May 29, 2018

How Far Do You Have To Travel For a Great Experience?


At this moment the question seems a little ironic. Betty and I flew 6,000 miles to return home two night ago from a 13 days Viking Rhine River cruise that took us from Amsterdam to Switzerland with extra days in a few cities. So, my answer would seem to be: quite a long way. Since we literally have been home less than 48 hours, pictures and our feelings about the experience are still a week or so in the future.

But, for purposes of this post let's consider the bigger question. Are the benefits of travel a function of distance, or time, or attitude, or opportunity? Are they determined by cost or experiences? 

One of the suggestions for future posts was about staycations, or pretty much the opposite of what I just finished. A post from a few weeks ago talked about retiring in another country. If that idea attracts you at all, one of the first "rules" is to spend time there first, starting with a few chunks of vacation time.

A vacation can be as simple as a long weekend somewhere within an easy drive. Camping in a local park, either old school in a tent or an RV may be what you envision. 

Maybe you have a fixed image: some place so different from your home that you are forced to adapt a bit. That could be a long train trip, a cruise, a road trip to see cousins hundreds or thousands of miles away, a ski holiday in the Rockies, or jetting away to Hawaii or The coast of Maine.

A staycation means spending time at home, but with at least a few differences to make it memorable. That might mean no shopping or cooking; every meal is at a restaurant. You may decide to go on an electronic fast: unplug the TV, put the phone on mute, and stay away from the computer.

Or, it could be just the opposite: all your favorite movies, back-to-back, with buckets of popcorn. Binge-watching until your eyes glaze over. Grab a stack of books and only stop reading to go out to a meal.

A staycation may be when you tackle that large project that has been on your to-do list forever. Knock down a few walls, put in new carpeting, order new kitchen appliances. Or, do nothing at all.


Personally, my most memorable vacations tend to be longer: 2 month RV trips, Hawaii, a week with the family at a beach rental in San Diego, and the just completed European visit. I enjoy quicker getaways to places in Arizona, like Prescott or Flagstaff, or a long weekend in Orange County. But, the most memorable seem to involve more effort and time.

How about you? Which vacations you have taken stick out most in your memories? Have you ever tried a staycation to explore where you live like a tourist? If you could save only set set of photos from a trip, which one would it be?


22 comments:

  1. Welcome home Bob! I'm looking forward to hearing about your recent cruise. I tend to like longer vacations myself. If they are just a weekend away then they slide out of my memory far too fast. The vacations that I remember the best are those that we traveled to a "bucket list" location and included some experiences that we always wanted to do...like in 2016 we went to Egypt and did a Nile river cruise. I will NEVER forget that amazing experience. Oh, and riding camels and climbing inside a HUGE pyramid. Priceless! ~Kathy

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    1. A Nile river cruise! That makes a simple trip down the Rhine seem rather tame!

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  2. I trust you and Betty had a great trip, Bob. Welcome back to the states.

    We were fortunate to have won many trips from my companies over the years that resulted in great times during the week the company had us all together, as well as the time Deb and I took afterwards to explore the areas we were at on our own. Places that stand out are the Mexican Riviera, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Paris, London, and many times to HI. All were memorable and ones to never forget.

    But since we have started to do our yearly winter sojourns to North Myrtle Beach for ~3 months each year, those are the ones we value the most. We truly use it like a second home, but just the fact that we are on the ocean, going out to different restaurants when we feel like it, and just generally chilling for the winter makes them extra special. And the locations are driveable which seems to be what we want nowadays. All in all, we are fortunate to be able to do what we want, and value all the experiences we have built up over the years.

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    1. You and Deb have a nice variety of trips to choose from! While growing up Betty spend most of her summer vacations at Myrtle Beach and remembers it fondly.

      Interestingly, we had a few meals during the cruise with a couple from Hong Kong. They are very worried and upset by increasingly repressive Chinese influences in HK. They believe things will only get worse, enough so that they are seriously contemplating emigrating to Australia.

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  3. Welcome home, Bob! I hope your trip exceeded your expectations and you and Betty came home with some wonderful memories of your adventure!

    It would really be impossible for me to choose just one favorite vacation, but I will say that the trips we have taken with our kids and our travel trailer were definitely our best travel experiences. We logged over 25,000 miles on three cross country National Parks camping trips and took at least two other National Parks trips that required traveling only part way across the country. In my mind, the joy of exploring our magnificent Parks and public lands with our son and daughter just can’t be beat. Every National Park has its own unique personality so each trip had its own flavor and generated its own special memories – some funny, some heartwarming and some simply amazing. That's not to say that we don't enjoy local adventures. In fact, one of our favorite camping spots is less than 25 miles away from home but, when we're at the lake, it feels like a million miles from our everyday lives. Any time we spend enjoying the outdoors is both enjoyed and appreciated.

