Food for Thought // Flights vs. Flights

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It’s Labor Day and sleeping in on a Monday always feels good. This weekend I didn’t cop any kicks and truth be told I didn’t even get away, but if money grew on trees and I had the chance to do one or the other what move would I make?

Back in college, I came to the realization that a pair of Flights of the sneaker variety pretty much costs the same as a pair of flights of the travel sorts. So, would I rather have “Puerto Rico” Air Force 1s or actually go to Puerto Rico for spring break? Such scenarios were truly never that cut and dry, and I still spent my work money on my fair share of kicks, but eventually vacation just became more exciting and even offered another avenue to explore my interest in sneakers. A lot of this came from studying abroad in Asia, which was perhaps the apex of both.

When I studied abroad in Asia not only did I meet some of the nicest people with a genuine love for hoops, I also got to check out some of the best sneaker shops I’ve ever been to. While in Beijing back in ’08, the few boutiques that were out there were as live as it gets. One store sported shrines to the like of LeBron and Kobe, showcasing rare PEs and themed collectibles. After getting pumped about picking up a pair of “All-Star” Kobe IIIs (a China exclusive) from one consignment shop, I left the store only to see a man walk in with a tall stack of heat, hoisting Defining Moments Packages and “What the” Dunks — a bit better than the shoes I saw at my local mall or even on eBay. This was pre-smartphone era and most boutiques didn’t allow photography so it was clearly something you had to be there to believe.

Study abroad was a blessing on many levels, from hooping with local college kids on a Nike built park to trying cuisine and seeing sights that I’d never dreamed of. Kicks were definitely a part of it and the ability to study fashion and sportswear is particularly why I picked Asia. It’s worth saying too that I never thought I’d be able to study abroad, but I’m very glad I did. Despite the shoes I saw or picked up there though, meeting new people and seeing a new culture was definitely the highlight and motivation to move more of my funds to traveling.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love sneakers and it would pain me to part even with ones I haven’t worn in years, I just think when it comes down to cost I’d get more of a kick out of going to OVO Fest than having “OVO” 10s (for the record, I want those pretty bad). After a quick search on Southwest, I found you can get a roundtrip to Chicago for pretty close to a pair of adidas Yeezys or Air Jordans if you’re flexible on dates from most corners of the country. I’d be fronting if I said I wouldn’t like some 350s or “Laney” Lows, but seeing the city that inspired “Homecoming” and the Jordan statue in person might be cooler than having the “Aqua” 8s or “Spirit” 9s we associate with such examples.

The joy of getting a pair of shoes on drop date is awesome, but in my experience it would fade fairly fast and I’d be on to the next one. Travel is different. A good vacation can be the mental rest we all need, an opportunity to make new friends and at the very least a chance to shift surroundings. Collecting kicks and collecting memories are both fun, but I think for me I’d rather put my income to the latter. I know my bro Brandon agrees, and it might be the right move to make if copping kicks is getting more stressful than fun.

Lead image photos via RMKStore/F5toRefresh & Wired/Getty Images

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