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Travel is a Waste of Money: Discuss

A percentage of the global population think that travel is a waste of money. It had honestly never crossed my mind that anyone thought that way, until somebody on our Facebook page said that it had always been her belief. Gratifyingly, she went on to say that our adventures and enthusiasm for travel had played a big part in opening her eyes and that she didn’t think travel was a waste of money any more. Her family had booked their first overseas holiday and were very much looking forward to it. The lady said that they had always though the family would have more fun camping by the river, so why go overseas?

Travel is a waste of money

I’m really, really grateful that this reader felt comfortable enough to share that sentiment with me. I’m immensely honoured that our adventures played a small part in her change of mind. That statement has had my mind running overtime ever since. Travel has always been my priority, the thing I earned money to pay for, going without every luxury in the process. I really couldn’t see how travel is a waste of money, ever.

Travel is a Waste of Money. I Don’t Think!

Define “Waste”.

What is a waste of money? Some would say it is spending money on non-essentials. My glass of wine, the one I’m enjoying right now, would therefore qualify as a “waste”. I don’t think so, I’m getting a lot of enjoyment from it, it may not be of any nutritional benefit and it may speed me toward my death bed, but right now it’s mighty fine.

Is a waste of money anything purchased that turned out to be sub-standard or disappointing? Even if we don’t get full satisfaction for our dollar is it truly a waste? We learn by our mistakes and the worst disasters often make the best stories, so maybe not a total waste.

Some would say that spending big on the latest 3D TV or technological gizmo would be a waste of money. It’s not something I’d ever do, but I can see that others would get enjoyment out of that, in the same way that my glass of wine, my little bit of luxury in our tight-budget world, gives me pleasure.

Is buying a toy for the kids, the sort that they play with for 5 minutes, a waste of money? A year ago I would have said yes. Now I see the virtue in buying things to use and then pass on. Children treasure most of their toys for a short time, why not pass them on to another child to enjoy. See your investment as buying a few days of joy, not as purchasing an object to keep with you for life.

Is anything that gives a person pleasure a waste of money? We can judge people harshly sometimes for the things they choose to spend on, but is one person’s priority any more valid than the next’s?

We all have a set of unique priorities. If a cable TV subscription is more important to somebody that a savings plan, then that’s OK, that’s their thing and they’re totally entitled to it.

Is Travel About Having Fun?

The lady said that her family would have more fun camping by the creek. Well, maybe she’s right! We all get our fun in different ways.

I get a perverse enjoyment out of the hardships of travel, I dig those days-long Asian bus rides with broken air-con dripping water onto my head. I love finding accommodation at an amazing price and I’m more than happy to put up with discomfort if it means I get more travel for my dollar. So long as I’m seeing, experiencing and learning as I we go, I’m happy.

We’ve camped in Australia many times, usually up on our local lake, it’s a nice weekend break, something different, but it’s not travel, you have to go somewhere new to travel.

What Value Do We Get From Travel?

I think travel is worth every cent we spend on it. To be honest, it’s not that expensive. Selling our Australian camping equipment was enough to fund us for a month or two on the road. We are spending a lot less by travelling the way we do than we would be on living back at home, paying the mortgage and utility bills.

But what do we get out of it?

  • Education Every new thing we see, hear, taste or touch, every person we meet and lifestyle we experience, we learn from. Our children’s education is one of the main driving forces behind this trip.
  • Knowledge For me and the kids. Not many days go by when I don’t say ” I didn’t know that!”.
  • Experience  Rich lives with no regrets is what we’re aiming for here. There is nothing sadder than unfulfilled dreams.
  • Fun So much fun! From tubing in Vang Vieng to riding every roller-coaster in Disney. Immense amounts of fun for all of us, not just the kids.
  • More Family Time We are together 24/7. All four of us. If dad was still stuck in work earning to pay the mortgage we’d hardly ever see him.
  • Challenges Physical and mental challenges crop up all the time. Overcoming them is a great feeling.
  • Satisfaction Feeling proud of yourself for doing something you thought you’d never do is a wonderful thing. I saw this in spades in the kids after our treks in Nepal.
  • Enrichment You know how zoo animals are given toys for enrichment because they’d otherwise be bored and under challenged in a captive environment. Well that’s how I feel!
Travel is a waste of money debate

Obviously we don’t feel travel is a waste of money or we wouldn’t have given up our Australian-dream lifestyle ( some said we were throwing it all away), sold everything and set off with all our possessions on our backs. We think travel is the best thing in the world. What do you think?

Sri Lankan Breakfast
bushwalking in australia
Bushwalking in Australia


Friday 20th of October 2017

We are a family that loves to travel and for me it is the sacrifices we make and the planning we undertake before we travel that has as great benefits as the travel itself. That leaning to pack less. that learning to prioritise your life... Also on the other end what we take from our travels and incorporate into our everyday lives also adds value. These are the things no one talks about.

Travel is more then the travelling (even though I agree with the many benefits you have outlined), it is about challenge, mindset, courage, pushing the envelope, learning new skills, seeing alternative lifestyles, weighing up new concepts, feeling grateful for what you already have...

James Handaja

Sunday 22nd of March 2015

The perception of cost and expense is highly subjective, it depends on the strength of your currency relative to the accepted currency in your (overseas) destination.

For example, a German tourist will find the prices in South East Asia to be really cheap (except for Singapore), when measured in euros. Conversely, an Indonesian will find the prices in, say, Frankfurt to be outrageously expensive, when measured in Indonesian Rupiahs.

I think this is what hinders overseas travel for most of the world's population...


Thursday 10th of April 2014

I so agree Alyson. Travelling can never be a waste of money or time. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Money can't buy the expereinces you have and the life you live or are going to live. In my case, travel opened the door to everything good in my life and all the lovely things I encountered, had and have, because of travelling. Would I have met my German husband? Nope. I hadn't even met any, not to talk of marrying one! Would I have had a bilingual, bi-cultural, expat, international kid? Pleeeeease! Everyone should get up and take that plane or train I say!


Wednesday 9th of April 2014

Great post and I completely agree with all your points! For me travel is not a waste of money at all! I've gained so many experiences and memories that I look back on fondly, even years after the fact. The road trips my parents took us on as kids are some of my favourite memories growing up and were a great way to spend time together as a family. The real-world education I get from travelling is far better (and cheaper) than the formal education I received in University. As far as I'm concerned, staying home, paying bills for the things we think we need (but are really are luxuries) is the waste of money. "Stuff" doesn't enrich my life- travelling and having experiences does.

Jon Fletcher

Monday 7th of April 2014

I could never think of travel as a waste of money. My clients would kill me! lol But seriously, when you invest in travel the rewards are far more than just a fleeting experience. You are rewarded with memories that will live with you and stories you can tell family and friends, its about living a life.

nomadic family life


Creator of World Travel Family

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger, and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better, and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips, and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel, and how to start your own travel blog.