I learned that no one can predict the what the Euro will do. For some trips, the dollar will be strong compared to the Euro and sometimes it will be weak. It will probably average out in the long run. I guess the same goes for weather predictions and the cost of airline tickets...
Sharon, I agree! I'm never really too concerned about the Euro exchange rates, airline tickets or weather conditions in Europe (although I choose not to travel in winter as it would be a miserable experience for me - I'd prefer Hawaii at that time of year!). The exchange rates, etc. "are what they are" and beyond my control, so it comes down to a simple choice - do I want to travel (and pay whatever the "going rate" is) or not? I learned a valuable "Travel Lesson" at the end of 2005, when I suffered a severe and debilitating knee injury, which required Orthopaedic surgery, three months in a rigid splint and about two months of Physio after that. My lesson was that one event can change life's plans in a big hurry, so if one wants to travel (or whatever) it's a good idea to make that happen if at all possible and find some way to overcome minor issues that get in the way (such as exchange rates). Now that I'm retired, the financial aspects of travel will no doubt be a bit more "challenging", but I'm sure I'll find some way to continue as I want to continue travelling while my health is still good. Cheers!
2010 Travel Lesson Learned? I never realized how often it rains in Germany until I moved here. Now I know why Spain and Italy have always been such a draw for northern Europeans!
November isn't a good month for Italy if you don't like rain. It's very easy and handy to have loads of cash on board (in money belt) for paying everything to avoid trips to the bank and possible theft of credit card ID. WiFi is so readily available, I will carry a computer with me from now on. A small one. Business class flying is really nice. I wish I could make a habit of it.
I too do not worry about the euro rate unless I am going to europe to make some major purchases. I am more concerned with the cost of the flight as I like to travel business class. In addition I try to get good deals on hotels when not traveling with a tour group. I do look at the euro exchange rate before going home to decide how many euro's to bring back for the next trip.
I learned to always take a warm hat to Scotland even in July! Pam
I learned that volcanoes outrank airplanes...but it's possible to reschedule just about everything, even if you have to eat a few canceled room charges.
I agree so much with Ken. If you want to travel, you need to be flexible to take what life gives you. My husband and I used to focus on walking long distances while on trips. Then, I fell coming out of a hotel in London, tore the miniscus, had orthoscopic surgery, one year later a knee replacement. Now our trips look different than they used to, but they are still good. I'm just glad we've looked for ways to make travel still work for us.
I,too,agree with Ken. I'm retired now and I don't know how long my health will permit trips to Europe but, as long as I can, I will.
Ken is so right. We had a major health scare in 2010 that turned out to be a "false alarm", after six weeks of major anxiety. We did not receive the "all clear" news until two days before we left on our May trip to Europe. We decided when we came back that you really never know when one of the scares may turn out to be the "real thing". So, instead of waiting until 2012, we are finding the money to return to Europe later this year. Life is too short to put things off at our ages.
Yes, one just has to put up with the exchange rate, but I am glad I was in Europe this time when the Euro got to $1.20...a moment in history. I learned that you have to make adaptions to the weather, especially the unexpected cold, when travelling. Also, don't overexert
yourself, learn to pace yourself.
When you buy the Dublin Pass and get the free AirCoach (one way) ticket, even if your hotel isn't near the official bus stops, the driver will stop at your hotel if you ask.
Plastic clothes pins. I learned that those little things are lifesavers! They make hanging up clothes in the room easier, and they double as "chip clips". No more stale chips, crackers, or cookies!
