You’ve heard it said over and over again: Experiences are worth more than things. It’s long been studied that memories from experiences are worth more than material objects, and ultimately make you happier. They help you discover your passion and purpose and teach you valuable new skills.
Click through to discover some life-changing experiences that are worth the cost.
1. Grad School
An advanced degree is a pedigree that sets you apart from other job prospects. But beyond just being a resume builder, there are certainly high-profile, high-paying careers that require additional schooling.
Finder.com compiled a list of LinkedIn’s highest-paying jobs to determine if their potential value stacked up against the student loan debt incurred. They found their net earnings after the loan was repaid to be well worth the investment. Of the 15-best value careers, the student loans incurred range from $112,441 to $302,631, while the median base salaries ranged from $150,000 to $356,000, making your 10-year yield well worth it after all is said and done.
And if student loan debt still has you worried, just know you have options when tackling that debt.
2. Running a Marathon
Big races are big business. Beyond budgeting how much time you need to train to run 26.2 miles, you also need to consider how much it’ll cost you. Health.com did the math and determined that entry fees range from $60 to $300 with an additional $2,000 to $5,000 if you’re fundraising. To qualify for certain marathons, you need to compete in a series of other races, with the same entry fee range. And that’s not including training gear or travel expenses.
For the Boston Marathon, that ends up being anywhere from about $1,145 to $4,000 a person. But for many, it’s still worth it. Runner’s World compiled a list of 52 reasons why everyone should run a marathon, the top being exuberance, to inspire others and self-confidence.
3. Study Abroad
Most students fondly recall their time abroad as one of the best experiences of their life, but living in a foreign country is no cheap endeavor. While cost largely depends on what country you choose, the International Institute of Education determined the average cost of studying abroad to be around $18,000 per semester or $36,000 for the academic year. But you can’t put a price on the life skills acquired. According to HuffPost, it’s a way to step outside your comfort zone and learn about the world because the best education comes outside the classroom.
4. Summit Everest
According to the Economic Times, the only thing tougher than climbing Everest is raising the funds to do so. Most people pay between $25,000 and $100,000 for a climb, depending on their desired experience and level of comfort.
Beyond being a metaphor for conquering challenges, climbing mountains is a rewarding experience that can have a deep, resounding impact on your life and many intrepid adventurers have found Nepal to be life-changing.
5. Get Married
Jennifer Lopez sang, “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” but paying for a wedding is a different story. One of those milestone life experiences, ideally you only get married once so you want to do it right and make it a real celebration.
According to a 2016 survey by The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. reached an all-time high at $35,329, and that’s not even considering the rehearsal dinner, honeymoon or any of that extra jazz. Whether you want a small shindig or a big to-do, make sure life-changing day is about you, your relationship and your family even if it means finding ways to cut your expenses.
6. Visit Antarctica
If stepping foot on every continent is on your bucket list, you simply must make it to the White Continent at some point.
One of last remaining wild frontiers on Earth, whether you travel by plane or boat, Antarctica is an expensive sojourn. Cruises start at about $5,600 per person for an 11-day trip in late November. Since so few people get to experience the remote wilderness, you’ll feel like you’re walking in the footsteps of the early explorers and get a first-hand look at the unique wildlife there.
7. Go Skydiving
The ultimate adrenaline rush, skydiving is a must for adventure junkies. The cost will set you back around $229 for a tandem jump based off The Jumping Place Skydiving Center’s pricing, while a license to fly alone costs around $2,649 with 25 jumps of training.
If you’re wondering why you should hurl yourself out of a place, Entrepreneur said it’s a way to face your fears and provides you the opportunity to learn to make the leap in times of uncertainty, which is applicable to all aspects of life.
8. Buy a House
While home costs vary wildly by city, investing in property is an investment in your future. Owning a home is a major part of the American dream and it’s a big step for securing your financial future. It’s an asset that you own.
According to Zillow, the median home value in the U.S. as of December 2017 is $206,300. But it’s not just the mortgage that adds to the bottom line. Make sure you consider the down payment, closing costs, inspections, appraisal fees and moving expenses before you know for sure you’re ready to commit. You also want to always have a little in the bank for home improvements and repairs.
9. Get Laser Eye Surgery
According to Lasik.com, the cost of laser eye surgery costs between $299 to $4,000 or more per eye, but for people accustomed to wearing glasses and contacts, the benefits far outweigh the price tag. Beyond vision improvement, the real value is life-changing in that many can now experience things like SCUBA diving, swimming and traveling hassle-free.
