THE VALUE OF LUXURY
At its heart, luxury isn’t five star resorts, Michelin- starred dining and helicopter transfers. While these might be its physical manifestations, luxury is really access the chance to travel authentically to experience life beyond the package-tour pool.
Think of the world’s most extraordinary trips: cruising to Antarctica, going on safari in Africa or discovering the Galapagos as Keith Bellows did. Most of these don’t exactly have budget options, and if they do, they aren’t suitable for kids. The luxury is being able to go there in the first place and, once there, being able to join a Maasai tribe at a traditional ceremony or walk alongside an elephant in Thailand.
For Sven Lindblad, the travel pioneer at the helm of Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic, travelling to remote parts of the world such as the Galapagos, Baja California and Alaska with his four kids was a luxury he aims to replicate on board his ships.
“When kids travel aboard our expedition ships, rather than being spoiled by luxury, they experience real privilege – getting to be in these remarkable places at all is a privilege,” he says. “Kids are treated like equals in the onboard expedition community, spending their time with like minded others, who are drawn to travel to know more and, therefore, to protect more of the world’s wild places.”
It’s more than just the immediate effects of seeing the world, however, that Sven values. “I think exposing children to the wonders of the world is incredibly meaningful and lasting. Largely because it’s not about instructing them; it’s about introducing them to joy – the joy of simply seeing animals, and seeing how and where they really live.”
Without knowing these benefits, luxury could be seen as indulgence. Ms Lakani recalls a teenager who refused to stay in luxury hotels on a trip to India, seeing it as inauthentic. Upon arrival, he quickly discovered that what he wanted to see and do simply wasn’t possible within the mechanism of mass tourism. A few calls to Heidi and his perception of luxury was transformed. The contacts forged within the world of five star travel don’t exist elsewhere; if you want a music lesson with a sitar-playing master, it isn’t available on Viator. You need to know the right people.
That is the real luxury: doing the things you never thought possible. Through these experiences, you create family bonds, a unique perspective on the world and the start of a lifelong curiosity and passion for learning. Ultimately, isn’t that what we all want for our children?
“The sooner children cross borders, the sooner they will realise they don’t really exist.”