February 2009

What’s Your Rate of Return?

Author: Kate Keep

We’re forced today, probably more than ever before in our lives, to worry about the rate of return on our investments. It’s also more important today to invest our time and money wisely to increase our return on life. Travel is one of life’s greatest values. It’s the ultimate investment, because the return is priceless. Not only does it reconnect you and your traveling companions, you add to your important list of life experiences. Traveling helps you spend quality time with your family and friends. It’s healthy to detach yourself from everyday worries to relax and unwind. It’s time to make personal fulfillment and enrichment a priority.

Why travel?
The world’s an uncertain place. You’re less wealthy now than you were six months ago. When you get where you’re going, the food’s different, the people are different, everything is different because you’re out of your usual setting and schedule.

Does it surprise you that those are my very reasons in support of traveling? Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Nothing can give you new eyes more effectively than getting out of your usual setting and schedule. St. Augustine wrote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Hilton Head Island is a very beautiful page, but it still does not comprise the whole book. Hilton Head Island never looks more beautiful to me than when I come back over the bridge (or observe it from the air as my plane lands on the island) when I’m returning from a trip. Maya Angelou’s quote is now more relevant than ever. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” David Barry remarked in his tongue-in-cheek way, “Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.”

Why travel now?
A very practical reason to make travel plans now is because so many enticing deals are being offered by cruise lines, hotels, river boat operators, tour operators and airlines. The dollar has strengthened significantly in its buying power compared to all world currencies, and the price of oil is at an all-time record low.

There are no limits to where you and your family or friends can go in this wide, wonderful world of ours. Multi-generational and multi-friend getaways are one of the fastest growing travel trends. Grandparents are realizing they would rather spend more money now to travel and share memories with their family than leave more money to their family to spend. A truly rich life is not measured by personal possessions, but by time well spent. Travel with friends and loved ones on journeys to new destinations or share your favorite places with them. Not only will you have the joy of experiencing their wonder and excitement, but you’ll see your favorite places in a new way through their eyes.

If you make this conscious lifestyle decision now, you won’t be alone. Recent trend reports indicate that people still want to collect life experiences, most notably in the way of travel, even as their appetite for acquiring consumer things slows.

Everything’s on the Internet; why use a travel consultant?
Google “London vacation” and then try to decide what to do with those 17.8 million responses. Need some experienced, professional help editing those choices? A knowledgeable travel advisor is someone to trust with assets as valuable as your time and money. At a time when discretionary spending requires careful consideration, a professional advisor provides you with confidence and advocacy that starts with the planning process and continues with you throughout your entire journey. Every day I receive a flood of updated travel promotions. Offers include 2-for-1 cruises, free air to Europe and the tropics, kids sail free, reduced business class air fares and free upgrades. A specific example: If you and your spouse or friend cruise on Seabourn Cruise Line with four friends or members of your family, Seabourn will provide a $750 per person shipboard credit to be used for private shore excursions.

More reasons to use a travel advisor:
How many hours were you on hold with the airline when your flight was canceled because of a snowstorm?
• Did you really mean to spend your honeymoon at that resort whose one tiny pool was
• filled all day with 12 screaming children?
• No one explained to you that, in July, it’s winter time in Rio so you showed up there with nothing but five Hawaiian shirts and three pairs of swimming trunks.
• Yes, that hotel must have used a telephoto lens when they took pictures of those guest rooms that you saw on their Web site.
• How about the time you really needed a restful vacation and you ended up in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and someone threw up on your shoes?
• I suppose contacting the Attorney General to resolve the fact that the Internet site has billed your credit card three times instead of once is the only route to take at this point.

Getting the picture?
Now that you’re thinking about traveling, maybe traveling soon, and you are open to the idea of using a travel consultant, let me make one last recommendation. Make sure your travel consultant is a member of Virtuoso (one of the travel industry’s leading travel network). Get the most for your travel dollar. A Virtuoso travel advisor provides special rates and free room upgrades, special complimentary amenities at your hotel, private parties and reduced rates on cruises plus free shore excursions. We give you access to rare experiences and privileged access around the USA and around the world.

What are you waiting for? Take advantage of the times and start planning your dream trip. Now is the time to travel to increase the rate of return on YOUR life.

Kate Keep, an associate of Valerie Wilson Travel, has been providing travel consulting on the island for over 20 years.

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