September 28, 2015

Next Year's Travel: What's On The Horizon?

Most of the travel plans Betty and I had for this year ended up being abandoned. With a move to our new home, a decision to cancel a summer-long RV trip, and the need to stay close to home for awhile after my heart problems, several anticipated getaways never happened. 

We did manage to fly to Portland for a week to see friends, but that was short circuited  with a hospital stay. Our just completed time with family at Disneyland and California Adventure was memorable and special. And, we will take the RV up to the White Mountains later this week for a four day stay in the cool pines by a pretty lake. But, overall, this was a year we spent pretty close to home.

Betty and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary in June, so we would like to make 2016 very special. After the year that is quickly coming to a close, we are ready for some serious self-pampering.

Right after the first of the year we are off to join Mike and Tamara Reddy for a week at the Palm Springs Film Festival. This past January was our first visit to the annual gathering of thousands of film fans, along with the famous and nearly famous folks who appear in those movies. With well over 1,000 movies to choose from, the toughest part is deciding which ones to see. During the eight days we will be in town we will see six films, enjoy excellent meals together, do some hiking and shopping, and enjoy each others' company. 


cruiseship
In early June we will fly to Seattle and board a cruise ship for a week enjoying the inner passage of Alaska. This trip has been on our must-do list for several years; 2016 is when we finally make it reality. How can you not enjoy something that involves too much food, being pampered by a crew of hundreds, and visiting places with names like Skagway and Ketchikan? 

After returning to Seattle we may take a boat back to Victoria for a day. The cruise ship stops there for only a few hours, not long enough to explore Butchart Gardens and the thoroughly British feel of the small downtown near the dock. We were last there twenty years ago and still have vivid memories of the area.

In early November we are discussing a trip that would be truly special: Hawaii and then two weeks in New Zealand. For the first time, I would be turning over all planning and transportation to a tour company. Typically, I plan a trip, book all the hotels, arrange for the airplane flights and rental car, and then plow through an intense itinerary that leaves me frazzled and unable to see much since I must focus on driving.

In all honesty I must say that the idea of being on a structured tour with someone telling us where and when to be someplace is a little scary. The lack of control and the need to be with a group of people for two weeks will be different. I will have to practice my patience and people skills, and give up my need to manage everything.


Hobbit House
On the plus side, I will have the opportunity to actually see the countryside, learn about the history and importance of places we visit, and not worry about driving on the left side of the road! We would spend time on both islands, enjoying the stunning countryside and sights. One required stop is Hobbiton, where parts of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. 

The flight to Auckland is 14 hours from L.A. That is more time stuck in a tight airplane seat than I am willing to endure. So, we would fly from Phoenix to Honolulu and spent 3 nights enjoying one of our favorite places on earth. That leaves "only" a nine hour flight to New Zealand-much more doable. On the way back we would stop off in Hawaii for two nights to help with jet lag and another too-long time in a metal tube before continuing home. 

The cost of that trip is giving us pause. To spend so much on just a vacation strikes us as questionable. But, it is a major milestone in our marriage. Stay tuned for a final decision.

A few long weekend trips in the RV to Flagstaff and Arizona Wine Country should help us make up for a disappointing travel year in 2015.

Quite literally, 2016 should be a truly Satisfying Journey with experiences and memories to last the rest of our lives.

Now, if we can just stay healthy.......


27 comments:

  1. This sounds so exciting! My perspective on traveling: if not now, when. I don't want to look back in 5 or 10 years and wonder why we didn't do more while we were younger.

    We have talked about a trip to England/Paris next year. We've never been to Europe, and I think it would be a wonderful opportunity. I'm the one who makes the travel plans, and for the first time we are considering Road Scholar to manage all the details and be our travel guide. However, we have the same concerns you do; the biggest being giving up the control to manage the trip. We also tend to eat on erratic schedules when traveling, tending to be more spontaneous. And, being stuck with a group of people that one would never choose to be with otherwise...

    But the advantage of having someone speak the language and navigate the very unfamiliar cities may make it a reasonable trade off. We'll see. We are also balancing the differences between the two of us, in desire to travel more and level of adventure.

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    1. Wonderful choices for your first visit to Europe! I would raise a hand for doing England on your own as it doesn't get much easier than England for an American, excepting Canada. France might be an ideal tour group starting point, though I'd highly recommend building in on-your-own time in Paris. It's such a wonderful walking and lounging city you might find you don't want to leave!

