Month-long trips

by July

Some of us have expressed an interest in traveling to various locations and staying there a month or more just getting to know and enjoy the areas.  These would likely be post-retirement trips since we typically don’t have the vacation time to do this while we’re working.

To my surprise Miami Beach recently caught my eye as a place to spend a leisurely month.  Maybe I’m too old to enjoy the cool vibe of South Beach, but I’m still intrigued.  Plus it’s just a generally beautiful location that probably offers a number of short side trips that would be worth exploring.  What do you think?  Yay or nay on Miami Beach?

What, if any, locations would you consider for a month-long stay?  Domestic and international.  What locations would you recommend?  Give us details on local activities that would help us decide if they might tempt us.  Let’s share our inside scoop on long-term trip possibilities.

Here’s a retired couple that spends most of the year on long trips all over the world.  Ultimately they built a home in California that precisely meets their needs and was designed to easily rent out to other travelers while they are away.

Home Free Adventures

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Should You Have a Bucket List?

by Honolulu Mother

This Thrillist article considers the pros and cons of keeping a bucket list:

WHY THROWING AWAY MY BUCKET LIST MADE ME A BETTER TRAVELER

In short, it suggests that if you’re going to keep one, have a carefully considered one that is based on your real interests (rather than what might sound cool to others) and don’t be driven by it.

Thrillist also offers some advice for recovering from the flight when you do make it to a distant bucket-list destination:

HOW TO RECOVER FROM A LONG-ASS FLIGHT, ACCORDING TO FLIGHT ATTENDANTS

I don’t have a bucket list as such, although I do have some places in the back of my mind as ones I’d like to someday visit (Iceland, India). How about others – do you keep a bucket list? How has that worked for you?

Preparing your home for a trip

by Finn

“About 8 years ago we returned home from dinner to find our basement flooded from a burst HWH.”

This line above from an earlier discussion provides a segue into today’s topic:

What steps do you take when preparing to leave for a trip?

One step I typically take is to unplug our garage door openers. There have been numerous reports here of garage doors mysteriously opening when military exercises (e.g., RIMPAC) are being conducted nearby. We also have friends whose garages somehow opened while they were gone. In one case, their garage was entirely cleaned out by the time they returned. In another, he lived near us, and I saw his garage open when I knew he was skiing with other friends, so I closed it for him.

Insider travel ideas

by S&M

Regulars on the blog are spread across the US, including major cities and smaller spots some of us would like to visit on vacation. We’ve exchanged travel reports, but what about our own backyards? I wonder if regulars in Houston and Seattle agree with these “insider” ideas for their cities, and what others would tell us to see and do where they live.

Travel Like You Live Here

Open thread

We have an open thread today all day.

Here’s a topic on my mind.

How to Pack a Suitcase

Many of you will be pleased that packing cubes are recommended.  Right now I’m looking for a more efficient toiletry bag, one that hangs on a hotel door hook..

In shopping for a rolling bag recently I noticed that four wheels (spinners) seem more popular than two wheels.  I prefer two wheels because it’s slightly more compact and I don’t notice the extra ease of a four-wheeler.

At what age did your children become mostly responsible for packing their own suitcases?

Tips for Traveling Overseas

By North of Boston

This summer, my family and I are traveling to Europe to celebrate my 50th birthday.  Back in my young, single days, I used to travel internationally a lot.  However, those days are long gone, and I realize that it has been over 20 years since I last went abroad.  As I think about the upcoming trip, I realize that I have a lot of random questions about traveling overseas in the modern era.  Who better to help me with my questions, I thought, than The Totebag?

Totebaggers, I would love your input on the following questions.  If you have any additional tips for traveling internationally, please share those as well.  Also, if other Totebaggers have questions about their own travels, or would just like to chat about upcoming summer trips, feel free to jump in.

  • Many totebaggers have remarked in the past that it is considered very rude these days to recline your seat if you are sitting in coach on a plane. Is that true even for overnight flights when, presumably, most people want to sleep?  I don’t want to be rude, but I also want to try to rest on the eastbound, overnight flight.
  • Even when I was young, I had a lot of trouble with jetlag when going across several timezones . What is the current thinking about ways to minimize jetlag?
  • Back InMyDay, I remember that if you wanted to use anything electric overseas, you had to carry not only a plug adapter, but also a converter to change the voltage of your items. I think I have heard that most modern electronics (e.g. laptops, chargers, etc) already have converters, so you just need the plug adapter; is that true?
  • Also InMyDay, my pre-trip preparations always involved a trip to the American Express office to get a stack of U.S. dollar traveler’s checks. How do people pay for things these days?  Can I expect that credit cards will be acceptable pretty much everywhere (we’ll be in England and France), or should I also bring cash?  If the latter, is it better to get the cash in the U.S., or wait until we’re overseas?
  • What is the best way to get cell phone service overseas (I would like to be able to get my work voicemails, and to respond to any that need immediate attention)? Should I just ask my carrier what plans they offer, or should I do something else?

