Friday, October 03, 2008

Travel Musings

As we’ve noted, we don’t have to travel for business anymore, so our focus on leisure travel has caused us to reevaluate some of our ideas about the hows and whys of travel. Our most recent trips have solidified our thinking about several topics. A few rather random thoughts.

We just want to get there, and to feel our legs when we arrive. We have no need for First Class, little need for Business, but Premium Economy is essential. We’d much rather spend the thousands of dollars saved by not buying upper-class tickets at our lodging, on treasures, or participating in activities at our destination. Now, if we can get Business Class as an upgrade....
Anyway, we love Premium Economy (or Economy Plus, as it’s sometimes called). We’ve posted about Premium Economy several times. Obviously, for some (most?) folks a Premium Economy ticket is an extra $200 or $300 or whatever that they’d rather not spend. And if the flying bus is all you need, that’s OK.

We’re enjoying more regional destinations lately – places that we can visit with an easy two-day drive (for week-long trips) or a day’s drive (for long-weekend getaways). There’s usually so much to see along the way, and we find drive trips generally more relaxing than the hassles of air travel. Plus, car travel allows us to take all our various toys and favorite foods.

Our somewhat-splurge is more on the lodging side. We’ve given up on cheap hotel rooms – actually, we’ve pretty much given up on hotels completely, preferring B&Bs, lodges, cottages, cabins, and the like. We don’t need the service or pampering that hotels offer.
We like to cook, and drink wine without having to worry about driving. So we frequently chose self-catering (as they’re called in Europe) accommodations. In the U.S., it’s frequently B&Bs, because many VRBO (vacation rentals by owner) are for week-long time periods. If we can find a VRBO that allows us to book just a couple of nights, we frequently take that option.

We like the freedom of rental cars, but we don’t like driving in most foreign countries. We grew up driving the freeways of L.A., and felt if we could navigate the 405 we could drive anywhere. But if it’s a crowded destination (most of central Europe, Japan, etc.) we’d really rather take the train, and hire a driver/taxi for local transport. Of course, more rural areas (Scotland, Chile, Canada) are a lot easier to navigate.

We actually rather dislike that word – sightseeing. We much prefer to experience a place, by hiking, bicycling, snorkeling, kayaking. Of course, there are places and things to see everywhere, and being photographers we enjoy dramatic landscapes and historical sites. But if it’s a choice between standing outside the stone circle of Stonehenge and photographing the site, or wandering among the huge circle at nearby Avebury and feeling the ancients building that place, we’ll chose the second every time.

Hiking along Hadrian's Wall, England