Pity the Rich Tourists
Yesterday’s mail included an “exclusive” luxury cruise brochure. Since I’m always curious about itineraries, I opened it to discover the destinations on offer.
One choice was a classic overview that stopped at ports in Spain, Lisbon, and France. The price list noted that the 12 days would be $12,799 for the cheap suite before it headed to the stratosphere with a prestigious “Explorer Suite” at $22,999. Per person, not per suite; to be fair, it included fare by air to get there.
In sending it to me, they'd obviously made a grievous error in their marketing list. Was I jealous of those who can afford such luxury? Not in the slightest. I felt sorry for them.
Granted, no one would turn down the lottery—especially when stuck in a plane’s sardine seats—but over-whelming luxury does not add to travel experience and, used as the end in itself, interferes with it.
Travelling affordably has distinct benefits:
First, the goal of travel is discovery. To me, the destination is more important than the luxury cruise suite or hotel room. I only intend to sleep there; the real action is outside. That expensive cruise? It allowed one day at ports including fascinating Seville and Lisbon. By the time passengers wend their way off the ship, they have a few hours before heading back for dinner on-board.
No wandering old-world streets serendipitously. No chance to discover local specialties at a family-run restaurant for dinner. No relaxing stroll afterwards. Those poor rich people have their luxury dinner in the same setting each night. (Not counting a ship's different themed dining rooms like Disneyland.)
Budget travelers rely on research rather than money. To get around inexpensively they learn basic bus, train or metro systems; they understand the city more deeply and become involved with locals. Their tours are self-guided, with a local guide, or using hop-on, hop-off buses. (Great way to get your bearings, by the way)
Affordability also means trying local cafés rather than imbibing the free booze on-board. (Well, free if you don’t count the $22,999)
Bottomline: If you have a travel budget, you are the lucky one.
Even if you have Great Aunt Hermione’s fortune at your disposal, resist being spoiled by the “suite” life.
In travel, it’s the destination that counts.