Author Topic: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate  (Read 45875 times)

Ricky

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I'm really getting sick of reading about how people value "experiences" more than "things" as their justification for still spending excessively on "experiences" that they don't need or really care about. And it's not so much the excessive spending that's relevant, because I know most of us here are fairly efficient travelers, it's just traveling in general. We want to think of any form of travel as some lesser form of consumerism, when it isn't at all. Just because you enjoy experiences over things doesn't make you any less susceptible to the traps of consumerism.

I get it. Travel can be amazing. I've had some great trips that I've had a good time on. It's been amazing to see some beautiful coasts, mountains, and interesting cities. It's an instant way to gain "perspective". There are still things I certainly want to see before I die - but I'm in no hurry.

Here's the thing though: we learn to limit our consumption of material items, but somehow don't hold experiences accountable to the same degree. I mean, you travel because it's pleasurable and makes you happy, so it's just another form of hedonistic adaptation. It's just mostly invisible, other than the drain on your finances, so that makes it okay I guess. The allure of becoming more "worldly" and gaining "perspective" are justifications to for traveling the world - when in reality, you can become more worldly and gain perspective starting in your own city right now. After all, there is no point in time in which you are the worldliest man or have the most perspective. It's a continuum, not a fixed path.

Don't get me wrong: I know this site is not about living a "deprived", completely stoic life. The point in becoming FI is so you can do what you want. I completely encourage that and I'm not judging anyone who enjoys traveling. I'm just saying that anyone who regularly travels is kidding themselves if they think they're any less of a consumer than someone who stays in the same spot and buys material things. The difference is that the person traveling is usually just financially more astute and knows how to spend less than they make. But again, you don't have to spend less than you make to be any less a consumer. The amount in which you consume is irrelevant to the fact that you're still a consumer sucked into something that will never truly satisfy you.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on travel and general consumerism. I know this has been touched on before, but I've been thinking about it lately because I've been thinking about things I can eliminate from worrying about.

I guess the point of this post is to acknowledge that there are still a lot of people accumulating funds uselessly and tirelessly for no other reason than to continue being a consumer, stuck in the consumeristic cycle of work and play, rather than simply focusing on life and what it really takes to be consistently happy. There's no consistence in purchasing experiences. There will never be a time when you say "fuck it, I'm done traveling". You might say "fuck it, it's not worth it anymore", but I don't think you have to spend or travel a certain amount to actually get to that point.

Confession: I will end up spending money on travel at some point in the future, I'm sure of it. Even if it's just in my car - driving and camping. We can pretty much all consider ourselves consumers for our entire lives in some shape or form. I mean, at minimum, we must "consume" food and water. This isn't so much aimed at anyone FI that chooses to do what they want because they can. It's more of a rant on "general" traveling I suppose, and the constant worship of it found in these forums. I do perfectly realize and understand that you can travel the world cheaper than a lot of people live in fixed locations - so this isn't a call to detest all forms of traveling. I'll still argue, however, that when optimizing, it's always cheaper to be "fixed" than to be traveling, not that that's necessarily the goal. I just think people overestimate the amount of money they'll need here and thus subject themselves to the grind much longer than they need to. And I think that people are maybe falsely lured into traveling as an excuse to justify being spendy instead of applying a "less is more" mentality to everything.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 05:20:09 AM by Ricky »

expatartist

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2016, 05:10:39 AM »
I agree travel often = consumption. Not just consumption of experiences, but of cultures. This has massive repercussions in places which receive overwhelming numbers of tourists, from Paris to the Forbidden City. But it's hardest on the third world, where corruption is the norm and basic infrastructure is lacking. To an extent tourists can bring great benefits when managed well, but more often than not, little of the money reaches those who need it most in these countries. Not even going to start on carbon footprints, tourists depleting the water in remote areas due to frequent showers, etc.

After years of living places which I used as bases from which to travel, some years ago I decided only to travel when necessary for research projects or meetings. [Edited to add: and of course to see family.]

arebelspy

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2016, 05:18:18 AM »
I have long replies to every paragraph, but it probably won't change anyone's minds.

I agree with many things you say.  People do often work longer than necessary.  Many people travel in order to consume experiences, or collect trophies and photos to display to others.  People should evaluate everything and take a less is more approach (incidentally, traveling forces you to do that--when you have to carry everything you own, you become pretty minimalist).  Staying in one place is definitely cheaper, but yes, spending the least amount possible isn't the goal.

My short answer to the parts that I disagree with:
Everything that can be done can be done poorly or well.

You are focusing on how travel can be done poorly.  Instead, take what you can from it, and leave the rest, the negative.  Consumerism to excess of just stuff is what we often are against here.  But having useful things (such as tools) is beneficial.  No one argues you should get rid of everything.  Ditto with travel.  Travel, with excess luxury, is similar.  But travel can also be useful.  Travel in that way, just as you would own a hammer or nice jacket.  You don't need a $100,000 SUV, nor do you need a five-star hotel.  But condemning all travel would be as silly as condemning even a single item.  Research more into the benefits of traveling different ways, and go for a way that works for you.  You don't have to "consume" travel.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 05:25:48 AM by arebelspy »
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
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andy85

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2016, 05:53:34 AM »
I strongly agree with the sentiment of OP's post.

