Spending on value experiences

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SHEENA SY GONZALES

SHEENA SY GONZALES

I’m someone who can travel well on a very tight budget; I’ve taken 15-hour train rides in China, an overnight sleeper bus from London to Scotland and slept at a 24-hour McDonald’s, all to save money.

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I scrimp on airfares and lodging so that I have more to spend on activities. I value experiences. If that means sacrificing comfort for a while, that’s fine by me.

And I know I’m not the only one.

No-frills airlines and hostels are very popular because everybody wants to be able to do more while spending as very little as possible during these trips. Travel writers focus a lot on budget trips and how to travel the world on a shoestring. People can now even travel within Asia for as low as P16,000.00, according to an article from MoneyMax.ph. Luxury experiences are not even considered part of the travel plan, especially by the younger travelers who have just graduated or are in the early stages of their careers.

Sometimes, however, an occasional splurge is worth the extra cost.

Once-in-a-lifetime experiences
A few years back, my husband and I chanced upon a promo where the price for roundtrip business class tickets from Manila-Vancouver was almost the same as the usual regular economy fares. He loves all things related to commercial flights (airports, airlines, lounges) so this was something we didn’t want to miss. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed our 12-hour plane ride, which came complete with gourmet meals and a generous legroom, for a change!

On another instance, my dad, being a huge Beatles fan, booked a flight to Vegas for the sole purpose of watching Paul McCartney live in concert. Tickets to the concert of one of the members of The Beatles did not come cheap but since this was a rare opportunity and a once-in-a-lifetime chance, we treated ourselves to the tickets.

These experiences were the highlights of our trip simply because they were such standouts. We don’t always get a chance to enjoy a business class flight and definitely not everyday that we get to watch one of the greatest music bands of all time perform live!

It’s true; you don’t need to spend a lot to have a good time when you travel. But once in a while, it’s nice to spend on those rare experiences you won’t be able to do often or again.

Affording splurge moments
I recommend treating yourself to just one “splurge moment” per trip, not just to make it really memorable but also to offset the amount you’ll be shelling out.

Maybe you could book at a 5-star resort for one night, then transfer to a cheaper hotel for the rest of your trip. Or if you’re a foodie, you can book a fancy dinner at your favorite celebrity chef’s restaurant for a special evening and eat at cheaper local eateries for your other meals. Have your unique experience without blowing off your budget.

Choose what makes you happy
When choosing which activity to splurge on, make sure that you pick something that’s special for you. Try an activity that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t because you feel it’s too expensive. Fulfill your childhood dream. Splurge moments are there to enhance your travel experience, not for bragging rights. So choose something that makes you really happy!

A friend told me once “Money can always be earned again, but when moments pass, you won’t get them back.” So work hard, but don’t forget to play hard as well, and take advantage of these rare opportunities. Enjoy what you’ve earned and get more value than what you paid for.

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Sheena Sy Gonzales is an illustrator, graphic designer and travel blogger. Her future adventures will include taking an expedition to Antarctica, hanging out with llamas in Peru and traveling to North Korea. She writes about her adventures at www.sheenalovessunsets.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Very nice read, I wish the story is longer. I too love to travel. I have been living in California for 4 decades and am very thankful that my wife and I have been able to travel quite extensively. When we were newly married and the kids were young and the money was pretty tight, we only travelled to Disneyland and to Yosemite National Patk both of which are within a day’s drive from our town. We stayed in 2-star hotels and ate in cheaper restaurants to save money.

    When the kids were a little older and my wife and I were able to earn more, we flew to to Las Vegas several times and stayed in 4-star hotels and splurged in finer restaurants. Then we discovered Hawaii and it quickly became a favorite family vacation destination. We have been back there 7 times since 1992.

    We first took our US-born kids to the Philippines 20 years ago and they loved it! Boracay was already getting a little crowded back then. When we went back to Boracay a few years ago, it made us feel pretty disappointed because Boracay has become so much commercialized and the tourists are loving Boracay to death. Yes, I am one of those tourists, and I wont be going back there.

    We have visited Vancouver, Toronto and Niagara Falls in Canada. We have been to Europe twice. Mexico’s Cozumel Island’s beach and super clear blue water are unbelievably beautiful. The Bahamas was nice, would love to go back someday. We spent a week in an all-inclusive 4-start resort in the Caribbean just a few months ago.

    I have travelled all over the United States and stayed in nice hotels. New York City is a favorite destination. Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland and Miami to name a few more. New Orleans is called the “most un-American U.S. city” in the United States, but in a good way. It is more French, or Creole, than American and the food is awesome.

    I want to go back to the basics now that I am nearing retirement. I asked my wife to accompany me to fly to Denver, Colorado and then take a 3-day Amtrak train ride back to California to see the spectacular Rocky Mountains and the vast West from the comfort of the train but she thinks the ride is too boring for her even after I told her that we would splurge in a sleeper room instead of buying a regular ticket. She said three whole days on a train is not to her liking. Well, I still have that enthusiasm and feeling of adventeurism and I plan to take that long-planned train ride pretty soon.

    There’s one thing I hate most about travelling nowadays. It’s the long lines at airport security, especially during the peak summer travel. Thankfully our kids are grown, therefore my wife and I can now travel anytime of the year and we choose to travel in the Spring and Autumn when airports are less busy, hotels offer lower prices, and airfares are more reasonable.

    To quote the couple we met during a cruise who said to us, “HAPPY TRAVELS!”