In the pursuit of happiness, there's a lot of research that supports buying experiences over things. I'm by no means saying that some new curtains in the apartment or that perfect carry-on bag won't make you happy. However, scientists suggest that the happiness these purchases bring will fade quicker than the purchase of that ticket to Cuba that you've been considering.
Dealing with the Eyebrow Raisers
For some reason, society has taken the stance that experiences are bigger, riskier or crazier purchases than things. No one asks questions when a 26-year-old purchases their first one bedroom condo or finally decides to upgrade the clunker they have been driving since high school. But for some reason eyebrows raise when that same 26-year-old opts instead to purchase their second international flight in the calendar year.
Why is that?
There's a reason people have a tendency to choose what they know over stepping outside their comfort zones: some degree of risk aversion helps keep us alive. But that risk aversion can also inherently keep us from choosing experiences over things. For whatever reason, things are often considered more 'comfortable' or acceptable than experiences, even when the financial cost is comparable. I'm not suggesting you go from Netflix on your couch to climbing Everest, but some degree of what society deems big, risky or crazy could be the purchase that makes you more happy than anything else you could have spent your money on.
Daring to be Different
From a person who has dedicated the majority of her resources to travel over the past few years, I can attest that it isn't always easy to do something different than others with your time and money. And you may have to sacrifice some material conveniences (like a much-needed closet upgrade) in order to get just one more meaningful experience under your belt (16 countries and counting...) At the end of the day, I think that a few eyebrow raises are well worth being happy. My advice?
Get to planning.