying had RT flights between NY & Europeans cities for $450ish. When I saw it was Ukraine Airlines, I thought what if my plane gets shot down.

  8. “I thought what if my plane gets shot down.”

    for that/similar reason, some destinations and specific airlines are off my list.

  9. Our vacations are planned based on time since our last vacation. If it’s been a while (> 1 year), we make it a priority, less than a year, we’ll only go if something good crops up and we have the time. This “academic” year was an anomaly. We visited Chicago in Nov 2015, and Boise/Yellowstone in May 2016. One was to meet new family and the second was to catch up with a dear friend and go somewhere completely different and away from family. I highly doubt we’ll ever do that much traveling again in such a short time span.

    I think if I had an open calendar, I’d consider the OP. But I don’t right now, so it’s more like Fred’s thought process.

    That being said, I’d love to go back on my vacation. In ways, I wish I had taken this whole week off, but I don’t have the time at work. I find my mind drifting back to Big Sky Country. Words I never thought I’d ever say in my life. I need to go to the ocean ASAP.

  10. (Gas was about the same real cost as in the US, which is unsurprising since oil is a global commodity.)

    You mean before taxes?

  11. We are going to Costa Rica this summer to celebrate a big anniversary because it was affordable and beautiful. We nixed a trip to London due to crazy airfare. I don’t mind spending money on a trip, but I need to feel that the cost is reasonable. I don’t mind a splurge, but I mind feeling ripped off.

  12. “When I saw it was Ukraine Airlines, I thought what if my plane gets shot down.”

    Umm, yeah. Good call.

    I can say the same thing about a number of countries — don’t care how cheap they are, if it’s politically unstable, no thanks. And the kind of economic crises that make a country cheap can also lead to political instability. Sometimes, that great deal is really a big fat warning flag.

  13. ““I thought what if my plane gets shot down.”

    for that/similar reason, some destinations and specific airlines are off my list.”

    +1. I’ll only tempt fate so far…

  14. My thought processes on vacation are similar to Denver Dad. DH is much more adventurous than I am and much less worried about political instability, but so far, there have been enough warm places with a water feature that we haven’t had that discussion. Running around South or Central America during election seasons is about as adventurous as I get.

    I loved Costa Rica. We couldn’t find accommodations this Christmas, but the airfare was cheap. There have been a number of times where we have found really cheap flights, but couldn’t book a place to stay.

  15. we have all our vacation dollars this year going to “Family meeting travel” gah. So annoyed.

  16. We have not done any big trips lately and one is not in the works this year for our family. However, the kids have trips through school or scouts planned. My partner is not big on travel, but likes to go to a particular event each year in another state with two buddies.

    In general it is more about where we want to go and does it fit the budget. If we were torn between two places, then cost would come more into play. But I’d rather see Iceland over Argentina and wait longer until I could afford Iceland than go to Argentina and never see Iceland.

    I also think that the age and demeanor of your kids is a large factor. When our youngest was very young, she had breathing issues and could not be without access to a nebulizer. That meant no plane trips and no significant distances without easy access to electricity. Technology has changed and the same restrictions would not apply, but during that time we did a lot of 3 day trips that did not have us driving long distances in the middle of nowhere.

  17. Costa Rica seems to be the hot destination for friends here. We go to the same places every year – Cape Cod in the summer, Amelia Island, FL for spring break. We’ll probably continue on that rotation until my youngest is in Kindergarten.

    My husband has his 40th birthday later this year and we’re thinking about taking a short trip for that but it will likely be close by. I looked at Blackberry Farm because he’s always wanted to go there but I don’t think I can stomach the cost.

  18. Iceland and Japan are always a poor value. They have been crazy expensive as long as I can remember. When we visited Iceland, we camped and made our meals on a backpaker stove in order to cut costs.

  19. Very few countries that I really want to visit on the “cheap” list – mainly Korea, China and New Zealand. And those countries are expensive to fly to.

  20. We really want to go to Paris, but eek, it is expensive. I am thinking that if we go, we might spend only a few days in Paris and then go bike touring/camping in Bretagne. I think DD is big enought to handle a full tour now, and there are outfitters who will rent all the bike touring equipment

  21. We are driving in PA, and we just passed a Cabelas. I was surprised that DH didn’t know the store. I’ve had to travel to a lot more rural areas and small cities to see food and ag clients so I think he needs to get out more.