    As for your question as to which set of photos to save, I’m not even going to try to answer that one. I’m starting to get a headache just thinking about it!

    It’s good to have you safely back!

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    1. Thanks, Mary, for your well wishes. Yes, it was an excellent trip, though the flight time to and from Phoenix is a hassle. Betty took thousands of photos. I will clear some time to pick out maybe a dozen or so that are most representative and have a post in a week or two.

      We enjoyed exploring National Parks, too, when we had our RV. The Senior Pass was the most incredible bargain ever. The price has risen substantially, but if you visit enough parks it is still an amazingly good deal.

      Luckily, there are a lot of National Parks within a day or two drive from Phoenix. Even without the motorhome we still plan on revisiting some of our favorites.

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  4. Welcome home! Hmm, my whole life feels like a staycation, including my weekends at the cabin. All the staycation activities you listed are what I do all the time.

    But let's see, the "away" adventure that came to mind was quite a long "vacation" -- three years in Bangkok. Even though I was working there, every day seemed like an adventure to me. And I took full advantage of my time there to travel to many places in Asia. So even though I lived and worked there, I treated it like a vacation in many ways. And loved every minute of it. I loved the exotic "You're not in Kansas anymore" experience of it, the people, the food, the language, the temples, the culture. Everything. It has stayed with me more than other countries I've lived in or traveled to. Or other vacations in the US.

    Well, there was that time when I hitchhiked to South America....

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    1. Or worked on the fishing boat in Alaska! I can see how being so immersed in a totally different culture for 3 years would have a very lasting impression.

      I agree that when retirement is going well even a staycation at home feels perfect, even if the routine is pretty much the same from day to day.

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  5. Many of my vacations have been to visit family/friends, i.e. 2 trips to England and one to Portugal to visit with my pen pal and a trip to Australia to visit an uncle. I joined a friend at her winter home in Costa Rica where I saw lava pouring out of a volcano. There was a most memorable trip to the Canadian Maritimes after winning a flight anywhere in Canada. My neighbor joined my as we revelled in the fall colors and the Celtic Colors music festival. I've taken vacation days to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. I've also taken vacation days to drive a truck pulling a 40ft RV, cook and mind the children of a professional chuckwagon driver. There have been great staycations when I put my vacation frame of mind on and enjoyed my home in the countryside right on my own verandah. There was a trip to Nashville where I got to see a tribute concert to George Jones after his death and visit the Grand Ole Opry. Such a highlight. Yeah, it's hard to pick the most memorable one. Maybe it's the one I'm on right now, a road trip to a neighboring province with a friend.

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    1. Wow, Mona, that is a great list of places visited and experiences added. It is important to note how many of what you list involved friends and friendship. Maybe that is one of the keys to a really memorable getaway.

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  6. Welcome back! Sounds like you had a good time. My favorite vacations are all cruises but, we've not done a river cruise YET. I'm hoping we get one in this year. Dave wants to take the one to Normandy and with that I get to see Monet's Garden. So, we'll see if it happens this year or not. Can't wait to see Betty's photos!
    b

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    1. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. A recap with photos should be ready in a week or so since there are a lot of pictures to pick from!

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  7. Nice to have you back, Bob! And like others, I look forward to seeing pics and hearing more about your river cruise.

    I agree that the longer vacations tend to stand out more for me, as well as the ones in a foreign country, although I have fond memories of my time living on the W. Coast and a lot of weekend adventures in N. California. Yosemite, wine country, Big Sur, etc., etc. Two two "big" vacations that stand out for me immediately are Paris and Normandy which included the D Day beaches. That was just really, really memorable. And our recent trip to Italy is still a warm and fuzzy memory. We're discussing the next "biggie", and I have a friend about to undertake a second Viking River Cruise. Look forward to hearing your thoughts and impressions.
    --Hope

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    1. I was very impressed with everything about Viking, from the booking all the way through to the post cruise stay.

      We have yet to visit Yosemite but have seen enough photos to know that must be on a future trip.

      Betty and I have two biggies next year: taking the whole family to Disney World, and a trip to Kauai. Looking ahead to 2020, we are discussing a train trip up the West Coast and then across Canada to Quebec City. After that, it may be time to cruise again!

      It is so much fun to plan and get excited about what the future may hold.

