Reply Rich vs. Poor Mongers
I have to disagree with the way rich vs. poor people (or new vs. old) spend their money on a Thailand trip. I am fairly well off and could afford the “first class” trip to Thailand, however whenever traveling, no matter which country, I would look like a streetwalker.
I choose to eat at local food establishments, not fancy restaurants. Why go to a country to experience their food unless you plan on eating what 99% of the population eats?
If I can choose between a rundown hotel, or a nicer one, I choose the nice one. That said, I don’t stay at a hotel where the cost of a night is more than most people make in a month. I treat the hotel as a place to sleep or a quick relax. I’m not living there. Sometimes I even stay in a hostel with 4 other people in the room. Makes for an adventurous trip.
From the airport I usually take a cab or shuttle bus when available. The only time I’ve been in a limo was for prom and some weddings.
I’m a beer drinker. However if I do have wine it is usually the house wine, and not some expensive bottle.
What you are describing is someone's “class,” not “wealth.” As the saying goes, “money does not buy class” and how we choose to spend our money is not relative to how much we have.
One might think that a person who has money, and does not spend it on a fancy vacation must be a cheapskate. Personally, I find that not spending the money on lavish things and being in the heart of it far more enjoyable. You are right that life is short and we should enjoy it.
Maybe the point of your story is that we should spend our vacation money on things that we enjoy the most. For some, flying is the worst experience, and therefore going first class is the best value for their money. Others like to spend a lot of time in their hotel (why people travel across the globe to spend time in a hotel room is beyond me), and that is their priority. Personally, I’m a beer drinker, and love nothing more than to spend all day on some patio bar drinking my heart out while watching the world walk by. I could probably do a cheap flight and hotel, and still outspend a first class travel just on my beer and food spending alone.
In Thailand (or any country for that matter), there is no need to travel first class to have a wonderful experience. Whether they are new vs. old travelers makes a difference either. On my first major cultural experience (where I wasn’t 14, traveling with my parents), I went to Cuba. Within the first night I had left the hotel and woke up on some local’s floor spending the night partying in the town. Even though I would be considered a new traveler in life, I knew that the experience of a country is not seen poolside.
I do not believe that either wealth or travel experience equates necessarily to a person’s spending habits when on vacation. It just boils down to personality. Some people want to flash their money around in a country where their limited budget allows that. They get some kind of personal satisfaction at showing off they are better then the rest of the people. Some people I personally think are really vain in their travels. They go on the guided bus tours where the driver just points out the sights as they drive by, stick around the hotel, and eat at westernized establishments. They then take their photos home to show everyone how they experienced a foreign country, all without leaving an air-conditioned environment. Others, on the other hand, believe that to experience a country you need to be as drunk and rowdy as possible, and the success of the trip is determined by how much you’ve forgotten or how many hours of the trip you spent hung over (FYI just because I spend all day drinking beer at the patio bar, does not classify me under the drunk and rowdy class).
In the end, the way people spend their money is not based on travel experience, but life experience and life expatiation. An no matter how much travel you’ve done, that will never change, only our priorities in life as we get older.
Never ever spend more than you earn. Spend your money on things that make you happy. Throwing money around willy nilly doesn't make you the big guy. That's just a few of my personal rules when it comes to spending money.