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    2. Carole - my daughter and I did 4 days in Paris on our own and she knew a little French from middle school. I would recommend doing it on your own. We got on the Metro, visited the Eiffel Tower, Champs Ellyesse, Notre Dame, and the Louve without a guide...walked the streets of Mommarte, etc. We got lost getting home from the Louve late at night and I just kept asking if anyone spoke English and could direct us to the proper Sorte and finally some girl did. We were fine doing it on our own.

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  2. Bob, I must second, third and fourth Carole's comment, "If not now, when?" As Mike and I look back on our years of oversea and multi-month RV travel since our girls left for college, there is not a single trip I wished we'd saved our money and not taken. Each and every trip has enriched our lives, and we are still reaping the benefits years later.

    One idea for approaching a tour group vs on-your-own would be to arrive ahead of time at your starting destination to enjoy some sightseeing on your own, after which you may be more than ready to turn the planning reins over to someone else for the duration. This is what we now do for the most part, often at both ends of the trip.

    Having said that though, New Zealand is actually a very easy country to visit on your own since there is little in the way of culture shock. Additionally, the time difference is really only a few hours if one forgets that while it's Wednesday there, it's Tuesday here . . .

    It's been said that a third of the fun is in the planning, so enjoy having such wonderful problems to sort out. :-)

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    1. The first New Zealand tour company recommended to us by a travel agent seems quite pricey. Before we make any decision I will investigate other options. But, the cruise is booked, balcony room and all. I have enough miles to handle two round trip plane tickets to and from Seattle.

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    2. You will enjoy having a balcony in Alaska! Bring lots of wine if your cruise line allows . . . out on your balcony while cruising past gorgeous scenery is a great, private place to enjoy it!

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  3. I agree with the idea of "enjoy the travel now!" --- I know you will not bankrupt yourselves and the money in the bank won't have the memories that traveling does.

    I thought we had been careful to balance life (and beginning to plan trips) but last week when we visited the doctor, the comment was made that Karl's experience in August was "a fatal coronary incident" -- meaning that if he had not had the defibrillator implanted, he would not have survived. That reminded me that we are all on borrowed time and cleaning the house/hoarding money in the bank just doesn't have the same excitement/memories of trips & time spent together. While prudent money management is essential, a satisfying journey needs more than that.

    Go for it!

    pam

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    1. I am sensing a trend in the comments! As I noted above the sticker shock may be from a top of the line tour company. I am sure there are other choices that are still thorough but don't include a night in a eco forest preserve hotel, for example.

      Than goodness Ken got what he needed right when he had to have it.

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  4. Previous posters have already made good points around taking the trips now rather than waiting, Bob, so I won't belabor that point (I agree with it, btw.) As for a structured trip with guides, etc, I was hesitant to do that years ago as well when we went to Italy for two weeks. I was pleasantly surprised on how well it went. Yeah, some people were a pain in the butt (especially two English women who were chronically late to everything) but you saw much more than you would have otherwise, since our native guides gave us great info, and the buses were able to get right in close to everything, saving time.

    Enjoy the trips. We are planning on much ourselves as well, since we have about 1.2M points in the Wyndham Vacation system this coming year. Timing things right we can get literally months of vacations, particularly if you go during the offseason when crowds are low. Stay safe, my friend.

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    1. Betty has prepped me for the inevitable hassle of group travel: like late or chronically unhappy people, those who feel they deserve special treatment, or the loud and obnoxious. Even so, I am ready to turn everything over to someone else so I can actually enjoy the sights and experiences.

      We did everything on our own for our two weeks in Italy and three weeks in the U.K. and had no real problems. Of course, I was a bit younger!

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  5. Apparently all of us seniors have the same tattoo, "If not now, when?" I totally agree here. I will say that my husband and I have started taking Trafalgar tours and we absolutely love them. You can't imagine how nice it is to have someone take care of all your problems and all your luggage. They know so much more about the important sites than you do and you won't get home and smack your forehead and say, "Why didn't we go there?" There are no worries about driving and parking which is nightmarish through large European cities. The people who save for these expensive experiences are, for the most part, just like you, goal oriented and curious about life. It's unlikely you will feel "trapped" with them. Yes, there is often someone who is chronically a bit late, but the tour guide will take care of that problem. That is what they're paid for. I guarantee you won't be sorry you did this.

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    1. I am sold. Now, if I can just justify spending so much money!!

