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Simple, Easy Travel

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Now that we're traveling again, I feel more aches and pains! Maybe taking off all the time during Covid got me out of my best travel shape, or maybe this is just my new normal. But - I still want to travel as much as possible! I also want to travel more simply, make fewer arrangements, and let someone else be in charge. I want to travel in April, but I don't want the trip to be too long (distance OR time-wise) because we're flying to Prague at the end of May. With that in mind we dismissed the idea of Sicily in the spring. Then we considered and dismissed Uzbekistan. Then we didn't like the weather in April for Scotland, so we've settled on the easiest, simplest European vacation I can think of: Ireland.

Ireland doesn't have quite as much drama as Scotland, but there are gorgeous views everywhere. AND - it's a fairly short TA flight, AND it's only 5 hours difference, AND I read about this small group tour that's been highly recommended. (10-12 people). It goes to many of the same places we visited in 2018 but this time Art can sit back and enjoy the views rather than stressing over scraping the side of the car. So now I feel better, knowing that we'll be traveling in April!
 
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NoSpin

100+ Posts
We're doing a safari at the end of April and then flying to Ireland. I'm investigating these tours where you ride a horse from castle to castle. I am also liking the idea of not bothering with a car.

You can't scrape a horse! :D
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Interesting thought provoker

Could I ever let the planning go and simply follow a pre-arranged and fully supported commercial itinerary in a tour group? Who knows, but I just can't see it. We've valued the freedom of getting apartments, of being able to get up when we want to, eat (or not eat) when we desire, and simply to have nothing dictating that we need to do anything we don't feel up to at that moment in time. True, there is the odd event (e.g. a festival), or booking (winery visit), or there is a market day that we'll invariably aim to get to. Maybe 2-3 such 'bookings' in a week, with everything else formed from dipping into the pre-prep and deciding on something that appeals 'in the moment'.

That's not to say there aren't other ways to make it an easier, less tiring / stressful experience. Thoughts include:
- Very much that thinking above, always having options, but rarely having obligations
- Reduce number of bases and transfers. Preaching to the converted here, but transfer days can be so draining, that they'll impact us into the following day as well, and the worst can easily wipe out enjoyment from the whole transfer day.
- Be more sensible with transport options. This is where I still have some learning to do. I love sorting out travel arrangements, even down to local bus services to get us to our location. Sometimes this ends up with us doing that, where we'd never do so at home, simply catching a taxi instead.
- Make the car work. Some driving can be awful: stressful and tiring. However in the right location it really opens a place up, and the roads quiet enough that the driving is pleasant. Ideally we'll ensure there is a restaurant or two in walking distance, to avoid having to drive in the dark. If that location is right, then ditch the public transport limitations and enjoy the different experiences that the car can open up. Conversely, if the location isn't suitable, don't be a fool about it, and focus the trip on where the public transport makes day trips or getting around simple.
- More prep. We very much appreciate the confidence on arriving, that we know (e.g.) that there's a cafe 50 yards away, a bakery a block away, and there are 4-5 restaurants in walking distance. Recognising street names on the walk into the centre helps as well. Basically anything that helps avoid that feeling of being disorientated on arrival (and Google streetview is wonderful for this as well)
- Mindset. This can be any number of things, but foremost is getting over the mindset that we 'have to see everything". In the rush to see all the famous sights/sites, and take photos of each of them, we can miss the 'simply enjoying being there and in the culture'. Instead, take the time to appreciate what we do see, or to do something like a walk that sees less 'sights', but provides a lovely relaxing experience.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Could I ever let the planning go and simply follow a pre-arranged and fully supported commercial itinerary in a tour group? Who knows, but I just can't see it.
I agree. I still love all the planning even if we are not traveling as much. Also, I am not really a “people person” so could not survive on a tour.

As we get older, and as we are coping with my illness, we are doing fewer trips and doing less on each trip. Staying longer in one place let’s you take it easy. Using public transportation if you are not comfortable driving let’s you take it easy.

I really hope I am back to fighting strength next summer and lose my fear of Covid because I want to do more trips!
 

Cameron

500+ Posts
I'm also slowing down next year, much of it because of the on/off/on/off experience of whether or not trips were happening, what would happen once there, during Covid. It was stressful! Also, the stock market is not a retiree's friend right now. Gulp!

I'm a solo traveler, so I'm going to my comfortable place. I'm spending a month in Paris. When I feel like exploring, I can get on a train and be in so many interesting places for a quick overnight trip, or a day trip. I have many friends in Paris, and May is a big social month for my connections. I also found that renting an apartment in Paris for month is about the same amount for the same size for 2 weeks.
 

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
As you probably know, I used to love the planning, but over the past few years that's changed. I think part of it is that I get absolutely overwhelmed by the choices online (which is one reason why I come here for advice!). I'm also something of a control freak, so it's a little surprising that I enjoyed our small group tour of Morocco as much as I did. We definitely got lucky with a group of 14 people who just gelled immediately, but I was more than okay with letting someone else do the driving, navigating, booking, and even choosing the sites.

We took two short (5 day) small group tours in August - and I discovered that one of the things I didn't like about the company was that everyone was free to select from a variety of accomodations, meaning that our group (9 in Ireland, 10 in Scotland) was separtated at night, and we were left on our own. Although I'm not one for large groups, I would have preferred the camraderie of these smaller groups in the evening, just to relax over a glass of wine, sharing travel stories or discussing what we'd seen that day. For that reason I've selected a different small group tour for Ireland, and will hope for the best.

There was a time when I could never have imagined traveling with a group, but time and circumstances have changed me. My biggest concern is finding reasonable airfare, and once that's done, everything else is taken care of.
 

Kathy (Trekcapri)

100+ Posts
Hi Barb, your upcoming trip sounds wonderful. I've never been to Ireland yet and hope to visit one day (still remains on my bucket list).

I find your thread so interesting because I have also evolved my travel over the years. I did the big group tours when I was much younger & for me anything at that time always seemed more like an adventure and where the positives outweighed the negatives. After discovering independent solo travel, I could never imagine going on another tour, but then I discovered the joys of small group tours. And in April, I'll be going on my 4th Group tour with GrapeHops (Shannon is amazing). And since I have been traveling with my sister and BIL, after each tour, I like to extend it by planning a side trip to places I've been but the have not. For example, after our Croatia tour, I planned an extended independent trip to visit Venice, Rome, Tuscany, Florence. The combination of the small group tour & trip planning for the independent part of our itinerary gives me the best of two worlds. As I am getting older, I'm trying to visit someplace new along with some of my favorite places whenever possible.

With that said, I still long for my solo trips & I'd love to plan another solo trip and spend a month in one of my favorite places. I haven't been active here on Slow Europe and I've missed this community so I plan to be more active. I've received my latest COVID-19 booster & have my Global Entry Card (incl. TSA Precheck) and I would like to make more use of it. :)
 

milgreen2

10+ Posts
So glad I found this thread, because we've been going through similar feelings about travel lately. Recently returned from an-almost-3-week trip to Sicily (15 nts) and Rome (4 nts), out first big trip since COVID. I do all of the planning and arrangements, which has always been fun for me, but I must admit there is a certain appeal to having a lot of the choices narrowed down. But cost is definitely a factor as well, and we have been able to arrange wonderful trips on our own, for far less money than almost all of the group trips I have seen..............

I think we probably have another few years of independent travel planning before easing into other options.
 

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