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Going to See or Going to Be?

So…. Since I started my European travel in 2012, I have focused all my trips around what I wanted to see each time I traveled. Time was not my friend (with limited vacation time and only one trip a year for the the first few years), so I tried to pack as much in as I could. I want to see the Colosseum so I go to Rome. How many other things can I manage to see while I am there?

I have also been one of those people who “If it’s 10:00, we must be at Santa Croce. If it’s 11:00, we are standing on the Ponte Vecchio,” with a matching spreadsheet. In self defense, I started trip planning much earlier for kids’ choir trips to Europe, where those anathema words “free time” actually meant “shopping”, “managing the kids with no plan”, “tour company didn’t want to pay the bus”, and “trouble”. You can’t afford to leave days open for a slow start or coffee whenever someone feels like it with 20 kids and 20 adults - and if the tour company wanted to leave free time, it just meant more work for me or my conductor or chaperones to fill it safely. And it was always better to do that before arriving in Europe. Which left me with spreadsheets.

So that’s how I transitioned into planning my own travel.

I still operate with an involved spreadsheet. But now it just has an outline for each day based on opening days/times of museums, required reservations, public transit info, etc. or tentative plans based on grouping sights, all flight and lodging reservations, as well as links I may want. I use this to get some idea of how long I might want to spend in a particular city and how long I estimate certain places will take. And if I am traveling with friends, it helps them to have an idea of what the next day could/will hold and when to be ready (none of them want to plan but I only travel with people who are always happy with my plan).

I call this style (however busy or not busy) “traveling to see.”

I plan to travel a LOT in 2022 and beyond. Plenty of that travel is looking like “traveling to see.” And I am excited about it.

But I am beginning to feel I want to do more of what I call “traveling to be.” I haven’t really done much of that yet but I am sure some of you have. Certainly there are things to see in the destination, and you probably go see something most days. But the real call might be just to be there and see what happens.

Or maybe it looks like returning to the same location multiple times to soak up whatever the atmosphere is that makes you love it. Or maybe it is what some of you used to do with traveling with no reservations ahead.

I am currently feeling this urge to “travel to be” as a reluctance to plan for my month in Poland - I have done enough research to decide how long to stay where (with help from here) but strangely I don’t want to make a plan for my days till I get there. Maybe I will only find a town square and sit and drink coffee. Maybe miss some really great museums or cathedrals. Maybe see them but not know as much history as I should have. But I am really excited about going - and the thought of not knowing or planning ahead sounds both wonderful and horrifying at the same time.

So I would be interested to know how you think you travel: to see, to be, or some combination. What does that look like for you? Or maybe I am the only one who thinks there might be a distinction…..

I almost added a telephone emoji in the title. 😂

Posted by
9546 posts

"Or maybe it looks like returning to the same location multiple times to soak up whatever the atmosphere is that makes you love it."

Yes, this....for the 2 locations on the planet that fill my heart with joy....Yellowstone and Paris.

I love your assessment of be vs see.

There are always plenty of things to "see" in Paris still as I do love museums and walks but it no longer bothers me if I feel pooped and find it's a beautiful day, then I'm OK with a sit in a park with my iPad Mini and reading away on my Kindle app.

I'm not so sure I'd feel the same for a new location although I am traveling to Hawai'i soon with others who are non-planners and I am determined not to do a daily itinerary, lol. I'm an add on and do not want to impose my travel style on them. I've done that before with this group of folks when I was the designated planner and realized they are not up for that, lol!

Posted by
2470 posts

I try to work in time and places "to be" in addition to the sites I want "to see".

In 2019, Saint-Malo was primarily a place "to be". In spite of ourselves, we found some fascinating sites, but also loved walking along the beautiful coast line.

In 2017, Barcelona and Madrid were our places "to see", and Seville, after a couple of sites, was our place "to be".