I learned that after you book your airfare - don't go back and check it again. You will be frustrated when you discovered it dropped about $100 a person! Just be glad your trip is booked and you are about to go back to Italy :)
This isn't just for 2010, but over time I have learned to be flexible and make things work, even if they don't seem to be going according to plan at first. Once, my husband's CPAP cord wouldn't reach the outlet, we had forgotten the extension cord, the B&B didn't have a cord he could borrow, and the bed couldn't be moved. We ended up remaking the bed so our head was at the foot and put the machine on a chair, and the cord reached. There's usually a way to make things work if you try. There have been plenty of times when something was closed or we missed a connection, or the like. We just do something else instead and are grateful for the opportunity. That brings me to the another thing we've learned: be grateful for what you have and can do. Once in Vienna in January we heard some tourists complaining about how the cold and snow was ruining their trip. I'm not sure what they expected in January. But my beloved just took my hand in his and we smiled at each other and enjoyed a romantic walk through the city in the swirling snowflakes. It's one of many lovely memories and I'm thankful I have it. Someday when I am too old or ill to travel anywhere except in my mind, that walk is one place I will visit.
As Ken and some others have said, I have learned (not just in 2010 but in past years) that it's important to travel as much as possible and not put it off because you never know when you might not be able to travel for a long time. At 29, my concerns aren't health but money. I've been lucky enough to travel to Europe every few years and at any given time I have about 5 trips planned in my mind. Whenever I have a little money, I immediately think about the priorities on my travel list and I start earnestly planning a trip. I read that people who spend money on experiences are more satisfied and fulfilled than people who spend money on material goods, and I definitely want a life full of experiences.
My 2010 lesson was also to take advantage of every opportunity to travel because you never know what life will throw at you. I gave birth to twins in September after a somewhat difficult pregnancy, which put our travel plans on hold for a long time. I hope to get out there again in a couple of years, but talking the husband into a far off trip with twins is taking some work.
Also, hands-free luggage works best for me, traveling with the right partner is very important, and anise means licorice in French (yuck!).
Airfares don't go down in the Summer. I usually travel off-season and watch airfares until the price dips then purchase. In Summer, you're better off just buying the best choice early instead of waiting for seats to go on sale.
Prior "expert" advice as to timing the purchase of airline tickets quickly morphed to a new reality....when you see a good or better price and routing, buy.
Some day when I can not travel any longer and I am sitting on the couch watching RS travel shows, I want to be able to say that I visited so many of those places rather than saying that I wish I had gone when I had the chance. As others have said, you never know what tomorrow holds so you should make the most of today even if you have to make sacrifices to get traveling.
What I have learned...direct flights are worth the extra cost whenever possible. I can cope with the discomfort of flying in coach for only so long.
1. An erupting volcano can provide good travel stories. 2. Avoid Heathrow whenever possible.
3. Stay flexible.
Less "seeing" things and more "doing" things.
Get travel and/or flight insurance, because even if it seems SO unlikely that you, at a young age, are going to get sick/injured, because what are the odds... sometimes life bites you in the rear two days before the trip you planned for two years! And then guess what? There is joy in re-planning that trip, too. Life happens- embrace it.
I need to become a U.S. citizen before I go to Europe again.
alwyas go when a volcano explodes (extra week i was given in italy) also, do not avoid heathrow, its a major airport, it can be busy or suck, i will take it over over any NYC airport, and BA has always treated me well
We love Heathrow. Never had any major problems. Chicago's Ohare can be more of a nightmare than CDG or Heathrow! What lessons have I learned from the last year of travel? Hmmm...maybe I am getting old, but I now prefer to have hotels and car booked before arriving. Gone are the days where we would turn up in London without any arrangements! I learned to be more organised on the plane and the airport. Every trip I learn something new that works better for us.
When we traveled to Ireland for the 2nd time in 2009. We decided to print our boarding passes from our computer, (up to 24 hours before departure) used carry-on only, going (checked the dirty clothes coming home!) and definitely decided that this is the only way to go....so much easier at the airport (Don't forget to get your passport validated at the boarding gate kiosk....we didn't and they sent us out of line to get it stamped!) We like not having to stand in line to get a boarding pass and to check luggage, it is so nice to get to the airport, go directly to/thru security, then to the boarding gate with maximum allowable carry on for the overhead bin, and 1 computer-size bag for a personal item that fits under the seat in front of you. Likewise, didn't have to go to the luggage carousel upon arrival, but instead directly to the rental car booth. We don't care if our luggage full of diry clothes gets lost on the way home....and if you must check luggage...be sure to put toiletries and at least one change of clothes/underwear in your carryon/personal bag. Just a few travel lessons we have learned since 2006 and 3 trips to Ireland.
