laptop vs vacation
November 16, 2005 10:12 PM   Subscribe

An odd purchasing question: do I want a laptop or do I want to go somewhere for reading week?

the laptop would be a 15" Powerbook.
The trip would be ideally, somewhere east of me, to Montreal or Toronto or Halifax (I won't be 21 in time and so a trip to the States seems a little moot).
I can't afford both, unfortunately.

A little more about me: I'm 20, from Vancouver, and I've been working 3 or more jobs and going to UBC fulltime for well over a year now with no end in sight (which is entirely my own fault for adding and then changing my second major). I live at home, and have been sleeping on the couch for the last six months as my sister has moved back home because she's undergoing divorce proceedings. I want to move out, but social pressure prevents me from doing so (I'm okay with being branded a bad person by the extended family, but there's no reason for my parents to get stuck with it when it was entirely me). I haven't been travelling since I was 17, when I went to Portland for a weekend with my parents, the car broke down, and I missed two shifts of work, and consequently, my job at the time.
What it comes down to is that travel would be a respite, but I think the laptop would help me make things a little better, and so I don't know which to do.
posted by heeeraldo to Work & Money (22 answers total)
Thinking out of the box... first and last month's rent for your own place? It's a snarky answer, I know, but I guess I'm baffled as to why any extended family would be against a 20 year-old college student from living on his or her own. That blows. I'm sorry.

The second answer is a powerbook. Seriously, you're in college, a laptop is a great tool and would enable you to escape for a little bit at a time at least, to the library or the cafe or whatever. I'm gonna make another suggestion... what about buying a PC? You can get much cheaper laptops (heck, you can get cheaper Apple laptops too) and have a few hundred left over for a jaunt not so far away. There are a lot of people on MeFi who're WAY pro-vacation. Yeah, those experiences are really cool and all, but I'd trade a one week trip for three or four years of a good computer that I really love. So yeah, I'd say maybe even get the nice Powerbook. You can save up more and fly away in a few months.
posted by incessant at 10:26 PM on November 16, 2005

I'd get a cheaper ibook and save the rest. Never to early to start saving as much as you can!
posted by meta87 at 10:38 PM on November 16, 2005

I might go with the cheaper mac, but a pc? You'll need a vacation.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 10:38 PM on November 16, 2005

I agree with the suggestions that you get a cheaper mac or buying a PC. Life doesn't get any easier as you get older and after you graduate I'm sure you'll make plenty of money to at least support yourself (which is a great time to reward yourself with a PowerBook). But let's be honest, the 15" Powerbook is overpriced and a status symbol. You need something that simply works. Get a $700 laptop and use the remaining $1300 for something more useful than the "aluminum finish" and "great OS".
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:41 PM on November 16, 2005

I won't be 21 in time and so a trip to the States seems a little moot

The crux, as I see it, is this: Do I get a power book or take time off to drink?

As a drunkard (allegedly) I vote powerbook.

You can souse find yourself 'till the day you die
posted by sourwookie at 11:03 PM on November 16, 2005

My money's on the laptop, you shouldn't be traveling during the week you're supposed to be STUDYING anyway, right guys?
posted by onalark at 11:19 PM on November 16, 2005

Neither. First, your comment says clearly that the travel hinges on alcohol. It's one thing to enjoy some booze, but if it's required to have fun, you're not really having fun.

Regarding the laptop, Powerbooks are sleek, sexy, spiffy, and way too expensive to justify for a college student on a budget.

I honestly would suggest reconsidering getting your own place. You're sleeping on the couch, likely without much privacy at all. Perhaps it's my own viewpoint that says so, but allowing social pressure to influence your decisions will only hinder you in the long run. It'd do you even more good than a trip, especially if you want to get out of a crowded situation.

If you really want to do one or the other, I'm going to back the idea of a laptop. Do yourself the favor of checking out all the Apple laptops you can find, and making sure you get what you need out of it without blowing too much money. After all, if you can save a few hundred, it'll give you a good start on a trip when you have more time.
posted by Saydur at 12:05 AM on November 17, 2005

From a fellow UBCer--FWIW, if you decide to get the laptop and need help troubleshooting, setting up UBC wireless or getting software send me an email or drop by Arts ISIT at Buch C sometime.
posted by ori at 12:48 AM on November 17, 2005

Another fellow UBCer here...

Although I agree that getting a place of your own would be a good idea, I think some of the other people suggesting this aren't aquainted with Vancouver's sky-high rental market. Combine that with the pressure from your family, and I can see why you aren't considering it as an option.