    I know he’s going to dislike our hotel in Hershey, but the economics didn’t work to stay in the hotel that he would like for this weekend.

    We’re not going to Europe or UK this summer. The costs to plan at the last minute didn’t work because it was too expensive.

    I did finally book our family trip to Colorado. It was actually a decent value because air was very reasonable. We got an amazing deal on our room in mountains because I don’t think a lot of people are rushing to visit Rockies in late August.

    Our trips are a balance of what makes economic sense, and when we just want to go and have to pay. We know we’re getting a terrible deal this weekend, but we were willing to pay up to go to Hershey for a holiday weekend. We were able to take Disney cruise just one week after Memorial Day last year, and it saved us almost $2000 on air and cruise because there was so little demand vs. Memorial Day.

  22. I don’t think a lot of people are rushing to visit Rockies in late August.

    They should, though! The mountain air is nice and cool, and the hiking is great. Whereabouts in the Rockies are you staying?

  23. We have never taken a big (international) trip with the kids and the last one we did without kids was also the only time we have traveled internationally together (London in 2004), so we are a ways off from considering any of this stuff! We considered Costa Rica for our honeymoon, but instead went to my parents’ camp to save money. The kids have only been to most of the New England states (not VT or RI) and Florida.

    DH hates to travel (he hates the journey and also being away from home and also feeling like he can’t get enough work done) so any future international travel will be driven by me.

  24. I like traveling in shoulder or off season. Cheaper and less crowds. Sure we miss some stuff (like Orcas in Pac NW), but what we can do (have an entire National Park to ourselves) makes up for it.

  25. “The trip we took in 2015, same time of year, was probably 30% less expensive. ”

    Why do you think costs were down so much for Hawaii? Fuel costs? I’d like to go for the volcanoes mainly.

    I think for Iceland it’s only the air costs that have dropped recently. I saw a Groupon that was offering 5 or 6-day all-inclusive trips for about $1500 IIRC. You could tack on more days if desired. Are July and August the only/best times to go?

  26. @L — I gotta encourage you to just go! Honestly, international travel with little kids struck me more like a version of hell than “fun”/”vacation.” But we ended up basically having to go to Germany when DD was I think 3.5, and she did *great*, and we all had a much-better-than-expected time. The key is keeping expectations low — we avoided all museums and that sort of thing and planned lots of walking and naptime/downtine and playing around outside. Things that we take for granted are Great Adventures for the kids — the little commuter train between towns was more of an adventure than the place we ended up; the open-air markets were like giant parties to her; the little coin-operated carousel outside the shop was like a giant amusement park. Added bonus when DS came along was that he didn’t know what the different words meant on the menu, so he became a lot more willing to try things. :-) He was still picky about what he liked, but it did help him improve on at least giving something a shot.

  27. CoC – I don’t know. Some of it may have been pure dumb luck…looking in the right place at the right time, Christmas on a different day of the week, etc etc. The hotels were all of the same class in the same places (Waikiki and on the Big Island). Once I noticed the air/hotel costs were lower than the year before we booked.

  28. I don’t think a lot of people are rushing to visit Rockies in late August.

    The resort towns are always pretty crowded through Labor Day.

    I think for Iceland it’s only the air costs that have dropped recently.

    As I said, we found some very reasonably priced places to stay through airbnb. Rental cars are incredibly expensive, though.

  29. I don’t think a lot of people are rushing to visit Rockies in late August.

    we’ve been in August before, loved it!

  30. I. am. going. to. kill. my. client. Do not keep striking my edits to a report unless you first LOOK AT WHAT THE REGULATIONS REQUIRE YOU TO SAY IN THE REPORT.

    Due today, of course. Aarrggghhhhhh. . . .

  31. I. am. going. to. kill. my. client.

    Wait till after s/he pays you.

  32. Doing the VRBOs for Japan helps a *lot* with the cost of traveling as a family, even if you look at lodging cost alone and don’t consider the ability to eat at “home” instead of going out for every single meal. I’m not sure the difference would be as dramatic for just a couple. But it does seem like it’s cheaper overall, probably because my reference points are the mid 80s and a couple of years in the late 90s, so from my perspective dollars have more buying power every time I visit: (select Historical, set time scale to MAX).

  33. Why do clients send you documents mid-afternoon on the Friday before a long weekend for immediate review? I hate working with people who can’t schedule and are inconsiderate.

