How We Travel

It has been cold in Paris this week with snow. They locked up Palais Royal tighter than a drum as it was too icy and unsafe to walk in.

A closer look at Palais Royal park through the locked gate.

How We Travel

It is interesting to me to read various travel boards on the Internet and get a glimpse into the thinking of those who travel. There are those, even members of my family, who travel as little as possible and have no desire to see the world. It is almost like a recessive gene to have urge to see parts of the world you have only read or heard about. If you don’t have that travel gene, you don’t get it. I have had people say to me, “You are going traveling again? Don’t you get tired of it?” I never have, not even when the victim of Montezuma’s revenge in Mexico, getting a close up view of the inside of a toilet. I’ve even been back to Mexico many more times. I like the culture there and the warmth of the people.
There seem to be two sorts of travelers: those who want to see it all and who want to cram as much as possible into one short period of time and those who think that is a ridiculous way to travel. Americans, especially, seem to be accused of the “If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium” mentality. Part of this is because, unlike many Europeans, Americans only have a limited vacation time. Two weeks for a vacation is a real luxury and Europeans with their six weeks or more of vacation time are looked at with envy. If you only have a week of time to travel and you have paid a large sum to get airline tickets with hotel reservations and happen to be in a place overseas that you feel is a once in a life-time event, such as France or Italy, you want to see as much as you can. You may never again get the chance to see Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany and Naples even if it is all in one seven day period.
More and more travelers have discovered, especially if traveling with children, that staying in apartments rather than hotels can be a real benefit in traveling, especially when the kids get up in the morning wanting their ceral, not a croissant and coffee. It can be great to come back to an apartment for a nap, cooking your own meals after shopping in a neighborhood street like a native. Of course, there isn’t anyone to wash the dishes or make the beds, and no room service. There is also the possibility that the apartment doesn’t look like the photo you saw on the website renting it and that two of you will be sleeping on a lumpy fold out couch bed and you may never figure out how to run the washing machine there. Apartment renting, never the less, is becoming more and more the norm for tourists.
There is a travel board that I read call Slow Travel. This is a different philosophy of travel. You don’t see how much you can pack into your time in a city or country but you stay in one place and really get to know it. You might make forays into the area but you savor your time there, slowly explore, let the country soak into your memory like a slowly developing photo.
I’ve done it both ways and, if I have the time, like the slow travel way of visiting a country. But, when I’m in a new place and only have one week there, I find myself feeling a little stressed, wildly reading the Internet, pouring over travel books, wanting to find out all that I can about where I am going. I don’t want to miss anything. I hate to get back, know I am proably never returning there, and then hearing about something fabulous that I missed. I know I will return not really “knowing” a place in the world, new to me, but I will still be happy that I got to see it.
There are traveler’s clubs whose goal is to see as many countries in the world as they can. By seeing a country, it doesn’t mean exploring it. Just landing in the airport or getting off in a port counts. And that is what you do, count. Everyone wants to have the longest list. I used to get this mentality about seeing as many States in the US that I could, going miles out of my way to cross the border so I could say that I had “been” there. I did this once when in Kentucky, ending up in a rather depressing corner of Indiana so I could say I had been there. There are many States I haven’t visited unlike my French husband who has visited every State but North and South Dakota. He traveled across America often camping out and getting more of a feel for each State than I’m sure I do when I blitz Europe.

4 thoughts to “How We Travel”

  1. Hi Linda, I followed your link from your signature on SlowTrav. I’ve been greatly enjoying your blog and your photos. You have a wonderful “eye”, and I’m drinking in your descriptions and commentaries. Thanks for your views of Paris.

  2. Thank you, Amy. It’s always nice to know that there is actually someone out there who reads my blog besides my family. I have fun doing it. Linda

  3. Hi Linda – I think the slow travel philosophy is such a great fit for traveling with kids. They love to camp out somewhere and enjoy a new micro-universe, and instead, we try to cram their travel days full of “events”. I vividly remember my first real “trip” with my daughter, and her joy at watching a fire while cuddling in her sleeping bag. Now how to take Europe at that same slow pace, LOL…

  4. I’m all for Slow Travel too. I think we need to slow down with children when traveling which leads to some good times, and times that they remember most. Short times in new places always speeds me up-gotta see it all or die trying. Thanks for posting. Linda

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