The Good Life on a Budget
When I took early retirement I knew that it would be necessary to keep an eye on expenses and spend more thoughtfully. One of the “sacrifices” that we have to make now is, when we are away from home we have to be more selective about where we stay. That means doing more research, maybe staying in a less “trendy” property and sometimes having to climb a few flights of stairs.
More often than not, if we have done our research carefully, we find that these smaller places are hidden gems and have just as much charm and ambiance as larger properties albeit without Grand Pianos, airplane hangar sized lobbies or glass elevators. These places are generally cozier, decorated with local crafts and often reflect the personality of the owners; not some generic focus group.
Also, the guests are different; or at least they act differently depending on where they stay. In the larger, more “prestigious” places we find it harder to meet people. It seems that when people spend a lot of money for a room the larger and more impenetrable the bubble surrounding them seems to be. When we do manage to break through the barriers conversation tends to be a checklist of the same places we have visited, where we stayed and how we make our living.
At the smaller, less expensive places people tend to focus more on the journey, are usually less guarded with their opinions and more open to expanding their horizons; not only maintaining what they have. People in the less upscale places are more apt to ask questions because they want to learn something; not because they want to impress. Very often people in budget places can afford a few days in an expensive place but opt for less daily expense and more time out traveling. To me being out there is what it is about.
There are of course exceptions and I am happy to say that I know some of them. I also made a lot of generalizations, perpetuated stereotypes and even open myself up to charges of hypocrisy. Admittedly, sometimes it is fun to stay in a huge palace with polished marble floors, a starched and pressed staff and chandeliers bigger than a DC3. If it is that that matters to you who am I to say there is anything wrong with it? Goodness knows I have done it myself. But, when it comes down to seeking what I see as the best of travel; meeting new people and having new adventures – high quality, down scale and intimate are where it is at; for me.