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  8. You are probably asking about retirement vacations but my most memorable vacations were my childhood days spent at our little cottage at the North Carolina coast. The area was sparsely populated at the time and we were on the intracoastal waterway. We spent our time as a family (and often with friends who accompanied us) playing Rook and Canasta, painting by numbers, reading, fishing, swimming, water skiing, napping on the screened-in porch and watching US Marine vessels travel up the waterway. No tv or phone. When we got to be teenagers we would sometimes go up to the little white wooden pavilion at Atlantic Beach so we could do the "North Carolina Shag". Dance partners were plentiful. And of course a little summer romance....sigh. Simple but wonderful times.

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    1. Actually, any vacation memory from any time of life qualifies! Your experiences on the NC coast remind me of the time we spent at a rather isolated "farm" my grandparents owned north of Pittsburgh. We would visit there most summers for a few weeks while I was between 5-12. We didn't have indoor plumbing or electricity and didn't think that was a problem. Simpler times indeed.

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  9. In my younger days a vacation always meant a week at "the shore." Only a 45 minute drive away to Ocean City or Cape May New Jersey!! I love the beach, the salt smell of the air, the long walks on the sand, the seafood. Relaxing on the porch with a good book. I'm not that great at adventure travel though we have had some great trips where I pushed the envelope and enjoyed it: Our trip to Kauai (one of many) where we hiked the Napali Cliffs was a bucket list item! ALso an all day adventure, also on Kauai, led by a retired Navy Seal, we hiked a few miles through some interesting botanical areas, then kayaked to a remote raging river where we hiked some more, and swam in a deep pool with a waterfall,swimming from tarzan like ropes.. oh yes, I was younger then for sure!!!! I have heard that there are two kinds of trips/travelers-- relaxation/respite and adventure/active. I tend to like the relaxation type best! We have some Sedona time planned,which will include two good hikes, swimming at Red Rock crossing, and another trip to Winslow and a cabin on the Verde river on the way up. I seem to enjoy shorter trips vs long ones. 10 days is about my max. We enjoyed a leisurely road trip through Southern Oregon last year, staying in bed and breakfasts along the way-- mild hikes to waterfalls, good seafood, lazy days reading books on our porch.. sooo-- I guess finding your pace and varying the degree of adventure is the key! Oh! I also LOVE visiting historic places.Monticello Lodge is on my bucket list.

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    1. We have a week in Prescott and a week in Portland lined up for this summer. After the European river cruise my long distance travel bug is satisfied for now.

      I did visit Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia, as well as Washington's Mount Vernon. Both are worth the stop if you are in the area.

      We go back to Kauai next summer. I am an investor in a new radio station on the island, so I get to call a trip business-related!

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  10. I love all the trips I have done, and can’t pick a favourite. The most typical vacation travel I have done is driving/camping trips. The longest of these were both six-week trips, one across (most of) Canada and back, and one along the west coast: BC, Washington, Oregon, and California. I have also done many wilderness adventures, including backpacking trips, canoe/kayak trips, cross-country ski touring, and bicycle touring. Each of them was special in its own way. I also love foreign travel. These trips have ranged from a week in Barbados, to two months touring Europe by train. The most recent was a trip to Germany with one of my daughters. Then there are the special purpose trips, like ski vacations, and music festivals, and one time we went on a sailing trip exploring Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) on the Canadian west coast. I feel very fortunate to have been able to have such an interest range of types of holidays.

    Jude

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    1. Heavens, you sound like Rick Steves, or someone on the Travel Channel. That is a rather impressive litany of adventures.

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  11. Welcome back Bob. We just completed another "memorable" trip for us -- six days in the RV meandering from AZ to MN -- an annual event for the last 18 years. Each year becomes more challenging as we seek out new routes and new things to see.

    But we succeeded again with several days of exploring northern New Mexico. In fact, we plan to do more there on the way back this fall. Lots of history and beautiful scenery. Also good to be in MN for a while, where there are grandkids and cooler temperatures. (I know -- we're weather wimps.)

    I agree that travel almost always changes one. In my business days, I inevitably came back changed from overseas trips as well as domestic trips. Fresh perspectives, plus the realization that there are many ways to live and enjoy life.

    Thanks for your reports on the river cruise. Those are on our bucket list here. Have a great summer, and we look forward to getting together again in the fall! -- Daryl

    PS - Just celebrated anniversary #50 yesterday. Celebrated with a wonderful al fresco dinner overlooking a small lake. Now on to the next 50 years :-)

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    1. Congrats on your 50th. That is quite an achievement. Betty and I celebrate our 42nd in a few weeks.

      We like Northern New Mexico, too. It is rugged and memorable.

      Yes, we will look forward to cooler weather and a meal together when you and Mary return in the fall.

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