Without a doubt the weakened economy over the last few years has made things more financially difficult for many of us. And with money being a lot tighter than it used to be the way we travel has changed. According to a recent vacation travel story in The New York Times, although people are traveling more in 2010 than they did in the extreme travel-deprived year of 2009, they are doing so in more frugal and simplified ways.
Now some people might lament this as a qualitative loss to the overall travel experience, but we don’t think that is necessarily the case. In fact, if done properly, we think there is a very valid and powerful argument to be made that people can not only still have good travel experiences on a tighter budget than they used to have, but they can actually have even more meaningful and enjoyable trips than they used to if they approach and plan their travels in different, more creative ways.
For example, when money was less of a concern perhaps it would have been easier for Shelley and I to just make reservations at a hotel for a trip we wanted to take to New York City and eat out at whichever restaurants we might hear about from the maître d’. Instead though, Shelley set up a home exchange with someone who has an apartment in the Upper West Side, and we ate at the apartment for most of our meals while still eating at some really great restaurants at discounted prices via Restaurant.com and daily specials that we had read about.
And you know what? It ended up being the best time I have ever had in New York! The apartment we stayed in had lots of old New York personality and charm. Likewise, I really enjoyed shopping at the little local markets for food to cook for our meals. And most of the restaurants we did indulge ourselves with were really terrific. We did the whole three week trip on an extremely tight budget considering it was New York City, and I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything. I actually felt like I had a more genuine Big Apple experience than I would have had staying in a swanky hotel downtown.
So the moral to story is that you really DON’T have to spend huge amounts of your precious income to have a great vacation. It is a myth worth forgetting that you have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Perhaps many of us wouldn’t have considered this notion too seriously before the economy soured, but even when things eventually turn around maybe we should still take stock in the concept. Because in the end what we are all looking for in a trip is personal satisfaction, and if we can achieve that by traveling more intelligently and with more thought then all the better not only for our bank accounts but also for our own happiness and fulfillment.