I prefer Europe to the Caribbean because there just isn't that much "to see", except underwater. Sorry to sound so dismissive, but this is after all a forum.

Posted by
13414 posts

But I am beginning to feel I want to do more of what I call “traveling
to be.” I haven’t really done much of that yet but I am sure some of
you have. Certainly there are things to see in the destination, and
you probably go see something most days. But the real call might be
just to be there and see what happens.

Bingo!!

A few days ago my son and his wife announced they will join me in Budapest in March. "Wonderful" So now I am planning for them to see the city. I am not thrilled. I just want to "be". Half of each day has a part that says, "I take you here, show you that, then leave you with instructions on how to get home".

Posted by
1272 posts

I love this topic, to 'see' vs to 'be'. For us I think it's a combination of both, though now that we're getting on in years it is becoming more 'to be'. I also use spreadsheets to keep track of opening times and days, transportation, etc. and to make an itinerary. I try to plan to see sights in an efficient way, grouping them by location in the city to avoid too much backtracking. Whether we keep to our itinerary is decided depending on how we feel because most everything is tentative. We sometimes just cross things off the schedule so we can just enjoy being where we are or decide to do something that wasn't on our list at all.

I do think that when we rush around trying to see everything that's really all we do - see. We see with our eyes but I'm not sure we really experience being there because we're concentrating on the seeing. So we like to eat in small local restaurants and take in the atmosphere, or sit in parks or squares (ok, because we need a rest) and just 'be' there. This is also a great way to meet fellow travelers or natives of that town which adds to the experience of being there. It gives us a sense of the town or country which is really satisfying and we come home with an emotional tie to it. I guess that's a good thing, but it's hard during the World Cup when we have to pick a team to support and we've been to both countries!

Posted by
1688 posts

Pam, you have two wonderful places “to be”. I could feel that way about Yellowstone but not Paris. But it is an interesting thought as to whether or not you could feel that way somewhere else. I know you do a lot of tours - which would fill your need to see, so I bet Paris and Yellowstone are all you need!

Estimated Prophet, I haven’t felt interested in the Caribbean, so haven’t been. Clearly I prefer Europe, too. Ha! I almost wound up in Seville again in March, but the cheap airfare disappeared. I had planned to do just what you describe.

Oh, James…. if only your son was on the forum, he could just read all your wonderful information and you wouldn’t have to show them anything. Lol! But seriously, I do have people ask to travel with me and if I let myself get guilted into saying yes, it becomes a whole different thing. I am coming to terms with saying no (have said it to two people already for Poland) but I am realizing I NEED this time. Of course, if one of my kids asked to go, the answer would be different. Ha!

Carol, thank you. And you did make me laugh “or sit in parks or squares (ok, because we need a rest) and just 'be' there”. :)
But it’s true - some moments you just need to sit for. I do think some combination is where I am headed. I wonder if it will be more like James and Pam, where a particular place is for “being” or more like you and Estimated Prophet, with the combination each time.

Posted by
826 posts

I had to laugh about your tour experience. My husband and son went on a school trip that sounds very similar: going, going, going at frantic pace from 6am to at least midnight every night. I thought it was because they didn’t want to have to wrangle kids during “free time”. Now I’m convinced.

When we first started traveling, we moved at “Amazing Race” pace. Soon the cathedrals and museums all looked the same. Many, many trips later we travel much slower. Three-five nights per stop usually. We plan one “sight” per day, usually in the morning. And we aim to have lunch someplace with a great view every day. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Now, I am the queen of over planning. So for every locale I have a list of possible sights, recommended restaurants, etc. So we COULD pack our days if we WANT to. But we no longer feel like we HAVE to see EVERYTHING to experience a place. Some of our favorite travel memories are just “being” somewhere: bowling with locals in Bayeux, listening to street musicians in Munich, enjoying the view of the alps from our terrace in Austria, amazing desert at lunch on a terrace in Lake Bled.

