Monday, November 14, 2016

The Trip Review or Trial by Navel Gazing

We are back in the US staying over in Chicago to ease in the jet lag as I’ve talked about in the past. I do have another couple of posts with pictures from our stay in Amsterdam but they will have to wait for faster internet at home. Instead you get
The Great de-I Travel Navel Gazing Post
For others travel may be something they do occasionally as a way of getting a break from everyday life. For many travel is a chore they need to endure for work or family reasons or any other reason to go from point A to point B. But in the process of discovering what my life was going to be post-career, I discovered that that travel filled a host of deep seated needs. These included:
·      Having new things to discover
·      Enjoying cultures other than my own both ones I have experienced before and enjoy and ones that are completely new
·      Getting me physically out of my work environment, very important as once I decided to be ‘semi-retired’ work tends to attract more time than I would prefer giving it.
·      Providing an activity that could satisfy aspects of my Type A personality through requirement for planning and organizing
·      Giving me something challenging, something that tests my physical, mental and decision making capabilities.
·      Allow me the opportunity to renew the experience I had as a student of ‘living’ in a country as opposed to ‘visiting’ a country.
As Wife and I started doing our extensive traveling we developed a number of initial assumptions that would act as a template for planning our trips. These were:
·      Wanting to staying at a one place for extensive periods of time (3 to 4 weeks)
·      Being close to the ocean
·      Having a view
·      Wanting to be able to use a vehicle to get off the beaten path
·      Get variety – go different places
·      Make full use of our time
·      Stay in house or apartment rentals rather than hotels as much as possible
·      Aim for the best quality of rental – beds, public area – as possible
·      Travel on shoulder seasons – Spring and Fall
·      Try to leave in the fall after we have fully enjoyed our home/garden
·      Try to return in the spring in time to plant the garden for full enjoyment
·      Experience as much as we can during each trip
Our last two trips have resulted in a substantial amount of learning on our part which in turn is causing us to consider changes in our mode of travel.
Probably the single most important learning is that our physical capabilities are declining due to age. This in turn affects many the means and behaviors of how we travel.
·      Our ability within any given day to walk/climb/carry
·      The long-term negative affects when we ignore that declining ability
·      Our tolerance and enjoyment of driving in challenging situations
·      Our tolerance for cold or very hot weather
·      A need to have more rest; in a day, during a trip
We are also finding there is a real limit to what you can determine on-line in researching rentals. No matter how many pictures you look at or reviews you read, there is a good chance there is going to be something that you have missed.
I think I can clearly state that I’ve disproved the idea that you can replicate living in a place if you are just traveling there. Even staying 4 weeks somewhere is not going make it like living there. Living somewhere means truly being part of a community so you have to have something going on in that community other than just visiting it like work or study.
We also are coming to grips with the fact we get bored easily. Once we’ve seen most things in an area we’re ready to move on. As of the moment, we haven’t found some magic locale where we are ready to stay for some extended period of time.
The driving gets to be a real chore and energy drain, if I am doing it all the time and we are doing it in very challenging environments. So if we are going to drive, we can’t have me doing it all. In fact, we’re finding using public transportation (in city mass transit) easier as a means to get around
After much discussion, we have come to some conclusions (these pertain mostly to European travel which because of daughter #2’s next post being Kiev is going to dominate our activities for at least another 4 years).
The first of these deals with getting the weather and temperature we want. We want to continue to travel on the shoulder seasons of the spring and fall. If that is true that means we’re going to have to give up some of the time we enjoy in our home and garden to ensure the best possible weather when we travel. In the spring that means probably not leaving until the mid/end of March and coming back the mid/end of May. In the fall it means leaving no later than mid-September and getting back the first week of November.
If places we want to see are in Northern Europe/away from the Mediterranean, we have to go there after April 30 or before October 1
The next of these deals with driving. We need to bite the bullet and get an automatic transmission car when we rent so Wife can do some of the driving. We have to be willing to give up the views if it means crazy climbing driveways. In general, we need to be much more careful about the environment we’re in as far as driving is concerned. That many mean searching for areas that are flatter.
Dealing with our boredom factor and the fact that we can’t really scope out the quality of a rental means that we probably shouldn’t stay more than two weeks anywhere. Our experience of going to Avignon on the spur of the moment and finding a place in Paris when we were stuck has given me confidence that we don’t have to plan our full trip out in advance and can be a bit more freeform in our travel so if we’re not happy somewhere we can go elsewhere.
We definitely want to stay in more cities that have good public transportation. But we need to be careful that we stay away from any apartment that requires a multi-story climb to get to it.
We continue to like going to wine growing areas, particularly those with well-developed wine tourism (as in the Rhone area as opposed to Austria). We loved our time in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. It would make a lot of sense for us to schedule going to a wine region first and buying wine for the rest of a driving trip.
Along the lines of not getting stuck somewhere we don’t enjoy, we should continue to combine countries/cultures that are new to us with countries/cultures that are familiar.
Here’s a biggie – if we are acknowledging we are physically slowing down and not capable of doing as much, we need to be willing to accept that we are going to miss things in any area. We are going to have to accept doing less. So far we’ve been a dismal failure at that. I mean on this trip on the very first day, the very first day we way over did it. We have to stop carrying huge ass packs with us. We bailed on them in Paris and it was noticeable the difference on the wear and tear bodily. We also need to develop activities we like to do that are portable that can accompany us so if we’re tired or the weather is bad, we can just spend a day or two wherever we are and be content.
Finally, there is a big challenge of how we’re going to take all these learnings and use them when we have a trip to somewhere that is completely new to us. For example, our next adventure is taking us back to Asia where we’re going to be visiting Japan, Korea, doing some kind of beach resort thing with #2 and family somewhere in Southeast Asia and other things perhaps. Will we be able to resist the need to try and see as much as we possibly can in a totally new country/culture? I don’t know, but we’ve committed to focusing much more on these issues as we plan this next trip.


Rob said...

"But we need to be careful that we stay away from any apartment that requires a multi-story climb to get to it."

We had better look into getting that lift installed again then... :P

alexis said...

maybe you need to limit the scope of your trip. If you know it's your only time in a country it will be too tempting to try to see and do everything. Why not just deep dive in one or max two places? Just because family won't be in Asia anymore doesn't mean you have to stop going there, or make this your last hurrah.

de-I said...

Alexis - that is definitely something in the thought process. However, if we don't change what we do within a day, it doesn't make a difference if we are in many or just a single locale. And there is the boredom factor to consider. All in all compared to 99.99% of humanity, these are good problems to have.