10. Attend SXSW
Likely you have some big concert, conference or major global festival on your bucket list, but SXSW is one of the most impactful in that it combines music with interactive technology tracks.
Various wristband packages range from $825-$1,650 for the three-day event. When you’re shelling out that kind of cash, you want to ensure you’re getting a return on investment beyond just hearing your favorite bands play. The real advantage is networking. Forbes suggests making a plan ahead of time for how you’re going to build relationships and eventually turn those connections into profit for your company.
11. Sail Around the World
If you’re looking to sail around the world, costs vary depending on if you’re captaining the boat or you need a crew, and if you have your own vessel or need to rent one. Yachting World determined that $2,099-$3,450 per month is realistic for a life aboard. Costs are broken into three buckets: fixed annual costs like insurance, variable monthly costs like groceries and fuel, and discretionary funds for entertainment.
Aside from being an epic way to escape the rat race, sailing is a break from structured reality and can take your life in a completely new direction. It’s absolute freedom to go wherever the wind takes you and a great lesson in spontaneity.
12. Hike Machu Picchu
One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a way to feel connected to ancient civilizations and wonder at the mystery of the lost world. With only 500-permits issued per day, The Inca Trail is an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime travel experience. The standard eight-day tour ranges from $180 to more than $1,000 per day, depending on the level of luxury of the tour.
13. Learn to Fly
Earning your wings is the ultimate freedom. There are different certifications, which can take anywhere from three months up to eight months and range in cost from around $3,000 up to $20,000, based on listings from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. If it’s a dream of yours to be able to take to the skies at a moment’s notice, learning to fly is both a rush and a honed skill you can feel accomplished to master.
14. Take Cooking Classes
Private cooking classes range from around $70 to over $1,000 depending on the chef’s resume, the type of cuisine, your location and if you are having friends or family join in for the class. But it’s worth the price because food brings joy to people. Beyond just learning how to provide a good meal for your family, cooking enables you to take control of your nutrition and eat more mindfully. You’ll have more energy and make better choices, which will impact all areas of life.
15. See the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are one of Mother Nature’s most impressive phenomenon and a way to really feel small among the breathtaking beauty of the planet. No two nights are alike, and there’s no guarantee the lights will even show up, which makes catching a show that much more special. Trips range from $958 per person in Iceland to $5,367 in remote Canada.
There are a number of arctic regions where you can chase the rainbow skies and even sleep in an igloo for a completely unique travel experience.
16. Sleep in a Castle
Sometimes, you just have to treat yourself, and sleeping in a castle is one way to do that.
If you’re ready to say sayonara to traditional chain hotels, upgrade to the royal treatment. There are castles all over Europe that you can stay in to live out your lavish princess fantasies ranging in price from $56 all the way up to $867 a night.
17. Go to the Super Bowl
For sports fans, the Super Bowl is mecca.
The cheapest seats this year cost about $3,000 with Money estimating the big game would set you back $6,639 after travel expenses, stadium food and transportation assuming you got seats in the upper end-zone area and spent the weekend in Minneapolis. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to show your unwavering fandom, catch an epic halftime show and maybe even cross paths with the football greats or hobnob with celebrities.
18. Learn a Second Language
You can download apps or videos and learn a second language on your own, but private instructors are the faster, more personalized way to go.
According to the Guardian, a good tutor should charge between $28-$63 a lesson and will keep you accountable with homework. Not only will a second language help you when you’re abroad and forge deeper connections with the locals, but being bilingual is a highly coveted skill in job candidates.
19. Fly First-Class
It’s nice to feel pampered and the difference in service between first-class and economy on an airplane feels like night and day. In 2015, Money reported that the average first-class domestic ticket was said to cost about $577 more than an economy seat on that same plane, but the cost to sit up front has actually declined quite a bit over the years, as it was $805 more to sit up front in 2012.
If you value space, sleep and food, the price tag is worth the experience. You’ll be able to get more work done and you never know who you might meet up there. Your next client or business connection, perhaps?
20. Eat at a Michelin-Starred Restaurant
For foodies, Michelin stars are the holy grail of the dining world, and there’s nothing quite like splurging on a really great meal. You’ll get to witness a real artist at work while tasting some of the most innovative food on the planet.
Akin to the Academy Awards of the culinary world, Michelin-starred restaurants have a certain expectation to justify the cost and you know what kind of experience you’re getting when you book a table.
Eleven Madison Park in New York, which topped The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2017 and currently holds the prestigious three-star Michelin rating, has an average meal price of $295.
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