Posted by
1688 posts

travel4fun, that is EXACTLY what happened with the school trip! We could tell you it’s a way of getting your money’s worth but it’s really a way to keep everyone out of trouble! Lol! It’s not a great idea to go home and apologize to a parent, “Oh, I’m so sorry - we lost your kid but I am sure he’s fine….” 😬

I have to admit I am fighting the urge to just “show up” with no preparation (except lodging - I need that safety net) and either wander or sit and then read in the evening if I feel like it. Quite a few steps away from preparing and then doing or not doing. I don’t know……feels strange. :)

Posted by
206 posts

I spent my career as a software engineer. Decades of schedules. MS Project. Yellow sticky notes on the conference room wall. Team Stand-ups. Bug-tracking system and managers wanting to know how many hours I spent fixing "Defect Report xxxxx." If it's Tuesday I'm working on feature "Z."

I'm done with scheduling my life.

Posted by
3056 posts

If we are able to take our April 30-May 30 trip to Germany this year it may be our first ever BE trip. I have a calendar printed out but I haven’t made one note at the top margin for anything to do or see. This is a result of two previous trips cancelled, the 2021 trip just two weeks before we were supposed to fly. I’ll be happy to just BE in my one country, one state and if need be, one city world.

Posted by
1688 posts

Alan, I hear you. Maybe that is where I am getting to - leave the spreadsheet at home.

Mona, I sure hope you guys make it this time! It’s been long! It will be nice just to breathe the air and look around you. :) I will count on you going and you can let me know how it feels. :) I have Scotland on the books for summer and it has been cancelled twice. I have everything BUT airfare and the planning is “leftover”. It is such an outside trip that I know I can do or not do, as I feel like it. But i definitely planned it as a “go to see” trip and I need to figure out how to change my brain.

Posted by
2406 posts

Travelmom, don’t you find that some places force you ‘to be’? I always felt the Croatian coast and Istria describe your definition. Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Opatija, Porec, Rovinj, etc and any of the islands. Yes, there are beautiful churches and a few museums here and there, but in these places the city itself is the museum. The walls and old town of Dubrovnik, Diocletian’s Palace in Split, the melody of the sea organ in Zadar, walking along the Lungomare in Opatja, etc. we haven’t been to Greece in over 40 years, but I always felt the Greek islands were similar. When I converse with my teacher in Zagreb, she always makes a distinction between people living in Dalmatia as opposed to city living.
We have friends who want to travel with us. Their style is laid back, no museums, churches, walking tours, history. Where will we go with them - definitely the coast of Croatia and a small ship cruise around Greece. That’s it and that’s okay. If we want ‘to see’ we go to Zagreb and I’m sure Athens.

Posted by
10983 posts

To be or not to be.......

I find travel a mixture of being, doing, seeing, absorbing, experiencing, and hopefully, enjoying.

There are those who superglue the guidebook to their hands and do not dare to venture away from what is written in the book. They only visit what's in the book, only stay at hotels listed in the book, and onlyeat in restaurants listed in the book. The sad part is they never lift their heads long enough to actually experience where they are. Of course they scan the spreadsheet they made out that plans out every minute of their time daily. (I can't even imagine what goes through these people's minds if something should happen to disrupt their plans. )

Then there are those that have their flights in and out of their home country and that's it.

I'm somewhere in the middle. I plan a basic itinerary, have a list of things I'd like to do while I'm in each place, and make reservatioins in advance for things that require it. Otherwise, I leave free time to just experience where I am. To visit something on a whim.

Most of my trips have seen changes to plans, schedules and even destinations for a number of reasons. Most lately, of course, Covid. But I don't mind as sometimes these changes are the best part of my trips.

Posted by
1245 posts

BRAVO! to OP and this thread for an unvarnished perspective of "to be or to see".
Been there, done that and sort of keep doing it.
Suggest focus on the word "balance".
Most important, always seek to create a journey with opportunities to create wonderful memories.