  34. Wait. Am I totally backward on my conversion? I think I am. Apparently the real effect is that I have more absolute buying power now than I did in 1983.

  35. Why do clients send you documents mid-afternoon on the Friday before a long weekend for immediate review?

    Because they want to get it off their desk before the long weekend, so that they can enjoy the weekend and come back to deal with it post-review on the first working day after, and they really don’t care about your personal life. So inconsiderate, yeah, but as far as the client is concerned they’re scheduling things just fine.

  36. HM – If I were external counsel and getting paid like external counsel, yeah I get it. Since I am not, this will wait until Tuesday and if really urgent get kicked to external counsel, hitting my client’s P&L. Poor planning.

  37. @ATM: Oh, no. They sent it to me yesterday. We have just gone back and forth about it three times since 6 PM last night. Identify brick wall, insert head. Repeat.

  38. Oh yeah, they’re totally paying for the right to F with my holiday. But they are also paying for my advice. So, you know, you’d think they’d, Idunno, *listen* to it.

  39. @ATM — Ah, yes, my favorite. Personally, I am waiting for my 4PM crisis to hit (don’t know what it is yet, but fairly sure there will be one). Luckily, I am working at home today so at least don’t have to worry about traffic when that inevitability occurs. (Yesterday, a normally 20-minute drive at 4PM took 45, for no apparent reason — I think everyone just assumes that the holiday starts at 3PM the day before now)

  40. Back on topic – and because I am in need of a vacation – I would only look at this information if I was trying to decide between two places. It would not be part of the main decision.

    I was thinking of going to Iceland but now I may re-consider Costa Rica, for example.

  41. Like many others here, our choices are limited by our kids’ school schedules and DW’s and my work schedules and vacation availability. On top of that, we’ve had a few places we’ve all really wanted to visit, and a few things we really wanted to do. Put those two circumstances together, and we’ve not done comparisons between countries.

    OTOH, perhaps I should’ve been looking at this. New Zealand cheap? I’ve been talking with the family for years about wanting to go there one summer to go skiing. Had I known earlier, I might’ve tried to plan something.

  42. I think the information is fundementally flawed. It’s just a comparison of how cheap it is to travel compared to last year. It is really insider baseball – for people who follow this year to year.

    They state Portugal is a bad value due to a 5% change, and New Zealand is a good value due to a 5% change. That means a 3k vacation last year would cost you $3150 this year (Portugal) and $2850 (New Zealand). It doesn’t imply anything about the quality of trip that you would have in one place vs the other. A pint of beer is $5 in Auckland, and $2 in Porto – changing things +/- 5% doesn’t change the experience much at all.

  43. @Ada — but if you were in Porto, why in the world would you be drinking beer? :-)

  44. Finn, Honolulu to Auckland on Fiji Airlines (probably with layover in Fiji) is $768 pp for a 2 week trip from January 15-29. A rental car is $247/week in US dollars per Expedia. We stayed in moderate hotels, the historic Waitomo Caves Hotel and farm/home stays for lodging. Queenstown, for example, had numerous homestay/bed and breakfast options. We saw penguins.

    It was fun, but not for people looking for pure relaxation, like a cruise or resort.

  45. LfB and ATM – I was starting to get an itch to go back to work, but you have made me remember how annoying clients are and how they ruin everything. I nees to find a position where the clients don’t annoy.

  46. Kate — Except dead people have living relatives who are really eager to get their hands on the dead person’s money. So you have to deal with them.

  47. You’re right in the DC area, Kate, there’s always working in the bowels of some federal agency. But even if you don’t have clients per se you’ll still have to deal with annoying people, and the federal government has all the nimbleness and creative vigor of a beached and dying whale.

  48. Such a shame. The practice of law could be so great if not for the clients!

    I don’t think I would like a fed agency. I liked what I did because there was very little law involved! I hate litigation, research and writing.

  49. “I don’t think I would like a fed agency. I liked what I did because there was very little law involved! I hate litigation, research and writing.”

    Pull a Risley and write novels or some other artistic and solo pursuit.

    I’d suggest science, but we deal with people all the time – even if it’s just other people sharing our lab space. Though, never in my life have I spent so much time in a single room with people and not uttered a word…

  50. The dad of one of DD’s classmates is a fed lawyer. Not sure what he does, but when the kids were young and parents were invited to a lot of events at school, he seemed to be able to go to most of them.

