Virtuoso traveler Ray Elkin collaborates with advisor Margaret Stein on his travels. The seeds of working with an advisor were sown years ago, in the early part of Elkin's marriage.
"For the first three and a half years of our marriage, we lived in England where I was working for my Uncle (Sam) in the U.S. Air Force. We lived in a small town and all of our neighbors and most of our friends were British nationals," says Ray. "We recognized from the very outset that rather than talking about how differently things were done in the U.S., we wanted to immerse ourselves as much as possible in the local culture. We loved England and the friendships we made there, and many of the people we met there are still close friends to this day. As a result of that experience, we have long had a fascination with other cultures and particularly with the beauty so many countries have to offer."
As it does for many Virtuoso travelers, the sheer idea of life
got in the way of luxurious trips earlier on.
"Most of our travel in our younger years together was limited by so many competing priorities for the relatively limited discretionary income we had at our disposal," says Ray. "When we had kids at home – their schedules, activities and the high cost of kids generally – kept our travel horizons much more time and cost focused than we experience today."
This is a key point, also emphasized by Virtuoso traveler Nancy Sage:
at a certain level, all travel is about navigating to your price point
. Some would-be travelers fear that everything Virtuoso will be at a higher level (because of the quality of hotels and cruise/tour products), but that isn't always the case. It's also important to remember that there's a distinction between value
(what you get
from an experience) and price
(what you pay
for an experience). Those numbers are often different. For Ray, their child-rearing years underscored that.
"When we were younger, we simply couldn't justify the cost of a more luxurious hotel, despite the fact that we always had an appreciation for luxury hotels," says Ray. "Although budget hotels are no longer acceptable to us, we have not gone to the other extreme either. I still have difficulty paying exorbitant prices for upscale hotels. We work with our advisor to find the best situations based on where we're traveling."
Another later development in their travel story: an appreciation of cruising.
"We didn't go on our first cruise until our 30th wedding anniversary, primarily because we were concerned about the cost and secondarily, because we thought it might be boring to be trapped on a ship for so long," says Ray. "However, once we went on that first cruise, we were hooked and we've been going on cruises almost annually for the past few years."
Ray's overall attitude on price points and travel is similar to many Virtuoso travelers, especially newly-retired ones.
"While I was still working, we had a big house, but when we retired, we concluded that we didn't want to live our the rest of our lives to impress others, but that we would prefer to enjoy the things we've always loved doing together," says Ray. "We don't need a large house or a new car for that to happen, so though we live in a nice house and drive nice cars, we have chosen categories of house and cars that allow us to spend more of the money that we've saved over the years doing what we love doing most. So, we travel."
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