Please sign in to post.

Is 'free' worth it?

I pulled this quote from the latest RS interview:

"But if somebody gave me an all-expenses-paid ten-day trip to Fiji in a beautiful resort hotel and all the drinks and food I wanted, I’d think instead, For ten days, I really need to go to Spain and update my book for Andalusia"
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/rick-steves-says-hold-on-to-your-travel-dreams

I think Rick is admitting he’s a workaholic and his heart is in Europe, but I surprised myself when I asked myself an either/or question; free trip to Fiji as described or pay for myself to go to a dream destination in Europe? When I think of resorts, I get an image of sitting by a pool doing absolutely nothing. That’s not for me and so I didn’t automatically think Rick was crazy. In my never-ending habit of overthinking things, I concluded that I'd be crazy not to take a free trip, but I doubt it would end up being free for me because there’s no way I’d sit by a pool for 10 days. I’d end up researching and planning and spending money to turn the trip into something I really want to do.

How about you? Easy decision or do you have to overthink it first?

Posted by
6076 posts

Easy decision. I'd go to Fiji. I've been to Europe, and will again. I'll likely never go to Fiji unless it was paid for. But I wouldn't go sit at the pool. I'd go RS-style and want to see what life is like there.

Posted by
2517 posts

If "free" extends to vacation days - I can take it and not be "charged" a week of vacation by my job, then it's a no-brainer to me. I'd go, enjoy seeing something new (I'm sure I'd pay for reasonably priced excursions away from the resort), and relax. That's not the type of trip I'd usually plan, but I can see the appeal when it is free! The only type of trip I'd skip if it were totally free is something unsafe, or something involving a lot of boats, like a cruise, because I get miserably seasick. Otherwise, I'm in to try something different - getting out of your comfort zone is an important part of travel.

But as an either/or? I'd definitely pay to go somewhere I actively want to see. There's only so many trips you can take in a lifetime, best use them on things you enjoy. So I'd take the free trip as an addition, but not as a replacement.

Posted by
1259 posts

Definitely would take it and run, no overthinking involved. There's lots to do anywhere, if one is inclined to seek it out. Like Stan said, you can still explore. We spent nine days in Grand Cayman, and drove all over the island and tried different restaurants every day. It was one of our best vacations. We only spent one day entirely poolside. Hey, if its free you can afford to spend a bit on activities that you like!

Posted by
4781 posts

I'm with Nick -- Fiji free for me! After awhile by the pool, and after sobering up, I'd look for ways to escape the resort and see something else there (I know almost nothing about Fiji), even if it cost me something. And then I'd see if Rick will pay me to go update his guidebook in Andalucia. ;-)

Posted by
1976 posts

I know that I would say no because I was just researching a resort style stay in a favorite place and I just couldn't get excited about it. I think there will come a time when I would say yes, but for now I still have to much energy to make the best use of a resort style hotel.

Can I have a voucher-good-for-10-years please!?! :-)

Posted by
2987 posts

Been to Europe. Many times; and will again. Been to Fiji, and would love to go again. So free trip? Yes please. Europe can wait for next time.

Not sure why the OP equates a resort with just lying on one's backside all day. You can be as active as you choose to be. And the offer said "all expenses paid". On our trip to Fiji we spent many days off the resort and exploring the island. And have done much the same with other resort stays. But to each their own.

Posted by
4656 posts

Some years ago a relative and her spouse treated us to several days at a luxury resort in Maui. They almost never left their room; we were almost never in ours. And we spent zero time lying on the beach.

So yes, I'd take a free trip. Stan and I can always find something interesting to do or explore.

Posted by
3310 posts

Fiji, hoping the flights are at least business class due to the distance involved getting there.

Posted by
1328 posts

I’d jump at the chance! I’ve been to Tahiti twice and loved it. So Fiji sounds wonderful. I usually take a yearly trip with girlfriends somewhere in Mexico at some resort for a week or two. I sit in the shade by the pool or beach and relax by reading several books. That is by far not the only thing I do. Three or four whole days out of 6 days I am out visiting nearby sites and every night I enjoy dinner out at an interesting restaurant.
I’m retired and 10 days of leisurely travel was wonderful when I was working. My job was stressful and I needed some down time.
Then there is the “go go go” vacation for three weeks in Europe that I try to do often. I’d stay longer but hubby won’t. Longer stays for me are with girlfriends.

