When It’s Time To Splurge

Or, when to tell your inner cheapskate to take a flying leap…

Like most travelers, we aren’t made of unlimited money (but wouldn’t a trust fund be nice!). We save money a lot of ways, from traveling during shoulder season, to bargaining and living more like locals.

There are times, though, that it makes sense to splurge a little and tell your inner Ebeneezer Scrooge to get lost.

Australia's Whitsunday Islands Sailing Cruise

On Deck in the Whitsunday Islands

Travel is about the experiences

Travel is all about getting to know the local culture, having new experiences and learning about ourselves and our great big amazing world. We’ve found that sometimes, to really experience a place, you have to spend the money.

For example, a few years back we debated whether to take a three day sailing cruise through Australia’s Whitsunday Islands. Even after getting a great last minute discount, the three day sailing trip through the Whitsunday’s ran over $600. At the time, we were young backpackers, on an incredibly tight budget, and $600 was was more than we’d spent in an entire month in Thailand.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. We sailed among the 74 islands of the Whitsundays, stopping to snorkel and swim on isolated beaches. It was our first time on an overnight sailing cruise for the both of us and we truly loved being on the water. We met the most amazing people and even got to try our hand hoisting the ropes.

That trip also inspired another item for our bucket list, to buy and sail our own catamaran. It’s high on our list however we’re waiting until the kids are a little older for that one. In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for something awesome like visiting Stonehenge.

It’s funny how pushing yourself to try something new leads to even better adventures…

Australias Queensland Coast

Australia’s Queensland Coast

Do we have any regrets?

Sure. But we don’t regret luxuries like sailing through the Whitsundays, seeing orangutans in the wild in a sanctuary in Indonesia or seeing the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.

Whenever we wonder if we should splurge a little on our travels, we take the trusty rocking chair test. We imagine ourselves at 90, sitting in our rocking chairs, thinking back on our lives and we ask ourselves, “Will we regret not doing this?

If we hadn’t taken our little splurges along the road, we would have missed out on so much.

We’d have missed what travel’s really about:  Creating one of a kind memories and learning to open ourselves up to the amazing world around us.

About The Author

I grew up in a tiny Canadian prairie town and traveling has come to be my passion and joy in life. I love adventure and meeting the completely unexpected and sometimes strange collection of people I run into on the road. I'm always up for a new adventure, on the road or not. I've worked as a baker, bookkeeper, journalist, student, aspiring neuroscientist, technical writer, and now blogger and internet entrepreneur.

23 Responses

  1. Penny

    I went to the island of Kauai and I was sharing a room to save money. What I didn’t realize was that without a car I was unable to explore the island. My roommate didn’t want to split it with me so I hitched a ride to the airport and rented one on my own. Best thing I could have done for that particular time.
    Penny recently posted..Where Are You? September 2012My Profile

    Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Penny,
      We took a road trip on Oahu, and had a similar experience. Having a car made it so easy to see the quieter, more local, parts of the island. We’d love to check out Maui sometime, too.

      Reply
  2. Ian Ord

    When I was younger, I used to skip a lot of those ‘luxury’ items, telling myself “oh, you can just come back and see those the NEXT time you’re here!” – how naive I was. There isn’t always going to be a next time, especially if you want to keep seeing new cultures and places. Life is short, and sometimes you just have to take that ‘rocking chair test’ – what good will the money do you once you’re gone, anyway? Nice post guys! :)

    Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      D.J., Charles is going to be green with jealousy when I show him your comment about going to Pebble Beach :). I love to eat out as well, though now that there are four of us, we tend to do very few sit downs at a nice restaurant, as it’s so darn expensive. Though we’ve been able to find great, affordable, local food almost everywhere we go. We’re big fans of little hole in the wall eateries recommended by locals.

      Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      That’s a great tip, LeX! I love to stock up on local ingredients and try to learn to make local dishes when we’re traveling. It’s a great way to save money and really get a feel for the culture as well.

      Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Bethany, It is funny, isn’t it? $600 really doesn’t seem like much (and honestly, the cruise was a great deal), but at the time we were squeezing every penny, and it seemed so extravagant.

      Reply
  3. Emily McGee

    My husband and I traveled cheaply for years, when we were students and when we were Peace Corps volunteers. We didn’t really have another option. Now that we’re working, and based out of Kenya, it’s awesome to be able to splurge now and then! I feel like we get to see some pretty awesome things because we have a little bit of extra money to spend.

    I love the rocking chair test, although I wonder if I would abuse it? Doesn’t everything seem like something you’ll regret not doing when you’re 90?
    Emily McGee recently posted..Terrorism in KenyaMy Profile

    Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Emily, I’m so jealous :) of you being based out of Kenya right now. I was just reading an article on Kruger National Park in South Africa, and thinking how amazing it would be to see Africa. We haven’t gone (yet!), but I’m really looking forward to going in a few years.
      You’re right, the rocking chair test could be abused pretty easily, with so many cool things in the world to see and do. I tend to hold onto my money quite tightly, so I need to use it to loosen the purse strings once in a while :)

      Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Hi Natalie, That’s funny; it was Charles who had to train me to spend a little bit, I think. It was a great lesson to learn. Keep at it, he’ll see the light eventually :)

      Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Hi Emma,

      Splurging on a nice room is a great tip. We love to treat ourselves to a nice stay once in a while, too.

      When we were in Costa Rica, we booked a couple of nights at the Tabacon Grand Spa in Arenal. It was expensive, but it included access to some amazing hot pools and waterfalls. Expensive, but worth it!

      Reply
  4. Aiman

    Thanks for introducing me to the rocking chair test! I’m sure I subconciously do it from time to time but I’ll be doing it a lot more from now on.

    My pet peeve is definitely spending a lot on a meal and then being dissapointed! Trying new foods and cusines is a huge part of my travelling experience and I feel really cheated (how dumb)when it ends up being bad! That’s why we usually favour street-food and little hole in the wall places.

    Have you ever regretted any travel splurges?
    Aiman recently posted..London’s Great River Race 2012My Profile

    Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Aiman, I had to laugh when I read your comment! I’m exactly the same. We’ve been disappointed with too many upscale meals, so now we focus on finding inexpensive, local places.

      I’m a pretty frugal traveler, so I haven’t made a lot of splurges to regret. I’m trying to focus more on what kind of experience I’ll have, rather than on how much it costs :)

      That said, a couple of years ago splurged on a month-long road trip through Florida. We ended up spending way too much money on hotels and food! We would have been much better off to rent an apartment for a week or two here and there, and spend less time on the road. Lesson learned!

      Reply
  5. Reena @ Wanderplex

    I think it’s so easy to get caught up in trying to save every last cent while you’re traveling but you have to remember the whole point of traveling in the first place – to have interesting experiences! And sometimes that means spending a bit of money (or a lot of money) and it’s really a lesson in learning what’s meaningful and valuable to YOU. Save wherever you can and spend where it’s worth it to you, and don’t let other people’s penny pinching (or extravagance, for that matter) affect your choices. Thought provoking post!
    Reena @ Wanderplex recently posted..How to unpack following a vacation: a light-hearted guide for the neurotic travelerMy Profile

    Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Agreed! Comfort is definitely an important part of learning to splurge. We do a lot of little splurges on the road – lots of fruit smoothies, ice cream and bakeries, and even some bigger splurges on nice hotels.

      Reply

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