5 Reasons Why I Invest in Travel, Not Things

If my mom’s English was good enough and she read this post, she would probably not talk to me for a long time. My mother-in-law lovingly called us “traveling fools.” And I get it. I am sure their generation in general grew up on different values. House, car, furniture, jewelry and savings were all of paramount importance and a natural way of showing your status in life, your progression, your achievements. Don’t get me wrong, all of this is still important (and I wish more people could afford all the material pleasures of this life without sacrifices and budget planning). However, my generation is starting to progressively shift towards a different mindset – where experiences matter more than things. The priorities are shifting from collecting things to collecting experiences.

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My husband and I are just another couple with average income making most of our lives and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Given the choice and budget constraint, I’d rather drive a Honda, but vacation four times a year, than say no to travel and spend next 10 years paying off 100K Mercedes to show my status. We also agreed early on that we’d rather splurge on a date night at a 3 Michelin star restaurant than spend money on exchanging gifts.

You might call me an addict, and you might be right about that. Although, I prefer to call it passion. Either way, the symptoms are clear: I feel like I’m suffocating if I stay in one place for more than three months; I need regular weekend getaways (near or far); I plan my vacations one to two years out; I do meticulous research and prepare detailed itineraries for every trip; CondeNast Traveler, Culture Trip, National Geographic and Travel + Leisure have turned into my bibles; I also frequent websites like booking.com just to daydream of the wonderful destinations around the world.

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So, why do I choose to invest in travel versus things? The reasons are simple:

BROADEN MY PERSPECTIVE

As Mr. Twain once rightly pointed out, travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Two years in Haiti opened my mind in a totally different level. You might see the hardship of developing countries on TV, but until you experience it first-hand you cannot truly appreciate the every-day struggles of people who live there. Thankfully, our living conditions in Haiti were nothing like those living in an absolute poverty. However, I started appreciating even the simplest things like paved roads, traffic lights, grocery stores, movie theatres and shopping malls – basically, everything I took for granted before.

MEET NEW PEOPLE

Seeing the main sights of the destination is not enough for me. It honestly blows my mind how some people live in a foreign country for years and don’t have any local friends. I don’t think you can really learn anything about the country or its culture without interacting with locals. I think I’m the richest person because I have friends all over the world, because multicultural engagement is key to understanding the beauty of this world. Besides meeting locals of the host country, travel also gives opportunity to interact with other nationalities and learn a little bit about their culture. Every person that you cross paths with during your travels has a story to tell.

EXPERIENCE NEW CULTURES

Whether it was a luau night in Hawaii, climbing The Great Wall of China, overnight in a Buddhist temple in Japan, diving in St. Kitts, sumo tournament in Tokyo, or dune-bashing in Dubai – the possibilities of immersing into local culture at your new destination are endless, and the thrill of experiencing how people of other nations live and experience the same things that make their hearts tick is incomparable. As you trot the globe in pursuit of new smells, sights and sounds, the extent of your understanding of the world around you and of new cultures that are different from yours broadens and enriches you.

TASTE NEW CUISINE

It’s no secret I love good food and I always make an effort to try local cuisine everywhere I travel. No matter how much people try to recreate food it never tastes as good as in its original country, simply because the local produce and spices cannot be replicated anywhere else. Thai food will never be as good as that in Thailand, or Indian as mouthwatering as in India. I still remember our mind-blowing food tour in San Juan, when we savored the local specialties while touring the beautiful cobble-stoned streets. Our latest favorite was sampling Sichuan cuisine in the most unassuming little eatery in a random Chinese village on our way to the Forbidden City. It was cheap, simple, yet so so good.

TO NOT LOOK BACK AND WONDER, WHAT IF?

Life’s too short, and at the end of the day, the only “thing” that will stay with me forever, are all the adventures and sweet memories I made with my loved ones. I don’t want to put off anything that I can do today, this month or this year. I don’t want to look back in regret and say I wish I went there, or done this. Honestly, I don’t think this travel bug will ever go away. I will always have that itch to pack my bags and book the next flight out. I don’t think there is right or wrong answer to living your life. Doing what feels right now is probably the best answer, because we don’t know what tomorrow holds.

What are your thoughts on travel vs. things?

Which one would you pick if you had to choose?Β 

Linking up with Monthly Travel Link-up, Faraway Files & Wanderful Wednesday.

xoxo, nano

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342 comments

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  2. This is a lovely article. My husband and I make sure that we travel at least a few times a year for those very reasons. It certainly doesn’t contribute to the growth of our savings account, but we gained so many other things.

    I plan to stop by and check out many of the blogs on here. I hope that you all can find some time to help support my new blog in return :) TravelingShana.com

  3. Totally agree! Sometimes it is actual painful to see dear friends and family members struggle to buy that bigger house or that faster car instead of experience the richness that your soul gets fulfilled with when traveling. We keep traveling the world and when people look weirdly and frown upon that I just realise we are lucky and brave to be following our dreams.

