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Experiences Over Objects + Tips for Traveling as a Family
Hello! This Sunday newsletter explores startups, short-term rentals, or whatever random thing has entered my mind this last week. I pick one topic weekly to go deep on and have some disparate quick hits at the end.
Happy new year! I nearly rushed out this post last Sunday night but ultimately decided to take the week off for Christmas break. I’m glad I didn’t force it.
Experiences Over Objects
I don’t know where Kate and I first heard about valuing experiences over objects, but it has stuck with us ever since. We aren’t always consistent with it, but we would rather spend our money on experiences instead of buying more things. And we try to instill in our kids that, as a family, this is our value.
Recently, I discovered that scientific research suggests that “spending on experiences versus possessions advances more immediate happiness.” Specifically:
The researchers concluded that people are happier with experiential purchases over material ones irrespective of when you measure happiness: before, during or after consumption. Experiences also provoke more satisfaction even though people typically spend more time using their material possessions. The researchers said a possible explanation is the endurance of experiences in people's memories, while the perceived value of material goods weakens over time.
"If you want to be happier, it might be wise to shift some of your consumption away from material goods and a bit more toward experiences," Kumar said. "That would likely lead to greater well-being."
Some of the experience-related things that we splurge on include:
Going out to eat.
Taking vacations as a family.
Going to events (concerts, comedy, or theater).
Traveling with Your Spouse
Usually, when traveling for business, I feel like I’m winning if I’m the last to board the plane. On my previous business trip, I arrived at the MSP airport about 53 minutes before my flight was set to take off. Thanks to my Clear membership and TSA Precheck status, I was through security in 5 minutes. Before I proceeded to my gate, I had plenty of time to stop by the Delta Sky Cub to get a latte and a snack.
When Kate and I celebrated our 10th anniversary, we boarded the plane to Hawaii separately. She wanted to board early, and I wanted no part of spending more time than needed on the plane. The gate attendant asked her if she was going to Honolulu for any special reason. She said she was celebrating her anniversary. They both had a laugh that I was nowhere in sight.
This April, I’ll celebrate 20 years of marriage. 10 years older and wiser, I now try to get to the airport at a time that doesn’t cause Kate anxiety. And I try not to make snarky comments I was previously accustomed to. It’s taken me a long while. I’m not perfect here, but I’m trying.
My friend John Sheehan said it best: “Throw out every preference you have for efficient solo travel.”
Traveling with Kids
Here are some general travel tips I’ve shared with new parents over the last few years:
Travel as a family often and starting young. Kids become natural travelers, and it gets easy as they get older.
At some airports, sending one spouse to get or drop off the rental car can save a lot of hassle. You won’t have to drag luggage and kids around further than necessary.
It kills me a little bit inside every time I pay to park at the airport (vs other options). It’s often necessary to avoid hassle with car seats.
If you try Benadryl to help your kid sleep, try it before you fly. Apparently, it amps a small number of kids up.
Screen time and lots of snacks in flight are a lifesaver.
If one spouse has TSA Precheck, benefits apply to the whole family. Totally worth it.
Most people empathize with parents with crying kids, even if it’s not apparent. Ignore the rest.
It’s almost always worth it to gate-check strollers, etc.
MSP is supportive of taking rent-a-carts through the security checkpoint. Other airports like MCO are not.
If you’re buying an extra plane seat for a kid that also needs a car seat, have one parent board well ahead of the other to install the car seat. That alone is more stressful than you’d think and having it ready by the time the kid and parent #2 show up is helpful.
The most difficult age range for air travel for us was ~15-24 months. It gets better!
Our kids are now very seasoned, expert travelers. I often get concerned that they take the privileges afforded them for granted. I’ll save that topic for some other day.
Traveling with Extended Family
My parents have graciously paid for several vacations for my sisters, me, and our families. We just completed our largest travel group – 14 of us spent a little over a week in Puerto Rico.
I’m sure I’m biased by the fact that I love Puerto Rico and that we were staying in my home away from home, but this was my favorite trip we’ve all taken so far.
Nevertheless, I failed to learn the lesson that worked well on our last extended family trip, so I’m documenting it here for posterity’s sake. I believe the larger your group, the more events and meals you should have planned out, documented, and more or less agreed upon in advance.
When I’m traveling by myself or with Kate, I prefer to not have a plan at all. There’s more fun in discovering things along the way. Having the flexibility to switch gears if something catches my eye is perfect for this wanderer.
On our extended family trip a few years ago, I planned out every restaurant we would visit by the day. It felt overzealous at the time, but it avoided a lot of indecisiveness and time wasted making decisions each day, and it worked relatively well. It also allowed for the ability to accommodate food allergies, etc., which get more common in larger groups.
I didn’t do that this time, leading to a somewhat stressful first 24 hours while we sorted things out. Fortunately, that stress passed quickly.
I won’t make this same mistake next time.
Experiences Over Objects Revisited
In my recent Plus, Minus, Next exercise, one of my Next’s was a simple “Get rid of crap!” If we happen to move to Minneapolis this next year, that’ll be a forcing function … we’re not bringing a bunch of stuff we no longer need with us. If the move doesn’t happen, I’ll find time to embrace the KonMari method regardless.
This Week’s Quick Hits
I’m pretty stoked about two hires I just made at Lone Wolf. I’m excited about what we’re looking to accomplish in 2023 and how my role should change in the coming year. I know it’s getting a little tougher interviewing out there right now. One bit of advice to jobseekers … don’t embellish your resume, especially on seemingly unimportant details. A recent job applicant’s resume mentioned that they were fluent in Spanish. I was curious where and when they were speaking Spanish all the time and asked mid-interview: “Con que frecuencia hablas español?” The deer in the headlights look shown by the interviewee over Zoom said everything. It was hard to re-establish trust for the remainder of the interview.
Minnesota’s governor has telegraphed that we will almost certainly legalize cannabis in 2023. I’m supportive of this insofar as I’m against sending people to prison for minor possession charges. I hope we avoid becoming Nevada, Arizona, or Illinois where it seems like 20% of all billboards are devoted to cannabis sales. As I thought about this, I remembered that on various trips to Colorado, I had never once seen a billboard promoting weed. It turns out there’s a reason. A Colorado law states, “A Retail Marijuana Business may Advertise in television, radio, a print publication or via the internet only where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be at least the age of 21.” This restriction seems reasonable as it draws from our learnings on advertising tobacco products as a state and a nation. I reached out to my state representatives in the House and Senate asking them to attach such an advertising restriction to anything that brings forward legalization. If you agree, please consider doing the same.
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