I know somebody that will probably work until she dies b/c she has to travel. No, no you don't. I get it that she has one of those souls that is full of wanderlust, but i also feel like she wants to do it just to put that notch on her belt/trophy on her shelf. I definitely plan on traveling extensively after retirement. I'd rather have 45 years after retirement to travel all that i want (see arebelspy) compared to 3 weeks per year forever until i die (see the average american)

But as with anything, it is all relative and is totally fine in moderation. Personally, 1 long vacation with several long weekends per year will suffice for me until retirement. That isn't too say i won't do some actual 'traveling' during my working years, but i will do it in moderation and in a way that makes financial sense.

FIRE Artist

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2016, 06:26:13 AM »
I agree travel often = consumption. Not just consumption of experiences, but of cultures. This has massive repercussions in places which receive overwhelming numbers of tourists, from Paris to the Forbidden City. But it's hardest on the third world, where corruption is the norm and basic infrastructure is lacking. To an extent tourists can bring great benefits when managed well, but more often than not, little of the money reaches those who need it most in these countries. Not even going to start on carbon footprints, tourists depleting the water in remote areas due to frequent showers, etc.

After years of living places which I used as bases from which to travel, some years ago I decided only to travel when necessary for research projects or meetings. [Edited to add: and of course to see family.]

I agree with this 100%. It took me 15 years of working and living abroad to get this, but now that I have I am at peace with staying put and any international travel I will do for the foreseeable future is carefully planned, and will only occur every 3 - 5 years.  Of course, it is easy to say and do this when one has already emptied their travel bucket list...

justajane

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2016, 06:35:45 AM »
I agree travel often = consumption. Not just consumption of experiences, but of cultures. This has massive repercussions in places which receive overwhelming numbers of tourists, from Paris to the Forbidden City. But it's hardest on the third world, where corruption is the norm and basic infrastructure is lacking. To an extent tourists can bring great benefits when managed well, but more often than not, little of the money reaches those who need it most in these countries. Not even going to start on carbon footprints, tourists depleting the water in remote areas due to frequent showers, etc.

After years of living places which I used as bases from which to travel, some years ago I decided only to travel when necessary for research projects or meetings. [Edited to add: and of course to see family.]

I agree with this 100%. It took me 15 years of working and living abroad to get this, but now that I have I am at peace with staying put and any international travel I will do for the foreseeable future is carefully planned, and will only occur every 3 - 5 years.  Of course, it is easy to say and do this when one has already emptied their travel bucket list...

Right. I didn't live abroad as long as you, but I spent the greater part of my twenties traveling  and living abroad and am done so to speak. But I find it hard to judge people that harshly who currently have the travel bug themselves.

But it is most definitely consumption. That's not to say someone can't do it responsibly.

LiveLean

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 06:57:13 AM »
Family spring travel is a good example of this. Growing up in the 70s/80s, I can't think of too many families who went anywhere for spring break. Now Gen X parents, perhaps because of two incomes and little vacation, think nothing of dropping $5K-$7K on a week-long ski trip to Colorado, even though their kids are beginner skiers who could get the same experience from their local ski resort in parts of the NE.

Giro

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2016, 07:16:49 AM »
The difference is that the person traveling is usually just financially more astute and knows how to spend less than they make.

I disagree with this.  Spending money on traveling is no better and no worse. 
Spend your money on things you value, whether it be traveling, cars, homes, freedom from working whatever.  Just make sure it really is what you value. 


Miss Prim

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2016, 07:17:27 AM »
I totally disagree with this!  Travel is my all time favorite thing to do and I would feel impoverished if I didn't travel!  Mustachianism is about spending on the things you enjoy, not just accumulating money!  So I should just accumulate money and than what, sit in my house?  I would die!  I have worked my entire life to be able to travel.  What a miserable existence it would be for me to not be able to do this.  Is that life?  I would say NO! 

To each his own, if you want to sit in your house and putz around, that is great, but one size does not fit all.  My husband and I travel as cheaply as we can, so to me that is mustachian. 

Seriously, this is the worst post I have ever seen!

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Gone Fishing

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2016, 07:25:29 AM »

Marketers have definitely seized on the consumption of "experiences" vs. things.  Even going so far as describing a trip to an overpriced coffee shop as an "experience".  Well, its not, its an 'effing cup of coffee that you have to stand in line for.   

FIRE will allow me to optimize my travel by taking longer trips and getting more out of my fossil fuel consumption, lowering my net consumption per experience.  Food consumption will be similar to home, and camping/hostel lodging is fairly low impact. 

I'm sure many retirees have a bit of "rebound" effect when they first retire which is simply a symptom of being bound to a single workplace for years.  My dad retired a year ago and spent 6+ months of his first year of retirement traveling.  I think he is already starting to settle down though and will probably normalize at 6-8 weeks/yr to 2 or 3 locations.

It would be interesting to see some quantitative evidence, but from casual observation, it seems like urbanites have a stronger need to escape their surroundings from time to time.  Maybe it is lack of contact with nature, or just the more harried pace and congestion.  It might just be keeping up with the Joneses, but nearly every SVP or above I have ever worked with has a second home in a more rural location.  It'll be interesting to see if my drive to travel changes once I am able to spend my days on our small farm. 

