Sunday, 16 April 2017

Travel, As You Like It

Skellig Michael

I love to travel and have enjoyed doing so a considerable number of  times.   Not as many as perpetual travellers, otherwise known as Global Nomads.  Nor even as much as those who travel half the year or some similar ambitious percentage of their time.  I've always had family commitments (aka children) and now two dogs (similar commitment to children it seems) that have limited the length of time of travels to four weeks maximum.  

But yet I have been to many places that were on my wish list of places to see.   Probably close to a dozen times to Europe, including one time too many to Paris.   Australia and New Zealand,  England, Scotland, Ireland,  Mexico, Hawaii, much of Central America . . . But that doesn't mean I have run out of places to go.   Some of the places I have liked too much and have returned.   So if you want to be a traveller, start early and go often.   Don't wait until you can go First Class.   Especially when you are young or even youngish, you will be more accommodating of less comfortable beds and less quiet environments.  

One enormous advantage now:   The Internet.   You can check places out, make reservations, do virtual tours and  compare prices.   All that used to be impossible in the days when you had to go to a travel agent and hope for the best.

One main lesson I've learned:   When  an activity/sight/museum is something you really want to partake in, pay.  Don't consider the price.  (unless truly outrageous and even then . . .).  Especially if it's a case of 'I shall not pass this way again', do it.  When that isn't the situation, don't.   I never paid to ascend the various levels of the Eiffel Tower;  it just wasn't something that interested me.   

The second lesson is Know Yourself.  What's really important to you?   Why are you travelling to this destination?     If you are going to Granada, Spain to visit The Alhambra you had better make sure you have arranged tickets (in advance) and accept the cost of doing so.   When I wanted to visit Skellig Michael (and this was before it was featured in Star Wars - The Force Awakens)  I didn't quibble about the $50 each charge for a seat on a splintery wooden bench on a hastily converted fishing boat chugging eleven miles out into the Atlantic Ocean to that fascinating island.

There are often/sometimes cheaper ways of accomplishing the same thing.   Cruise ship excursions are a notorious example of over-pricing.   You can (almost) always do (much) better yourself through making arrangements though a local travel firm or even hiring a cab to take you there.    I paid half the price for an excellent two day tour in and around St. Petersburg after carefully checking on-line reviews and details.   

A lot of travellers' money can go to over-priced restaurants.   I enjoy my own cooking and almost always go for accommodation that allows me to do that.   I've paid for too many mediocre yet over-priced meals over the years.   Nowadays I tell myself that I will wait until the next all-inclusive resort stay or cruise to indulge my gourmet fantasies.   Plain food will be less likely to upset your stomach on an active, moving around a lot type of  travelling. 

Pack light, very light.   A large suitcase is an impediment.   Nobody will notice what you wear and if you're changing locations, you're seeing different people who don't know what you wore yesterday.  Quick!   Can you remember what your spouse (or teacher or boss) was wearing yesterday?  The day before yesterday?   I didn't think so.

If travelling is your dream then you won't mind eating a few (many) meals of beans and rice or the equivalent.   I never did.   

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