They say traveling is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer (that, and an education. But that’s another story)
I, hands down, agree with this in all ways possible. Thinking back at all my memories, most of the most special moments had nothing to do with anything materialistic. And I have to remind myself of this from time to time.
I feel like James and I are pretty frugal when it comes to how we are to spend our money, with a strict budget when we are at home, and putting money away every paycheck for traveling. We usually will save on several aspects of the trip, and then select a certain experience to spend a little more on.
Now, picking the one thing we will splurge on when traveling is always the debate. Luxury traveling is subjective, yes. Some of us may think that luxury traveling is flying away in a private jet to stay in a multimillion dollar mansion, cruising on a 30 foot yacht, while some of us may just mean that we are able to stay in a proper hotel that provides a good daily breakfast. And , I understand that traveling itself is a luxury, but there are also certain things to it that allow the experience even MORE SPECIAL. What that would be is based on our perception of what is relevant in our purpose of travel.
As James and I have grown older, we realize that luxury has become more about self enrichment than materialism. Experiences, food, or sometimes accommodations, by large, are much much more satisfying to us. But we also have to remind ourselves to do so sparingly when we are away, being careful to not get carried away. Looking at the big picture, we feel that it takes the meaningfulness away when all are just at an excess.
This a luxury we cannot buy nor return:
Paying extra for the direct flight is something James and I will go the extra mile for. When I am flying across timezones, I just get tired, bloated, and uncomfortable. I don't know about you, but when I am on a long haul flight, all I think about is how much more time it will take to get to my destination. And with the limited amount of time we have to see our points of interest, it is exactly why we choose to fly directly, as much as possible.
I will make certain exceptions though... if the lay over is long enough where we can take a quick tour of a certain city (we’ve done this in Abu Dhabi to see the Zeikh Sayed) :)
For the most part, this aspect in traveling is where travelers will choose to splurge the most on. Where one chooses to stay all depends on the priority for that trip. Whether its for convenience, relaxation, or those drop dead gorgeous views, we all seek a certain reward. For us, the $2,000/night over water bungalow at Baros in the Maldives exceeded all expectations. And that's what you expect. For a price so steep, we expect nothing less than for them to go over AND beyond in our desire to indulge in luxurious relaxation. This, versus our $50/night AirBnB in Belgium that was literally just a mattress on the floor was just what we needed for a night's stay as we passed through Brussels on a day trip.
Now that traveling has become more accessible to the masses, the idea of luxury accommodations are evolving. Hotels are having to catch up to new, and higher expectations. Thus, offering unique and memorable experiences for the avid traveler. (i.e. competitive sweeping views of skylines, unique local-guided tours and experiences, elegantly designed interiors, over the top amenities, etc). And with social media playing a huge part in marketing, hotels and AirBnBs compete in being the BEST place to stay at for EVERY type of traveler.
Not only has it become more accessible to travel, it has also become EASIER.
Paying for accommodations doesn't only have to be with cash or card. Banks have made it easier (those who offer great travel rewards) by allowing their members to use travel rewards to pay for hotels. For example, by having the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, our Baros stay (supposed $2,000/night) was brought down to $400/night after using 250,000 points for 5 full nights.
If you do the math for 5 nights:
$8,000 in SAVINGS!!!
Now tell me, is that not WORTH IT?? :O
Going on first, business, or economy.
Based on current research, luxury travel is headed toward an upward direction. More and more people are booking business and first class for long haul flights. As for me, I’m pretty solid on staying in economy, as I prefer to spend on the experiences once I get to the destination. But who knows, good deals are everywhere. Airlines are beginning to cater to the luxury travel aspirations of the middle class, by creating a somewhat middle man in between these classes, so if I find a good deal out there, why not? :)
Rental car, driver, public transportation
For the most part, we really like to immerse ourselves in the culture and take public transportation. However, in the Maldives, there were two options:a speed boat or a sea plane; we surrounded our budget with the first.
