I may regret a stock market spin or splurging on a dress without a waist, but I have never regretted an investment in travel.
Every trip I make pays dividends in friendships and photos, in laughter and dreams. I have gained knowledge, perspective and weight. I have lost luggage and horizons. I have not always cared.
In travel, the markets are up early, and I know my dollars have helped. I am bullish on the basket market in Rabat and the cheese market in Beaune.
I was bearish enough in Norway one summer to invest 50 kroner to join the Royal & Ancient Polar Bear Society whose club room is in Hammerfest, far north of the Arctic Circle.
For my investment I received a post card, a certificate of membership, a polar bear lapel pin and an invitation to attend the group's annual meeting on the third Sunday in January at 6 p.m. It will be a dark day in Hammerfest when I do.
I am, by nature, a small spender. I hate to lose much.
Tally of Lost Items
I lost a wooden-handled Swiss umbrella in the Seattle airport--well, I left it behind on a plane. I lost an English guidebook to the Paris Opera House (cost: 10 francs)--well, I left it behind in an airplane seat pocket after reading part of it over Greenland on my way home. In Paris last May I dashed into the Opera House foyer to spring for another. They were out of the English edition, but offered me a deal on the German. I decided to wait.
I have invested in the restoration of the old stone church in Murbach, in the gentle hills of Alsace, by dropping some coins into a wooden box by the door. I have diversified by supporting congregations from Sitka to Kauai, in return for a song.
I have invested in New Zealand by renting a post box at Milford Sound on the rugged west coast of the South Island. Why? Because the place is beautiful. Because the sound is silent. Because it was June. Because I was there.
I've never claimed my investments were not emotional.
I have invested in heavy souvenirs, from a Balinese gender to an English stick barometer. I toted the latter home to Southern California where the mercury rarely moves, but the rosewood case rises on my living room wall.
I have invested in Oscar de la Renta toilet water each time I have passed through a duty-free shop.
I invested $7.31 ($6.95 plus tax) on "Cheap Eats in Paris," a 1986-87 guide to 100 inexpensive restaurants and bistros, a paperback that's available by mail from Cobble & Mickle Books, Box 3521, San Diego 92103.
I figure I recouped that investment with one scrumptious meal at Le Pichet, a farm-fresh restaurant with rustic decor and splendid seafood just steps from the Champs-Elysees.