  51. Hey, since we’re off-topic anyway, is anyone planning to watch the remake of Roots next week?

  52. Yeah, it was such a big deal at the time it aired and it seemed like everyone was watching it and talking about it. And then we watched the whole thing again in maybe middle school history class?

  53. for anyone who hasn’t seen the trailer.

    I would also like to see Love & Friendship (aka Lady Susan).

  54. It seems that many people in my extended workgroup decided to take the week off. It was quiet and the rest of us were told that we could take off early this afternoon. So, off I went.

  55. Lucky ducks! I’m counting the minutes until 4:30p. I also had had a devil of a time focusing yesterday and today, so I’m just a hot mess.

    Let’s hope the long weekend can rearrange my brain or I’m in trouble next week…

  56. Actually, y’all just reminded me that our offices officially closed at 3, so I can go play if I want to. :-)

    I am definitely watching Roots and hoping to see Love & Friendship with my mom, who was supposed to be in FL but canceled her trip because the pool pump broke, only her neighbor fixed it, but not until after she had canceled the trip, so now we can take DD to a chick flick. Yay.

  57. Ah screw it. I’ll take comp time. I’m not functional anyway.

    Maybe my mom will want to go to the movies to see Love and Friendship. If not, maybe I’ll sneak away myself. Not sure we’ll watch Roots. I saw it way back when, but didn’t really process all of it (just that it was very long). We still have a half season of SHIELD to catch up on.

  58. Ugh! ATM. You bring up a painful memory. I was such an asshole!

    This was before I met my wife. Figure the early to mid-80s. I was working on some huge (for the time) acquisition. I had no reason to expect that I would get the Memorial Day Weekend off, but I was young, in love (or so I thought), and Memorial Day was the gateway weekend in the Hamptons. I foolishly allowed my then girlfriend to schedule a dinner for her family and some of our mutual friends for Saturday night at my house.

    Of course, on Friday afternoon about this time, the asshole 35-year old Managing Director from Merrill Lynch scheduled a 7:30 a.m. “all hands on meeting” for Saturday morning. He would be participating, as necessary, from Bridgehampton, and my boss would participate from Nantucket. I, of course, had to be physically present in Merrill’s offices.

    I sent my gf and my then cat in my car off to the Hamptons that night. I promised that someway, somehow, I would be there Saturday night.

    So, I flew. I went on a tiny little plane with the stars (literally) out to East Hampton from LaGuardia late Saturday afternoon. My gf picked me up looking royally pissed. I realized then and there that I was acting like a big swinging dick. I know big swinging dicks and I am no big swinging dick! (Credits to Tom Wolfe and Lloyd Bentson.)

    The next morning at 7 the gf had me back at the East Hampton airport at 7. I was at Merrill by 11.

    I have never felt so low about my priorities and my job as I did then. Needless to say, my relationship petered out soon after. I was a jerk. I thought I was being a hero, but I was being an asshole.

    I really had big firm NY law figured out, didn’t I?

    I still cringe when I tell this story.

  59. PTM – I have a few of those stories (although none involving the Hamptons or an airplane). My now DH stuck with me through my transition to inhouse counsel from Biglaw. It really is a hazing experience. As much as I complain about my current job, I will NEVER go back to that lifestyle.

  60. “I thought I was being a hero, but I was being an asshole.”

    Not even close. “Asshole” would be “they’re your parents, you deal with them, I have More Important things to do.”

    Shit happens. You did your best.

  61. I have, when necessary, mailed clients the same document I sent before, but with appropriate text highlighted with explanatory notes attached. Then they seem to actually *read* the parts they somehow missed the first time. But it’s a lot of time to tell people to look at something that’s already in front of them!

    Thanks for the heads up about Roots. I hadn’t heard there was a reboot and we may watch it. Though watching that preview, I’m realizing that’ll be a grown ups only event because my littles aren’t quite ready for that. I’m not sure when they will be, but I know it happens one of these days, right? For now, ET freaked my oldest, so we’re cautious about what she’s watching so that we all sleep without nightmares.

  62. LfB – When you travel in retirement, you can spend money like water because there are no more tuitions or 401ks to fund or commuting and work costs. You don’t have to put aside any of your income stream for retirement, either. And your taxes go way down. You do get more for your dollar because you can travel off season, and you feel free to make plans a year or two in advance and get the promotional pricing for advance payment, but it doesn’t feel like bargain hunting. It feels like buying up for the same price. Of course, you could decide to sell the existing homes and spend years and a fortune building some palace with rooms for all possible grandchildren at the beach or in the mountains. Or fly in the middle seat in the back of the plane because you want to fund the LfB dynasty.

