The Deal Mommy

Lessons Learned from Remodeling Week 6: Mid-Century Modern Travel Hacking

Welcome to my Lessons learned from remodeling journal. I thought it would be fun and instructive to share our remodeling journey week by week. I hope you can learn from what we do right- and more importantly from what we mess up.

This week I want to take a slightly different direction and apply lessons I’ve learned from remodeling to travel hacking. Many travel hacking skills are actually life skills and it’s fun to see how they work in other settings. 

Lessons learned from remodeling: Mid-Century Modern travel hacking

 In 1995 pine and birch furniture was all the rage and everything darker than flaxseed ended up at the dump. Because Deal Dad and I were poor newlyweds we couldn’t afford new “fancy” bleached out wood furniture. Our choices were limited to either new plywood furniture or hitting up the garage sales. We didn’t know much about life but did know this:

Quality fixer-upper is better than shiny and new mediocre. 

Fortunately we just happened to like the look of teak at the exact time no one else did. We furnished almost our entire house in 50s and 60s castoffs from estate sales and flea markets. Sure the pieces needed work- drawer handles replaced, a good polish- but the bones were all solid.  I’m sure we didn’t pay more than $150 for any of it, including our adorable Danish nesting chair dining room set. Our two large fruitwood bedroom dressers, one with a matching mirror? $40 each. 

Bewitched or West Elm? Only the cat knows for sure. 

What was thrift store in 1995 is now Mid-Century Modern

Over twenty years later we love our furniture but now the entire world does too. Mid-Century Modern replica furniture features heavily at Pottery Barn and many other mid to high end furniture retailers. Entire pages of the West Elm catalog look like the living room from Bewitched.   Authentic pieces? I recently saw our $150 dining room for $1500 at One King’s Lane. 

Twenty years from now our furniture will still be solid. Will it be in vogue? Who knows? Maybe pine will come back. Bottom line is that we won’t care because we’ve certainly gotten good value. Good value and a personalized home that won’t be a carbon copy of everyone else’s. 

The plywood furniture bought in 1995? It’s probably been ground into sawdust by now. 

What does this have to do with travel hacking?

Quite a bit, actually. Let’s review: 

Quality fixer-upper is better than shiny and new mediocre. 

I see so many travel hackers focusing their travels around shiny and new mediocre: places where only chain hotels are located. I’m putting my citizenship in the miles and points blogger nation at risk but here’s the deal: some of my most memorable hotel stays have been in independent properties or apartment rentals.  

Of course I’m not saying every chain hotel is plywood, but even Park Hyatt diamond breakfasts lose their patina when you realize what you’re giving up to use their benefits: the ability to travel to 2/3 of the planet. If your budget will only get you a mediocre chain property, maybe it’s time to look at a fixer-upper. 

Non chain hotels take more time to locate. Convertible points to redeem for non-chain hotels may be harder to collect. However, the time you spend up front will pay off with a more memorable trip in the end. 

What was thrift store in 1995 is now Mid-Century Modern

Cuba may be the Mid-Century Modern of 2017 travel. However, Cuba may also be the pine furniture of 2017 travel. Of course your trip won’t go out of style the way stenciling ivy on your kitchen walls did, but Cuba may be trendy for the mere reason that it’s trendy. We won’t know until the boil goes down to a simmer. 

I know what I’m talking about.  I visited in 2000 when Havana was firmly in the thrift store column. Many of the trip reports I see carry a whiff of the poverty is a gift to tourism vibe.  I’m not telling you this as a brag, I’m sharing more as a warning that you’re firmly in the middle of the trend. Your trip will be affected accordingly. More importantly I ask you to examine if you’re suffering from FOMO

Other destinations are always in the trendy column: LondonParisRomeNewYorkHawaiiDisney. I lump them together because I tend to hear them together. I’ve been to all six and enjoyed five of them.  However, only two- New York and Disney- are in my opinion so unique in their category that no other place I’ve visited ranks above it. And in the Disney category Tokyo ranks above Orlando so maybe only New York is IMHO truly unique. 

I’m not saying I don’t like London, Paris or Hawaii (you know how I feel about Rome). It’s just that if I were to choose a British Isles city, I’d probably pick Belfast. France? Marseille. Beautiful Island chain? The Canaries.  Italy? Pretty much any second city

In other words- I look for good bones that may be a bit rough around the edges. Rough around the edges doesn’t necessarily mean challenging or dangerous- for instance the Canaries are basically Europe’s Florida. I mean just a bit more challenging to book and visit than the average American is willing to do. 

Will the destination ever be in vogue? Who knows? Bottom line is that we won’t care because we will have certainly gotten good value. Good value and a personalized trip that won’t be a carbon copy of everyone else’s. 

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network. 

Lessons learned from remodeling: Mid Century Modern Travel Hacking

Lessons learned from remodeling: Mid Century Modern Travel Hacking

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