One free trip to space or free international travel for life?

Some weeks ago, I got an email from a source-of-ideas-for-blogs service called Plinky, from which I have already picked some good ideas to write about in posts in the past (on my dream job, charities…).

The question I liked very much this time from the email was:

“Would you rather have one free trip to space or free international travel for life?”

Having already confessed that my dream job as a child was to be an astronaut and knowing how much I enjoy travelling, this question really posed a dilemma.

But after some seconds, I rationalized it and I started making some numbers (how couldn’t I?).

During the past years I have made about 2 long trips per year with Luca abroad, plus some shorter trips apart from commuting back-and-forth to the Netherlands. I have perfectly recorded how much each of the international trips is costing us, since I already made a budget some months beforehand and played with Luca to see how much my initial budget deviates from reality in the end (from 22% to as low as 7€ on a 2-week trip to Japan). Let’s say we spend about 6,000€ per person a year on international travels.

If now I am 30, and I could expect to continue travelling abroad till let’s say 70, this makes 40 years of international trips. As we grow older our trips will most probably become more expensive. This is a trend we have already experienced in the past 4 years and I expect it to continue to hold true, even more so during the some 25-30 years in the future when we will have to include offspring in the travelling expenses tally (by then I expect we won’t have to commute so much but we will have to do so from time to time to visit grandparents)… Let’s use 8,000€ per person per year to play on the safe side with this calculation… so in 40 years that would make ~320,000€.

On the other hand, how much does it cost space travel? Rich individuals who have travelled in the Russian Soyuz have reportedly spent between 20-35M$, or about 25M€. Taking this figure the conclusion is clear: I would rather receive a free trip to space and I’ll gladly continue to pay for my yearly holidays for the rest of my life.

But then again, Virgin Galactic comes offering suborbital flights at a rate of 200k$, or about 150k€, if that is the case, I would rather receive a free lunch in down-to-earth international travel for a lifetime and pay for my stunt with the SpaceShipTwo.

Finally, given the choice, I’d go for the first and highest value option: an orbital free flight in the Soyuz.

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4 Comments

Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Travelling

4 responses to “One free trip to space or free international travel for life?

  1. Luca

    Hahaha I like this post :-D. But you haven’t calculated for whether you would travel internationally more than you do now *because* it’s free. Maybe you should do an update and look at it from the other side: how much would you have to travel internationally to get an equal deal out of the Sojuz trip? Is it even possible to spend that much on earthly travel?

  2. David

    Tsk, tsk. Your analysis confuses price and value. You are supposing that you value each of the choices as everybody else (“the market”).
    To put an analogy, a sex-change operation is quite costly. But most people would want it not even being paid. So would you prefer one free sex change operation or free manicure for life?

  3. David

    “most people wouldn’t want it not even being paid”.

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