< back

5 Extra Rewarding Ways to Invest in Vacation Experiences Instead of Material Things

By Sabah Karimi

Associations with the term "rewards" often trend toward material items—a fancy new gadget, glimmering piece of jewelry or even a status symbol like a new car.

But research suggests that material purchases are actually less rewarding in the long-term than life experiences can be. In a study conducted at San Francisco State University, co-author and Associate Professor of Psychology Ryan Howell explains that most people underestimate the value of life experiences and overestimate how much happiness material items can bring them. In other words: Spending money on things may bring you momentary joy, but investing in experiences—instead of material goods—ultimately makes you happier.

As you plan your next trip, consider adding some unique experiences to your itinerary to make your vacation even more rewarding. Vacation ownership travel can be especially valuable, because you can enjoy the benefits of home at a resort destination that provides access to countless amenities and new opportunities for immersion.

Here are five extra rewarding ways to invest in experiences while traveling, instead of focusing on material items or souvenirs.

1. Hit the Concert Circuit

Whether you enjoy rock, jazz or classical music, try to catch a local concert or musical performance during your next vacation getaway. This can be a great way to engage with the local community and get at taste of unique music culture. Not to mention, live music has wellness benefits: A study conducted by O2 in the United Kingdom reveals the profound impact that live music can have on health and happiness, positing that regular attendance of live concerts can improve well-being.

Diamond Resorts members have exclusive access to attend Diamond Live concerts at dozens of destinations around the United States. These events are private, members-only experiences that can enhance your travel journey. Stars including artists such as Lee Ann Womack and Easton Corbin are on the line-up for 2019.

2. Enjoy Foodie Tours

Get a taste of local cuisine or consider taking a cooking class at your destination of choice for a hands-on culinary experience. A foodie tour with a local expert can be an ideal way to sample local cuisine, and learning about the history of an eatery or unique dish can make the adventure even more meaningful.

Working your way through an itinerary of menus at popular locales is another way to try new foods and experience new flavors. If you visit the destination year after year, you can become more intimate with the local food scene and keep up with the latest restaurant openings and dining experiences.

3. Escape to Nature

You don't have to be the outdoorsy type to appreciate a hiking, biking or nature trail excursion. Consider booking a trip with a local activity or tour operator to go on a guided journey through forests, across lakes or out into the ocean. These activities can be a leisurely escape in nature or a challenging adventure through new terrain—or a mix of both.

Diamond Resorts members and guests can also take advantage of Diamond Experiences Plus in select resorts in Europe, where they can choose from a menu of activities including local nature tours and historical discovery tours. The activities are either low cost or free, and provide an insider's look at the local area and culture.

4. Catch Live Theater

You can learn a lot about vacation destinations through the arts and cultural activities around the town or city you're visiting. Consider adding a live theater performance or production to your itinerary to watch local talent and rising stars in action.

Diamond Resorts offers Events of a Lifetime experiences, which include reception dinners and theater productions at local performing arts venues around the U.S., among other exciting and exclusive events. Whether you catch a classic show or a brand new production from local directors, going to the theater will make for a night to remember.

5. Take a Time Out for Sports

Whether you enjoy being a spectator or playing a sport, plan a long weekend or extended-stay vacation around golf, tennis or football games at vacation destinations around the globe. Make your favorite sports activities even more memorable by bringing along friends, family members or fellow travelers to enhance your vacation experience.

Many Diamond Resorts properties are located within a short drive of world-renowned golf courses, sports stadiums and tennis courts. Each year, Diamond Resorts puts on a professional golf tournament, which for 2019 will be the LPGA Tour's new Tournament of Champions featuring LPGA winners from the past two seasons playing alongside sports and entertainment stars. The public can purchase tickets to the tournament, played on Tranquilo Golf Course in Orlando, but Diamond members can also attend private parties where they can meet and mingle with the players.

Going on vacation can be even more rewarding when you spend your money on novel experiences and adventures instead of on material things. Consider the above ways to make the most of your home away from home—and reap untold rewards in the process.

Sabah Karimi is a freelance writer and copywriter with more than 12 years of experience writing about travel and lifestyle. She enjoys discovering new destinations and reporting on the latest travel trends.