As someone who moved to the other side of the world with nothing but two suitcases, my answer to that question should be clear. Who needs things when you can have a round-the-world plane ticket?
(Full disclosure: My mom had to send a box to Korea full of spring and summer clothes.)
(Full disclosure 2: Allie describes herself as a "materialistic hippie." I'm closer to a "materialistic nomad" than anything.)
So a new study from San Francisco State University really caught my interest this week. It concluded that "in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions.":
That's in part because the initial joy of acquiring a new object, such as a new car, fades over time as people become accustomed to seeing it every day, experts said. Experiences, on the other hand, continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred.
... Another reason for increased happiness in experiences, the researchers found, was that people felt a greater sense of vitality or "being alive" during the experience and in reflection, Howell said.
"As nice as your new computer is, it's not going to make you feel alive," he said.
I'm definitely not without materialistic tendencies. My iPod and MacBook are absolutely necessary, there are way too many clothes in my closet even here in Seoul, and I have a compulsive scarf-buying habit. Without a public library, I've become a regular patron of What the Book -- but justify it by buying only used books, thereby "saving" money.
As a 23-year-old, I have my entire life to settle down, buy a house and collect stuff, but who knows how many years I'll be able to travel freely with nothing to tie me down.
Settle down? Not for a few years. At this moment, there's nothing to make me feel bad about spending money on trips to the Philippines and Australia later this year, or making plans to visit friends abroad in the fall, or pondering another overseas job in 2010.
Carpe diem and bon voyage!