    Lauren – The last week in August is usually cheaper because almost every kid in the country outside of a few northeastern areas or elite prep schools is back in school.

  63. The last week in August is our California trick because we’ve had legoland to ourselves because everyone is in school. The hotels are still pricey because there is always demand for LA or San Fran, but it’s so much easier to navigate Disney, beaches or any theme park on a weekday at the end of August.

    We used to visit Martha’s Vineyard every year after Labor Day. Weather was usually perfect, and rates would drop dramatically. We had to stop when DD entered regular school.

    I can’t go to Colorado as late because I’m going there for someone’s birthday.

  64. I’m going to see Love & Friendship in a little while. I’ll let you know how it was!

  65. PTM – could you email me please? CofC has my email or you can find me easily I think. DS got a dream job for the summer in Miami. He found out tonight and is going to fly there on Sunday and start on Tuesday. Small detail – no place to live. No, in not asking you to take him in! Just wondering if you might have ideas. His job is in midtown I believe. He’s looking into AirBnB and sublets and just about everything but I thought I’d reach out in a few places too, in a you-never-know sort of strategy.

    Thanks for any insights you might be willing to offer.

  66. Ris, I will happily contact CofC tomorrow or find your e-mail otherwise.

    Good for your son!

    I have many questions, of course, and a lot will depend on whether he has a car. We have no public transportation down here. No kidding.

    Junior and I will take him out to dinner this weekend, That is if he can stand his mother’s friends. Does he drink Coor’s Light? I will have a few on hand.

    Unfortunately, he can’t stay with me, although I’d offer. I have very little house left. Everything is in boxes awaiting our move to North Warehouseville.

    But I’d love to meet DS.

  67. The key with my practice area is finding the meek little old ladies with meek descendants. The clients who have worked for their money and now have $20M or so are always entitled jerks. But the little old ladies are VERY sweet and will always do what you tell them. :) It only gets bad if they have relatives trying to exert undue influence – you have to put yourself in a position where they listen to you and not to the relatives.

  68. Risley-don’t take PTM advice on MIA! He’s northeast transplant hater! Midtown is super cool, and there are now rentals for young people in Midtown, Downtown, Edge water, Brickell area and Coconut Grove. And public transportation / bike paths and shuttles covers those central areas pretty well. There is a thriving millennial population in that inside area.

  69. I love this group! Ris puts out a plea for help and immediately there is assistance (plus Coors Light). Such a wonderful community we have here.

  70. Yesterday, I suffered from parental embarrassment. I took DD to the local hair cut place for a trim. When she sat in the chair, she told me that she had a few tangles. I dutifully said the same to the lady cutting her hair. After, a few minutes, the lady comes to me with brush in hand saying that DD’s hair is extremely tangled and it would take her 30 minutes to brush it out. They were not allowed to spend time doing that per corporate policy. So, I sat there, in the busy salon, with DD shedding tears because I had to hurt her hair to get the tangles out. Turns out, though she said she was combing her hair, she was doing a very poor job. Some of the tears were because she was embarrassed too. Eventually after much brushing it was all untangled and ready to be cut. I think DD learned her lesson.

  71. I rarely do vacations apart from adding days onto work travel.

    I came across this and thought it might interest some readers here who have wondered about this.

    I signed a permission slip for my kid to take the human reproduction unit in science last year. Based on his questions recently, I wonder what they did in there. He’s been asking me questions again lately. He has never heard of Fallopian tubes, ovaries or the inguinal canal, has no idea what testicles are for, how women could masturbate (no, son, please do not google that), what ED is, or how to put on a condom. So what did they do in science class?? This is pretty much the way I talk with him. Not being able to follow the tip about having both parents talk to the kid, I tell the kinds of raunchy jokes I think are more likely for dads to tell, and I laugh at comments he retells from boys at school.

    A few DOs and DONTs of talking about sex with your kids.

    Need some guidelines when it comes to talking to your kids about sex? These DOs and DON’Ts may help to guide you through a few of your difficulties:

    *DO have a positive, open, and respectful attitude.

    *DO tell your kids that it’s okay for them to ask you questions.

