It’s time for your well-earned vacation, and while you want to have fun, you need to make -- and stick with -- a budget. Right?
Well, not always. We asked Monster members to recount their best stories of when that big splurge was well worth the expense. Read on for vacation inspiration.
Great Accommodations in an Exotic Place
I splurged for a night at the Aman Resort in Bali, Indonesia. We had a private house and lap pool overlooking rice fields, in-room massage, baskets of exotic fruit and rose petals on the bed. There was no reason to leave for the outside world. Worth every last of many dollars spent.
I recently returned from a month-long holiday in Australia and New Zealand. Most of the accommodations were low- or mid-range lodging, but for our last night in New Zealand, we stayed at Kamahi Cottage. It is situated near the Waitomo Caves, New Zealand North Island, in an absolutely beautiful rural location with a spectacular hilltop view. The cottage is a two-level small house separate from the main house, exquisitely furnished and decorated, with all the extras one might possibly need: a selection of teas, coffee, New Zealand wines and homemade plum schnapps, CDs and DVDs to choose from, radiator and electric blanket heating, and a fluffy lambskin rug. The hosts are Liz and Evan Cowan. They will treat you like absolute royalty! Breakfast made to order is included in your nightly rate. You can either have it brought to the cottage or dine in the main house. Dinner is optional extra. We decided to have ours in the cottage: A fresh-caught trout and perfect steak, with fresh vegetables. Breakfast was also divine -- don’t miss the opportunity to see the main house with its wonderful antiques and art! Our only disappointment was that we had to go back to Canada the following day!
I allowed myself $5,000 to splurge on a vacation. That was quite a lot to me at the time, but I thought I could do it. I went to Caneel Bay on St. John's, US Virgin Islands. Somehow the room got screwed up by either the hotel or the travel agent, and I ended up in an even better place than I bargained for in the resort -- from a lovely hillside suite with a lovely view of the water and St. Thomas across it to a suite that opened right onto a beautiful private beach. I got up with the sun each day, made coffee and walked out my door down to water's edge -- took me a minute -- and watched the sunrise and the pelicans fish and listened to the sounds of morning. I was lucky enough to be there in February during the full moon, so I also spent time on this beach in the moonlight. Two meals a day, and I think tea also, were included, and they were incredible -- absolutely incredible. There were three restaurants in the resort to choose from. Ferry rides over to St. Thomas and boating through the Virgin Islands were beautiful and relaxing, rain or shine. I probably will never again get this opportunity, but it was absolutely wonderful and worth every penny.
Best Seats in the House
My girlfriend and I had reservations at the Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center, New York City. When we got there, we splurged to get the best seat in the house, right up against the glass the week of Christmas, with the Rockefeller tree and numerous ice skaters going by for hours. It was well worth it -- it made our trip to NYC great!
Upgrade Made the Trip Bearable
I am an avid vocational singer and perform with two chamber ensembles and my church choir. I was offered the opportunity to travel to Australia and sing with a combined choir of 250. We had the opportunity to perform in the Sydney Opera House. Once-in-a-lifetime experience, right? My only hesitation was coping with the almost 20 hours of flying time that it would take to get to Sydney. After all, I was spending more than $8,000 on this vacation, and I did not want to be so tired that I could not enjoy it.
So, after much angst, I indulged in upgrading my airfare from coach to business class. What a HUGE difference! I was able to sleep and move around whenever I needed to. The seat reclined into a mini recliner bed. And compared to my fellow travelers, I had so much more energy and was able to begin enjoying my vacation within hours of arrival -- instead of another day wasted!
Memories Worth the Money
My best friend and I spent a semester studying in Europe. We spent our spring break traveling through Italy and landed in Florence right between our birthdays (we were born about two weeks apart). We decided to celebrate with a fantastic meal and wandered through the city until we found a charming, elegant restaurant far from the tourist destinations.
Like all poor students studying abroad, we'd been living off of cheap pasta and sauce, big sacks of rice and the occasional care package from home. In Florence, in celebration of our 20th birthdays and of overcoming the many obstacles of living in another country, we justified every indulgence: bottles of Chianti, appetizers swimming in shaved truffles and delicate cheeses, traditional Florentine bistecca served on an enormous platter and sumptuous desserts.
For that night, we weren't underfunded, gawky American students completely out of our natural element. We felt like sophisticated, well-traveled women who could appreciate life's luxuries. Our bill was almost 200 euros. The meal -- and, more importantly, the experience -- was worth every centime.
We went to Hawaii last year, which is definitely expensive enough, but my husband and I forked out $600 for our three daughters to swim with the dolphins for about 20 minutes. Sometimes I think about it and laugh, not believing we spent that much money for 20 minutes, but I have the greatest pictures that will last forever.
Spending Time Alone
The experience I refer to was strictly self-indulgent but also a necessity of sorts. Under normal circumstances, I would never have allowed myself to consider it.
But first, a bit of background: Africa is an extremely social place. It is impossible to find any time alone. Unfortunately, as an introvert, I need this to reenergize. Of course, the Africans wouldn't hear of it. It got to the point that while on the small island of Pemba in Tanzania, I was driven to seek refuge on a yacht.
I could only afford one night, but it was divine. The staff understood my need completely and gave me peace and quiet. In fact, being in the middle of the Indian Ocean was what drew them to their jobs. I couldn't have asked for more. The food was fantastic, caught fresh from the side of the boat. The sky, under the full moon, was heavenly. And my newfound companions were kindred spirits. I felt like I was in a dream, because it was so far removed from my everyday life.
Like all dreams, it didn't last forever. It soon became time to wake up and reenter the real world, which is equally interesting and essentially a dream in itself.
It's true: We really do create our own reality. Therefore, dream it, live it!
Additional Articles in This Feature
• Your Well-Deserved Vacation home
• The Importance of Vacation
• Make the Most of Your Time Off
• Contractors Deserve Vacations, Too
• Pleasures and Perils of Paid Time Off Plans
• Get Back from Your Vacation with a Bang