Author, Gene Logsdon, had a few observations on the subject a while back:

https://thecontraryfarmer.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/stay-home/

Moustachienne

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2016, 07:26:33 AM »
Eh, every thing we do, especially in the first world, is just another form of consumerism.  I've got plenty to look at in my own life without critiquing the choices of others.  Not signing up for the Internet Travel Police.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2016, 07:38:16 AM »
Would it still be considered consumerism if you decided to ride your bicycle accross the country, while sleeping in a tent every night? What if you drove a 40mpg car 3 hrs to go camping at a national park for the weekend? Where do you draw the line?

Nancy

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2016, 07:52:46 AM »
Quote
that you're still a consumer sucked into something that will never truly satisfy you.
How do you know what will or will not satisfy other people?

Quote
I guess the point of this post is to acknowledge that there are still a lot of people accumulating funds uselessly and tirelessly for no other reason than to continue being a consumer, stuck in the consumeristic cycle of work and play, rather than simply focusing on life and what it really takes to be consistently happy.
How do you know what it really takes to make other people happy? Could it be possible that there is more than one right answer - that what you think it takes to be consistently happy might not be the answer for everyone?

Quote
We can pretty much all consider ourselves consumers for our entire lives in some shape or form. I mean, at minimum, we must "consume" food and water.
Absolutely. As living beings, we consume. We all make choices about what we want in our lives beyond our needs. For example, you choose to own a car.

Quote
I'll still argue, however, that when optimizing, it's always cheaper to be "fixed" than to be traveling, not that that's necessarily the goal.
Right. It would seem that not everyone values financial optimization to the same level. It's difficult to understand other people's choices when they don't fall into line with ours and to think that the way we do life is the best way.  This is an interesting podcast on naive realism: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2015/11/09/yanss-062-why-you-often-believe-people-who-see-the-world-differently-are-wrong/

Quote
And I think that people are maybe falsely lured into traveling as an excuse to justify being spendy instead of applying a "less is more" mentality to everything.
Again, how do you know why other people travel?

How do you know that people who say they value travel over things think they are consuming less? 

powersuitrecall

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2016, 08:01:04 AM »
Imagine You have the opportunity to spend an upcoming long weekend however you like without any work/family/social commitments. What will you do? Now throw in unlimited money. Does your answer change? What could be made better with money?

The message of "spending money = happiness" is all around us, no matter if it's through material goods or travel.  Advertisers have done a wonderful job at infiltrating every aspect of our lives.  It's tough to escape.

That's why I'm drawn to MMM and these forums.  We can draw a wedge between money and happiness.

SeanMC

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2016, 08:10:07 AM »
I agree with so many of the replies above - travel can be terrible for environment, locals in areas of tourism, just another form of consumption or "collecting" experiences.

I want to comment on the OP's part about gaining perspective and being more worldly as a negative, narcissistic rationalization. I think this can be mixed and you are dismissing the true potential for gaining perspective via travel, particularly extended travel when you actually get to know locals or live a lifestyle more similar to locals. This is a good way to gain empathy, understanding and insight into the experiences of other people. This is also a good way to understand that "different" ways of doing things are not good or bad - they are just different. It holds a mirror up to your cultural norms and expectations for you to challenge in a way that you cannot see when you swim in your own fishbowl.

If the idea is that you are now a more worldly person because you did x, y, or z - then, yeah, that's a problem. But when people who have traveled speak of the perspective they have gained, they often mean greater understanding and empathy for other people, more critical thinking about their own society and lives, and so forth.

I do think there is an important debate about whether you can gain this perspective without harming the place and people you are visiting (or using them for your own growth). When I read about people who adopt low budget travel lifestyles that take advantage of the hospitality of people with far less opportunity, choice, or resources than they have, I'm particularly uncomfortable.

Now, a lot of travel is tourist drive-by stuff that doesn't touch on this aspect, and what people mean by "perspective" can sometimes be translated into "thank god I'm not poor" or "I had to be uncomfortable for 5 minutes not being the dominant ethnicity speaking the majority language." You are right to criticize that. Just don't throw out the potential of all travel with that broad stroke.


arebelspy

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2016, 08:14:53 AM »
Eh, every thing we do, especially in the first world, is just another form of consumerism.  I've got plenty to look at in my own life without critiquing the choices of others.  Not signing up for the Internet Travel Police.

Well said. Thank you.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

big_slacker

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2016, 08:25:35 AM »
This comes back to the idea of MINDFUL spending vs mindless consumerism. If you're worshiping travel and doing it without thinking about why you're doing it and how much it affects you financially then there is a problem. If you're truly getting joy, perspective, the greater understanding and empathy a poster above mentioned, etc. *AND* you're not working till 70 to do it then I don't see how this is any worse than say buying a slightly nicer than absolutely required bicycle for instance.

A spend for sure, but the goal IMO is not to be a monk but to think through what you're spending on.

bobechs

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2016, 08:33:21 AM »
I totally disagree with this!  Travel Racing monster trucks with hyper-charged engines is my all time favorite thing to do and I would feel impoverished if I didn't travel race monster trucks with hyper-charged engines!  Mustachianism is about spending on the things you enjoy, not just accumulating money!  So I should just accumulate money and than what, sit in my house?  I would die!  I have worked my entire life to be able to travel race monster trucks with hyper-charged engines.  What a miserable existence it would be for me to not be able to do this.  Is that life?  I would say NO! 

