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Everyday Cheapskate: Vangie Is Her Name, And Travel Is Her Game

Mary Hunt on

To say that the global pandemic rocked the world in horrific ways would be to put it mildly. We may never know the full extent of grief, anger and loss, but for certain, we've been forever changed for having experienced and come through this season of our lives. This is my story.

"Wake up!" That's exactly what the ugly, life-disrupting monster known as the pandemic screamed in my head. "Ha! You fool! Who's in control now? Let's see how ready, willing and able you are to pivot."

Unlike others around me, I wasn't at all overcome by fear. Instead, I was totally stunned by this reality: I live as though I know the future. I plan with a level of certainty that is completely unrealistic. I choose not to recognize that everything can change in a moment.

My husband and I have a long list of things we will do and places we will see -- someday. When we retire. When we have time. Once we finish this or accomplish that. And while we plan, life is passing us by.

The pandemic made me see clearly that all of our big plans lie under a shroud of uncertainty. The only thing we know for certain is what is happening right now.

Still stunned by what was happening all around me, I was flying through my email one day in early 2020. I still cannot figure out why I opened a message from a quirky site with a funny name: This is Why You Are Broke. A gorgeous new camper van was the first item to pop up.


My immediate reaction was to be slack-jawed, intrigued, with heart beating fast. I forwarded it to my husband, Harold, with a simple message: "We need this." Of course, I had visions of traveling carefree whenever we felt like it -- to every corner, nook and cranny of this beloved country. I was ready to start making every moment count. The uncertainty of life was my new reality.

His message was swift, if not hilarious: "Are you kidding? Who IS this?"

To understand, you have to know a little history.

Early in our marriage, as our two boys were babies (17 months apart), we did the camping thing in a tent. How many ways can I say "miserable"? Horrible. Rain, wind, even snow in July. All work, no fun. I hated it. I don't remember saying it, but he recalls, "I will never go camping again. Don't even ask me!" We sold all the stuff, and that was that.


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