“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer,” Except It’s Not

If you’ve been in the travel circles for a while you know doubt have heard this quote before: “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

It has been attributed to various sources, including anonymous authors and even well-known writers like Mark Twain. However, the true origin remains uncertain.

As a devoted travel blogger who has centered his entire life around exploring the world, I feel compelled to share my perspective on why this quote falls short.

So hear me out.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”

Let’s start with defining what we mean by “richer.”

I think most of us know that when we say richer we mean richer in the sense of some form of personal enrichment and not necessarily financially wealthier (though that can be a byproduct).

The idea behind the quote is to emphasize the profound and transformative impact that travel can have on your life — intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

While investing in stocks or index funds can potentially lead to financial prosperity and, in the future, offer a sense of personal fulfillment, our focus here is on a more direct and immediate connection — an intrinsic enrichment gained through experiences and personal growth.

And the fact is that travel is definitely NOT the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.

There is a wide array of purchases that can lead to personal enrichment and make your life richer in meaningful ways.

Tickets to movies, shows, sports, or concerts: Going to movies, shows, sports events, or concerts can serve as a tremendous source of inspiration, acting as a catalyst for significant life changes and personal growth. They have the power to ignite curiosity and action, motivating you to explore new interests and take charge of your life.

Courses: Purchasing courses or books and learning new skills or diving deep into a specific topic area could be incredibly enriching. The sense of accomplishment that comes from mastering something new can be immensely satisfying, and in some cases, it may even lead to financial gains. I guess you could also throw in college degrees but those are becoming suspect these days.

Hobbies and Passions: Buying materials or equipment for hobbies like painting, photography, astronomy, or playing musical instruments can provide outlets for creativity and personal fulfillment. I remember buying a special nebula filter for my telescope and being completely awe-struck by the incredible level of detail it revealed on the very first night of use. It certainly changed my view of the cosmos.

Quality Time with Loved Ones: Investing in activities or gatherings with family and friends is a valuable commitment that reaps rich rewards in terms of relationship building and social fulfillment. When we allocate time and resources to spend quality moments with our loved ones, we create opportunities for lasting memories similar to travel.

Charity and Philanthropy: Contributing to charitable causes or supporting nonprofit organizations can bring a sense of fulfillment by making a positive impact on the lives of others.

This is obviously only a sample of all the possibilities out there.

So why point out all of these things?

Am I just trying to be the ultimate buzz kill for this quote. Not at all.

I just think that as an avid a traveler it’s important to remember that, despite the pedestal we put travel on, there are other things out there in the world that can offer deep enrichment and satisfaction.

Travel will likely remain my life’s top priority because it feels like a natural calling, something I was born to do. The boundless energy and unwavering passion I possess for it just doesn’t really compare to anything else.

But I still have to remind myself that travel is not the only thing I can buy that makes me “richer.”

This really came to the forefront of my mind recently when I attended a 311 concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Despite being a favorite band from my childhood, I had never experienced the thrill of seeing them perform live until then.
Honestly, before that, I’d only been dragged to a couple of concerts by friends or family. But this time, it was different – I was finally able to attend a concert I truly looked forward to and it was in one of the most remarkable music venues in the world.

Attending the concert really sparked a burst of creativity in me that has already started to benefit me in multiple ways both in my professional and personal life. It sort of just “woke me up” and got some creative juices flowing (that really had nothing to do with music).

And in a broader sense, I started to realize the value of things outside of travel that I should not be ignoring. Instead of defaulting to “when’s the next trip?” the thinking now is more along the lines of “what’s the next experience?”

Often it admittedly does involve taking a trip but I’m for sure more open to opportunities that don’t require me to pack a suitcase.

So perhaps a better quote would be:

“Travel is one of the most enriching experiences money can buy.”

Sure, it doesn’t have the same ring to it and you’re not going to see it on posters, but it’s a better reminder that there are other incredibly enriching experiences that you can buy beyond just travel.

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