Posted by
1918 posts

What had me thinking about this scenario are work conferences that I have to go to every year. I travel for business 3 to 4 times a year and it has included mandatory trip to warm locations in the US such as Palm Springs, Tucson and the Gulf Coast, but in 2017 we went off-continent for the first time and were at a resort in the Bahamas. Four of the longest days of my life. My meetings were staggered just enough that I had no choice but to stay within the resort. It jaded me on the resort travel style. Everyone else seemed to love the lounging by the pool with drink in hand, but I couldn't get into it.

Posted by
349 posts

I’d definitely go. I’d spend an hour or two at the pool or beach each day, take excursions, and read a lot. As others have said, there are likely to be plenty of activities available. I’m semi-retired now, and had generous vacation time in my job. If I only had two weeks vacation each year, then I might make a different decision.

Posted by
2987 posts

Alan, comparing the Bahamas with Fiji? About the only thing they have in common is ocean front property. And a work conference at a resort is by definition very different from a vacation experience at a resort. Even for a mundane choice like Nassau. Given available time, your choices for activities expand greatly.

Posted by
10048 posts

For me, it's all about exploring somewhere new. I'd take the trip to Fiji and explore the island. I don't like sitting by pools.

If at a conference and I had a free hour here and there, I'd find something to do. In the Bahamas, many, many, many years ago, I rented a scooter for an hour and explored. Went with a friend and we had a blast. We kept forgetting to drive on the left side of the road. It was on Paradise Island before all the development so not much traffic.

Sometimes it requires thinking outside the box and not black and white thinking.

Also remember, while going to Europe for most of us is a vacation, for Rick Steves it's his job and his business.

Posted by
133 posts

Very sad that he's a workaholic.

I've been to Fiji - over 20 years ago - I've never felt the need to go back - if you want to lie by a pool plenty of other places do it better.

I like to lie by a pool at the end of a trip - its a nice contrast - but its not really travelling - its just a holiday

Posted by
21249 posts

I would go and IF forced I could lay by the pool for ten days. Not that would be my preference but I pretty flexible. Fiji has always been a fantasy trip. For some unexplainable reason the musical South Pacific has always been a favorite of mine. Maybe my government sponsor year long vacation tour of SW Asia in '67 influenced that desire. There has to be a better place and Fiji is it.

Posted by
4781 posts

Well, Allan, you obviously learned nothing in all those conference-filled years about the value of skipping the boring meetings and going out to experience the surroundings! If I recall, you're retiring this fall, so you'll have a chance to improve your technique. ;-)

Posted by
167 posts

@ Dick

That is funny. Made me spill me early morning cuppa of Earl Grey. I m sure Allan will have a little chuckle.

Regards Ron

Posted by
1834 posts

I have been to Fiji. It has scuba diving in crystal clear waters where colorful sponges and soft coral abound. I would definitely go again!

Posted by
1918 posts

@ Dick

That is funny. Made me spill me early morning cuppa of Earl Grey. I m
sure Allan will have a little chuckle.

Regards Ron

He did have a little chuckle. Sadly, it was a long cab ride to this resort with not much between it and civilization but fields of some kind of crop. Retirement was scheduled for next year at age 58, however my wife has told me that I don't want to retire yet. She hasn't explained why I don't want to...

Posted by
378 posts

Right before the pandemic hit, my friend went to Fiji on a diving trip. He said it was the most depressing and dangerous place he's been -- and this is coming from a guy who lived in Oakland. He said the amount of poverty is unbelievable, and the resort told him and the rest of his party they shouldn't leave the grounds. One of his group decided to go out and check things out and was beaten nearly to death after he was robbed.

I can't imagine what it's like now.

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
6076 posts

I cant believe people would pass on a free vacation, so they could keep working. That's just not right-thinking😯.
I think that Fiji was having a coup or some political violence going on at that time.

Posted by
4944 posts

We visited two ports in Fiji while on a TransPacific cruise from Sydney to Seattle in 2018. It was nice, but frankly, can't imagine spending ten days there. We are in our 70s and live on an island in South Georgia and only go to the beach when our grandchildren come to visit us. We are not beach people.

