Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Insider

Man, I love to travel. OK, let me qualify that statement. I love to travel when it's to a vacation destination. Few things get me as fired up as planning a trip somewhere. It's really a sickness - as my wife can (and will) attest. I spend hours and hours scouring the web and magazines for any insight I can find about the places we'll be visiting (or would consider visiting). And, by the time one vacation is over, I'm already planning the next one.

In addition to that, I am frugal (read: CHEAP). I do not want to spend a cent more than I need to. I am a hound for a good deal, cheap ticket, low rate, inexpensive meal. I think what I really enjoy about the whole thing is the challenge of putting together the "perfect" vacation for our budget.

But, despite all the travel web sites and magazines I may read, I have found that the BEST way to land the perfect vacation (or experience, meal, hotel, etc.) is to speak with people who have something I don't have: experience and local knowledge. You see, when I read, I gain knowledge. When I seek out the experiences of others, I gain insight and wisdom - two vital components to a great vacation that I cannot attain from a photo, a rate sheet, or a brochure.

Now, some magazines include features that are intended to provide insights to travelers who may be visiting a place for the first time. I recently began reading Frommer's Budget Travel magazine, and fell in love with it. Not because the photos are breathtaking, or because the magazine is only $1.00 per issue, but because I feel like I have "inside information" when I read it.

For example, each issue contains 20 Travel Tips from "regular Joe's" like me who happened to gain insights on past trips they've taken. They also include articles called "The Best Places You've Never Heard Of" and the "Top 10 Cool Small Towns in the U.S." These are just little tidbits of information from people who have had EXPERIENCES.
Experience that I do not yet have.

I also use the message board on Clark Howard's web site to get feedback from others who often times know things I could never have found out in years of research on the World Wide Web. Orbitz, Hotwire, and Travelocity are great - but they aren't interactive. They are not communities of people sharing ideas and advice.

Where am I going with all this? Well, I guess at the end of the day what applies to vacations applies to everyday life. Experience far outweighs knowledge in most cases (not all).

1 Corinthians 8:1 says this: "We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." (NIV)

One of the ways we can love others is by sharing our unique life experiences with them. Whether it's that secret hideaway in the Caribbean, or the way you handled a tough decision at home or at work, sharing experiences - and asking others about their experiences - is a great way to gain wisdom, and also to build relationships!

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