Posted by
2406 posts

An of course traveling by yourself, either solo or just one couple, it is easier to be. When we are traveling alone we have a few ideas of what we want to see, along with those ‘we can’t miss this site’. We take more leisurely walks, stop for coffee/tea and cake more often, and kinda go with the flow of the city. If we are traveling with a group it is harder to be spontaneous.

Posted by
1052 posts

I am a "traveling to see" kind of person. I rarely visit a location twice, except if I have to transition for some transportation. However, there are a couple of regions I can't stay away from if I am close by. Berner Oberland for one! It is magnetic to me.

I guess there are so many places I haven't seen, repeating isn't for me. I try to stay long enough to see what I have planned, so I am a "travel to see" traveler. If I am in Europe for 80 days I usually take a break every 2 weeks for a couple of days with no real schedule. It is usually a small town I haven't been to before. Get up late, stroll around and just "be". Rest is the major goal for two days. Then I am off for another two weeks or so.

Posted by
1688 posts

Barbara, I think you are right. But I also think I am new to this concept. (Maybe it’s age, also - ha!) The closest I have come, really, IS Croatia, and yes, in particular the coast - but more so, Istria and the islands I went to. Maybe that is what gave me a big push this direction. Croatia, especially, last summer was an education.

And truth about traveling alone versus traveling with others. If we are lucky we find people who can travel both ways with us. I have many great travel friends (and a few not-great), but only one who can do both with me.

Frank II, you have traveled and lived traveling for a long time and have probably perfected the balance that works for you. I figure that is where I am heading also. I also think there are a lot of other wise people here who have figured all this out way ahead of me and are smiling at my transition thoughts (if they are reading them). :)

Out of your list I think I am going to aim for enjoyment - even of the difficult parts, as much as possible. If I stop enjoying travel (even if I don’t enjoy every single minute), it is time to stop traveling. Another thought - maybe Covid has actually helped with this. We have all had to slow down, be flexible, and enjoy the moment since we missed many moments. We no longer take traveling for granted.

Marbleskies, thank you. :) Ok, I am adding balance to enjoyment….. I will wind up there - I always do. But I may swing too far the other direction first before my internal course correction kicks in. Ha!

As for memories, I have always said that my travel will keep me happy for years past when I am able to go - if I live to that point. Far more and far better (for me) than my friends who spend money on “things.” My favorite vision of this is douglass and his dad, sitting at the end of his father’s life looking at pictures together of their travel together. It makes me happy douglass shared that with us.

Posted by
1688 posts

Threadware, 80 days sounds wonderful! And it sounds like you have found your pace. A 2 week trip, then a short vacation. Rinse, repeat. :) And I am sure you pick your “vacation spots” carefully. Is this how you started or is this an evolution?

Posted by
406 posts

I love your post! I guess I'm a combination of seeing and being. I like to plan my trips, and maybe over plan a little, but I plan rather slow travel. I stay a minimum of 3 nights per city, more if I'm taking a day trip elsewhere. I generally schedule only 1 or 2 places to visit per day. I love a good spreadsheet to keep track of places to go & where they are located in the city, days places are closed, and what's nearby my main destinations in case I have time for something else. On longer trips, I schedule downtime just to recharge.

Your statement "the thought of not knowing or planning ahead sounds both wonderful and horrifying at the same time" resonated deeply with me. I feel I sometimes want to try not booking all my lodging before I leave and/or not planning all the places I want to go. Good luck in Poland - please submit a trip report when you get back! I hope to go there myself in the next few years, either on the RS tour or on a self-planned trip.

Posted by
5221 posts

I still travel mostly in the "see" mode and for limited periods. Three weeks is about it, a few five-week trips have been too long. With a month in a place like Poland, I think I'd have ample down time, but a month in France or UK would keep me busy, even though I've been to both countries several times. I'm an itchy-footed sort of traveler (and liver) who has trouble turning off the "go" impulse. However, age has improved my habits, maybe just out of necessity. I need that park bench more now. So for me this is a work in progress, and Travelmom is an inspiration and a source of hope.

