Travel + Happiness

Travel Happy
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Recently my husband and I went on an all-inclusive trip to Cabo, Mexico.  We do this at least once a year because Cabo is a short flight away and we really like the sunshine and the beach.  It was an investment to be sure, but one we thought was worth it (well, until we made the trip home).  Here’s what happened and how we netted out from a “return on happiness” standpoint.

travel happy

  • Cost of hotel and flight: $3,172.83
  • Cost of Dog Care: $400 (including tip)
  • Cost of transportation in Cabo $140 (including tip)
  • Cost of airport parking: $70

Total Trip Cost: $3,782.83 for 2 people

  • $630.47 per day
  • $26 per hour

This is the first trip I’ve taken since I’ve started thinking carefully about spending and happiness. It inspired me to look at how effective the investment was in making me happier. I figured the trip cost $26 an hour. I spent most of those hours floating in a pool with a cocktail in hand, sleeping in, eating well, reading magazines, people watching and feeling the warm sun on my skin.

Was it worth $26 an hour? I think so.

The trip wasn’t all great however. There were some drawbacks, like the transportation company that did a bait and switch on the type of transportation we purchased. Tip for you – make sure your transportation company provides a description of the vehicle they’re picking you up with in writing before you pay for service (and certainly avoid Eliker Transfer if you’re going to Cabo).

Then on the way home, my husband almost got kicked off the plane because an Alaskan Airlines Flight Attendant decided she wanted to pick a fight. I won’t get into the gory details, but it was very terrifying and nothing would have predicted the erratic behavior of the flight attendant.  Given what we’ve seen from United lately, the idea of flying is becoming wildly appealing.

Fly the friendly skies much?

Fortunately, we’ve got the attention of Alaskan Airlines because I cc’d the executive staff on our detailed complaint letter and fellow passengers that saw what happened were compelled to file complaints as well, but I would have much preferred never to have been put into the situation we were. It was frightening.

All said these experiences were a stark reminder that travel is a gamble and you never know what you’re going to encounter. From bad weather and long waits to food poisoning and unstable flight attendants, very little of the experience of travel is in your control, so when you book your trip, you can only hope that the gamble pays off.

So while I don’t regret my trip, I’m not chomping at the bit to get on a plane again. In fact, there’s a good chance I will only fly again this year for my committed business trips. Given that there are no out-of-pocket fees for those trips (except doggie care), the cost risk of travel is minimal.

So here are a few ways to think about travel experiences in terms of happiness. Maybe it convinces you that you need to put more energy into your travel experiences, or like me, you might be thinking less is more.

The Upside of Taking a Trip

  • New experiences
  • Escape from the everyday
  • Learning about a new culture
  • Meeting new people (fellow travelers and locals alike)
  • Being in preferable weather (that might mean 80 degrees at the beach or 30 below on a snowy mountain)
  • Trying new food
  • Acquiring unique things like art or fashion
  • Taking in local attractions – museums, theater, music
  • Enjoying peace and quite – trees, beach, mountains, whatever
  • Spending quality time with loved ones

The Downside of Taking a Trip

  • Bad weather that can often spoil intended plans
  • The discomfort of travel – long flights, car rides, long lines.
  • Terrorists on a mission
  • Disappointing service or quality of travel
  • Crazy/unpredictable people
  • Unexpected expenses due to delayed or missed flights, bad accommodations, etc
  • Minor inconveniences like noisy rooms, uncomfortable beds, lost luggage
  • Major inconveniences like being dragged from the plane seat you paid for and getting a bloody face
  • Illness or injury incurred because of travel
  • Additional stress on other family members (i.e. dogs, kids) who are left behind
  • Additional efforts required to tie up work and home obligations that need to be addressed in your absence
  • Theft or break-ins that happen back at home or while you’re away (we were robbed on our recent trip to Costa Rica)
  • The overall cost

In all honesty, I am writing this blog post from the plane that my husband was almost removed from, so I’m a little negative on travel right now, but often these situations inspire us to look deeper at the cost of our investments. I’m actually grateful for the experience in some ways because it helped me look at the true cost/value of travel (but would have preferred it not happen, of course).

So what say you? Are you a consummate traveler that doesn’t mind the adventure of not knowing what will happen, or are you more of a cautious investor in getaways?

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  1. Great view you got there in the picture.
    When I travel I usually do so alone. I’ll just a pick an area to visit and make it up as I go along. I don’t really plan ahead, which is definitely more expensive but also a lot more fun!

    1. I’ve done that in the past… when I was younger and more adventurous, but I’ve come to appreciate creature comforts that require a little research, and I’m okay going back to the same place more than once to get the same kind of experience.

      Honestly though, after the united scandal last week and the experience we had coming back from Mexico, I have very little desire to travel by air. It’s already such a stressful experience and now these aggressive actions have made it more worrisome. I know I’m overreacting, but I am just not excited to get on a plane again!