To each his own, if you want to sit in your house and putz around, that is great, but one size does not fit all.  My husband and I travel race monster trucks with hyper-charged engines as cheaply as we can, so to me that is mustachian. 

Seriously, this is the worst post I have ever seen!

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Gondolin

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2016, 08:45:40 AM »
OP...you are completely correct in the logic of your posting. The "less of everything" mentality leads directly to becoming a Buddist monk and other forms of asceticism. There's nothing wrong with this, many people throughout history have taken this path in life. If the life you want is truly to completely minimize all consumption to focus on something else, then that's what you should do (usually this means a spiritual life since after you cut all consumption that's pretty much all that's left).

As usual, the crux of the issue is when you say:
Quote
...rather than simply focusing on life and what it really takes to be consistently happy. There's no consistence in purchasing experiences.

I reply: "Please tell me what will make me consistently happy. If you've figured it out, share the secret!"

If you're looking for consistency, you choose the wrong existence.

mamagoose

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2016, 08:57:56 AM »
I see what you're saying OP - it seems lately many of my young professional friends have jumped on the "travel to Europe and collect various merit badges" train. At first it was the Paris/Germany combo, then Italy, now it's Iceland. I get that they want to see the world before having kids, but at the same time these are folks who are still living in the same town they grew up in (Florida), and many of them haven't seen some of the more beautiful domestic places (Yellowstone, Hawaii, California coast, NC Outer Banks, even the FL Keys). It's kind of strange to see the large travel bills they rack up, and the inevitable $10k/year travel budget line item, while they struggle to save for a down payment on a house. IMO if I were going to hop on a plane and jump continents, I'd like it to be for longer than the 2 weeks vacation my corporate lease allowed.

The ultimate consumerist travel example in my book was my father-in-law, who traveled first class to stay in the tropical huts on the water with the glass floors so he could see the fish at night (I think it was Moorea?), only to return home to his beach house on what's consistently voted Florida's most beautiful beach. Seriously, he traveled around the world to see another beach, while he spends 365 days a year living at the beach (where Europeans often come to visit on their own holiday). I don't get it, but I also don't have cable with the travel channel constantly advertising the latest trendy destination to me.

Mr. Green

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2016, 09:08:57 AM »
If you are sick of reading about it, perhaps choose to read something else? We're not forced to read anything. If something isn't adding value to your life, then don't do it. I just recently scaled back my participation in Facebook. I realized it was just filler, and not adding value. I still post some things for family but I don't read my feed much anymore. I would suggest you take the same approach.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2016, 09:36:50 AM »
Interesting thread and one where the North American perspective looks a bit different compared to those of us in Europe, where I guess we have a higher density of interesting stuff crammed into a small area and typically a lot more vacation time. I live in a place that has ~100 000 inhabitants, gets 3 million tourists per year and yet I barely notice them. Significant numbers of north european pensioners spend their winters in e.g. Spain or Malta, because off-season rental in poorer southern countries can work out cheaper than fuel bills at home. Is that travel or just efficiency?

I'd travelled to around 40 European countries by train or bus in my teens, during vacations from school/university, around the time the communist bloc collapsed, which I guess was not an uncommon thing to do for young people back then. Also spent a gap year in my twenties "travelling" (living/working in Australia for most of it.) Not sure any of those things really cost me in terms of money (other than the opportunity cost of the fact that I wasn't working.)

I've also done a stack of work related travel, often to places I probably would not have chosen to visit as a tourist (Moscow in winter, for example.) In spite of all this, there's still quite a lot of travel that I'd like to do. The world is full of amazing stuff, I'd like to see some more of it! How lucky we are to be born in the right places and at the right time in history, so that we can freely and easily visit other countries without being killed, arrested, starving to death, catching disease etc etc. If that makes me a consumer, so be it.

Post retirement, I'd quite like to do walk one of the (relatively unknown) European long-distance footpaths - the one from Galway to Nice passes near to my home, for example. I still get a buzz from being able to have a conversation with people in languages other than English, too.  Doesn't mean that everyone should aspire to travel though. My parents ("retired" in their forties to live a frugal life of rural self-sufficiency) never travel more than about an hour from home. 

Northwestie

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2016, 09:47:00 AM »
I wonder if it ever gets cold up there on the moral high ground.

Apocalyptica602

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2016, 09:54:15 AM »
I totally disagree with this!  Travel Racing monster trucks with hyper-charged engines is my all time favorite thing to do and I would feel impoverished if I didn't travel race monster trucks with hyper-charged engines!  Mustachianism is about spending on the things you enjoy, not just accumulating money!  So I should just accumulate money and than what, sit in my house?  I would die!  I have worked my entire life to be able to travel race monster trucks with hyper-charged engines.  What a miserable existence it would be for me to not be able to do this.  Is that life?  I would say NO! 

To each his own, if you want to sit in your house and putz around, that is great, but one size does not fit all.  My husband and I travel race monster trucks with hyper-charged engines as cheaply as we can, so to me that is mustachian. 

Seriously, this is the worst post I have ever seen!

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Ha! I like the cut of your jib, you called me out in my other thread about train noise and being prone to cranial explosion which gave me a good chuckle as well.

