Money and riches does not make our lives richer; experiences do

I was recently talking to a friend about food, and how we were similar in the way that we don’t mind eating out regularly and trying new restaurants, even though it’s definitely more expensive over time. Don’t get me wrong, I do love cooking – whenever I foresee a chunk of time when I can dedicate myself to prepare and experiment new dishes, I do so. However, they also say to cook good food, you need to have tasted good food. How can I ever hope to improve what I’ve made by using the same ingredients or preparation method?

Remembering back to my first big trip away from home to Europe where I was travelling with 7 other friends. As you can imagine, everyone has different interests and things to see. Our first stop was London and one of the major attractions was the London Eye. I remember myself not completely sold on the idea of spending 30 dollars on a 30 minute ride to see London from above the Thames (side note: I just checked and the price has now doubled from what it was 5 years ago). Somehow, once I got there, I got persuaded to suck it up and spend the money. After the ride, I was convinced that I wouldn’t have been able to see that view of London except from a helicopter and that it was worth it.

What was it that made me decide on the spot to just forget the money and take the plunge? (literally – another time when I spent $478 on a 20 minute plane ride and 5 minute skydiving experience above New Zealand) It was probably a combination of knowing that the price won’t ever be cheaper in the future, and also not knowing when I would be back again (if ever). And it’s true – I haven’t been back to London in the past 5 years, nor do I foresee myself going again without exploring more countries.

Similar decision scenarios repeats itself over and over again in my head every single time I travel. And every time I’ve decided to fork out a bit more money than usual, I’ve never regretted. Even with my wallet bleeding a little.

I’m not saying that I instantly leap at everything that I come across, nor do I splurge on luxuries – not at all. $300 helicopter tour above the glaciers in New Zealand? Skip. 18 euros to walk on the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Skip. Introductory ocean diving and lessons for $150? Skip. Usually if there is an alternative option that can be enjoyed for a cheaper price, without sacrificing the experience – whether it’s an organized trip or a fine dining experience – I’d usually take it.

During the period when I was unemployed and travelling up the Australian east coast, it was hard to keep shelling out hundreds of dollars on tours and accommodations while watching my bank account decrease closer and closer to two digits (true story). However, I had to constantly remind myself what I said when I first set out on this trip. “I might be broke, and I’ll crazy miss my family and friends, but in the end it’ll be all worth it, right?” It’s ok to penny-pinch here and there, but don’t forget the bigger picture and lose out on the important stuff.

Eating out is just an example of how I enrich my experiences, since I also get to spend time catching up with family and friends. Those conversations usually last well past that night for years to come.

If my goal was to save money during this year and the years after, I should just work, then stay at home to save up. Instead, I think I will eat and drink my way through the world as much as I can. I’ll at least be able to give some proper recommendations and fill my stomach, right?

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” – Erma Bombeck


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