    *DON’T worry if it’s awkward at first, over time these talks will become more natural and comfortable.

    *DO know your child’s friends and social crowd, this will help you to monitor them when they are outside of the home.

    *DON’T wait to talk to your kids about sex until they are in their teens, chances are they already know more than you think!
    *DO start these conversations from an early age, but by keeping the discussions appropriate for their age. Their needs will change as they get older.

    *DO know that it’s okay if you’re not an expert! Children don’t expect you to know everything; they just want to communicate with you.

    *DO have both parents talk to kids about sex, and be sure to talk to sons and daughters equally.

    *DON’T quickly change the channel when watching T.V. and they mention sex…
    *DO use it as a time to talk about what’s happening and find out what your kid is thinking, and share some of your own thoughts!

    *DO share your values regarding sex, and ask your child about their values. Also talk about things such as how important future goals are like school, sports, etc.

    *DON’T wait for a “perfect moment” to have “The Sex Talk”…
    *DO use many small moments to have continuing conversations.
    Talk to Your Kids About Sex!
    Talk to Your Kids About Sex! Sources:

    Byers, E., Sears, H., Weaver, A. (2008.) Parents’ reports of sexual communication with children in kindergarten to grade 8. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 86-96.

    Guilamo-Ramos, V., Bouris, A. (2009.) Working with parents to promote healthy adolescent sexual development. Prevention Researcher, 16, 7-11.

    Somers, C., Surrman, A. (2004.) Adolescents’ preferences for source of sex education. Child Study Journal, 34, 47.

  72. Louise – if it makes you feel better, the time when my DD’s hair was so tangled that the hairdresser gave me the stink eye, it was also infested with lice. Quite loudly, she told me this and pushed the kid toward me and said, “We don’t deal with that.” Nice mothering moment, that.

    Lemon – boy, do I agree with you!

    PTM – meant to say, in response to your post, that the boy developed a taste for Kalik on the island, but I’m sure he’d drink Coors Light to be polite. ;)

  73. I have no idea, Ris, what Kalik is. Do they have Kalik Light? I can be adventuresome. Once.

  74. When my daughter was elementary age she also did the trick of only brushing the surface of her hair and we had some painful hairbrushing showdowns over that although never, thank goodness, while trying to get a haircut. You know, there’s a reason so many little girls had those Dorothy Hamill cuts when I was a kid. Why are we back to all the girls having long hair again?

    Oh well, she eventually learned how to brush it all the way through.

  75. Louise, BTDT. Copious amounts of conditioner helped. DW also limited how long she would let DD grow her hair until she consistently combed it out, although not Dorothy Hamill short.

    Risley, lice have been in the news here lately. New DOE policy is that kids with lice will not be sent home or kept from school.

  76. For public schools it becomes an issue of denying kids their right to an education if you’re sending them home all the time . . . other states have had to do this too.

  77. Mini review of Love & Friendship – very fun, very Jane Austen, but with the twist of the “heroine” not being too heroic. The dialogue is witty and fast (I can see watching this again on Netflix with subtitles to see what I missed), and the locations and costumes are gorgeous.

    It doesn’t have the poignancy and depth of Persuasion or P&P; it is light and frothy. I enjoyed it a lot.

  78. Lice policy makes sense to me, given that it’s not considered a public health hazard. Better than the alternative of healthy kids being kept out of school.

    Perhaps the new policy should’ve been accompanied with some education on how to avoid lice in the first place, e.g., don’t touch heads when taking selfies.

  79. No lice, thankfully, but the tangled hair did remind me of a bird’s nest and I was alternately mad and half expecting baby birds to come flying out of DD’s head.

  80. ssk – wait to see Love & Friendship on Netflix, you think, or see now on the big screen?

  81. Seeing now encourages them to make more of this sort of thing for the big screen.

  82. Louise– My girls have hair above their shoulders for just this reason. I have told them that they are welcome to grow their hair longer *when* they are willing to brush it properly and/or let me help them brush it out properly. I have one DD that is the queen of brushing only the surface.

  83. Ha! I hear you on the hair combing issue, Louise!

    On not keeping kids with lice out of school because they need their education–if only dress codes resulted in such enlightened policies!

  84. DD had to have a good portion of her hair chopped off last year because it was a gigantic knotted mess because she wasn’t brushing it very well under the surface. She learned her lesson.