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  6. I've been on guided tours and appreciated the worry free travel and hassle free access to sites and events. There are always trade offs. For every person you wouldn't choose to travel with there are more new acquaintances that may morph into long lasting relationships. There's always the option of staying back and/or exploring on your own, especially if you're somewhere for more than a few days. I encourage you to mark your 40 yrs together. Truly, like a previous poster stated, your travel experience will make more memories than money in the bank.

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    1. Forty years is quite a milestone, especially for Betty to spend so much time with me! Because of my parent's estate settlement the money isn't a problem. It is more a case of my thinking that all that cash could help so many other people. Plus, I am a bit tightfisted on some things.

      On most of the New Zealand stops there are free afternoon or even full days to do excursions we pick or just walk a city on our own. You are right, Mona, those are times we can branch out a bit and do what makes us happy.

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  7. Bob, Joe and I went on the Alaska Inside Passage cruise last May and it was wonderful! We went on a Princess cruise and I simply can't say enough about how they made our cruise perfect. One thing I did wrong though-- I didn't pack enough warm clothes. The first couple of days were cool but once you get past Anchorage, it is flat cold. So pack accordingly. And enjoy! It is beautiful beyond description!

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    1. We booked on Princess as well. We are really looking forward to this experience. Yes, packing both warmly and a few dressier clothes and still fit things in a tiny closet is going to be a challenge.

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  8. We're big fans of cruising. We've done many winter cruises to tropical isles, but the best cruise was our 13 day Mediterranean cruise, which was for our 40th anniversary. We didn't book guided tours in each stop but, the private tour of the Vatican was worth every penny! We also took a bus tour of the Amalfi coast that included lunch and loved it. The rest of the time we were free to explore on our own. I find it's more relaxing to find a comfort zone and not micro-manage too much. Let go and have a great time.
    b

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    1. I certainly can be guilty of micro-managing, just ask Betty or my kids.

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  9. Bob: Art and I laid low also for nearly a year after his heart episode. It wasn't what we'd planned but it eased our minds. Good idea.

    We live in Seattle and you and Betty are welcome to stay with us for a few days either before or after your cruise. We belong to a couple of travel clubs and both provide and receive hospitality.

    Vacation cost: if not now, when? I remember feeling really scared of the cost of our trip to Kenya two years ago. But I wouldn't trade that experience for all the money in the bank.

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    1. Our flights in and out of Seattle are set up so we don't have extra days, but certainly appreciate the offer and look forward to see you in Tucson this winter.

      Betty and I continue to talk about it but are leaning toward the "if not now, when?" camp.

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  10. Bob, after reading these excellent comments, the only thing I have to add is this: Pull out your medical bills from your recent medical emergency, then your trip costs might seem more reasonable. Hubby and I had to have some unexpected medical tests/procedures this year, and the charges have been incredible. (Thank goodness for insurance and savings!) However, those bills reminded me of the simple fact that it costs to live, and sometimes it costs a bit more to live well. I'm already looking forward to your stories and Betty's photos from your excursions!

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    1. I have yet to receive any bills from my hospital "adventure." Medicare and the Medigap policy should cover the bulk, but I imagine I will get a surprise bill at some point.

      But, you are right. When I see what a two day hospital stay, ambulance, and a ton of tests cost I am sure the trip will not seem so bad.

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  11. Your travel plans sound wonderful. I did the inside passage by ferry 20 years ago, and it was a very memorable experience. And I never miss an opportunity to stop off for a few days in Victoria (I actually did so on my way to Alaska in 1996). Pamper yourselves, celebrate, and enjoy! -Jean

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  12. Glad to hear that the purse strings did not clamp shut when the medical things happened. My mother still regrets not taking that last trip to the Middle East to see us when Dad had an incident. Go! Enjoy! Make memories! When you are ninety you can tell the great grands about your amazing travels!
    Aloha!

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    1. At ninety tell my great grandkids...what a thought! I still have to remind myself I am old enough for a grandson who turns 9 in a few weeks.

      Honestly, the biggest thing holding me back from New Zealand is the length of time spent crowded into an uncomfortable airplane seat. From Phoenix that is an 18 hour ordeal (including a layover in L.A.). Even the flight from Honolulu to Auckland is almost 12 hours. I get stir crazy after 3-4 hours!

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  13. Wow! All those plans. I don't know what I will be doing tomorrow.

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