To the OP's point though. I largely agree. Travel is a bit of a sacred cow around here, and most people take it at face value. If someone has a $10,000 a year travel budget, it usually goes 100% unquestioned despite the incredible lack of detail provided their hair isn't on fire in other ways.

Is that $10,000 5 nights in a 5* hotel with daily massages and $100 room service meals? Or is it 4 weeks backpacking around SE Asia? I'd argue that many people on this forum would get out their face punching gloves for the former and applaud the latter despite the financials being the same. I'd imagine this is the case since one vacation comes off much more 'consumeristic' than the other, plus all the other arguments 'perspective' 'worldliness' 'breadth / depth of human experiences' etc.

It reminds me of a topic I made back in 2014 about 'Is there any type of wasteful spending you'd judge someone for no matter what', sparked an interesting discussion along these lines.

bobechs

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #24 on: March 02, 2016, 09:57:13 AM »
I wonder if it ever gets cold up there on the moral high ground.

Ask our guru.  After all, he says he's producing an environmental activism blog in a personal finance wrapper.

Northwestie

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2016, 10:06:00 AM »
Some of the stuff on this site is quite humorous - akin to the Taliban enforcing restrictions for not being in line with the "program"

Eric

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #26 on: March 02, 2016, 10:30:33 AM »
I guess I don't see the issue.  I'm not saving and investing all this money in order to not spend it.  And I'm certainly not going to just sit at home while not spending it for the next 5 decades.

NorCal

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2016, 10:34:59 AM »
I agree completely.  I live in the SF Bay Area, which is within driving distance of many great and wonderful places.  Yet my coworkers spend tens of thousands of dollars a year going to Pacific Islands, South America, and Europe.

My last few vacations were camping trips to the Redwoods and a road trip to San Diego.  I saw just as much natural beauty, avoided the hassle and time of air travel, and spent probably 10% of what international travelers spend.

That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed my foreign travel in the past.  It was just a vastly more expensive endeavor.

use2betrix

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2016, 10:40:05 AM »
I think the only thing worse than a person who greatly puts off retirement to travel, is a person who is visibly upset because others decide to put off retirement to travel.

CheapScholar

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2016, 11:05:51 AM »
I kind of agree with some of the sentiment.  However, I still travel quite often.  I do it very efficiently I feel.  Southwest Airlines and Hotwire allow me to see places quite cheaply.  I think one thing you might be missing is that some of us really are tied to certain places for work and family.  I'm raising my son and we are within an hour of my wife's family.  Family is extremely important to them.  I live in a very boring, flat, cold part of the Midwest.  I don't think I could win a fight to move somewhere more enjoyable like the Rockies or the pacific NW.  Even if I did, it would put tremendous strain on my marriage and I'd feel bad for denying my in laws the chance to know their grandchild.

I've fantasized about moving somewhere nice and enjoying the hiking and things I'd enjoy and never travel again.  But that's just not realistic for me.  So I hop on a plane a few times a year and go to national parks or visit places that interest me.  I really don't have much of a choice.

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #30 on: March 02, 2016, 11:16:16 AM »
I agree, but it's interesting that here, it's often "okay" to spend money on travel vs. stuff, or say, a cleaning lady.

I'm sure that studies show that experiences are worth more - as in, I think, you have fond memories that last and last, as compared to "stuff".

But I also think that hedonistic adaptation is a problem with travel, as it is in general with consumerism.  I've seen it, and I've experienced it too.

From the friends who think that each vacation has to be more fabulous and nicer than the last (go to Europe for engagement for 2 weeks?  Honeymoon must be in the South Pacific for 3 weeks).

To just us, who are getting old.  We don't stay in Motel Six's, or camp as much as we did in our 30's before kids.  We still camp, but are much more likely to rent a house or a condo when traveling with the kids.  I'm NOT staying in a Motel 6.  Then again, we travel a lot less frequently and take fewer plane trips.

The more you see, the more you want to see.

mm1970

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #31 on: March 02, 2016, 11:20:26 AM »
Family spring travel is a good example of this. Growing up in the 70s/80s, I can't think of too many families who went anywhere for spring break. Now Gen X parents, perhaps because of two incomes and little vacation, think nothing of dropping $5K-$7K on a week-long ski trip to Colorado, even though their kids are beginner skiers who could get the same experience from their local ski resort in parts of the NE.
Yes!  I didn't vacation much as a kid at all (one vacation in my entire childhood), but it's VERY common for my friends to go to Hawaii, or on ski trips for spring break.  We, in fact, did a week trip to Hawaii for Spring break 5 years ago when our older son was 5.  It was about $4k.

Once you are on the school schedule, you are sort of trapped, unless you are willing to skip school.  We still travel on school holidays, but not terribly often.  (We were going to drive to Utah to see Zion and Bryce over Thanksgiving, but we all got the stomach flu, so we postponed it until Spring Break).

The difference is that some of my friends travel a LOT.  The ones in the medical field don't - because they have to take turns with the school  holidays, and out of Thanksgiving, Xmas, and Spring Break, will only get one of them off work. But everyone else?  Hawaii or Palm Springs for Thanksgiving, Utah for Spring Break, somewhere else in the summer.

mm1970

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #32 on: March 02, 2016, 11:23:27 AM »
I totally disagree with this!  Travel is my all time favorite thing to do and I would feel impoverished if I didn't travel!  Mustachianism is about spending on the things you enjoy, not just accumulating money!  So I should just accumulate money and than what, sit in my house?  I would die!  I have worked my entire life to be able to travel.  What a miserable existence it would be for me to not be able to do this.  Is that life?  I would say NO! 

