Four separate studies from Cornell University indicate that the secret to happiness is to spend money on experiences, not things. In fact, according to an article in Forbes, research at San Francisco State University found “people who spent money on experiences rather than material items were happier and felt the money was better spent. The thrill of purchasing things fades quickly, but the joy and memories of experiences, from epic adventures to minute encounters, can last a lifetime.”
It stands to reason then, that celebrating a milestone with a trip—with family, friends, or as some choose, solo—has been gaining in popularity for years. Destination weddings, b’nai mitzvah, birthday, and anniversary celebrations are not so unusual anymore.
And, then there are those who travel to immerse themselves in a completely unfamiliar place. For these curious explorers, Andrew Nusbaum, founder of Nuz Travel, is ready with a trip that will yield incredible lasting memories of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Nusbaum’s travel bug began in 2006 when he spent several weeks in Peru volunteering at an orphanage. Then, in 2009, he went to India on an Operation Smile mission. Ultimately, he spent one year there, working with the Tidewater-based non-profit. His affection for the country and its people grew and he found himself returning year after year.
Wanting to share India with his then-girlfriend, Nusbaum arranged a trip that focused not only on the country’s sites and culinary delights, but also on “keeping her safe, healthy, and happy,” he says. The trip was terrific, even though the relationship didn’t last, he notes with a wry smile.
“I got the idea of doing this with others,” says Nusbaum, and so, a business was born.
With less than 10 people per trip, Nuz Travel emphasizes “connecting people through fun and meaningful experiences.” As such, each trip is tailor-made. “As the group forms, we incorporate the desires and preferences of the participants. The trip, then, becomes more of a visit than a tour,” says Nusbaum. “We have a lot of conversation before someone registers. Travelers really should have an adventurous mindset.
“Nuz Travel provides a trip that’s completely different because it is experience-based,” says Nusbaum. “For example, we have some dinners in people’s homes,” he says, integrating the travelers into the actual culture of the country, not just at tourist attractions. Of course, trips also hit the more famous highlights, such as the Taj Mahal and Goa (the beach) in India.
“Ultimately, it feels like we’re traveling like a family,” says Nusbaum.
The “we” is because Nusbaum leads each trip. Guides are hired for portions of the journey, and other times some of Nusbaum’s friends in the country of travel serve as hosts.
Currently, Nuz Travel focuses on two destinations: India and Peru—both personal favorites of Nusbaum.
Everything is included in the trip’s fare—air, tours, admissions, meals, gratuities, and accommodations, which tend to be in luxury hotels. A portion of the fee (which varies, but ranges between $6,300 and $6,800, per person) in India goes to support a school, and in Peru, that same amount goes to support an orphanage.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Nuz Travel is committed to charitable contributions. After all, Nusbaum has volunteered on more than 10 Operation Smile missions, served on the Simon Family JCC board and currently works with Tallwood High School’s Israel exchange program for the school’s Global Studies Program. A life-long Ohef Sholom Temple member, he helps out there, too. And, of course, he continues to work at S. L. Nusbaum where he concentrates on new acquisitions.
“I’m just passionate about getting people to travel the world,” Nusbaum says. “We make India and Peru stress-free,” he says. Everything is vetted, including the food.
– Terri Denison