Experiences Don’t Get Cluttered

I spent the past week on vacation with my family in Lake Louise and Jasper. In all, we spent around $500. I feel that’s not bad for a once-a-year week-long vacation. And I’d rather spend money on an experience than on stuff. An experience isn’t going to clutter up my house. It doesn’t need to be stored and I don’t feel bad if I never get it out and use it, the way I do with my stuff. In fact, I have great memories and I can always go back and look at all the photos we took while we were there.

The one part of the vacation that cost the most (after the lodging) was a trip up the Jasper Tramway. It costs $80 for the family, and we spent between two and three hours going up the tram and hiking on the peak. If I do the math, that’s really not much more than taking the family to the cinema to see a film. Making that type of comparison, it seems to me like a much better use of money. But I haven’t ever spent that much money to take the family to a cinema, so the comparison is kind of cheating. Rather, I just need to put the cost out of my mind, saying that it’s something we want to do, we can’t possibly hike up the mountain (with our four year old) and we’re not likely to get another chance in the near future.

But I didn’t simply put the cost of the experience entirely out of mind and pay it, consequences be damned. We saved money by camping the first night, rather than staying indoors. It was cold, but it was fun for the kids and it saved $70. We also saved money by going grocery shopping before leaving Calgary, and bringing our own breakfast cereal and lunch foods. We found that the prices at the grocery store in Jasper, while far cheaper than eating in restaurants, were 30% to 50% higher than at home. In the end, I felt that the savings and the splurging balanced each other out and made for an enjoyable and memorable vacation.

Do you feel that spending money for experiences is worthwhile?  What would you splurge for and where would you rather save money?

3 thoughts on “Experiences Don’t Get Cluttered”

  1. We feel the same. Putting money towards aspects of real value vs expensive convenience allow us to explore more in the long run.

    Related is also my mindset to not pressure myself into believing in the “Once in the Lifetime” concept or that this “type” of trip justifies going all out in all areas. To me, it always comes across a bit sad, as if they really do believe there won’t be a chance to see a place ever again. In all my travels I’ve only met one person that it really applied to.

    Reason being, is that thought tends to pressure one into splurging without thought. I see that often and hear the regret in peoples’ voices when they see their bill.

    Having a plan for travel allows for both exhilaration of discovering a new place as well as respect for the time and effort taken to earn the money to pay for such experiences.

  2. MW, You make a good point that “once in a lifetime” isn’t a useful way to rationalize overspending. At the same time, we just visited the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield for the second time. The last time was in 2005 and we were able to walk on the glacier. This time, the glacier has receded by at least 100 metres and developed a swift stream of melt-water in front of it, so it’s no longer possible to walk on the glacier without taking an expensive guided tour. So there’s something to be said for taking (reasonable) opportunities while I have the chance.

  3. I’m sad to hear that. It’s been a while since I’ve been there — ’98. The Inukshuk I built at what was the edge of the glacier likely long gone. No place on earth is immune to climate change — Scary.

Comments are closed.