Monday, April 29, 2013

We're boring, but happy

The other day, I made the mistake of mentioning to a friend that CodeMonkey and I are not interested in vacationing or travel. Not now, and not in the foreseeable future. We're not morally opposed to it or anything, it's just unappealing. I work in tourism, so I obviously don't want other people to stop traveling; I just don't fancy doing it myself.

Given my industry, this is an unusual sentiment, and my friend was flabbergasted. The conversation ended with him joking that we must be "boring" people, since we don't vacation, don't have a TV and don't "do anything."

I was surprised, as I honestly can't remember the last time I felt bored, surely a prerequisite for being boring. I have a happy marriage, a good relationship with my family, close friends, fulfilling hobbies, and enough work to keep me busy. My life is rarely thrilling, but it is rich, very rich, in satisfying emotional bonds. Until I got out of college and started working in the travel industry, it never occurred to me vacationing was normal or common. In adulthood, I've continued the patterns I learned from my parents. When I was a kid, vacations happened rarely and were usually just renting a cabin in the middle of the woods. We spent most evenings at home, cooking, reading, talking and doing handiwork. It never occurred to me we were dull or lacking anything, and I was happy then and now.

I'm not an inveterate cheapskate, either. When spending on non-essentials, I try to look at how much happiness a dollar will buy me. My knitting group meets at an Italian restaurant, and I consider the money spent on meals there an excellent value for the happiness it buys me. On the other hand, I've cut back on buying lunches out, since I don't enjoy a carryout burrito enough to make it worth not packing in the morning. I have no TV, but I have an subscription. I follow Ramit Sethi's philosophy of conscious spending: spend extravagantly on things you love; cut ruthlessly everywhere else. I'd rather buy a super-expensive mattress than a vacation. I'd rather pay off my last student loan before going on vacation. I'd rather own an apartment than spend on a vacation. Those things make me happy; travel mostly makes me tired and cranky.

In light of what makes us happy and how we want to spend our money and time, vacationing is a poor use of resources. Does that really make us boring? Is this entire post protesting too much?


  1. Boring? I look at it as the opposite. Its great that you don't have to spend money on stuff like a vacation to be content and happy. People overlook this. Vacations are fun, but its how we live our lives the other 99% of the time that really counts. It really is the little stuff.

    I don't think the post is protesting at all. You make me think and learn a bit and I'm thankful for that!

    1. You're the first person to comment on this blog, so thanks!

      One of these days I'm going to snap and say something like, "I'm so sorry. It must be awful to need to spend thousands of dollars and fly across an ocean just to have fun." I mean, come on. We live in NYC, arguably the most exciting city in the world. There is so much to explore within a subway's ride, and I've barely scratched the surface.