Monday, October 12, 2009

Luxury, With a Background in Frugality

Small Luxury Hotel by mag3737.
I've been traveling since I was a child. From family vacations with everyone screaming at each other, long car rides to New York at 6 am on Thanksgiving, backpacking Europe with friends, to winging it alone in South America, I've gotten around. Since I have been traveling on my own money, that is to say, once I was in college, my experiences have been altogether different, taking me to 5 continents and numerous countries. But one thing that was almost always common about my travels was how they were done. Cheap, frugal, and more or less by winging it.

There are many advantages to this style, and all you have to do is read over my past blog entries to see all that I have been able to accomplish. There are also drawbacks, though, like getting stuck in sketchy hostels in the middle of no where, or 6 am flights. Now as an employee for a travel agency, I'm looking at traveling through a slightly different perspective. The company I work for is a very luxurious and upper class company, offering tours and hotels that are extremely expensive. They provide you with the best hotels and packages you can find in the country (and surrounding countries), but at a hefty price no doubt.

So where do I fit in with all of this? My background, if you want to say my major in traveling, is Frugality. With few dollars to spare, I stretch them as far as I can, dealing with things most people would never dare of, just so I can go one day further, see one extra town, etc. I have done all of the backpacker things--slept in bus terminals, hitchhiked, met up with rando's for 2 day frienships, and "stolen"* bread from restaurants. I don't need to go on about what I've done, but you get the point. My job now, however, is to write about the luxurious travels people can take, yet at the same time I'm thinking of how unnecessary so much of it is.

Knowing how to travel cheaply, I almost want to write in these reviews that they could save so much money by doing this, or with just a slightly lower expectation they could see this. Sometimes you have to make the choice between seeing and doing more or paying more for less options. What I mean is, many people love to go to the Caribbean and sit on the beach at a resort for a week. I've done that, and it's nice, but a beach is a beach, and a resort is pampering. I would get much more out of the vacation if I took the money going towards a week at an all-inclusive resort and used it to travel around India for a month or two. To me, that is much more worthwhile.

Hostel Room by Ashlee House Hostel.

I've been able to travel well before, both with my parents and on my own. I have written about a press trip I took to Grenada, where I was pampered and put up in a 5 star resort. It was amazing, especially since the last trip I'd take before that was backpacking in Paris, staying at a crappy hostel and surviving on sandwiches. But those experiences never really let you see the country you're in. You're just in a protective bubble, while the people who work in those places go home at night to the real towns.

Anyway, I might be better suited writing for a company geared towards cheap college-age travelers, or people looking to stretch the buck. I can definitely do both writing, but living these two lives, I long for the thrill of arriving to a new destination and figuring it out as you go, rather than having an itinerary all planned out down to the minute. Some day when I'm older, I'm sure I'd like to have the security of an itinerary and the money to afford a comfortable trip. At some point I'm going to be really sick of this bohemian-backpacker lifestyle. But for now it's going alright.

Yet every time I hear a tourist say something like they paid over $150 to see a Tango show, I want to say, "Dude, you can see it for free in the street." Or that a hotel costs over $300 a night, "A hostel costs $10, and a bed is a bed." In the end, there are different styles for different people, and mind isn't always over matter. To each is own, and a happy trails to all who at least want to get out there. But spend your money wisely, or however you see fit.

*After paying for a meal that came with bread, which we didn't finish, I took the bread with me. We paid for it, I needed breakfast in the morning.

Above: Photo (Luxury) by mag3737
             Photo (Frugality) by Ashlee House Hostel

1 comment:

Rowena Vu said...

“...But those experiences never really let you see the country you're in.” - You're right, Jon! The real nature of a country is not to be found in 5 star hotels. If you are looking for a real adventure and you actually want to experience a local living, I suggest that you go for backpacking instead of being a tourist with itineraries made by travel agencies. I know that you understand what I'm talking because you've experienced a lot and been to so many countries. Your stories are inspiring and motivating. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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