3 Trips I Took this Year Instead of Buying the New iPhone X

Storyteller

Matt Van Swol

Re-thinking what you value...

I admit, I’m a tech geek. I’m one of those guys who has camped in front of an Apple store on release day and in front of a Best Buy on Black Friday. I’m an unapologetic nerd, but this year I decided to live life a little differently. This year, I decided that instead of buying a new piece of tech, I was going to spend that money on travel, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If you don’t know already, the new iPhone X is priced at $999, before tax, meaning that it will cost well over the $1000 mark by the time it’s all said and done. To me, that’s outrageous money for a phone, but many people are going to buy this phone and that’s ok, I understand it, but that’s not what I decided to do. I decided to spend my money differently and booked 3 trips to bucket list places I had always wanted to go to, all for under the price of the new iPhone.

1. Banff and Jasper National Parks, AB ($400)  


I booked the entire trip on my old iPhone 6 while riding to a family reunion in West Virginia. I scored a sweet deal on the airfare at $217 roundtrip from Atlanta to Calgary and then booked the car for $17/day for 5 days. I decided to camp at the gorgeous (and pretty luxurious) campsites around the areas I’d be visiting for $15/night (hot showers included!). All in all, the trip cost me less than $400. I got to visit all the gorgeous glacier lakes: Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Maligne Lake, amongst so many others. I got to hike Johnston Canyon, Maligne Canyon, Sunwapta Falls, and tons more. I was able to watch every single sunset over a gorgeous lake-side view. I canoed in Lake Louise. I shot photos I only dreamt of seeing. I discovered that places I once saw on Instagram and thought they were photoshopped, were actually more beautiful than I could’ve ever imagined.  I would have traded in the new iPhone X just for that one trip, but why stop there? 

2. Oregon and Washington Coast and the Columbia River Gorge ($400) 


My favorite airline, Frontier Airlines, hosted a 90% off flight from Atlanta to Portland, so the entire airfare cost me less than $200. I got the rental car again for another 5 days for $12/day and decided to spend 20,000 Choice Hotel Points for 2 nights in Seaside OR and then $40/night at a cheap roadside inn along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. Again, the trip cost me less than $400. I watched a sunset along Cannon Beach and shot photos of the seagulls diving along the rocks. I woke up early enough to watch the morning fog roll in from the ocean and cover the cliffs in dew. I hiked to 7 waterfalls, froze my ass off climbing Dog Mountain without a jacket, kayaked on the Columbia River, shot more photos than I could ever edit, and ate at some of the best local dive spots on the gorge. I would’ve traded in a new iPhone X just for that trip…but why stop there? (Check out some of my favorites from the trip here.)

3. Asheville’s Blue Ridge Mountains ($300) 


So that brings me to next week, where I’m headed out to hike and camp along the Blue Ridge Mountains inside Jackson County in North Carolina. I’m driving there, so the round trip cost of gas is under $50 and I don’t have to pay for a rental car, so I’m splurging on a hotel for two nights along the river with a room facing the water for $120/night which includes a train package ride through the Smokies! I’m spending the next three days camping and hiking along the Blue Ridge Mountains, watching the sunrise from my tent, waking up to the crisp autumn air in my sleeping bag, and cranking up the JetBoil to a hot pot of coffee. 

So I guess my point here isn’t that you should not buy the new iPhone, but that maybe you might want to reprioritize what you think is really important to you, as an individual. I found that for myself, the cost of the new iPhone wasn’t worth the memories I wouldn’t make, the places I wouldn’t go, and things I wouldn’t get to see. This isn’t a guilt trip article for those of you going to buy the new iPhone in November, I mean that. If you find as much fun and enjoyment in owning a new iPhone as I have from traveling, then who am I to say otherwise?! But I’ve found that many of us go out and buy a new iPhone not because we need one, and not even because it brings us that much enjoyment…but just because it’s new. For all of you, like me, who have done that for years, I hope this article sparks some serious thought about what really matters in life to you. In the words of Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did."

Published: October 9, 2017

Matt Van SwolStoryteller

Matt Van Swol is a self-taught landscape photographer, writer, and nuclear scientist for the US Department of Energy. After personally struggling with depression for many years, he is passionate about showing others t...

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