I'd vote for a less expensive computer (iBook?) and a scaled-back trip. TravelCuts has special low flight rates for students - I am flying Vancouver-Toronto, then Toronto-Halifax, then Halifax-Vancouver in late December and early January (peak travel season!) all for around $700 taxes in. I imagine the same trip would be a fair bit cheaper in February. And if you stay with friends or at a hostel your accomodations won't cost much.
posted by sanitycheck at 1:05 AM on November 17, 2005

This definetly sounds like some sort of ugly alcohol missionary trip. In that case, if you're just going to binge, I'd go with the Powerbook, or with some righteous females (or a good Dr. Gonzo sort of friend) on the trip.

The name of this game is that you have to understand your objective in life: to be an alcoholic or geek. One has a better chance of getting you laid immediatly and not at all towards the end, the other gets you very little chance immediatly but some in the future when you've crafted the next Fortune 500 company.

Seems sort of like existentialism vs. religion (you gonna be good to get to Heave, or have a helluva good time now). And the jury's still out on such a whole mess.
posted by ryrivard at 2:05 AM on November 17, 2005

*wave* yet another UBCer here. go for the laptop if the money's burning a hole in yer pocketses, but really the sensible thing to do would be to save the money.
posted by juv3nal at 3:29 AM on November 17, 2005

posted by The Michael The at 5:34 AM on November 17, 2005

posted by oddman at 7:06 AM on November 17, 2005

I'm also a little concerned about your seeming to think that no place could be worth going if you can't drink there.

But regardless:

you shouldn't be traveling during the week you're supposed to be STUDYING anyway

He's not supposed to be studying. It's just called that. Presumably because once they moved it out of March they could no longer call it "March Break".

I wouldn't move out. Save your money.
posted by duck at 7:10 AM on November 17, 2005

posted by Savannah at 7:30 AM on November 17, 2005

iBook. A Powerbook is overkill for a student. You can't find a PC laptop with the same feature set as a low-end iBook for a better price.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:36 AM on November 17, 2005

Sounds like you need a respite from family life, which is understandable. Travel threads have mentionaed a cousurfing service, which might make traveling more affordable and still be fun. Is there any friend you can visit for a few days, just for a break? Can you take a short trip and still buy a cheaper laptop?
posted by theora55 at 9:23 AM on November 17, 2005

Definitely don't move out. There's no reason to flush thousands of dollars down the toilet on a crappy studio apartment.

Also, don't get the 15" Powerbook. It's a waste. You can get way more laptop for the money if you go PC or you can get a decent laptop for half the money if you go PC.

Also, don't take crappy, half-assed vacations. Save your money and plan for a real trip. Some place warm where you can fall asleep on the beach. (Note this doesn't require as much money as you'd think. It's more a question of finding the time. Perhaps don't spend Christmas with the family this year...) If you really, really feel like you need to get away for a few days consider going camping. Nothing's as peaceful and quiet as the middle of nowhere. And camping is dirt cheap--borrow everything you need and carpool.

In conclusion: save your money.
posted by nixerman at 9:37 AM on November 17, 2005

What duck said: I'm also a little concerned about your seeming to think that no place could be worth going if you can't drink there.

That said, laptop. There've also been a bunch of suggestions here on better ways to budget a laptop. theora55's suggestion of a more modest laptop and a less boozy trip might be the way to go. (Also, what reading period is this? Have you considered giong out into the Northern Canadian boonies?)
posted by whatzit at 10:22 AM on November 17, 2005

I too feel your guilted-into-living-at-home pain (same sitch, and at UBC albeit in a graduate program, heavy drinker).

Do you *really* need the laptop iBook? You can get serviceable 2nd hand laptops (Apple refurbed iBooks can be had for $400 at Mac Station) for pretty cheap (sub $500).

Instead of a more expensive trip out East, maybe a far cheaper trip up North (Okanogans, Whistler [albeit not cheap], Prince George [major booze festival year-round - reasonable car ride across to Alberta for even cheaper booze]) and make it a road trip with some pals?

Plop the left over grand in a term deposit.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:04 PM on November 17, 2005

Response by poster: should mention that I'm not that much of a boozehound, but that it seems like all the fun things I get told about the states by friends seem to hinge around being 21.

also for UBCers: we should meet sometime - I have an office in Brock Hall with couches; perhaps a minimeetup is in order?

addendum to ori: I was a lab attendant in B/C Block last year... have we met before?
posted by heeeraldo at 3:44 PM on November 17, 2005

hey heeeraldo. i just started this job this summer, so probably not. i'd be up for a minimeetup -- post on MeTa or email the address in the profile.
posted by ori at 3:21 PM on November 18, 2005

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