The more I travel, the more I am fascinated by how much money and travel are interconnected.
It’s a pretty commonly held belief that if you have plenty of money, you can travel frequently and luxuriously. Or if you don’t have any money, you must stay home and suffer. Based on experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
When I think about the travelers I have met along the way who are truly happy, they all have one thing in common. They used whatever money available to them to buy experiences vs. things. No matter if it was $500 or $5,000, they had goals for the type of experience they were seeking.
So can money buy happiness? When it comes to travel, I think the answer is definitely yes. Why? Because experiences will always be valued higher than things. And once you have bought the basic life-sustaining necessities, then it’s time to get out there and make some memories.
As humans, we all do a pretty miserable job judging what makes us happy. However, when it comes to travel, you really have to be honest with yourself. Yes, the penthouse suite at a luxurious 5-star hotel would be fabulous, but does it deliver happiness? The best way to find happiness is to look back at your travels and retrace your favorite memories. I find that the experiences I treasure most were not luxurious or costly. Be honest with yourself and you can do a lot of valuable travel without putting a dent in your bank account.
The other motivator for travel happiness is sharing something amazing with your family and friends. You could buy that big expensive flat screen TV or you could book an adventure to a place you all talk about, all the time. If you have to choose, go on the adventure. With any new material purchase the novelty wears off quickly, yet our experiences and memories become part of who we are and last a lifetime. There’s no way that 80-inch 4K TV can compete!
Another concept and one that I enjoy immensely is anticipating the adventure. You can think about buying the new iPhone, but you really kinda already know what you’re getting. However, when you decide to go on a journey such as backpacking through Europe or cycling through California’s wine country, you rarely can figure out ahead of time what will happen. That is the beauty of travel, you book the trip and then spend months eagerly anticipating how much you will enjoy it. Sometimes happiness can be as simple as having your next vacation booked!
To test my theory, you only need to look back to a vacation that turned out less than ideal. You went and something happened and for whatever reason, it wasn’t perfect. You got lost, you forgot your wallet, you had a big fight with someone on the trip with you, etc. However, when you got home and talked about it with others you found that the experience improved…and was somehow worthwhile. The funny story about how you got lost becomes a precious memory and it was character-building because you had to overcome significant obstacles. According to research, even a “bad” vacation is measured more positively than a material purchase. So there you go!