Reckoning Your Budget & Your Wishlist

How many times has this scenario played out for you:

  1. You decide to take a vacation to, let’s say, the beach. You know you want to go in the summer, that you want to stay somewhere nice with good family accommodations, and that you have a certain level of comfort tied to how modern and clean a resort looks.
  2. You Google “beach vacations with kids.”
  3. After extensive scrolling, you start to see a few Caribbean resorts pop up, so you click on them. They are wayyyyyy too kid-friendly. You don’t need Spongebob to make an appearance on your trip.
  4. You decide to go onto an online booking engine (even though you know this means you will lose the next seven hours of your life weeding through reviews and doing price comparisons). You randomly select an exotic-sounding destination and put in your dates. You know your spouse won’t spend a dime over $7,000, so you start with the $6,500 trips and work your way up to 7k. Nada.
  5. You feel so confident that, since you couldn’t find what you were looking for on that one island at that one price point, a beach trip must be out of your budget. Sadly, you close the computer and pour a glass of wine. Maybe next year.

As a vacation planner, I see this all the time. In fact, many clients end up calling me because they can’t handle weeding through all the options, only to find out that their budget won’t buy them what they’re looking for. They are shocked when I am able to present multiple options that more than adequately meet their vacation wishlist–many times under budget.

You may think my solution is to begin with your budget, but I rarely advocate this. I believe in value-minded luxury–the concept that luxury is about what you get, not what you pay. You’ve got to shift your mindset when it comes to the role of your budget!

Your budget is not the speed limit (I’ll go as high as I can)…it is the gas tank (I don’t have to use it all up, but I need enough to get where I’m going).

You gotta be realistic. What can’t you live without? What will enhance your journey? How much gas will it take to get there? Just like you wouldn’t dare get on 635 during rush hour with an empty tank, you can’t expect travel to bend to your budget. And you wouldn’t just sit there and pout!! You’d put enough gas in your tank to get home.

Here is your mindset lesson for today:

WRONG: Looking at your budget and saying, “How much can I get for this?”

RIGHT: Looking at your wishlist and saying, “What is the best price I can get this for?”

THEN: Go put that much gas in your tank!

It really is that easy, friend. You don’t go to work or to run errands based on how much gas is in your tank, so don’t travel based on the size of your wishlist. I guarantee you that, just like every single other important purchase you make, if you begin with your wishlist, your budget will rise up to greet it.


Ciao Chow,