Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You Asked For It - My Travel Style

Remember when I asked you all to ask me questions? Well, I didn't forget them. I loved them so much that I'll be making many of them actual posts in a series I'll call You Asked for It. By the way, this isn't a one time thing, but rather feel free to comment on that post again, or I'll ask again soon. By the way, I read and appreciate all of your comments. I really do.

Anyhoo, reader Daphne asked a great question of me: What's my travel style? To be fair, my travel style has changed over the years. Since I think in lists, here are some aspects of travel, and how I view them.

Flights - I'm pretty much like everyone in the world. I appreciate a good, cheap airfare. While I find domestic travel akin to being herded like cattle, I do find that you can still get relatively decent service in coach on many international carriers. I've already told Husband J that I want to fly first class on a long-haul flight some day. I'll be holding him to that.

Accommodations - Here's where I think I've had the biggest change since I've started travelling. If you met me ten years ago, I'd say that I stayed in small family-owned pension/hotels or hostels. The goal was for the place to be a little on the cheap and just comfortable enough but far from luxurious. I didn't care so much about feeling pampered in any way, but rather I was interested in a basic, clean and safe place to sleep.

Movin' on up. Bed at the Argos Hotel in Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey

Oh my how things have changed! I can't roll like that anymore. I think the biggest change is because I travel with Husband J now. I have a hard time telling my husband that we are going to be somewhere with no sheets (hostel in Paris), you have to wear shower shoes, and bring your own soap (same hostel in Paris). :) I'm being a little dramatic, but I'm just too old now to not enjoy where I'm staying. Also one of the benefits of being married is having more income to draw upon, which means that we can spend a little more. We don't do the Four Seasons or the Ritz Carlton, but our accommodations have some nice bathrooms (now pretty much a prerequisite for me).

Bathroom at the Komaneka Bisma, our hotel in Ubud, Bali

When traveling abroad, I tend not to stay in chain hotels. I usually search for and try to patronize hotels that are owned by residents or natives of that country. I try to support hotels that are incorporating sustainable designs or practices (or at least advertise that they do), or are charitable and contribute to the community. I also like to stay somewhere with a little bit of a distinctive feel particularly in decor or archictecture. At the same time, I am conscious of price and value (hence no Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton). I don't see why you can't have comfort, a little luxury with some socially conscious ideals in the mix and not pay an arm and a leg. I promise I will talk about money soon. Promise!

View from the balcony at the Komaneka Bisma

Sightseeing - As you can probably tell from our most recent trip to Turkey, I don't want to just sit in the hotel or a cafe all day. Even if it's traveling domestically, I like to see what makes a place unique. I do like museums but ONLY art ones. Archaeology museums actually bore me. I love walking, wandering and people watching, too. Sometimes I feel a twinge of sadness if I don't get to see something that I've wanted to. I act as if I may never return to a place (which in many cases has been true), and so I try to take in as much of my surroundings as I can.

Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I don't schedule my days to a tee. I have a general idea of what I want to see and try to make sure that I see it that day. I build in rest and some hanging out at a cafe, in the hotel room or somewhere fun. Down time is key, and it's perfect time to read that book I brought with me. I love reading on trips!

I'm not necessarily into nature, but I do appreciate it. I don't think I could do a whole trip that was purely nature focused, but who knows? Maybe that's something that I need to try.

At the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Shopping - I'm not a big shopper. Unless I am shopping for handmade items or crafts that are particular to that country, are less expensive in that country, and just as good or better quality than what I can get at home, then maybe I'll buy something. I tend to get small items for a small group of people to bring home, but I barely shop for myself unless it falls into the group described above. The only place where I might let loose with some good old fashioned shopping is London because I love the clothes and fashion there. Europe gets everything two years before we do in the U.S. Really!

Food - Bring it! :) No really, I like a mix of both low-end and high end places and as local as possible. If I want a good burger or pizza, I'll just stay at home. It's rare that I order anything like that when I am travelling. I'd rather be sick of the local food at the end of the trip than have dishes that resemble food that I can eat at home. My perfect food day would be a full breakfast, a lunch at a non-touristy place and/or a street food snack, and then a nice dinner somewhere that's a little more upscale but still highlights local flavors. I will say that I have had a meal or two at McDonald's abroad. They're actually a little better in other countries! :)

So that's it! My travel style in a nutshell. What's yours? I'd love to hear it!


lavenderpug said...

i definitely hear you on willing to spend more on nicer accommodations than when i was younger. i'm also willing to pay a premium for better location, to deal with less stress and time getting to the things i want to see. i used to be an extreme over planner, but i've started to let that go, thank goodness.

Our Wired Lives said...

I really love this reflection post. Like you, my travel accommodation needs have changed a lot from earlier in my years. I use to do accommodations on the cheap. The gross hostels were just part of the experience. Now, I want and need more. Traveling with a partner means that the bedroom needs to be couples worthy (if you know what I mean. wink wink). I'm also too old to deal with less then clean bathrooms. My friend and I use to go to McDonalds in every country so that we could compare the difference. Now, I would say that eating and drinking is my preferred way of experiencing and getting to know a city.

Oneika said...

Great to hear your travel truths!! You know mine already, but I can't stress enough the importance of a clean bathroom! Your pics of the hotel in Bali had my tongue wagging! Wow!

Mandy said...

Great post! I love hearing about how others travel. We're the "plan everything and have plan b's for everything" type travelers. We also need quality hotels...they don't have to be first-class or anything, but we need comfortable and clean while on vacation. Nothing is worse than an uncomfortable hotel to come back to after exploring/walking all day while jet-lagged!

Daphne said...

Great summary of your travel style, Terri.

I'm certainly not well-traveled, so I've never used hostels as accommodations. I'm 33 now, and I'm not particularly interested in that anyway. I've always been anal about clean bathrooms, so most hostels probably wouldn't have been my cup of tea, anyway.

As for hotels, I think there is a quality threshold in which a hotel room is a hotel room is a hotel room, and one is just paying for the brand and exclusivity. I prefer nice, local accommodations at a good value for sure. Nevertheless, if someone wanted to sponsor a stay at a Four Seasons, I wouldn't turn it down!

Like you, I'm not big on shopping. A few souvenirs for family, perhaps, but otherwise, I don't see the need to pack an extra bag or dole out cash to pay to ship items stateside - too much trouble for stuff I don't need. I did bring a couple of bottles of wine from my time in central Italy, but thankfully, those fit in my suitcase.

I've not traveled first class internationally, but if the price is right, I'll gladly pay for 1st class on a long-range domestic flight. For example, I flew from Tampa to Seattle last year for an Alaskan cruise, and that extra legroom was so very nice.

Co-sign on local cuisine!

Try Anything Once Terri said...

@LavenderPug - I agree it's easy to over plan. I've learned to go with the flow more over time as well.

@Oneika - That is still one of the best hotel bathrooms I've ever had the pleasure of using. Oh my! The shower alone was heavenly.

@ OurWiredLives - Um...yeah. (wink, wink indeed!) :)

@ Mandy - That is totally the underlying rationale for me. There is nothing worse than coming back to a room you hate. This happened to Husband J and I in Ireland, and I think we learned our lesson.

@Daphne - Glad you liked it. :) It seems we have similar travel styles as well.

Sarah Wu said...

Love hearing thoughts on traveling from a fellow traveler. I have become more like you in away that I use to stay at any place thats cheap as long is clean. now I would look for a a place that's more luxury or comfortable then before. :)


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