Everyone has a quirky thing or two about how they like to travel and what they like to see. Some travelers gravitate to sites in which they have particular interest while avoiding destinations or sites that bore them or they just plain hate. And many travelers, if pressed, would admit to a little embarrassment regarding their own travel proclivities. We have asked a few of our writers to let you in on their personal travel confession.
I really dislike tour groups. I can see why they appeal to some people, but they just aren’t my cup of tea. Sure, I’ve been known to go on a guided tour of a historic site (I learned a lot on my guided tour of Ephesus, Turkey, for example), but having to follow the travel plan laid out by a tour guide day in and day out is not the way I prefer to travel – I need to have more flexibility, and more opportunities to experience the highs and lows that come with discovering a country oneself.
As long as we’re confessing things, my husband and I once feigned illness to get out of 3-day guided tour, and ended spending some of the best days of our lives together stumbling around London, discovering both the good and bad elements of this phenomenal city—not just the parts the tour guide wanted to (or was paid to) show us.
How has it come to this? I have some regrets; the samo-samo has greatly diluted my fashionista propensity, not to mention my garments after a zillion washings are crinklier than Grandma Moses’ brow. Yes, my husband Rick has won out – no matter if we are traveling for five plus months through a half dozen countries, we have succumbed to winging-our-way to distant lands with ONLY carry-on luggage.
On the plus side, it is great to sail through customs without having to wait for checked-luggage. Now most airlines allow a carry-on of 10 kg, plus one other bag (such as a computer case or a hand bag). While enjoying each country purchases are bound by the “one in – one out” rule – i.e.: any new item added must be balanced with the discarding of another to keep within the 10kg weight allowance. Flying between several countries went smoothly…until a section of our trip was to fly with New Zealand Air. Not until we were at the airport an hour before flight-time did we learn their recent incorporation of a 6-km-allowance for carry-on luggage! We reeled in surprise…shock even. Okay- what to do?
Considering our carry-on case weighed 1 kg by itself, we had to rid ourselves of approximately 3kg of stuff each. Confession time – I packed on as many pieces of clothing as possible and Rick followed suit. Like a rapper, I wore all my jewelry. Our guidebooks were tucked down the back of our pants. We had a difficult time keeping a straight face when our bags came in under regulation weight. “Let’s work re-configuring our carry-ons,” Rick challenges, “as no doubt more airlines will be taking a stricter stand on the weight.” Envisioning the scant items left in my carry-on, the jury (me) is still out on that one, but a prior check of weight allowance is wise.
My travel confession? I recently bought a pair of knock-off Crocs for house shoes, and now I take them traveling with me. To anyone who just cringed, bear in mind these things don’t make public appearances. In fact, I only recommend Crocs, or mock Crocs, for wearing around inside your accommodation: when creaking to the bathroom in a rustic B&B, when making your way to the continental breakfast, when visiting the pool.
OK, I hate to admit this, but I like to see the weird and the macabre when I am traveling. And, I really hate to say this, but the best places to see this type of thing is in Catholic churches.
I never accept the first room I am offered. It started years ago on a family trip to Mexico. We were given a room that had mildew. We had pre-paid so argued and threatened until they changed our room. We were given a two-bedroom suite (it seems that there is always a suite available even when the hotel is fully booked.)
When I first started traveling on my own, I saved money by renting a car and sleeping in it. Yeah, no comfy hotel beds for me—and I even convinced a girlfriend to rough it a few times, too. Other than the discomfort of sleeping in a partially reclined driver’s seat, the technique really wasn’t so bad.
The hardest part was finding a safe and secluded place to park for the night. One time, I found a dirt road in the Chianti region of Italy and slept just a few yards from a farmer’s vineyard. Another time, I’d planned on parking and then cooking a pathetic meal of hot dogs over a fire, but it started raining. I wasn’t going to go to sleep hungry (especially in a car), so I “cooked” them on the car engine! I probably won’t be using a car for a hotel in a foreign country again. For one, it isn’t safe, and, for two, it can be a lot of work. But those backpack-style memories will be with me for the rest of my life.
Do you have a travel confession you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Staff for EuropeUpClose.com