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Travel is a Waste of Money: Discuss

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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. The constant new experiences of international travel adventures can be a big part of why people travel.

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 to me, 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 travel?

  • 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, and much of that fun is free.
  • 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. Making it to Everest Base Camp really boosts your self-confidence.
  • 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

Travel is a Waste of Money? Waste of Time?

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.

Is travel a waste of time? How can it be? What would you be doing that would be time better spent? Everyone should be able to spend their time in the way that brings them the best returns, provided nobody is harmed in the process. For us, travel was the best use of time possible.

What do you think? If travel is your #1 pleasure too, read how you can sell everything and travel, or read about the realities of a digital nomad lifestyle.

This post was written before we set off to travel. We were on the road for almost 7 years, I can now tell you with absolute certainty that travel is not a waste of time, nor is it a waste of money. Those years are years to treasure forever and we were very sad when we had to return home after long-term travel. What came next? We bought a farm, something else to keep us busy. We still don’t like camping much!

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Sunday 27th of August 2023

I used to travel out of the country but I don't anymore. Travel can be a waste of time and money. You live in the moment but you have nothing to show for it. Sure you have the memories but all those eventually end up being forgotten. I myself now focus more on my retirement than I do travel. I'd rather have a nest egg than spend it for the moment.

Gillian Poon

Monday 28th of November 2022

Jump in front of a bus. Opinionated c u next Tuesday

Alyson for World Travel Family

Monday 28th of November 2022

My teenager told me to say "I'm like rubber, you're like glue, what bounces of me sticks to you." Have a great day Gillian! Thanks so much for sharing your inner world.


Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

I admit. I don`t like to travel much. It must be something related to the commodity I`m experiencing at home. With a nice large backyard and everything in reach (from lakes to sea) within two hours away (mostly even minutes), I just love to stay at home or go somewhere near it, so I can always come back when I want to. Travelling makes me anxious and depressed, actually. Not knowing what are you going to experience and losing money on something you are unable to grab and use as much as you want, makes me unhappy. It might be some sort of a "brain food" and you have memories out of it, but I still rather spend my money on things. Moreover I usually paint myself an image in my head about some distant place and it is perfect that way. When I actually visit it, I`m usually let down because of high expectations. But it is probably just me ...


Sunday 27th of August 2023

@Tomozuki, I completely 100% agree with you.

Alyson for World Travel Family

Wednesday 23rd of June 2021

Yes, some people feel like you do. I just live for seeing new places.


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...

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