Back to Barcelona, Briefly

Next weekend, Steph and I are making a very quick trip to Barcelona. This trip touches on a few travel topics we find interesting: Repeat travel to favorite destinations, long weekend travel to Europe, and extending work trips with personal travel.

We’ve been to Barcelona three times in the past, and each of those were with the whole family. Our first trip was a week in February 2012, during the kids’ winter school break. And then we did three-week home swaps there in August 2014 and July/August 2017. This coming long weekend trip only Steph and I will be going.

With almost two months of total Barcelona time under our belts, we’re pretty familiar with the city, and we’ve already seen—and in many cases, re-seen—all the major sites. Because of that, and because of the short duration of this trip, we don’t really plan to do any sightseeing this time around, beyond just wandering through our favorite parts of the city.

So why does this even make sense? A few reasons.

First and most obviously is cost.

I’m heading to Barcelona for a work event called Mobile World Congress and am specifically interested in attending a Microsoft product announcement and meeting with the company at that time. This would be personally interesting to me in any context, but because work is paying for my airfare and hotel, the big travel expenses are covered.

With our kids now much older than they were when we first started traveling to Europe every year, Steph is free to come along on work trips—most of which are domestic—and we only need to pay for her airfare plus, in some cases, additional hotel stays that extend beyond the actual work trip. For this trip, we examined whether using airline or credit card points made sense for her air travel, but ended up just paying for it because we opted for Norwegian Air, a low-cost carrier. We’ll pay for our food and drinks, too, of course. But that, and a few taxi rides, should be most of the expenses we’ll incur.

Living on the East coast of the United States—near Philadelphia now, previously outside of Boston—we can also take advantage of the shorter distances to Europe to justify shorter trips, assuming, of course, that the cost of getting there isn’t too great. (If airfare is expensive, it’s hard to justify shorter trips.) It’s been a while since we’ve made an actual long-weekend trip to Europe, but we did two shorter trips of about five days last fall, to Paris and Dublin. A three- or four-day trip isn’t all that different. And it helps that Barcelona is a favorite of ours.

It also helps that we’ve been there before, and for long periods of time. Without the pressure of missing out on important or notable sights, we can simply amble through our favorite neighborhoods, eating and drinking as we go. And without the pressure of bringing kids, we don’t need to worry about anyone else being entertained. We can do what we want to, and just enjoy the city the way we prefer to.

Granted, a long weekend trip to Barcelona, or any other European destination, is still more tiring for us than, say, a long weekend trip to Philadelphia, which we did do recently. We’ll be in the air for several hours on both ends of this trip, will cross multiple time zones, and will no doubt be exhausted when we get back. But we feel the experience is worth it, and adapting to the time zone will be less of an issue because we won’t be there very long anyway.

Winter in Barcelona? I can’t wait.

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