Recently my best friend and blogging buddy Meredith posted a lovely article about investing in experience. It really got me thinking. I believe that experiences are the most valuable thing that you can save your money for.
Traveling is expensive, there is very little way to get around that. If you do your research you can certainly find great tips on how to travel for cheap or even how to work your way around the world for free. But those lists require a whole lot of freedom and a little bit of luck. For the majority of us, traveling costs a hefty sum.
How do I save for travel? I make it my number one priority. My travel savings come instead of eating out, shopping sprees, a license and car, entertainment services, even coffee drinks. Yes, I try to put my desire to travel above my desire for bi-weekly chai tea lattes.
All those little (and big) sacrifices add up to savings.
Now the little mr. practical inside of me sometimes asks… should you really spend the money for a weekend vacation? Why not buy something more permanent instead of throwing money at an adventure that lasts only a short while?
Because to me, travel is much more important than material things. I much rather plan a trip to Ireland than wear the latest fad shoes and frequent Starbucks. It might seem strange, but to me the memories and connections and lessons learned while traveling last much longer than the satisfaction of buying a new article of clothing or tech gadget.
And it turns out that I’m not crazy (surprise, surprise). New research has been amassing to back up my theory that buying experiences offer more lasting happiness than buying material possessions.
Jay Cassano, writing for CoExist says:
“It’s counterintuitive that something like a physical object that you can keep for a long time doesn’t keep you as happy as long as a once-and-done experience does. Ironically, the fact that a material thing is ever present works against it, making it easier to adapt to. It fades into the background and becomes part of the new normal. But while the happiness from material purchases diminishes over time, experiences become an ingrained part of our identity.”
The great thing is, that your travel experience doesn’t have to happen picture-perfect as you planned it. Even a rainy beach vacation can be remembered fondly as a lesson learned or family bonding time. James Hambling writing for The Atlantic phrases it perfectly:
“Even bad experiences turn into good stories.”
Unfortunately the same does not go for material possessions. A broken computer is just a broken computer. There is no great experience, life lesson, or bonding to be had from the purchase.
So you see, if you want to be happier, join me in vowing to purchase experiences, not things. You’d be surprised how quickly your travel savings will grow once you’ve made a conscious decision to replace certain material items with experience investments.
Deb Hopewell, writing for outsideonline.com, points out that just a few months worth of Starbucks mochas could pay for a week at a gorgeous Airbnb house on the New Zealand coast. One ultra HD curved screen television could pay for an unforgettable ten-day camel trek across Jordan. And just one dozen artisan cocktails could be exchanged for enough gas to trek through the indescribable grand circle highways of the Western United States.
So what’ll it be? A shopping spree or an airplane ticket to Iceland? Another cocktail or savings that will add up to a road trip to your favorite national park. These are not hypothetical questions. These are decisions that we make every day.