by Judith Fein

Last night, I was sitting in an auditorium, waiting for the audience to file in, and an open-hearted woman I know sat down next to me. We exchanged a little chit chat, and then she asked me where I had been lately. I told her we had started out in Tunisia, headed for central and northwestern Spain and capped our travels in northern and then southern Ireland.

“You can’t take it with you,” she said, half to herself and half to me.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, last year I couldn’t imagine how I could spend what was left of my money on travel. Now I’ve had a change of heart. When you’re gone, the money is of no value to you, so you may as well spend it on things you love.”

“And?” I prompted her.

“And I love travel. So I’m willing to spend my money on it.”

To the best of my knowledge, the Recession, which looks like a lot like a pre-Depression to me, isn’t over. People are losing their jobs the way folks used to lose cell phones or keys. Empty houses are growing old and weary as they get battered by the market. I haven’t been in a crowded store since autumn leaves were falling. Expensive restaurants are offering prix fixe menus that barely cover the cost of the wait and kitchen staffs. And with all of this, folks I know are taking down their suitcases from their shelves and are ready to travel again.

“Is this a good thing?” you ask.

“Of course it is,” is the reply. But let’s talk about HOW you travel and what’s important to you. Look quickly at the list below. Can you place these in order of importance to you:

  • luxury and service
  • unique, personal experiences
  • finding out about other cultures
  • shopping
  • great eats
  • meeting people

What order did you put these in? Surprise! It doesn’t matter because all of them a doable now—in fact, much more so than before the financial free-fall.

Luxury hotels and restaurants are slashing their rates. Tour operators have understood that you don’t want to be herded like beasts with four legs and horns and they are providing more customized itineraries. More and more cultural experiences are available to adventurous tourists, and the best ones are initiated by local and native people. So you get to meet your fellow humans in an intimate setting, and you learn about the world they come from. Great eats are available everywhere, and options range from street food to the finest culinary concoctions. Airfare is so cheap to many destinations that it will hardly make a dent in your bank account.

It’s true: you can’t take it with you. Take a look at your bottom line and see if there isn’t wiggle room for travel. By boat, car, train, plane, foot, bike, camel, bus, horse….do it now. Go to the next town, an adjacent country, an island, a continent that is half a world away.

Why now? Shhh. Listen. In the distance, I can hear the rumble of prices preparing to rise.

Judith Fein is an award-winning travel journalist who has contributed to more than 80 publications. Together with her husband, photographer Paul Ross, she also gives travel talks, teaches travel writing and sometimes takes people on exotic adventures. Her website is

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