One of the most important things for me to try when I’m traveling is local cuisine. It is the one thing I wish I could just happily throw my budget out the window for, hehe,
Others may think I get a little over-excessive in this because all I’ll want to eat when we’re somewhere is just that type of food. Which, I guess, when you think about it can be a little too much (like I’ll eat tapas all day and night in Spain, lol) a little variety wouldn’t hurt in that way, then. But in any case, I’m always down for anything; from some good old street food, up to the higher end of the local cuisine. And I do this in order to see how local ingredients and techniques are incorporated in the dishes. And always amazes me how they are transformed by your local household cafeteria-style restaurant cook (with recipes passed down from generations) and your 5-star executive chef. Most of the time, I prefer the former :)
It’s funny because some of the best memories I have of local food I’ve had are snacks I’m having while rushing into the metro, standing up with during rush hour.
When in another country, my goal is always to immerse myself in the culture as much as I can, in what little time I have. And I know I'm getting eye rolls and shoulder shrugs from some of you out there, but as cliche as it may sound, it's TRUE. In all reality, not all of us have the time nor the means to stay in certain places for weeks at a time. Some of us may only have a few days. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that we respectfully open our hearts and minds to the cultures that are taking us in with open arms... that they are not only backgrounds to our instagram posts, but sites that are to be treated with all the respect it truly deserves.
With that being said, I will always make the effort to ensure that I am able to experience the most a destination has to offer, not only by visual experiences, but by having a guide (private or group) that will allow me to fully understand how the beauty of each place has come about.
We try to be very minimalistic in our shopping when we travel because #1 : thinking about luggage space, and #2 will it go well with our theme at home, or will it just be clutter?
If there is one mandatory souvenir we get from every country, it is a beautiful magnet. That’s as much novelty as I will purchase. That and food. I always love bringing home food, to feed my travel high from a certain trip just a little longer :)
For example, when we were in Positano and Cappadocia, we wanted to buy so many beautiful pottery. So so so tempted to purchase the $200 beautifully made clay wine decanter in Turkey, we were bargaining and about to check out, when we had to stop and think about whether it was worth it (we already have a decanter, but sure it wasn’t THAT one) and #2 we had other plans to spend the money on.
This is why every time I am tempted to purchase something like a nice bag, watch, or a nice new car... I think about our true passion— to travel, and how many opportunities we lose when I succumb to my materialistic temptations. That goes to say, it’s not like I haven’t slipped. Trust me, we’ve missed out on some things because I decided to spend the money on things I wish I hadn’t. So sue me. I’m human. I’m still learning.
But in all, these are precisely the reasons why I focus on taking beautiful photos— because this is my way of telling my story in these places; my own souvenir. It is how I report to my future self, and others of my experiences and feelings about certain places, hoping to bring others to want to see the beauty in places as I do.
How do I decide which photos to take and post?
Yes, we do take advantage of lighting (sunrise and sunset) and timing of people being out and about. But most importantly, we think about what is most memorable about the places we go to, and what brings the beauty out of it
So in all, if it means that we will spend the extra €300 to experience how beautiful Cappadocia and it’s hot air balloon filled skies, but end up staying in a cheaper boutique hotel in Istanbul during the same trip, then darn it, I will. The reward of being able to part of an unforgettable moment of being with my husband amongst 100 + hot air balloons that paint the sky in the way I never imagined it could, completely made it much much more worth it.
If i have to take public transportation the entire trip to afford a beautiful dinner overlooking the colorful cliff houses and Mediterranean sea during the sunset in Positano, then I will :) Regrets? none at all. It was one of the most memorable trips we've had.
Not everyone may agree on my thoughts and priorities with me... But like I said, it’s all about finding that thing that will make the trip extra special, and creating memories that will last a life time.
So tell me, what’s the one thing you’ve unregrettably splurged on while on vacay? I'd LOVE to hear!! :)