Posted by
2650 posts

I'm exhausted. Ten days of reading books by crystal blue waters sounds very appealing. Would I pay for that? Probably not. But would take it for free in a heartbeat.

Posted by
3240 posts

I've been to Fiji - over 20 years ago - I've never felt the need to go back

For me it’s 30 years, and I didn’t care for it the first time. It’s not very pretty, the beaches are mediocre, and the food’s not great.

Posted by
1834 posts

@Mike Beebe-so do you always base your opinion on where to go from one experience that a friend of yours had? Wow, I bet we could find someone on this travel forum that could discount almost any place in Europe. I would never rely on one person’s opinion. I got pickpocketed in London on my first trip there back in 1984. Does that mean I should never go back? Absolutely not!
If you expect a place to be like your home, why travel? Poverty abounds in many places, not just Fiji.
I leave for Egypt in 10 days. I expect to see poverty, hear the call to prayer, eat food that is different from home. I will relish all these experiences.

Posted by
4944 posts

Egypt, yes, is a must see place. The history is amazing. It is WAY different from Fiji. Not a lot of history and art to see in Fiji.

Posted by
1834 posts

@ geovagriffith-lol, I don’t think anyone would go to Fiji for history or art! It is, however, an amazing place to go scuba diving which is why I was there.

Posted by
3469 posts

Never having been to Fiji, of course I would want to go, just for the experience and especially for free! I can't see passing up an opportunity like that. Allowing me to mark off another spot on the globe is just another plus because my travel goals are to visit every spot possible.

I would like to take a cruise around the South Pacific island hopping through the various spots. No a big boat cruise, but just a small 6 or 8 passenger boat. Always sounded like fun.

Posted by
3240 posts

Actually cultural attractions are the best part of Fiji, since it's "paradisiacal" features are not up to snuff.

Suva is a quintessential former colonial tropical capital good for strolling and it has a good museum. Note that Suva is a 3 hour drive from the international airport.

There is an interesting social tension in a country that is half Pasifika and half descendants of Indian immigrants.

Posted by
5084 posts

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and likely no Free Fiji (Free-ji), either.

Rick loves his trips so much that, although he works extremely hard, even his research trips must be like a vacation for him, on some level.

Posted by
455 posts

I'd take that trip so fast, heads would be spinning.

Why not? I love Europe, but I love travelling to other places, too. And, while I'm not usually a sit-on-the-beach all day sort of person when I travel overseas, I could enjoy some beach time, along with snorkelling, and enjoying the food, the dancing, and the music. Going in winter, when it can be very cold and snowy here, would be a bonus.

I'm not so spoiled or jaded that I would turn down a free trip.

Posted by
1918 posts

I wonder; same or different reaction by some if I'd said free trip to Disney World instead?

Posted by
455 posts

Free trip to Disney World? You bet I'd take that. Disney World is a lot of fun.

Posted by
11 posts

This question reminds me of honeymoon planning with my ex years ago. I wanted a two week tour of Europe with lots of museums and Parisian cafes. My ex wanted a Sandals type beach resort with lots of suntan lotion and frozen daiquiris. Needless to say the marriage didn't last. I've been enjoying solo travel ever since!

Posted by
21249 posts

A free trip to Disneyxxxx anywhere would not be reject. When she walks through the gates. she becomes a 13 year old girl and loves her Disneyxxxx. It is fun. Would I want to be there for two weeks -- no but a few days is fine.

Posted by
2987 posts

WDW? Oh hell no. I'd rather get a root canal. Tokyo Disney? Sure. Disney Paris? If I wanted a break from Paris itself.

Posted by
455 posts

I've been to every Disney in the world, with the exception of Shanghai Disney. This wasn't by design. California and Florida were intentional, when our kids were younger. Then, when we went to Hong Kong and Tokyo with our daughters, going to the Disney parks was something they wanted to do, and they were always good sports about doing all the things my husband and I wanted to do, so we accommodated their wishes, too. When we were in Paris, that was, at the time, the only Disney we hadn't visited. (Shanghai wasn't open yet.) Our girls really wanted to go, so we did.

