My cousin has this friend who used to work for an airline. Therefore, she is our favorite person on earth.
She gives us her buddy passes.
How we got to our mid thirties before we learned of this phenomenon, I'll never know, but thanks to my cousin's friend, last year we all flew to Italy gratis. And let's face it - my dear husband Frosty McCheapass would never just let me go to Europe unless there was a discount of major proportions involved.
There are some downsides to flying on a buddy pass. You're essentially flying stand-by, so when (and where) you (and your luggage) go is anyone's guess. The upside is that if there's an extra seat in first class, it just might be your butt that keeps it warm. (That's how my cousin ended up sitting next to the Edge on a flight back from Dublin once.)
Well, now that it's summer, it's time to plan our buddy-pass-sponsored trip to [insert name of country here] this fall. We need to be flexible, so we have a list of places in mind. Last year our list was Italy, Prague, Budapest (in that order) and we didn't really know for sure where we'd end up until the plane was in the air to Venice. (Our bags were already halfway to Rome, but that's another story.) With Italy checked off, our revised list looks like this:
This year, we're a little wiser. This time, we're only packing carry-on luggage. This time, we know for sure that they're not allowed to send our bags on an international flight without us. We also learned that Frosty Mc Cheapass wasn't crazy to make us bring all our own snacks, because candy bars are really expensive in Europe. We also learned that it's okay to get a cheap room with a shared bath down the hall, because you can wear flip flops in the shower and rinse your feet off in the bidet in your room if you were up to your ankles in shower muck anyway.
My parents were in their 40s before they went to Europe for the first time, and that was because we won a raffle. Now I'm planning my second trip to Europe in the past year. There are people who have much fancier vacations much more frequently, but I bet none of them laughed as hard as my cousin and I did, washing our feet in a bidet in a crappy hotel room so small that we couldn't both open our suitcases at the same time. Sometimes I think I'm the luckiest girl in the world.