To summarize this was a 6 week trip with a significant 'stay' component - stay meaning we stayed at one place and used it as a base rather than traveling around a lot. 'Stay' in our lexicon also implies that we are renting houses or apartments and not using hotels. For the six week period we had only 5 hotel nights, we had 8 nights at our daughter's, and the rest was either homes or apartments. We made a conscious decision to limit the amount of driving that we did. This of necessity limited the number places that we could visit. Our trip started in Vienna Austria, went for two weeks based out of Graz Austria, went for slightly over a week based out of the Euginia Hills near Padua Italy, a couple of days in Ljubljana Slovenia and just over a week in Amsterdam Netherlands.
Here are the observations and conclusions:
- Travel really agrees with us - I in particular felt that I came out of the trip more mentally acute and active than I have been for quite some time. I think this was a function not just of traveling but also some of the decisions we made to put some limits on what we do.
- It is that act of travel that is the desired outcome - I don't have a 'bucket list' of things I want to see or do. What I like is the whole process of planning, then going, then dealing with all the challenges that come from the type of travel we do. Yes the challenges can be frustrating but they are never impossible and when overcome lead to a sense of accomplishment. I think this is what is feeding the mental acuity aspect.
- I think our lifestyle is healthier when we travel - We may eat a bit more but we walk tons more! I suspect our daily exercise level when we travel is on average at least two to three times more than what we do at home. At home we have schedule exercise in. When we travel just about every day we go some where and end up walking and walking and walking.
- If we're going to stay somewhere (3 weeks or more) I want to be somewhere I can communicate - I have no problem dropping into areas where we don't know the language (keep in mind we're strictly in first world countries) and figuring things out. That's part of the challenge. But if I'm going to be somewhere for a while, I want shopping and understanding the systems to not be that much a challenge so I if you don't speak the language. So that means for our longer 'stay' type of trips and English or French speaking country.
- Driving in Europe was much less dangerous than here in the US - Navigating is a challenge because of signage differences or non-existence but the GPS has really helped us with that. But by and large people follow speed limits, stay on the right unless they are going faster than other vehicles and don't go weaving in and out of traffic.
- We have to keep acknowledging our age and declining capabilities - Even though certain children who will not be identified snarkily said that our 'slowing down' brought us back to where normal people are, we really on a number of fronts tried consciously to do things in a manner that did not beat us up so much.
- Paying attention to the quality of sleep area pays off - In making our arrangements I wanted to avoid some of the problems of the trip before this where sleeping was not as good as we would have hoped because rooms and mattresses. This time by being aware of the issues we were much happier in that regard and the result was we didn't come back exhausted.
- The type of travel we do is probably not something any of our peers are going to do - We've always dreamed of being able to share our love travel and the places we've been with friends but I've come to the conclusion that the way we do things is a product of decades of experience. There are so many things that we take for granted now like going to a grocery store in a country where you don't know the language or driving around and navigating as just some of the little challenges of travel. If you've done it in three languages, what's problem doing it in a fourth. For someone who has never done it, that's a much bigger deal. We've also fine tuned how to get the best value for the money we've spent and know what we want and what we're willing to spend for it. That has come from lots of experience. So the net is I suspect it will just be Wife and I doing our traveling.
- Finally we recognize time is running out - We are in our upper 60's and fortunately still have mobility and acuity. The odds are some time in the next 10 years that's going to change and we aren't going to be able to do what we're doing now. So anticipate more blog posts from places around the world!