I don't schedule to the hour but I try to have a rough plan for each day, even if it doesn't involve reservations. Big sight in the morning, break for lunch, then a "lesser" sight or two as energy allows, all grouped geographically when possible. I've never had a "no agenda" day -- yet. Laundromats provide a good way to force some downtime and maybe get some entertainment. In Paris once, we got to watch a couple break up across the street -- he stormed out the door and she threw his clothing off the balcony several floors up. And our clothes were drying, so very efficient! ;-)

Posted by
1688 posts

Oh, Kathy, thank you. :) Yes, not planning (for a planner/list maker like me) feels like standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon: glorious that I am there not falling and horrified that I might fall. Equal parts. I am being dramatic, of course, but it (for me) feels like a good time in life to relax and “be” somewhere. I am still choosing my lodging carefully - but I am choosing it with a slightly different mindset. The end result might be the same but the process feels different.

Haha, Dick! Itchy-footed traveler! Well, there’s nothing wrong with being a goer, whether at home or when traveling. Unless you need to slow down for other reasons. Lol. As I read everyone’s thoughts and process mine better, l realize “going to be” doesn’t mean not doing anything. I feel like I would still be out wandering, visiting, etc. but just more tuned in around me instead of following a plan. More sitting and watching people (your laundromat experience is absolutely priceless) and more time for conversations.

Posted by
44 posts

I, too, tend to make elaborate, planned itineraries [not spreadsheets but word-docs with options of things to do, places to eat, etc.] for each day when travelling. But, when I'm actually there, I tend to just wing it. These schedules are optional [I travel solo] unless I have a tour booked or something. And I very often find interesting & rewarding experiences by accident. Usually wandering, lost! I kind of feel, though, I've done enough research on a few of my favorite destinations to know what to do, what to see, how to navigate etc. So I'm less relentless on the planning front than I used to be. And lean more toward being than seeing....

Posted by
1688 posts

MuchAdo, I like the idea of doing preparation ahead but then being confident to just go with the flow. :)

Right now I am much more interested in reading that will give me historical perspective as a whole than I am about what I “should see” in each city. I suspect that will give me a much better basis to understand the people, as opposed to understanding the buildings. Although people and their places are a package deal. :)

Posted by
1052 posts

The very first trip I took was 30 days. I didn't build in a break and one of my first learnings was to build in a rest period. Its not just a stay in the room break, but nothing is planned until I get there and the pace is very lazy. I usually pick a place on a body of water, lake or ocean or a view of the mountains. For me it is a great way to recharge, especially traveling in the summers where some places have very high temps.

I'm a planner because I want to research at home and make sure I don't miss anything. However, it is a plan and not a daily schedule of times. Most of the time I overestimate the amount of time I will spend at a site and find I have time to just wander.

Whatever works for you and you enjoy is the right way.

Posted by
2198 posts

I'm not sure I could walk down the street without a plan. My travel style definitely prioritizes see over be. I tend to get bored quickly if I'm away from home in unfamiliar surroundings, unfamiliar TV channels, etc; I need goals to focus on. Having said that, I tend to target a major activity or site a day and follow that up with a lot of wandering, so maybe that is my be style. My goal one day is to spend a month in places like London and Nice and so I'm going to have to figure out that be style sooner or later, just not yet.

Posted by
1688 posts

Threadware, those are good thoughts. :) Nature is a good “re-charger” for me as well. As long as I let it be.

Allan, you make me laugh. :)
I don’t think I am imagining “to be” travel for myself as inactive - but more as re-focused. Maybe re-focused on atmosphere, people, culture - which are maybe more difficult to schedule - instead of focused on highlight sights - which require a plan (for the most part). But all would require activity. And I am not sure I am ready for a month in one place but maybe….. I also think when I am ready to do that, it will sound wonderful and I will know.

