5 star hotel room

What is a taste in luxury travel actually saying?

Why is it so many people aspire to fly in First Class, sleep in Five Star hotels (or even Seven Star hotels) and eat in Michelin Three Star restaurants? Don’t they know that it is very poor value for money? That you can sleep just as well in a £29 per night room as a £2900 per night room? That the carbon footprint of a seat in First Class is at least double that of one in Standard?
5 star hotel room

I don’t know whether anyone has researched the psychology of luxury travel, but studies undertaken for luxury brands, found that someone buying a handbag for $50,000 is saying ” I have so much money that I can afford to waste it”.  The message being “I am a winner” and if you mate with me, our offspring will have a great chance of promulgating our genes also. Or to sum it up in one word “Sex”.

It goes deep into the contemporary psyche. Role models are chosen for their looks and the brands and fashion ideals they endorse. Their values or contribution to making the world a better place seem to count for little.  School children not sporting the right logos, must either conform or be bullied. This is worse than the secret police in a Cold War Era Eastern European country, making life a misery for anyone not toeing the party line. Combine this with incessant  advertising from TV, film, computer games and even by stealth through their social media accounts and our youth don’t stand a chance. It is no wonder that many believe that being someone is a matter of having the right logos on their clothes, cars, hotel chain or airline.

But is travel like a Hermes handbag? Do extravagant purchases define us as someone successful? Is a tan in the middle of winter a status symbol to wear with pride? Does taking regular flights make you a member of the “Jet Set”?

In Europe since the 1950’s the cost of flying, encouraged by lenient taxation, nose-dived.   Spain was suddenly affordable and millions flocked there returning with a tan, donkeys wearing sombreros and other ornaments proudly displayed in the home to demonstrate that here is a person “well-travelled”. But then the Jones’ had to go on that trip to Florida and Disneyland! To keep up with them, a trip to the Maldives was a “must do”  for the following year, even if it meant getting into debt.  Does this explain why cruises to the Antarctic are now in vogue?

I’ve raised a lot of questions in this post. I don’t have answers to most of them. However, in a world of limited resources and Climate Change, it matters not only how much we travel, but how we travel. If a backpacker hiking for a year has a smaller ecological footprint  than someone flying 2,000 miles to stay at a Seven Star Hotel for a week, surely these questions are important?

If it really all does boil down to sex, why are our planetary life support systems getting screwed instead?

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

4 thoughts on “What is a taste in luxury travel actually saying?”

  1. That stuff is really expensive and I think people having a great wealth can only afford this luxurious brand. But I’m looking for an Hermes bag which I will invest money because of its brand and quality.
    Jane recently posted..LoveNuts Love BlogMy Profile

  2. Jane, I think most of us are looking for quality when we make a purchase. Buying poor quality goods is an expensive option that is also bad for the environment. When it comes to brands though, that is an entirely different matter. If you are paying more than you would otherwise just because it is badged by a major brand, then you are making a statement.

  3. The vast majority of those with unlimited wealth will always spend far beyond what the general populace can ever imagine, whether it be on a Hermes handbag (incidentally never even heard of the Hermes brand) or a luxury stay in a boutique hotel in Bora Bora. Most of them do not care too much about global warming ro any other problems the planet or the rest of us face everyday because they just do not believe it effects them or will ever be able to effect them.

    Their wealth cushions them from what most of us witness and experience on a daily basis. Whilst they may not be totally oblivios to it as long as they feel they are ‘above’ it they will do little about it apart from the occasional donation to the appropriate charity dinner organised by their friends.

    This maybe a little cynical but the fact is there will always be some that have more money than they need and will travel anywhere or purchase anything regardless of the cost. They do not actually have any real perception or understanding of the concept of budget.
    Iain Mallory recently posted..Hot Air Ballooning – Daydreaming in CataloniaMy Profile

  4. Iain, there are people who have no need to ask the price of anything. Do they really believe that Climate Change will not affect them, when most are very well educated? Do they think like the ancient Egyptians that they can take their wealth with them to the next world?
    Then why do so many with average incomes, dream of taking a luxury vacation?
    There are more questions than answers. No doubt I’ll return to the psychology of travel in future posts.

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