I came across this debate on a forum few days back and since the topic caught my attention, I guess its worth thinking about it. The author of the article had expressed his views about how traveling is a sheer waste of money and that money could be utilized in various other ways. After reading the discussion in the comments section of the article, I asked this question to myself to see what I actually think about it. I thought about all the traveling I have done especially in the last few years. I even had a moment where I asked myself whether I am promoting the wastage of money through this blog. After all the internal battle, I got my answers to what I really feel about what I have been doing.
I have always believed that I am no one to tell any person that he/she should travel. It’s up to the individual and its none of my business unless someone is really close to me. The reason for maintaining this blog was to document my experiences so that I could have a look at it in my free time. I made it public after I realized it might be useful for someone else. I am always there to answer with the best of my knowledge to help you out in case you want to gain something from my experiences so far. If you ask me, I will tell you about how awesome a particular place was but I will never say you should go just because I went there.
If I add up all the money that I have spent on my all travels, I could have bought something expensive which is also tangible or if I would have invested that money, that would have been a big amount by now. But if we could go back in time, would I change my choice, I would say no. I wouldn’t want to trade my experiences with any thing else offered. It has been like education which has formed a part of my personality (how bad you may find it will be a different story 🙂 ). Just like school education, college education(?), professional experience have formed a part of me, so have these experiences as well. It’s an investment I have made in myself although no direct returns visible.
Whether traveling is a waste of money or not can be answered by definition of ‘waste’. In most of the Indian middle class families, spending such amount of money on ‘non-essential’ thing would definitely be considered useless. I was no exception as well and my frame of reference also defined these travels as expensive although not waste. However a part of me always wanted to see the world. My grandfather had traveled to most of the places in India and the stories he narrated to me in my childhood had somewhere laid a foundation which I built upon later. When I started earning I realized, if he could manage to see our country with his very limited resources at that time, I am in a better situation so I should be able to manage as well. The turning point in the story was meeting some of the friends in college during both my under-graduation and post-graduation. The biggest favour they did was to ask me whether I wanted to join them on some of the trips they were undertaking. I am really thankful to them because I wouldn’t have stepped out of my how-much-to-spend-on-travel boundary otherwise. I also felt that only rich people spend on big travels and it’s not for me. But when they asked, I started to think about ways to save money to be able to join them on travels. More importantly it redefined my viewing lens of ‘expensive’.
So, I find drinking a cup of coffee in Starbucks expensive but not a flight ticket to Malaysia by a low-cost airline. I find a Rs.250 popcorn in a movie theater expensive but not a 20 euro meal in Prague. This change of viewing lens makes me feel iPhone is expensive even though I am aware of how cool that gadget is. And as I know coffee in Starbucks is not a waste even though expensive; a trip to Somnath in Gujrat, a trip to Dandeli in Karnataka or a trip to HongKong is also not a waste. I have been allocating an amount which I felt I could spend on travels all these years and that will continue in future as well. The travel expense block in my expense pie-chart can shrink or grow as and when time changes but its going to be there. I intend to continue to ‘waste’ money this way, all my life.