Posted by
765 posts

It's always a mix of both for me. I tend not to be an super-scheduler, but I do have some ideas of what I want to see--often ideas garnered from these forums. And I am trying to see as much of the world as I can in the time I have left. (I'm 5 years older than both my mom and her father when they died.) However, I love to wander, and I love to find some lesser-known delights, too.

I'm introverted and loathe crowds, so that necessitates travelling in such a way as to zig while other people are zagging (and, depending on the time of year, can necessitate a bit of planning or scheduling in order to avoid peak times).

My "to be" might be different than some people's, though. For me, "to be" means to wander around, see what's around that next corner, find the local cat sanctuary, or find a hidden spot away from it all to get some great photos. Oh, and I experience a lot of what I visit through my lens. I find that looking for interesting photographs leads me to notice little details and, often, little non-touristy tidbits, that I might otherwise overlook.

I am not one for lingering over a meal or coffee or wine (don't like wine and I'm not a foodie). I never have been--or at least, not since I quit smoking 30 years ago. So, my "to be" rarely involves sitting for a long period of time, but I do love to explore.

Besides travelling overseas, we take a beach holiday closer to home every summer, and that's when I bring a book and read by the water. I might have the occasional beach afternoon when I'm in Europe (e.g. in Cascais), but mostly that's not why I'm there.

I did have a lot more scheduled activities and organized tours during my last couple of trips. In the Galapagos, it's necessary. Most places cannot be visited outside of a tour. In Peru (same trip), we hired some local orphans to give us tours--it's their way of contributing to their "family"--a wonderful organization that houses, feeds, and cares for them. We did this more to support the organization than to have tours, but for my husband, especially, it was a hightlight to meet these wonderful young people. And this past trip, because of Covid, it was necessary to prebook almost everything. But, we typically prefer to do things on our own and be a bit more spontaneous. We'll have some "must sees" and some "we'll sees"--depending on weather, our mood, what else we discover, etc., but we always have some time for just exploring, too.

There are places I'd return to. Tabacon in Costa Rica. Isla Isabela in the Galapagos. Namibia. Budapest, Paris. However, the world is a huge, amazing, diverse place, and there are always new wonders to discover.

I find that, on this site, these discussions usually end up being a sort of judge-y thing, with posters sort of congratulating themselves and each other on having discovered the (clearly implied) "superior" way to travel (slowing down, living like a local, etc.). I hope this is not one of those threads. I can understand the appeal of that, and I'm happy for those who enjoy it. It doesn't appeal to everyone; certainly not to me. I'm almost 64, so maybe when I'm older--if I live that long--that could change. For now, I delight in a busier pace and want to drink it all in --in gulps, not in little sips.

Posted by
1688 posts

BB, what a wonderful, thoughtful reply. In answer to your last point, often threads take on a life of their own - but while writing up my original post I was working through my own processing of a change in attitude for some of my own travel. And because I love the why’s that live behind what people do, I thought I would ask. It was intended to be more of a “here’s what seems to be happening in my brain, what happens in yours” question. Although I admit I was also “doing my part” to move the spam down the line. Ha!

Still, I have at least 21 weeks of different kinds of travel planned for this year, should things work out - and this was the question that has been running through my head. Maybe what we gain from traveling and our way of experiencing it changes with age and with travel experience. And it’s a given that personality styles vary across the board as well. I have enjoyed reading all the responses - they aren’t all the same but shouldn’t be.

I have been several sorts of traveler so far: after living in Japan, I swore I would never be the “2 weeks in and out” traveler; then when that was my only real option (or stay home), I became one and have enjoyed it. I have been the newbie highly scheduled traveler. Now far less so. Some people seem to have found what works for them early and maybe others (like me) aren’t that lucky and evolve.