To each his own, if you want to sit in your house and putz around, that is great, but one size does not fit all.  My husband and I travel as cheaply as we can, so to me that is mustachian. 

Seriously, this is the worst post I have ever seen!

                                                                                  Miss Prim
As long as you accept is no better than consuming "things".  Everyone has their "thing" (well, many people do).  My neighbors?  It's travel and music.  And they will spend money, time, gas, airfare, to fly/ drive/ go to concerts, all over the western US.

Is it any "better" that someone who spends money on "other things"?  Not really.  If they are financially responsible, who really cares if they are spending it on music or a boat.  If they are in debt, then it doesn't matter.  Travel isn't "better".

flyingaway

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2016, 11:26:17 AM »
Consuming within (or below) your means is OK, travelling within your means is OK.

Erica

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #34 on: March 02, 2016, 11:31:01 AM »
It doesn't have to be consumerism, or it can be done with limited amounts of such.

Less invasive on the enviornment is TOPS for us...well we try....and the pocketbook next in line


1. About 5 months ago, we answered a Craigslist add and brought a man back home from our trip. He paid for part of the gas. Made a friend, a nomad of sorts at this time of his life, a professional older guy. He'd love this forum. We all ate the same so stopped at health food stores along the way for lunch. Soups, Chili & bread mainly.

2. We've cycled up to 2 weeks. Used a motel every 3 days of that to have a nice warm bed, electricity and such. But no gasoline and no other expenses except eating out each day. (mostly soups or light meals)

3. I hopped on the train like a hobo once. Would love to do it again but my husband forbids it. PERFECT way to travel, and you can take your bicycle

4. Every few years we stay at Point Montera Lighthouse Hostel for the weekend at Half Moon Bay in California. Beautiful place w/private beach so you aren't around crowds. Private Room, mostly cycle and enjoy the beach. Visit the HUGE Elephant Seals at Ano Nueva State Park 15 min away. Bring our food, eat out once each day (Clam chowder bread bowl). Much better crowd than Hotels, including the nice ones which we were stuck with in the last few years because thats all they had available in wrapping up an Estate I am dealing with. The Nice California Hostels (w/private rooms) are MUCH better draw classier, fun types of people. And they are cheaper. No drunks




« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 11:42:03 AM by Outdoorsygal »

Erica

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #35 on: March 02, 2016, 11:46:14 AM »
As long as you accept is no better than consuming "things"

Excellent point. Both are equally consumerism
Those that live in the City I feel sorry for. They have no access to nature, various activities like skiing, hiking trails, ocean, rivers, fishing and such. I can see them NEEDING to get away and it actually becoming a health issue (stress)
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 11:54:04 AM by Outdoorsygal »

Parizade

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #36 on: March 02, 2016, 11:52:03 AM »
I guess I don't see the issue.  I'm not saving and investing all this money in order to not spend it.  And I'm certainly not going to just sit at home while not spending it for the next 5 decades.

Here here!

Northwestie

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #37 on: March 02, 2016, 11:53:34 AM »
Or, conversely, those in the "country" need a similar break from spending all their time driving to services (larger carbon footprint) and to get away from the freedom riders and meth labs now and then.

k290

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #38 on: March 02, 2016, 12:13:09 PM »
I've been planning a trip for about 6 months.

But then I was looking at the prices on AirBNB and asked myself how many more months of work I'd have to add on to my FIRE date to fund this trip.
If I kept the money and invested i, I'd be able to fund the same trip TWICE or more later in life.

So there is no reason to do it now while I'm in the start of my earning years (age 25).

I'd rather let my interest/dividends/capital gain pay for the trip later and spend less of my life working.

Patience is always the winner when it comes to finances.

-------------------------------------------------------------

On another note: many years ago most people agreed with the standard views of consumerism. Buying objects as rewards "made people happy" and was easily substantiated as a certainly appropriate expenditure of one's earnings. It was a zeitgeist.The travel bug is a newer zeitgeist of the 21st century.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 12:24:10 PM by k290 »

arebelspy

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #39 on: March 02, 2016, 12:19:47 PM »

I've been planning a trip for about 6 months.

But then I was looking at the prices on AirBNB and asked myself how many more months of work I'd have to add on to my FIRE date to fund this trip.
If I kept the money and invested i, I'd be able to fund the same trip TWICE or more later in life.

So there is no reason to do it now while I'm in the start of my earning years (age 25).

I'd rather let my interest/dividends/capital gain pay for the trip later and spend less of my life working.

You will never get another chance to travel at age 25.

Traveling in your 20s can be quite formative, and quite different than traveling when you're older.

Despite this claim:
As long as you accept is no better than consuming "things".

I disagree. There can be real, tangible benefits to traveling.

Of course, there can be real, tangible benefits to owning certain things.

The example of the person's neighbor traveling to hear live music is a great one.  I'm sure that provides a lot of value to them.

Travel, seeing other cultures, getting outside our bubbles.  I would argue that provides many more benefits than, say, a larger truck, or more square footage on your house.

