Outrageous Travel Lesson 9

Take a day off – after all it is a vacation.

Have you ever been on vacation and wished you could take a day off? The vacation is great. You are glad you did it. Still the schedule is hectic. You feel rushed and pressured. If only you could stop, savor the moment and catch your breath. Unfortunately there are too many things to see and not enough time. It’s a marathon. You have to push on or loose out.

That was my wife and me before we implemented the outrageous travel concepts of One Month Travel . Our vacations were frantic. We were focused on getting the most value from the time and money we invested. Time was precious. After the airfare, hotel and food costs we could only afford to stay a few days and we didn’t want to waste one minute.

Take the Day Off!

Take the Day Off!

Our last conventional vacation was a five day trip to New York City. We could only afford five days so we took the red eye on Saturday night and started sightseeing Sunday morning at 8:00. New York hotels aren’t cheap. We got the best deal we could find on Priceline- a tiny room in a great location. We ate two meals a day and mostly patronized average restaurants but we were still spending big on food. We rationalized the expense since we were only taking five days. New York is a fantastic place to visit and five days only scratche the surface. Time and money constraints created fantastic pressure not to waste a second. We didn’t want any downtime. We got up early, went to bed late and as a result were tired. Like the Energizer Bunny, we kept on going but I remember thinking that it would be so nice if we could take a day off to rest. Back then I dismissed that idea as craziness.

Taking Baby Steps

Our next trip was a baby step on the way to One Month Travel. We committed two weeks to exploring Venice and we rented an apartment. We had all the comforts of home in an exotic city. We could cook basic meals without the expense of restaurants and we had room to spread out and relax at the end of the day. We had solved part of our vacation problem but time was still an issue. Even two weeks in Venice wasn’t enough to see everything. We kept up our activity every day even as climbing the steps for all the canal bridges was making me sore and achy. I kept moving and saved my recovery until we were back home. I still didn’t have my day off.

Contrast this experience with our outrageous travel trip to Rome in June. This was our second one month trip and we had learned that we could take it easy. When a devastating event (Theft of a travel bag while having coffee on our first day) we retreated back to the apartment to lick our wounds and recover. The day was wasted for sightseeing but we had 29 days remaining in Rome. We didn’t squander the day pretending that the disaster hadn’t happened while trying to sight see. We took a day to recover and hit the city running on the next day.

One of the great pleasures with outrageous travel is that you have enough time. You don’t panic about schedules. You don’t worry about the weather. Best of all, you don’t have to do anything at all. You can take a day off and when you are in a beautiful place even a day off is great.

There are other benefits.

It is a great comfort as you take in the sights to know that , if you want, you can come back. In Rome, we missed one of the sculptures in St. Peters. I didn’t know it was there and my wife was too overwhelmed to think about it. On a regular vacation, it would be just too bad. We would have missed it. There wouldn’t have been time for a revisit without eliminating something else. We just went back.

We went several times to many of the Roman landmarks and, remarkably each time the experience was different. Our apartment was in Trastavere, a bit off the tourist track and we enjoyed the activities of the residents, buying swordfish at the local market, getting a gelato in the afternoon, watching the piazza from a cafe, strolling the cobblestone streets. Some days we didn’t do much more that visit the market, take a stroll and watch the street entertainers who come out at night. Were we doing serious sightseeing? Not by the traditional definition. You might even call it taking a day off. You make your own decision but for me and my wife, those ‘off’ days were some of the most delightful on our trip.

Spending time in the beautiful places you have always dreamed about shouldn’t be a high pressure schedule. Seeing the sights shouldn’t be following a tour guide in lock step with a hoard of fellow travelers. If your vacation doesn’t leave you time to smell the roses, it is time for you to make some changes. Consider One Month Travel next time around.

Return to the Lessons List.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Bill Murney October 6, 2013, 7:06 am

    Hi Ralph

    Taking one day off per week when on vacation is something I always do. It’s good just to chill out, read a book or do whatever floats your boat. I have been told that NY is expensive, I believe they expect around 20% tips in the restaurants, is that true?

    Bill Murney’s last Blog Post ..Offa’s Dyke Path 2

    • Ralph October 7, 2013, 9:39 am

      Good to hear from you again. I think you have better judgement than I. It seems to take me so long to discover obvious things. Still, I am convinced that even slow learning is better than no learning at all. So I carry on.
      New York is expensive, especially when you use hotels and buy meal out. I don’t really know if restaurants expect 20% tips. I just know that if they did, the Carlson’s disappointed them. We tip in the US because tipping makes such a large part of the serving staff’s income but I don’t get out of the 10-15% range unless there is something extraordinary about the service.
      I wish I knew better about tipping conventions and expectations in other countries. It’s always something I wonder about, especially when restaurants tack it on to the bill.

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