There used to be a time when I’d scoff at travellers who spent their precious pennies on airport lounges, premium economy (or shock horror, even business or first class), on-site airport parking and such. That time was my twenties.
But something changed. My income has definitely steadily increased since my twenties, but I haven’t come into money or received a gigantic bonus (I wish).
As I approached the so-called big 3-0 I found my spending habits and travel style changing. I’ve always, always liked stylish, pretty things, especially when it comes to travel. Whether that’s a contemporary hotel (I pined after the W hotels for months and months), one of those rooftop bars that you see in magazines (I have so many tear-outs in my wish book), or a romantic spa dressed in candles and sweet scents of exotic oils. It’s just I never felt I could justify the spend.
Oh how I’d dream to simply step foot inside premium economy (let alone park my bum in one of those generous seats) or to have the luxury of not waiting twenty-five minutes for the free shuttle bus to take me and about five billion other people from the off-site car park to a mile away from departures entrance of the airport. Sigh.
How Much is Your Time Worth?
As I get older (and by no means am I middle-aged or anything – I only turned 30 in December), I value my time a lot more than I used to. Yeah, that off-site parking is £10, sometimes even £20, £30 or even £40, cheaper, but is such a small saving such a big deal? Back in the day I’d say hell yes. That would be a night of accommodation or a meal out, maybe even two. However, those were the days when I didn’t have an annual leave allowance or a career to tend to. I guess they were the more carefree days when I was backpacking or taking extended holidays with friends. Waiting half hour for a bus was nothing.
Now though, I’d much rather feel more relaxed and refreshed. I don’t want to queue to get in a car park, to then lug my case to queue for a bus. I don’t want to squeeze onto the bus, pushed up against other eager holidayers to avoid waiting another half hour for the next bus. Nope, I want to park as near as possible to the airport, to hand my keys to someone else who will park my car and then I want to waltz into the fun world of the airport. Now little things like this make a difference, especially when my trips away are so precious and condensed.
It was until recently that I actually noticed this shift. It’d been happening steadily, but my last two trips really made me realise I’d changed. They both had super early flights with budget airlines to of course, save money. I’ve always been one of those people who champions the early flights out and late flights home to maximise the time in a new country. Who needs sleep? You can sleep when you’re dead (or at your desk on a Monday morning). That was my motto for a long time.
Now though, I really find the 3am alarm a struggle. In my early twenties I’d leap out of bed squealing with excitement, annoying everyone else as I jumped around in giddy delirium. People would look at me with sheer disbelief at my boundless enthusiasm. By my mid twenties I’d lost some of that energy. I’d sigh at the alarm and long for a bit more sleep, but I’d be up and fine in no time at all. Now, I really struggle. I feel like death.
Yeah, I can get up and make it out the door with my hair brushed and perhaps the bare minimum of make-up, but by lunch time I’m done. Back in the good ol’ days, I’d sleep in my make-up and not have to worry at all about it causing breakouts. Some days, I’d even leave that same mascara on. Gross, I know. I also loved those days because when I did eventually decide to wash it off I could easily not wear make-up and look as fresh as a daisy. These days my dark circles make my tiredness obvious to everyone. They don’t let me fool anyone, even myself.
And there’s the whole thing of ending up eating two breakfasts. If you start at 3am, by the time 7am comes around you’re ready for brekkie number two, which is usually in the airport and pricey. So, at the expense of saving £10-£20 of getting an early flight, my logic is that I’ll end up spending that saving on breakfast. I might as well get up at a reasonable time and get a mid-morning or lunchtime flight. I can feel my twenty year old self shuddering as I type these words.
My Travel Evolution
My time really means a lot to me. I much prefer to spend a little more if it makes my travels more easygoing on my body and mind (and for the sanity of others around me – 3am Char is something you should avoid at all expense, or so Jay says).
My travel evolution started with family package holidays that I had no say in during the 90s. I then ventured onto my Contiki tour in the early noughties and the backpacking days circa 2007-8. It progressed to budget, but stylish weekend city breaks and to tick-off-the-list condensed adventures 2009 onwards.
I guess if this much has changed, I can’t help but wonder what my travel style will be like when I’m in my forties (eek!), fifties and upwards. I kinda hope I do stick with my plan of embarking on a big worldwide adventure when I retire. Kinda like my backpacking one, but without the backpack and bigger and better (and no 3am starts!).
However, I also wonder if this evolution is even due to age. Don’t they say that age is just a number? Perhaps, it’s just because I’ve travelled quite a bit. What do you think?
What’s your travel style and more importantly, what’s your travel evolution? Has yours changed over time? How do you think your future travel self will holiday? I’d love to hear your thoughts. X