Happy travel

by S&M

This post mentions the famous (I think) free 3-day Reykjavik layover from Iceland air. It got me thinking about other possible things to do on layovers, like the Air and Space Museum right next to Dulles. Then I started reminiscing about past layover “wins”.

Flying between Ethiopia and Germany, I had my flights rearranged in Entebbe as Clinton (and AF 1) delayed our departure. When I got to Rome, I had an 8 hr layover, and didn’t want to hang out in any more airport space. I rode the subway into the city, not sure where I was going, but happy to be out of the airport (I was 32, single, and childfree). As I came up from the station, most of the crowd seemed to be going in one direction. I saw no reason to swim against the tide. I continued to move along for a couple of blocks before the people ahead of me handed over their bags for someone to search. The whole crowd seemed to be lining up. Huh? Random security checks on the sidewalk? I looked around and realized we were at the gates of the Vatican. I went on in, no ticket required, and found myself standing in St Peter’s Square, just outside the Basillica, with hundreds if not thousands of people. What now? The pope? I was joking to myself, but sure enough, the crowd at one end parted, cheers went up, and there was the famous Popemobile, with the pontiff smiling and waving as he drove through the crowd. He drove around a bit before he gave a brief welcome and blessing and I think that was it. It was a bit of a surreal experience.

Another time, I knew in advance that my son and I would have an 11-hr layover after flying across the Pacific. We had nearly missed our outbound flight in LAX, so I was fine with the wait, but with a 3 year old? We took a cab to the beach, played in the surf, slept in the sun, ate in a cafe, and were refreshed when our redeye began.

So how ’bout it? Do you have any good layover stories, intentional or not?

Layovers Don’t Have to Suck: Escape the Airport and Explore

Why flying has gotten suckier

by MooshiMooshi

The current flying experience, in my opinion, totally sucks, and is much worse than say 8 or even 5 years ago. It is just as crammed and unpredictable as before, but now tickets cost a lot more, service to small and medium cities has been cutback drastically and in particular costs a lot more, and to add insult to injury, we now pay fees for almost every aspect of a “normal” flying experience. At some point, I assume, we will end up paying fees for being allowed to sit down. And yes, I pay the fees. If I am flying with a kid, I want to sit next to my kid because even though said kid would be fine alone, it is simply inconvenient to be separated. So I pay the fee to get an aisle or window seat, and I pay the fee to be allowed to choose. And since I would rather not be separated from my bag which has all my snacks and reading glasses, and work to be done, I pay for the priority boarding so I can get bin space. Boarding has turned into a stressed out competition. In the old days, one could relax and wait for your row group to be called. Now, it is a stampede, with everyone in a boarding group hanging by the gate, trying to be first in their group to get that bin space.

This is a great article explaining why this state of affairs is good for airlines.

“Calculated misery”: how airlines profit from your miserable flying experience

Although, they don’t really touch on the main reason why airlines have been able to do this: consolidation. The industry is so much a monopoly now that we consumers cannot vote with our feet.

I thought capitalism and free markets were supposed to IMPROVE things for consumers. But evidently not.

Do you guys think air travel will ever improve or will we end up paying an extra fee for the privilege of sitting?

Holidays from hell

by Grace aka costofcollege

What was your holiday from hell?  Maybe you’ve not suffered from situations as horrible as those in the article linked below, but have you had any time time when your carefully planned trip did not turn out as smoothly as anticipated?  Illness, injury, missed flights, dismal accommodations, horrible weather, unruly or incompatible traveling companions, disappointing destinations, or something else?

Holidays from Hell: From frisky elephants to a loo filled with frogs, tourists reveal the hilarious moments their trips went VERY wrong

One of my recent travel disasters caused me to miss my kid’s college graduation ceremony.  The series of unfortunate events began with a widespread thunderstorm pattern that cancelled our flight and ended with me pulling up to campus the next day just after the last graduate had been handed their diploma.  In between were many snags, including a daylong wait at the originating airport, outrageously priced replacement tickets, misplaced luggage, unexpected highway construction on the way to campus, and a clueless cab driver who asked me for the best alternate route.

My sister once spent the night with her toddler at O’Hare International on Christmas Eve. What travel mishaps or disappointments have you had?  Can you laugh at them now in hindsight?