If you rarely walk/run for fitness, don't be suprised when your muscles don't respond after walking 167 miles around London the day before. Tip: give your wife some extra sugar for becoming a massage therapist.
We are fortunate enough to be able to make our trips rather lengthy, as in 4-6 weeks. In 2011, we learned that having 12 stops of 2-5 days in length meant that by the time we got to about stop number 8 or so, we could hardly remember what we did on stop number 1. So the lesson learned (or in our case, relearned) was that it really is preferable for cementing memories, to spend as much time as possible in one location, making daytrips. Of course, you have to apply that lesson within reason. Sometimes it's just not possible or reasonable to do that. In fact, ironically, we will be making a trip this year that involves even more stops because that is the only way it made any sense at all (New Zealand and Australia). But I have already made up my mind that Italy 2012 will be mostly a series of 1-week apartment/cottage rentals.
Maybe others have had different experiences, but I don't think it's a good idea to rent an apartment in a city where you've never been before. I just returned from Rome and our contact was not at the hotel when he was supposed to have been, causing us some anxiety (after barely getting there with our recent snowstorm in NY, huge delays, etc). Even though I did as much homework as I could, I would have liked a desk clerk to give us some pointers about transport, weather, etc and make restaurant reservations for us (I guess we were foolishly cheap and didn't get the plan to use our cell phone there). I agree with everyone about not putting off trips. My problem is only 2 weeks vacation. Even though I'm old enough to be getting more, when you start a new job in the US you go back to the 2 weeks! Still, can't wait to start planning the next trip! I can hear the siren call of Paris....
The village italy trip with the RS tour was harder than I thought it would be having to take your own luggage to and from the bus every 2 days. With the exception of 2 places it was a long way to the bus. My wife has physical disablities from having 3 shoulder/1 elbow surgery and developed Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. Now the RS tour I am taking in oct, I changed from the Village Turkey to the city tour of Istanbul where you stay at the same hotel the entire time.
This is a good lesson that I learned (again) this year. When we arrive at a station, unless I can actually see my hotel from where I am standing, I will take a taxi to it!
I learned a number of lessons on a trip this year. This trip was to southeast Asia, but my lessons apply to travel to Europe (or anywhere), too. Take warnings about major volcanic eruptions seriously. If you're waiting for a flight, and while you're sitting in the departure lounge you see every TV screen blaring BREAKING NEWS showing dramatic footage of the place you're about to fly into that looks like something out of Dante's Inferno, don't discount the warnings. If the locals you have befriended say they go through eruptions like that all the time and it's really no big deal, nothing to worry about, the press is just being sensationalist, thank them but don't get on the plane with them. When you land, and you look outside the plane's windows and you can see a thick layer of volcanic ash covering the airport, and everyone in the terminal is wearing surgical masks, do not jump in a taxi and head for your hotel right on the slopes of the erupting volcano. If you notice that you're in the only vehicle heading towards the volcano, and your taxi driver goes through the road blocks that the army seems to be hastily setting up, while all the locals seem to be fleeing towards the direction you're coming from, thank your driver for trying so hard but ask him to turn around. When you pull up at your (empty) hotel and step outside the taxi into the surreal gray blizzard, and someone greets you by name, accept the surgical mask that he offers you. Then, when you finally have the sense to realize that you're as crazy as a loon to be anywhere near there, and you tell your driver to take you back to the city, do NOT let him use the windshield washers to clear the ash, since water + ash instantly turns the car's windshield into a sheet of opaque concrete, which makes driving back through burning moonscape much more challenging. I learned other lessons, but that's the one that sticks most.