Tom Clyde: Planning next year’s vacation
November 21, 2017
I get a lot of catalogs in the mail, and this time of year, they are coming by the truckload. I get all the normal stuff like L.L. Bean and other clothing companies, sporting goods, camping stuff, and the odd selections of gifts. There are tractor parts and farm supplies. One company seems to think I'm raising citrus fruit at 7,000 feet. For some reason I also get a couple of thick catalogs from companies selling shipping and packaging supplies. I got a 30-page catalog on doormats the other day. I guess it's good to know that I can get a customized, water absorbing, doormat for that high traffic vestibule, but so far, I've been able to satisfy all my doormat needs at Wal-Mart.
On the same day, I can get catalogs featuring tuxedos, camouflage everything, and bib-overalls. Those aren't all the same catalog – it takes Amazon to curate a list like that, but in a handful of catalogs from Duluth Trading, Cabela's, and the tuxedo place, I could order what I need to dress for every occasion. Not that I care. My wardrobe is pretty heavy on the farm machinery logo t-shirts that I buy when I need another $10 to get free shipping on the carburetor overhaul kit.
I got one the other day that really stands out, even among the eclectic mix. Direct mail advertising has become expensive enough that they don't just buy random lists any more. Advertisers use expensive algorithms that are supposed to match bits of data collected from every move we make, and refine the mailing list to people who are likely prospects. I'm not sure what they make of a guy who buys a Mossy Oak pattern tuxedo, but that apparently has put me on a number of lists, not all of them with law enforcement.
But something really went wrong with the algorithms with this one. It's a 32-page ad for a vacation package. Not a whole list of possible vacations. This is a single trip around the world – 9 destinations in 24 days on a private jet with a total of 52 guests along. The trip begins in Seattle and then hops to Kyoto, Bali, Seychelles, Rwanda, Marrakech, Bogota, the Galapogos Islands, and comes to what has to be a disappointing end in Orlando. While on the ground, the group stays in the finest hotels, mostly run by Four Seasons, though in Rwanda the group is in another hotel property. In the air, the happy travellers relax in 52 leather upholstered, lay-flat seats.
I’m not sure what they make of a guy who buys a Mossy Oak pattern tuxedo, but that apparently has put me on a number of lists, not all of them with law enforcement.
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The limit of 150 pounds of luggage per person seems overly restrictive. The attentive staff includes a physician and an executive chef who will inform the local culinary teams of each guest's dietary preferences.
In Kyoto, guests can take samurai sword-fighting lessons (hence the physician), and meditate. And lounge by the pool. Almost all of the destinations include UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In all the photos in the brochure, the streets are empty. Apparently the locals are all home, lounging by the pool.
Some of those are destinations I have some interest in. The Galapogos Islands would be interesting. Genocide and civil wars aside, seeing the mountain gorillas in Rwanda would be fascinating. The whole package, maybe not so much. But the program was interesting enough that I kept reading. The brochure is exquisite, and probably cost $15 each to print. The photography is beautiful, and the descriptions of all the ways you can lounge by a pool for 24 days straight almost make lounging by a pool for 24 days straight sound interesting.
All of this luxury can be had for a mere $138,000 per person, double occupancy. If you want a private room, it's only an additional $12,500. Spa treatments are extra, along with scuba rental, mule rides, and some other activities.
So for about two and a half times the annual median household income in the US, you can travel almost around the world for 24 days. I was all ready to sign up, except for that gap between Seattle and Orlando that they don't close. Would it have killed them to add a day to complete the circle? They could have scheduled a stop in Iowa for a visit to Farmall Land, the biggest collection of Farmall equipment in the world. There's probably a big combine parked by the pool. But no, for $138,000, you do not get to see Farmall Land or close the gap between Seattle and Orlando unless you add that to the program on your own. Flying home in Delta coach after 24 days in a 757 with only 52 passengers and a queen-sized bed for each? I don't think so. That's a deal breaker for me.
So what are you going to do with your share of the big tax cut?
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.