I saw a great article in the Wall Street Journal today about priorities. The “Yoder & Son” column (a weekly feature about personal finances from the point of view of a father and son) talked about their Christmas vacation in Slovakia this year, and whether they should have held back from this kind of spending, given the economy.

It’s the kind of question I see clients asking themselves all the time right now, and I think Stephen and Isaac Yoder sum it up nicely when they talk about priorities — it may not be important to spend money on “things” right now (expensive cars, fashion, etc.) but it’s still very important to them to invest in experiences.

What lesson is Isaac learning from this profligacy? I hope it’s that the world is too fascinating a place to miss, and that the lessons lost by staying home are often too pricey. I hope he has learned that it’s possible to live beneath your means and yet make whopping exceptions like this trips — when those exceptions pay back in immeasurable ways.

I couldn’t agree more! Even in an economy like this, I’ll never second-guess money spent on building memories with my family.

Pool or Beach?

Are you a pool person, or a beach person?

It may seem trivial, but it’s actually a good question to ask yourself (or for your travel agent to ask you) when you’re planning a warm-weather vacation.

If your ideal vacation centers around an infinity pool and a swim-up bar,  you might want to focus on some of the newer adults-only resorts in Mexico, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and the Dominican Republic — many of which have lavishly-landscaped “lazy river” pools, private plunge pools, romantic swim-up suites that open into the pool, and more.

If, on the other hand, you’re dreaming about talcum powder beaches and aqua blue water lapping at your toes, you’ll want to make sure you’re headed to a beachfront resort in a Caribbean destination like Grand Cayman, or Aruba — both of which are known for long, wide stretches of beach. Or, maybe you’d enjoy the pink cove beaches of Bermuda, or one of the deserted beaches of the Out Islands of the Bahamas.

One thing you would definitely want to know up front is that there are some tropical destinations that don’t have typical “postcard-perfect” beaches. In Cabo San Lucas, for example, most of the beaches are too rough for swimming. On volcanic islands like St. Lucia, the sand may be black. And on coral islands, like the Florida Keys, the beach may be very rough and pebbly.

Myself, I’m a pool girl now. I used to be a beach person. Growing up on the East Coast, our vacations usually included a week at the shore, in places like the Hamptons or Cape Cod. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve lost my taste for sand in my suit, and I prefer to lounge by the pool with a good book and an umbrella drink.

Sounds pretty good right now, come to think of it!

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)