As Mark Twain said:
Quote
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

Consuming things can be great, and so can travel, and both can be overdone, or done poorly, as well, but your post of "I won't travel now because I can let it compound and do it later" is missing something, IMO.  It's not about depriving yourself for money.  If you've been planning this trip for six months, to cancel now because the money could compound?  I'd rethink that, if I were you.


Patience is always the winner when it comes to finances.

This is true.  And if money were the only thing that mattered, never traveling or buying anything that you enjoy would be the "correct" strategy.  Hopefully you value some things more than money though, because money is just a tool.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Erica

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #40 on: March 02, 2016, 12:27:40 PM »
Or, conversely, those in the "country" need a similar break from spending all their time driving to services (larger carbon footprint) and to get away from the freedom riders and meth labs now and then.

Meth Labs, now there you have a point. Don't know of any... but there are plenty of pot growers around these parts.
Many hikers are too afraid to hike off trails now for fear of getting shot.
I don't know what Freedom riders are.
For Mustachians, I'm not sure this applies regarding services. Nowadays you pay bills online, can order much of what you need online.
I think this website promotes cycling overall, and not using as many services. Instead being as self sufficient as possible within reason. Growing food versus costs of buying it + gas to drive to buy it, for example

« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 12:35:31 PM by Outdoorsygal »

andy85

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #41 on: March 02, 2016, 12:31:28 PM »
I think most of us can agree on the following:

1) if your financial house is in order and you prioritize travel, then awesome
2) if you constantly gleam about your travels and in the same breath complain about your money woe's, then you need to re-prioritize things.

As always, we are the choir and are preaching to ourselves. Clearly this forum mostly conforms to point 1 and not point 2.

Erica

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #42 on: March 02, 2016, 12:43:57 PM »
I've been planning a trip for about 6 months.

But then I was looking at the prices on AirBNB and asked myself how many more months of work I'd have to add on to my FIRE date to fund this trip.
If I kept the money and invested i, I'd be able to fund the same trip TWICE or more later in life.

So there is no reason to do it now while I'm in the start of my earning years (age 25).

I'd rather let my interest/dividends/capital gain pay for the trip later and spend less of my life working.

Patience is always the winner when it comes to finances.

-------------------------------------------------------------

On another note: many years ago most people agreed with the standard views of consumerism. Buying objects as rewards "made people happy" and was easily substantiated as a certainly appropriate expenditure of one's earnings. It was a zeitgeist.The travel bug is a newer zeitgeist of the 21st century.
I agree with arebelspy. I think it often does have a more profound effect on you in your twenties. Everything is more exciting at that age. It expands your horizons better than waiting until later in life to travel when you are more set in your ways. The people you meet can be a wonderful networking source for later travel also.

ETwagon

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #43 on: March 02, 2016, 12:44:44 PM »
I wonder if it ever gets cold up there on the moral high ground.

Ask our guru.  After all, he says he's producing an environmental activism blog in a personal finance wrapper.

And I thought I was the only one who got that vibe.

Erica

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #44 on: March 02, 2016, 12:49:35 PM »
Who are you people mumbling about? ^^ How can frugal environmentalism be bad? that's just weird...

Ramblin' Ma'am

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #45 on: March 02, 2016, 12:50:27 PM »
I would change this headline to "Traveling CAN BE just another form of consumerism."

If you're endlessly focused on acquiring more and more, and can't learn to be satisfied in the moment, then it doesn't matter whether you're pursuing things or "experiences." And if your reason for travel is to make your friends jealous or have a great Instagram page, you may be approaching it the wrong way.

Mindfulness is just as important when pursuing experiences as things. If you're constantly making purchases you can't afford, because you can't be happy with what you have, that's a problem. If you travel to Italy, and find yourself thinking, "Wow, this is nice...but I bet France would be AMAZING!", that's a problem.

Just the fact that you're traveling to Italy is not the problem.

justajane

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #46 on: March 02, 2016, 01:11:54 PM »
I'll be honest that my travelling in my twenties was due to a lack of something in myself: a lack of contentment, a lack of happiness, a lack of ability to understand what makes life worth living. i was trying to escape "real life" (whatever that is), but traveling didn't make me any happier. In that respect, I wish I could have all that money back and travel in my 50s instead. Sure, my joints won't work as well, but I think I would appreciate it more and would process places and cultures differently.

I think there are benefits to traveling in your youth just as there are in your older years. For that reason, I reject the non-reflective  "do it when you're young" advice.

Need2Save

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #47 on: March 02, 2016, 01:54:47 PM »
To me there is a major difference between 'vacation' and 'travel'.  Maybe because I'm not yet FIREd and still working a regular american work week.  'Vacation' is a temporary reprive from my usual routine which may occur in my home/home town or maybe at a place of my choosing where the environment is, I have predicted, to be desirable and pleasurable to me.  'Vacations' are generally a chance to decompress and enjoy time with my immediate family while taking a break from work/school responsibilities.  I have taken cheap trips and expensive trips and they are all valuable to me.  When I think about 'travel' and the kind of 'travel' I want in retirement, it is not bound by project schedules, approval from one's boss, scheduling around school calendars (if with kids), or available vacation/PTO time alloted to me.  To me, 'travel' is the flexibility to choose the place, the time, the mode of transportation (if required) and the style of occomodations I want.  I suppose there are restrictions based on ideal weather conditions and of course finances. But when I am retired, I'll have more time to plan and the restrictions named above (boss approval, scheduling limits, leave balance) will be completely removed.  I have no idea how much we want/need to spend on 'travel' in retirement but you but your ass that it's something I am budgeting for no matter how consumeristic some people find it. This is namely because while working I feel the pinch of those restrictions and have always wanted more time in just about every place I've ever visited to see more. More of the places, more of the people, more of the scenery, more of the culture, more of the cuisine.  Just more! 

