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  • Starr Wlodarski

Experiences, Not Things Make Us Richer



As a travel professional I value great experiences. The moments spent in awe of a beautiful view, a priceless piece of art or the wonder and pure joy on the face of a child as they experience something new and exciting are worth far more than the price of admission.

We all have a limited amount of time and money, and we are often faced with the dilemma of what is the best way to spend – or to invest – both of those resources.

We can choose from an endless assortment of high-tech gadgets, sparkly things, and material luxuries that will impress our friends and family… for a short time at least. Our children have lists of the gaming systems, toys, and fashion labels they want for their next birthday or holiday gift.

But once we’ve bought the latest iPhone or the expensive shoes, how long do they last? How long will they continue to bring joy? And how likely are they to be truly treasured by those around us after we are gone?

Compare that to experiences… sure, they are short-lived, but they enrich our lives in ways a new flat screen TV just can't. Sure, watching the big game or the cliffhanger of your favorite tv show in 82" of 4K vivid-color awesomeness will be fun but is it likely to make a difference in your life?

Now that my children are older we don't give Christmas presents anymore. We give the gift of time together, away from work and school. In 2018 we flew out to the Big Island on Christmas Day and spent the holidays there. We loved it there 8 years ago when we visited and vowed to go back. Well it took that long but we did it.

How about standing with your family above the clouds at the summit of a dormant volcano in Hawaii – the milky way sparkling above in the inky darkness when you first arrive and then watching as the first dot of red light first appears in the eastern sky and ribbons or red, yellow and orange light begin to flood the crater of the volcano in front of you till the sun fully rises and you can look out into the distance and see the beautiful and rugged coastline of the Big Island of Hawaii peek out from the clouds that are breaking up in the morning light?


Or what about spending the day wandering the European town or village your ancestors called home? Taking a cooking class in the home of a native of the town and learning to prepare a local delicacy… laughing with your family as you attempt to speak phrases from the language or at each other with flour on your faces as your hands roll out the sticky dough. A private concert with you and your shipmates(only 684 of them) at Ephesus, Turkey on your cruise followed by a private tour of Rome with your own guide and driver customized just for you.


Maybe you are more the adventurous sort, and your family dreams of trekking to see Dian Fossey’s beloved mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Having the unforgettable experience of sitting with them, hearing them communicate with each other and looking into their eyes. Following that up with a safari to see “the big 5” in their majestic natural habitats and maybe even ending the trip with a relaxing stay on one of the most picturesque and idyllic beaches on the spice island of Zanzibar.


Those experiences may be short-lived themselves, but they change us for the better. They create memories that will live in our hearts and minds forever and will live on as our loved ones say “remember when…” long after we are gone.

That’s a pretty tall order for an Apple watch that is going to be outdated in 2 years!

Even if your family’s vacations aren’t as elaborate as these, the time you spend together relaxing and enjoying each other’s company without the distractions of everyday life will be worth far more than any gadget ever will. The memories you create will be truly priceless and will be treasured more dearly than any physical possession ever will.

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