Why Traveling is a Better Way to Spend Money

imageI’m 37,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. My wife and I just celebrated our anniversary in Greece, specifically Santorini, Athens, Hydra, and Delphi. (Notice who are missing? Z, Z & L are staying with their grandparents. What a blessing they are!)

So while I didn’t have time to focus on eCommerce learning while I was away (lest I incur my wife’s wrath), it reinforced the best benefit of an online business: location independence.

It also showed why traveling is a better use of money than almost anything else.

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Location Independence. How Cool is That?

One of the most amazing feelings is landing, powering on my phone, checking JMC’s stats, and seeing that readers, most of whom I’ve never met, from many parts of the world, read our posts (especially Connor’s excellent post—who knew physics and personal finance shared a common equation?). All while I was in the air, disconnected from the Internet. I am grateful that you’re reading this, and the feeling doesn’t get old.

Now imagine how amazing it would feel to get off a plane and see that while you were on your vacation, 138 people bought one of your products? You’d return with more money even after you spent thousands on your trip. Unlike physical stores, eCommerce is open wherever and whenever. Location independence is beautiful, isn’t it?

And to me, the absolute best benefit of location independence is that it allows you to travel.

Why Traveling is One of the Best Ways to Spend Money
(or: I Want to Be in the Ruins Where it Happened*)

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  • Strengthens Relationships with Travel Companions. Usually, even on date night, my wife and I spend most of our time talking about our children. However, by day 3 of our trip, we rediscovered our relationship apart from being parents. My wife and I got to look into each other’s eyes and just talk. You could say that the money we spent on traveling saved us on future therapy expenses.
  • Appreciation for Different Cultures and Perspectives. I grew up in Los Angeles, spent over a decade in New York, and now live in Philadelphia, so I’m accustomed to, and appreciate, cultural diversity. However, it’s a whole different ball game when you visit someone else’s home turf.

I want my children to be world citizens. I want them to experience how other cultures live and eat (just not on my anniversary trip). I want them to experience what other people love doing, and observe what they worry about. Cultural immersion increases empathy and broadens your perspective. (Selfishly, I want to sip the whiskey in Islay, taste the curry in India, the injera in Ethiopia, and sample the night market stalls in Singapore. I don’t want to just eat foreign food, I want to eat the domestic food in a foreign land.) I want to be where it happens.

  • Being Nimble (This relates to travel if you’re location independent). Aren’t you tired of asking for permission from your boss to travel? (True story: I had to negotiate time off for my honeymoon.) Wouldn’t you like the chance to take next summer break and tour America and Canada in an RV like Michelle Schroder-Gardner, or pick up and live in another country, not as a tourist but as a local? Watching Anthony Bourdain travel is fun, but it doesn’t compare to actually being there. When you are somewhere by choice, rather than obligation, it changes your whole orientation to the place and how you spend your time. I believe this choice makes us happier.
  • Happiness. Researchers have found that travel is a better use of dollars than “stuff.” Long after the trip is over, its memories still provide us enjoyment—whereas the happiness that “stuff” gives us evaporates quickly. We spend money on needs and wants. Why not focus our “want” spending on things that have a better happiness return on investment? And you get the most bang for your buck if you can travel cheaply.

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(Less than 2 euros for this Baklava. Now this is a good happiness investment!)

Money Saving Travel Tips:

  • Live on Cash. We withdrew euros from a checking account that charged no fees, giving us a natural daily limit. This allowed us to avoid credit card fees per transaction. If you’re going to live on cash, I recommend getting one of those travel pouches that hug your tummy and tuck into your pants—sort of like thin, hidden fanny packs—to avoid picked pockets.
  • Eat 2 Meals a Day. If there’s a free breakfast at your hotel, eat it as late as it’s open. Otherwise, just go out for brunch and dinner, with a snack in between. We budgeted 100 euros a day for food, and ended up spending less than 50 euros. Doing this also prevented fatigue from eating out all the time.
  • Eat Where the Locals Eat. It’s usually cheaper. And tastier. Our best meals cost less than 10 euros (2.20 euros for the best souvlaki I’ve ever had—high on taste and protein, but low in cost: just how I like it). We asked our hotel concierge to point us to where they like to eat or consulted Rick Steve’s excellent travel guide.
  • Take Public Transportation. Travel like the locals do. It’s more efficient and cheaper than a cab. Our subway trips cost only 1.40 euro each way. Take the first day to study the subway or bus map.
  • Pack Lightly. For our 10-day trip we packed half the clothes we needed and went to the laundromat midway through. It was great to only carry 1 small rolling luggage and a backpack of books, helping us avoid luggage fees. Plus, no checked luggage means no chance of losing them either.

