Time to Stop my Luxe Ways?
In terms of travel, what does “luxury” mean to you? Chances are that your definition isn’t like anyone else’s.
Like so many other words, luxury is a subjective term. Sure, movies, TV, and magazines plant a vision into our minds of Michelin-stared restaurants, the finest wines, and grand hotels in fabulous locations with Egyptian-cotton sheets, marble bathrooms, and million-dollar views.
Of course, I’m a huge fan of this definition of luxury. I’ve stayed in my fair share of these types of places in Ireland, Chicago, Tokyo, Miami, New Orleans, and many other places around the world. I’d certainly be lying if I said didn’t enjoy my time in each one.
There’s something really special about staying in an opulent hotel. Walking through the front door causes one to walk a little taller. I love being greeted by name by the hotel staff and the little treats delivered to my room “just because”. I appreciate the extra-fluffy towels, the top-of-the-line toiletries, and the fresh flowers in my room. I like when I offhandedly mention something to the concierge and he makes it happen without being asked again. In my mind, these are the types of things that make a great hotel more than memorable.
Through travel blogging I’ve been fortunate to meet all sorts of people. None seem to have the exact same travel style or idea of luxury, but one thing that we all have is a passion for travel. It binds us into a tight-knit community. It’s our common thread.
I know backpackers who define luxury as having a private hostel room. I became fast friends with a couple who lived for a year in a campervan in New Zealand. During that time, they defined luxury as simply having indoor plumbing. I know couchsurfers who find luxury when their couch actually pulls out into a bed. I know family travelers who think luxury is staying in a hotel where continental breakfast is included. And then I’ve met people who only take luxury holidays and wouldn’t dream of staying in a place with less than five stars.
It takes all kinds, right?
This morning I spoke with a co-worker who was out all last week. Noticing a new photo of a sunset on her desk, I commented on how lovely it was. She then went on to tell me that she’d just spent a week in the Dominican Republic. Now, I’ve never been to the Dominican Republic, and it’s safe to say that it wouldn’t make my top 100 places I’d want to travel to next, but to see her eyes light up when she talked about her trip was intoxicating.
I listened to her go on about the fabulous food, her beautiful hotel, the exciting excursions, and the spectacular beaches. I couldn’t help but become excited, too. As she continued on about her trip, I wondered how she defined luxury and how it compared to my definition.
Apparently this was the first real vacation she’d taken in three years. This blew my mind as I’ve probably taken twenty vacations in the last three years. For my co-worker, simply taking a vacation is a luxury to her. That brief conversation put so much into perspective for me.
Although I adore all the five-star this and four-diamond that, what I treasure above all else is the actual act of traveling. It’s the packing and the butterflies I feel as I check my bags. It’s the pilot announcing our on-time arrival. It’s the click of the new stamp on my passport. Most importantly, it’s the idea of not knowing what lies ahead.
“I want to see things that I can’t imagine. I want to do things that scare me. I want to go places that I’ve only read about. I want to meet people that are nothing like me.” –Me
I wrote that in my very first post, “Why I Travel: A Dedication“. No place in that manifesto do I mention wanting to travel only in the lap of luxury. With that being said, I’m not turning into a backpacker, but I am beginning to redefine my idea of luxury. I’m still going to dine in fine restaurants, visit exotic locales, and stay in hotels that will address me as Ms. Walker, but I’m also going to eat from street vendors, tour places close to home, and stay in hotels that might simply offer a free bottle of water upon check in.
My coworker boasted about the “great deal” she got on her all-inclusive vacation, and I say good for her. It’s not my thing, but different strokes for different folks. Just like I hate cruises and have no desire to stay in a hostel, others wouldn’t ever consider spending $250 or more on a night in a hotel. With my redefining of luxury, I’m going to be a bit more selective in my choices. I’m trying to transition into a quantity over quality way of thinking when it comes to travel.
Travel is an inherent part of who I am. Perhaps my greatest fear is that time will run out before I get to experience the world. As a result, travel feeds me. It spurs my actions. It dominates my time. It monopolizes my dollars. In order to continue traveling like I want to, I’ll need to gain some perspective, adjust my goals, and reconsider what my idea of luxury really is.
After all, life is short and the road is long. It’d be a shame for me to miss out on a single adventure just because I refused to stay in a place without a doorman.