It also sounds like there is some kind of sliding scale of low consumerism to high consumerism with respect to travel plans/budgets and I don't honestly care what other people think with respect to my plans.   Just my thoughts.

AH013

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #48 on: March 02, 2016, 02:26:33 PM »
I'll admit I read OP and about half the posts, then I just got tired of the judgment.  Consumerism, carbon footprint, negative impact to local culture from tourism, etc.  PC police in full force.

I think a huge problem in America is bigotry and a lack of understanding of other cultures.  One need only look at the republican primaries to see how prevalent it is, and how voracious it is.  I find a high correlation between those people I encounter who are excessively anti-Muslim, anti-Latin/Mexico, anti-China, and otherwise xenophobic, and those people whose furthest venture outside the USA has been to Canada or a Caribbean island (if at all).  I think if these people had traveled to Jordan to see how generous, peaceful and genuinely nice these people are, they wouldn't think of Muslims as terrorists.  I think if these people had traveled to China to see how 80 year olds have to roam the streets collecting garbage to supplement their $16/month government pensions, they wouldn't complain about how they're "stealing all our jobs".  And I think if these people had visited Mexico, Central America, or South America and seen how the drug wars (caused by Americans buying drugs) impacted their own countries, they would have less complaints about the few murderers spilling out from there into USA because of an issue our society creates.

Want to rail on excessive anti-mustachian traveling?  1st class flights, 5 star hotels, Michelin star restaurants?  Fine, I'll give you that, you're 100% correct that it's consumerism without the material keepsakes.  Want to rail on all travel, just cause?  Nope, not entertaining that.

I think experiencing other cultures is an integral aspect of being a fully functional human being in a global society, and forgoing that is short-sighted.  I can't count the number of times my life has been bettered by travel -- better jobs because interviewers want someone globally minded, better relationships because women find a partner who's experienced the world (especially if it happens to be her home country) to be more attractive, better handle on consumerism seeing how much you already have relative to the rest of the world (anti-Joneses effect).  And nobody needs to know I did all my international trips for less than most people assumed the plane ticket costs -- sleeping on trains, crashing in hostels, eating street food, doing my own walking tours, and unabashedly flashing my student ID to get discounted admissions.

And no, 2 trips at 60 is not the same as doing 1 when you're 25.  By your mid-30s, you're mostly done forming your opinion of the world, and it's not easy to change your opinions.  I could drag a 50 year old bigot through the middle east for a decade, and they'd just be a 60 year old bigot still convinced Muslims are the devil.

arebelspy

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Re: Traveling is just another form of consumerism, possibly the ultimate
« Reply #49 on: March 02, 2016, 02:32:26 PM »
I'll admit I read OP and about half the posts, then I just got tired of the judgment.  Consumerism, carbon footprint, negative impact to local culture from tourism, etc.  PC police in full force.

I think a huge problem in America is bigotry and a lack of understanding of other cultures.  One need only look at the republican primaries to see how prevalent it is, and how voracious it is.  I find a high correlation between those people I encounter who are excessively anti-Muslim, anti-Latin/Mexico, anti-China, and otherwise xenophobic, and those people whose furthest venture outside the USA has been to Canada or a Caribbean island (if at all).  I think if these people had traveled to Jordan to see how generous, peaceful and genuinely nice these people are, they wouldn't think of Muslims as terrorists.  I think if these people had traveled to China to see how 80 year olds have to roam the streets collecting garbage to supplement their $16/month government pensions, they wouldn't complain about how they're "stealing all our jobs".  And I think if these people had visited Mexico, Central America, or South America and seen how the drug wars (caused by Americans buying drugs) impacted their own countries, they would have less complaints about the few murderers spilling out from there into USA because of an issue our society creates.

Want to rail on excessive anti-mustachian traveling?  1st class flights, 5 star hotels, Michelin star restaurants?  Fine, I'll give you that, you're 100% correct that it's consumerism without the material keepsakes.  Want to rail on all travel, just cause?  Nope, not entertaining that.

I think experiencing other cultures is an integral aspect of being a fully functional human being in a global society, and forgoing that is short-sighted.  I can't count the number of times my life has been bettered by travel -- better jobs because interviewers want someone globally minded, better relationships because women find a partner who's experienced the world (especially if it happens to be her home country) to be more attractive, better handle on consumerism seeing how much you already have relative to the rest of the world (anti-Joneses effect).  And nobody needs to know I did all my international trips for less than most people assumed the plane ticket costs -- sleeping on trains, crashing in hostels, eating street food, doing my own walking tours, and unabashedly flashing my student ID to get discounted admissions.

And no, 2 trips at 60 is not the same as doing 1 when you're 25.  By your mid-30s, you're mostly done forming your opinion of the world, and it's not easy to change your opinions.


We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.