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(If you pack too heavy, you can hire mules to help carry your luggage.)

Under the Mediterranean Sun

Traveling is good for the soul. Not in the I stood in line and saw the Mona Lisa and it was smaller than I thought kind of way. I mean in the subtle ways, or in the unexpected moments. The kind where you say “kalimera” (good morning) or “efharisto” (thank you) to local shop-owners and the look of surprised appreciation on their face to see you trying to speak their language.

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(Efharisto, Souvlaki Man!)

The way the ancient stones of Mars Hill feels against the arch of your foot, destabilizing you on the very rocks where the Apostle Paul stood firm while delivering his case for One God to the Greeks. I still can’t believe I was there where it happened.

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(The Apostle Paul once stood here and spoke words that were recorded in the Bible. I got chills.)

Seeing, up close, the ingenuity of the Parthenon architects, who raised the center of the steps inches higher, made the outer columns thicker, and made the inner columns lean in oh-so-slightly to compensate for how our eyes naturally warp straight lines when objects are greater than its field of vision.

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(Probably the most awesome place I’ve ever been.)

Walking the quiet steps of car-free Hydra, catching your breath at the top, then continuing on through a maze of alleyways where you just squeeze past a mule.

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(And she’s climbing the stairway to Hydra.)

The feeling of staring out over the Oia night sky, knowing that the black expanse above at some point meets the black expanse of the sea, hundreds of feet below the Santorini cliffs. Or of waking up at 7am to a still sleeping town, seeing the rising sun shine its gold light upon the cold rock’s face while you faintly hear a man in a distant boat sing a Greek song. Or hiking the 5 miles between Fira and Oia, reaching the arch, and overlooking all of Santorini.

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The food, especially the unmuted tastes of the feta cheese and souvlaki.

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Floating seemingly forever on the buoyant Aegean Sea on Vlychos beach, where the water is calm and clear.

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I would like to do more of this. I want to be somewhere by choice, not necessity. I would like to say: I don’t feel like going home quite yet. Let’s stay for another month or two.

Wouldn’t you?

 


Up Next: Scared to Look at Your Finances? Tips for Beating the Financial Monsters.

*Yes, another Hamilton reference. Hey, you write what you love, right?

 

 

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10 Comments

  • thewanderingbroski October 27, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Completely agree! The best way to spend your money is to Travel, why waste it on material things that don’t mean anything!

    Reply
    • justmakingcentscom October 27, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      Here here! I still have fond memories of trips I took over a decade ago.

      Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to checking out your site.

      Reply
  • Mel & Suan October 27, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Can’t bring the house, car, cash, jewellery or any other material things with you when we move on from this life!

    Reply
    • justmakingcentscom October 27, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      So true. Yet we seemed programmed to crave it. That temporary bliss never lasts.

      Thanks for dropping by! Looks like you’ve had some fun travels as well!

      Reply
  • Lauren Fortenberry October 27, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    A beautiful reflection and challenge for us all! What a gift to get away from it all. I know you will appreciate the daily grind more as a result. And your writing is phenomenal here – bonus! Our little ones aren’t quite old enough for us to enjoy an extended child-free retreat, but we have dreams 🙂

    Reply
  • joleisa October 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    I must say that I’m inspired by your style of writing and also your photography. Hope to be as good one day soon. Thanks

    Reply
    • justmakingcentscom October 29, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Thank you so much Joleisa! Your help keeps me going. Let’s team up on a post sometime!

      Reply

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