  85. Seattle– If you’re around, I have a couple of questions about your area if you wouldn’t mind emailing me. Thanks for any info!

  86. “I love this group! Ris puts out a plea for help and immediately there is assistance (plus Coors Light). Such a wonderful community we have here.”


  87. Risley – I would see it in the theater, for the reason that Honolulumother mentioned, as well as getting to see the gorgeous clothing and houses on a big screen – much more impressive!

  88. You all won’t be surprised to learn that Risley’s kid is a perfect gentleman and an all around good guy. He is a wonderful addition to the South Florida community for the summer. Junior and I liked him very much.

  89. Rhett, Mr WCE was stuck for hours in a rebooking line and faced the prospect of hours in a hotel line when I imagined I was you and asked if I could book for him online. He ended up buying Skype credit from his European airport to call the corporate travel agency which was able to book him a hotel.

    It appears you are still stuck at the airport for a day plus if you check luggage and flights are canceled, even if you’re 4 hr via ground transportation from your final destination, because the airline won’t release your luggage.

  90. One takeaway from Mr. WCE’s experience is to not pack everything in your checked baggage; keep enough necessary stuff in hand-carry luggage to facilitate moving on without your checked bags.

  91. For those of you interested in SAT stuff, here’s an article that does an excellent job of capturing my perceptions and concerns that I’ve shared here in bits and pieces:

    My perception of the new SAT, admittedly based on limited information, is that it is an unfortunate step down necessitated in part by market conditions, increases the advantages of the well-heeled, and will do a much poorer job of identifying bright kids held back by poor schools, which isn’t in the best interest of our country. Colleges are, IMO, in large part responsible because they’ve decided to accept the ACT.

  92. Does anyone know what happens if you illegally move on without your checked baggage, especially proprietary parts? It wasn’t clear that there was any way to ever get it back. (dealing with foreign airport in foreign country)

  93. WCE, it would depend on the country – I wouldn’t risk it if the luggage contains proprietary stuff rather than just a bunch of suits.

  94. Finn, the problem with the current iteration of the SAT is the low ceiling that will fail to distinguish good students from great ones, those who belong in challenging programs. A few questions (the old, hard ones) could greatly alleviate this problem without changing the emphasis on “skills everyone needs to have to succeed in college.”

    I saw statistics recently that said the typical ACT score at several prestigious schools is 32, and the SAT score was roughly comparable. Since I went to college in ACT country, I can only say what people are like based on their ACT scores. When I was in school, other skills (work ethic, spatial ability, abstract thinking, attention to detail during lab work) became more important than raw academic aptitude once you hit an ACT composite of ~31, and almost everyone in my department had at least that composite. In my family + SIL, we cover the ACT composite range from 32-36, with one of us at each number. Getting a 32 vs. 36 is a matter of skill at filling in bubbles rapidly and has had no impact on our lives. Other factors (parenting obligations, whether you choose to live by family, medical issues, the trajectory of one’s industry) have been more important.

  95. I think it depends on the airline too. I once managed to convince Qantas to move a bag via Tokyo to me in Australia. The reason I had to leave was partially their fault, but this was pre 9/11. I am sure that everything must be so different in each country due to terrorists.

  96. “I love this group! Ris puts out a plea for help and immediately there is assistance (plus Coors Light). Such a wonderful community we have here.”


    Not only did PTM answer (over email) my many questions about Miami and where DS should look for a place to live, but he and Junior went and got the kid from his hotel last night and took him out for dinner! What generosity and kindness. Astonishing.

    A thousand thank you’s to PTM.

  97. “the problem with the current iteration of the SAT is the low ceiling that will fail to distinguish good students from great ones, those who belong in challenging programs.”

    That’s definitely a problem, but it’s just one of the problems.

    I can see where the switch might help colleges better identify the students who are more prepared for college work, but I also see it promoting mediocrity at the expense of excellence.

  98. Risley – I am just back from Dearborn and greatly regret that I was not able to try to connect with you. I had family stuff the whole time. For whatever reason, by the end of the weekend the curtain was pulled back on some of the families’ hidden secrets, including a pic on Craziness, and very fun, but I came home thankful for my un-dramatic life.

  99. MBT – no worries. We were up north for 1/2 the weekend and fairly tied up for the rest. Glad you had a good time, despite all the reveals!

  100. ut I also see it promoting mediocrity at the expense of excellence.

    That’s the everyone gets a trophy mentality.

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