I think my “to be” will end up being a balance but I don’t see it as just sitting and watching, although that might be one component. I love ideas like yours of hiring the orphans for tours - to me, that would be a quintessential form of “being”. And ideas/thoughts like that are gems I am receiving that open my eyes further.

Posted by
1688 posts

Lol, Tammy! For me, home is where I already know how things are…. and the schedule of stuff I should be doing instead of spending time here. No new things here!

Posted by
13414 posts

Travelmom; When someone asks me where they should go first to Europe I most often say London/Paris/Rome; or if I think the person a bit more adventurous maybe Paris/Budapest/Istanbul.

These are all great cities to SEE and I think everyone should first SEE before they can get comfortable and BE; but if any of them light a flame they are also marvelous places to BE; but I think that comes second for most when discovering and will come naturally if the whole concept of travel excites them once the begin.

Personally, I do both; I first go to SEE and if it moves me I often return for the longer casual stay which could be why most places I have visited multiple times and most trips are a new place to SEE and a familiar place to BE.

My trip about a year ago to Albania was pretty much both; a whirlwind tour of the major must sees followed by a week on a riverbank in the mountains with a fly rod, eating at local cafes with no tourist in sight and sleeping on the roof of the mountain lodge.

Even Budapest is only 75% BE, as there are always new places and events to explore so 25% SEE (and at least one trip a year I end up playing tour guide for someone).

As you know I plan my trips to death, but what you don’t know is generally those plans end up locked in my luggage after a day or two (but I do have a fall back if I need it – not yet).

So neither is right or wrong, its all about what the individual needs to make a memorable experience ... and learn.

Posted by
1688 posts

James, what a wonderful summary! Thank you!

And thanks to everyone for indulging me with some introspection. :)

Posted by
2198 posts

After reading BB's comments I'd like to change my answer. The description about wandering for photography makes me rethink that I may be more of a be'er than I thought. I think of how many times I've been up before sunrise or timing to be someplace at dusk to get the proper light. Or wandering through Covent Garden in London, or Venice, or (fill in your favourite place) just to experience being there. I'm still visiting many places for the first time to see things on my list, but maybe I have more depth to my travel than I thought.

Loving this thread Travelmom. Love how it makes me think.

Posted by
1688 posts

Allan, as far as I am concerned you can change your answer, your mind, or your style at any time. Ha! Seriously, though, from your posts, I would definitely classify you as a thinker and a learner. Which ties right in with what James had just said.

James, i like your final conclusion of learning. I am collecting mantras through this: enjoyment, balance, learning. And as I think about those, I guess I have always tried for that - but maybe I will balance WHAT I am learning differently in the future (I almost typed better, but that would not be accurate).

But I am still going back to reading A Grain of Truth instead of my Poland guide book….. 😊

Posted by
211 posts

Hi all..this topic made me laugh..I pride myself on being a "JUST BE"traveller..however..a few years ago I took my best friend on her first trip to Europe..with only 3 days in Paris for the must sees...I thought that was what she wanted ! I learned my lesson one evening when after the Eiffel Tower we were headed..at wharp walking speed..to a small restaurant on Ille St Louis..when she stopped..looked at me and said do you think we could just once arrive at one place where I don't feel I just ran 5 miles at the track?" Lesson learned!

Posted by
6538 posts

Travelmom, your post brought to mind the occasions someone posts a question about visiting a place like Varenna or Gimmelwald, asking something like "what should we do there?" The only good answer is that its a place to be. Sometimes, you just have to trust your experience and instincts and you'll figure it out when you get there.

Posted by
1688 posts

linda, your story made me laugh, too! I have NO trouble picturing that. Lol!

stan, all I can say is that makes me feel good. :) I will keep trusting my instincts.

Posted by
149 posts

This is what wandering - without any plan beyond wandering - is all about. Venice... London... wherEVER... just wander and see what you find rather than find what you are looking for.