  4. God how I understand you and your perspective. I suffer from the same “non understanding mother” issue. I think it takes to be really open minded to accept driving a Honda (which I am driving too) and have vacations 4 times a year or take a Friday off and go for a three days break somewhere not so far and not so near. In love with your perspective about life :)

  5. Couldn’t agree more! :)
    I started working last year and I’ve been saving every euro I can just to be able to travel whenever I can.
    A great car is not and should not be the main life goal, but filling your mind with history, culture, beautiful sights and wonderous stories, that should be it (at least for me it is)….This post is very inspirational!
    You are my type of traveller! From the research and doing your own itinerary, to getting to know new people and cultures…all of it is what I aim to do.
    Loved the post!

  6. Couldn’t agree more! :)
    I started working last year and I’ve been saving every euro I can just to be able to travel whenever I can.
    A great car is not and should not be the main life goal, but feeling your mind with history, culture, beautiful sights and wonderous stories, that should be it (at least for me it is)….This post is very inspirational!
    You are my type of traveller! From the research and doing your own itinerary, to getting to know new people and cultures…all of it is what I aim to do.
    Loved the post!

  7. Haha things Vs travel
    Truthfully I’d say a little bit of both but more of travel. Of course the things I am looking at are gadgets that would help me on my travels (cameras, camcorders, etc.) I love travel.
    Loved every bit of this blog. Thanks Nano.

    Priorities are indeed shifting from collecting things to collecting experiences.

  8. You are my type of travel, from the research to getting to know the people from the location. Travel is definitely an investment in the soul.

  9. Great post! I am not married, but I am already a nomad. 18 years old and travelling. It’s really encouraging to see that people make the mindset I have into a lifestyle as you have done! Amazing!

  10. Love this! It’s always fun to see some people’s judgmental faces when I tell them I am planning another trip abroad. Everyone spends money differently, and everyone has unique priorities. Life is too short to worry about what other people think! :) I am starting to share some of my travels now too! blondedrifter.com

  11. Interesting that you wrote this on my daughter’s birthday. She is your generation and you said everything she and her significant other are doing. The Baby Boomer generation was too focused on, like you said, the house, the car, the stuff. We are now retired and traveling as much as we can. In January, we check off two more continents and then the only one left is Australia. Our daughter is checking off more European countries — about twice a year. 20-20 hindsight can be so insightful! I wish we’d done what your generation is doing, although we did travel quite a bit with the kiddos — the continental USA, Canada, and cruises. They had passports when they were barely out of diapers, but we coulda shoulda traveled more and not worried so much about the 4,000 sq. ft. house (yes, you read that right). After blogging our world travels on a now-defunct blog site, I have spent the summer learning WordPress — before our January adventure. Check us out @ beckmantravels.com. Happy Travels!!!

    1. Dayna, thank you for reading and writing to me. Your story brought smile to my face. Look at it this way – you got the best of both worlds, cause after all, it’s never too late to embrace the love for travel and worldly experiences. Plus you’ll always have your huge home to go back to in-between :)

  12. A brilliant post with so many great ideas, thank you! I 100% agree with you that the memories made when travelling with friends and family are far more important that an accumulation of things. Keep travelling, keep exploring, and keep smiling :)

  13. I could not have said it better! Traveling is all about immersing yourself in the culture and having experiences. What a wonderful article! 😍😍

  14. Hello,
    This blog really touched me. Me n my husband are the same as you mention you and your story.
    My mom used to ask me always that why I waste my money on travelling rather than buy some gold. You know as Indians love gold.
    Happy traveling.. And would love to read your experiences again.

  15. I agree completely with this post. I had never set foot out of my home country until a month ago. I’ve learned a lot about myself in a short amount of time.

    I also learned that local cuisine is 100% the way to eat. Safe travels!

  16. My husband band I have begun this shift in life. We bought a home last October to stabilize our monthly expenses and have been strategically paying off debt and saving up our adventure fund. We decided we’d forgo new furniture and fancy electronics for a trip to Ireland next fall and an adventure to Japan this summer slowly building up a treasure chest of memories and an album full of pictures. You go girl! Choose experience every time! We are nothing if not the sum of the experiences we learn from.

  17. This is almost, everybody dream to gather some nice memory for itself and for future generation. By moving around the world, make new friends, test all type of foods, etc. But Person with average income is that of cup of tea, he/she think about their future.

    Over all Very wonderful experience you put on this post.

  18. Nice post! I have lived in North America since 2006 and have been traveled around the world since, and I wont trade my experience for hundreds of things. And so much like you, travel makes me to appreciate things that I have been take granted at home, I am currently in South America and after seeing many people live with less and way happier, I learned to appreciate have my own room, paved roads, supermarket and subways.

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