Living in Okinawa, I sometimes write travel pieces for a website catering to English speakers on the island.
This site offers general information about places to go, things to see, where to take your sick puppy, and so on for the 50,000 or so expats who live here.
My official category is “To Do,” and I report on activities and tourist places here and on neighboring islands. While I tend to gravitate towards the offbeat like oxygen chambers, acupressure, and funky restaurants, I cover the mainstream too.
A while back, I wrote a short article about Club Med Ishigaki, an all-inclusive resort with unlimited food and alcohol, nightly entertainment, flying trapeze, every sports activity you could want, and childcare. The trip costs around $600 per person for 3 days including the flight to get there. The resort is very popular with Americans and Japanese, and I know several families who love it. My job is to report information, and that’s what I did.
Then I got this snide comment from a reader:
“You spent $600 for everything you could do here on this island. I don’t know what to say. Well, congratulations, I guess.”
My initial reaction was huh?
I thought about writing back politely and referencing all the features of this place that make it unique.(I already did that in the article, but she seemed to miss the point) One certainly cannot drink free-flowing awamori and then do somersaults off the flying trapeze anywhere else in this region. What about the included childcare, worth every penny according to a friend of mine? What about the fact that you don’t have to pay for your scuba diving outing or jet-ski time?
But then I remembered there’s something about spending money on travel that touches a nerve in a lot of people. A deep nerve.
It’s certainly not the first time travel enthusiasm has met with sarcasm and judgment. Whether it’s an anonymous reader, family member, or friend, the underlying belief seems to be travel is a luxury, not a necessity. Oh, and that person is fully entitled to tell you that (never mind all the ways they spend money).
It occurs to me that for many people, travel just doesn’t hold the same value. They have no clue how it is an educational and eye-opening experience. They have no concept of challenging oneself in different environments. They have no interest in exploring a new place. Why spend money to go to another island?
They make travel their last priority, if at all. And while they might go to Disneyland at some point, they’d rather spend it on something material and perceived as lasting for a long time. Maybe a big screen TV or designer purse? And so there’s judgment …
Am I a sucker for being excited about a 3 day trip that cost $600? How can another person decide? We all have our own value systems about what’s worthwhile and meaningful to us. As far as travel and new experiences, I’m getting something of greater value in return.
So, yes congratulations are in order!
Have you ever gotten a negative reaction to spending money on your travels?