Great travel memories are like money in a savings account. You build up your holiday balance while traveling and having fun. At any point, when life becomes a bit dreary, you can withdraw a beautiful moment or two and relive a time when things were sweet and you were at your best. Fill your cup with the brilliant memories you’ve banked , sit back and sip away, make the world a better place , no matter what the weather outside is doing, especially if it’s frightful . In your catalogue of memories you’ll always look great with that perfect Hawaiian tan, in that skimpy bikini that fit so well in Goa, or on top of that mountain when you pronounced yourself to be ‘king of the world’ in Tanzania. If it’s freezing outside or your situation is as equally ‘blah’ , don’t forget, you’re richer than you think.
For exactly this reason I have always considered travel as an investment. Unlike everyone else my life is not perfect, that’s a joke..right? What I have done right is travel extensively and make close acquaintance with others of like interests. There is never a day that a coffee with a friend on a dark winters day to reminisce, a flip through the photo album or a silly email attachment showing up will not adjust the mood switch in your head to ‘HD ‘. Just thinking about traveling causes my internal slideshow to start spinning like a zoetrope . Travel has literally been a lifesaver to me. That it can become a lifestyle and income generator is very cool.
I love the contrasting experience of leaving a dismal northern destination in mid-winter and arriving in the day glow tropics a few hours later. With the click of a mouse and a flourish of a credit card we can metamorphose into the person(s) we’d like to be. I originate from one of the most beautiful spots of the world , the west coast Canadian Riviera, Vancouver. The region does have it’s dark days and see’s perpetually striated bands of pregnant gray weather systems roll in between September and June ready to drop bucket sized raindrops for weeks on end. It’s moniker ‘the wet coast ‘ is no idle boast. Overall the province has it’s charms, it never gets down to thirty below zero, but after a few months of steady drizzle and daily downpour I was always a little antsy for some ‘snorkel time’. There’s no point in getting depressed about weather conditions, we can’t do much about it, except to flee that is.
Some of us are obsessive escapists. I admit to being one of those, and I know how to spot another. Our homes take on the appearance of shrines to vacation travel. Mine began looking like a curio shop from a diverse collection of far flung countries captured over an indefatigable period of time. Souvenirs have a habit of taking over, don’t they? When you can’t tell what colour the walls are and there is no place on your desks , tabletops or shelves to work at or eat on because of the number of Balinese masks, carved African photo frames’, tin curiosities from India, Thai bone jewellery, crude wall hangings, votive paintings, risque’ statues, cluttered Nepalese religious knick knacks, forgettable tourist memorabilia and assorted third world tapestry’s you’ve placed and hung to overlapping throughout every hallway and room, then you know, you’re ‘one of them’, an unrepentant travel bug.
Maybe your bookcases are lined with out of date dog eared travel guides and the bookmarks you use are water buffalo skin Indonesian shadow puppets. You might have second homes for your plants and pets. You have begun to rotate collections out of your basement, garage or storage locker like a museum curator, it’s official, welcome to the club. Oh, and lets not forget your collection of fridge magnets , bumper stickers and the en suite sunset shower curtain. There might be a collage of torn bus tickets, airline receipts, beer labels and pressed flowers on the back of a door. It’s OK, we all know about each others eccentricities.
There’s nothing so great as to find a good deal from an airline or travel hospitality provider. Because Pat and I travel frequently we are able to bank our travel miles. Every once in a while we’ll have saved enough points for free air tickets and hotel accommodation. We have traveled both directions to Europe and Asia from North America on travel points, it’s a worthwhile program if you manage your account correctly. Better hotels everywhere have loyalty programs that really benefit the frequent traveler, so sign up at the desk when you’re checking in as they will ask you as part of the procedure. They are not trying to scam you onto a mailing list, they want your business in a very competitive environment. If you’re staying in backpackers hotels and a regular customer, they’re just happy to see you. If you’re lucky they’ll change the sheets.
Airlines for the most part allow miles to be used at any time of year with some rare exception, that has been our experience. We just flew our son West over to Bangkok for Christmas break on points we’d saved from Europe. There was no ‘black out’ period flying with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong. His return flight was free through Cathay who are part of the One World alliance along with other giants such as British Airlines, the points are transferable between partners, very convenient.
I was fortunate enough to be in Bangkok Thailand recently to attend the Bangkok International Travel Show being held at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center. Hundreds of tour operators, agencies, the airlines and hotel chains as well as many alternative and boutique travel operators were in attendance. Along with the great information on new destinations as well as the renovation and renewal of some classics, there are always special offerings for hotel room discounts and applications for getting onto an airlines email list so that you can be ‘in the loop’ about the special offerings that pop up from time to time.
The hotels take bookings and offer deep discounts to people who can confirm well in advance of their travel dates. I would highly recommend you attend your local travel show if one comes to your town. If you’re on vacation and a show is taking place, by all means attend, the public is always welcome at these events.There are many more considerations to traveling than just money, but if you can receive a lasting benefit from the experience then as we say in my neck of the woods, “If it feels good , do it”.
© 2011 J West Hardin aka Wayne Olson- Poet, Novelist, Travel Writer, Travel Blogger, You Tuber, contributor to HackWriters , Columnist ‘‘The Travel Itch’ magazine