Anyway, I'd rank them in this order:

  1. WDW So much to do. Has many parks, including the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney Studios (or whatever they're calling it these days), several water parks, Downtown Disney, and Pleasure Island. It's not just "rides." There are some very entertaining shows, too. It's easy to spend 5 or 6 days at the parks and not repeat activities. In addition, Universal Studios is nearby. While in the area, there are other things to do, too. Some that we've done include swimming with manatees in Crystal River and visiting Cape Canaveral/the Kennedy Space Centre. If I won a free two-week trip to WDW, I'd have zero difficulty filling my time. I have friends in St. Petersburg and in Orlando I could visit, also.
  2. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea. I rank this second only because of the Disney Sea part. It's the only Disney Sea in the world. We spent two days--one at Disneyland and one at Disney Sea, and that was enough.
  3. Disneyland California and California Adventure. This is good for two to three days, but there are also Universal Studios and Knott's Berry Farm nearby.
  4. Hong Kong Disney. This is a very small Disneyland, and there aren't very many of the "big" attractions, other than Space Mountain. However, it has a special charm. We were there right before Chinese New Year, so everything was decorated for that, and there were parades and performances with a Chinese New Year theme.
  5. Disneyland Paris. This has two parks, but I found one day for both parks more than enough. If one has never been to another Disney park, then one day each could be justified. It lacked the charm of the other Disneys, and I didn't care for the smoking and the lack of cleanliness and orderliness that other Disneys have. I mean, I don't expect every place I travel to be clean and orderly. I'm not a fusspot like that. But one of the pleasant things about going to Disney parks is that they typically aren't full of trash, graffiti, cigarette butts, etc. I also found the crowd control to be lacking here. Disney is a master at moving people efficiently and making lining up an entertaining experience. This didn't seem to be the case at Disneyland Paris.

Anyway, if I won a free trip to any of these, even Disneyland Paris, I'd go. (Hey, it would get me near Paris, right?) I don't think I've ever traveled anyplace where I didn't find something to enjoy or learn or wonder at or take photos of. So, unless it were a trip to, say, Afghanistan, I can't imagine turning down a free trip at all.

Posted by
1918 posts

I remember when my kids were both under 5 and my mother and father-in-law asked us to go to Disney World with them. We kept saying no because we wanted the kids to be older when we thought they'd appreciate it more. Finally my mother-in-law asked if we'd come if they paid for it. Free was the magic word and off we went for 2 weeks. As it turns out my favourite vacation photo and memory of all time came from that trip when my daughter met Winnie-the-Pooh.

Posted by
3841 posts

Ha! I actually just had this happen! Not completely free, but a friend invited me to stay at her timeshare in Puerto Vallarta for a week with her. Hmmm, twist my arm….YES!

My usual vacation is in Europe and it’s active and traveling to several cities. I am not the sit-by-the-pool type person. But, this invitation came after cancelling my Italy trip, and I had a wonderful time enjoying the pool, resort area and just overall wonderful relaxation.

I think we miss opportunities if we predetermine what defines a “great vacation”, so yes, I’m willing to do that Fiji vacation! 😉. And I’m a crazy person inside any Disney park, so yes!!

Posted by
47 posts

In the spirit of your original question, Allan, I'd take the all-expenses-paid trip to Fiji -- as long as I wasn't confined to the resort. I have zero interest in sitting by pool or hanging out at a resort day after day (can't think of anything more boring), especially knowing there would be stuff to see beyond the hotel resort. I might not find anything of interesting, but I'd want to at least explore. That said, as much as I love islands, I can't go to ones near to the equator because they're too hot and humid for me, so I'd have to say no to Fiji on those grounds, alas! As for Disneyland/Disney World, not my idea of a vacation, even if it were a freebie. Thanks for your interesting topics! Always interesting to read other people's opinions.

Posted by
1918 posts

I think we miss opportunities if we predetermine what defines a “great
vacation”,

Such a good point. We did a staycation this year and spent a week in Banff and Jasper. We had already decided we were disappointed because we were stuck at home for another year. Luckily we shook it off and had a great time enjoying the views that we take for granted and even discovered some historical points of interest from the trails made by the fur traders 150 years ago.

Posted by
53 posts

Sounds like someone offered RS a free trip to Fiji so he can tout it and draw in more tourists there./

I would think he wouldn't accept any kind of compensation for his reviews and books?

Posted by
2987 posts

Sounds like someone offered RS a free trip to Fiji so he can tout it
and draw in more tourists there./

??? Did you actually read the article? There was no suggestion of anything of the kind.