How funny is it that within 12 hours of my post about trying to find a flight to the Netherlands, I find a flight for literally half of what I’d been finding for the past month? I’d been looking just about every day, and I wasn’t finding anything less than $1305. When you consider that lodging and food will be around $500, and the registration fee is over $300, I was feeling a wee bit panicky. $2100 for a conference trip?! Even with some funding assistance, we’d still have to cough up well over $1000 to make this happen. While not impossible, it wouldn’t be pleasant. At times I wondered if it was even worth it, and it caused a bit of tension in my household.

Last night, on a whim, I checked the flights from Birmingham to Amsterdam and I saw $645. I did a double take. It couldn’t be…could it? I said, “Hey, [Spouse], I’m finding flights for $645!!” He yelled, “BOOK IT!!!” And so I did, all the while doing a little happy dance. With that price, I can spend a couple of days in Paris and Amsterdam after the conference and still spend less than I’d planned. I’m guessing that I will do the whole trip for around $1500-1600. I should be able to get grants to pay for half of it, so between now and then I have to come up with about $700.

The downside is that I’m going alone, because my better half has to attend the wedding of a dear friend in Santa Fe the weekend after I leave. Even still, I’m super excited about finally seeing Paris, a city I’ve wanted to visit since I was 4. I’m hoping to find some accommodations in Monmartre and spend a day or two taking in a few sights (the Eiffel Tower, obviously, and probably Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame). I also look forward to spending time in Amsterdam to see the Anne Frank house, the Van Gogh museum, biking around town, riding on the canals, and maybe visiting a coffee shop.

Hopefully the excitement of all this trip will offer will help me forget the anxiety I will inevitably feel about presenting at the conference. This will certainly be a life-changing experience in so many ways.