I try to do this wherever I go.

I'm currently planning Greece for this summer and thought I'd booked too many days (is there REALLY such a thing???) but the fare was right, so I booked it.

Then I realized with the extra days I was going to have time to wander. And linger where I've wandered, if I want to linger.

I never really thought about this as "to be," and I'm glad you put it into words.
Thank you.

Posted by
1688 posts

Thanks, ribaholic60!

I am with you, I don’t think it’s possible to book too many days for Greece - you just don’t yet know what you are going to do during them (except wander)! I love the phrase “see what I find rather than what I am looking for”. :)

Posted by
752 posts

We "see" a lot of places but definitely prefer to "be" in Paris. We can pass the day strolling the streets with no particular plan, stop for a coffee here or there, maybe mid-day nap, or cozy up in the room during a downpour, not caring, because we are just "being" in Paris. Love traveling that way.

Posted by
161 posts

I 'be' and 'see' at the same time (unless on an organized tour) as I learn to 'know' a City. .

My usual trip plan for most of my 2-3 week trips is in 3 parts (no spread sheet needed as I can usually remember up to 3 things for a few weeks) as follow: 1. Be at SFO on X date, at Y time for a flight to 'Z' (London, Paris, Rome etc). 2. Upon arrival in 'Z 'go to hotel and check in. 3) Leave hotel in 'Z' on X date, at Y time to go to the airport for the flight back to SFO. Planning complete and done. I'll review guidebooks, internet considerations, etc and make some notes in a little pocket note book of what I may want to see on that trip but I go about each day as I feel like it. I have over 150 days in London in my travel life. I keep telling myself I really need to get to the Imperial War Museum. And some day I might actually get there... 25 nights or so in Paris and someday I must get to the top of Eiffel Tower etc.

Posted by
577 posts

Dick--I am the same way and like to go, go, go. When the 5 of us went to Iceland this past summer, I was ready to be up and ready to go early each morning. The rest of the family, not so much;) I had to rein it in since the trip was for all of us, not just me. We are due to head back to Iceland soon for our 3rd rip there, and when we booked it we figured it is a short trip (just 5 nights) so we would just relax. Nope, the planner in me started in. I am trying to make for some down time as my husband is liking more of that now, but it is hard for me. So we have a mix. Will see how that pans out!

When we were in Venice, it was really nice to just walk and get lost. We had our young kids with us at the time, so we didn't linger in most places unless they were needing down time.

Posted by
268 posts

Ten years ago, we took a trip that was definitely “to see.” We never stayed more than 3 nights in one place, and it was go, go go. I distinctly remember shuffling through the Roman Forum when it was nearly 100 degrees out in June, and completely worn out from trying to see as much as possible.

Now that we have 2 kids and we travel with them, our pace is much more “to be.” When we took them to Europe this past summer, we focused on smaller towns and stayed for 4-5 nights in each spot. We did a lot of hiking and exploring of playgrounds, went to the beach, and simply enjoyed exploring new places together.

Posted by
1688 posts

mikliz97, been there, done that! Ha! Your situation exactly describes me when I traveled with my husband. :) I would go nuts trying to take it slowly….. I do find it ironic that I am now thinking in terms of scheduling (not doing) less.

Meg, I never traveled with my kids when they were young. The things we learn from children. :) I did have to laugh at your memory of trudging through the Colosseum in the heat. Lol! That may or may not have been me in an art museum or two. I confess to remembering almost nothing from the Uffizzi.

Posted by
21665 posts

Ha !! Just new words for the classic discussion --- tourist vs traveler.

Posted by
133 posts

For those born before 1960, this thread is reminiscent of an Episode of the television series "Taxi".

Alex and Elaine go to Europe. They spend so much time doing, that they never spend the promised post card writing time together.

European travel is like taking a long hike. There will always be a trail you wished you had taken.

The great capitals of Europe like London, Paris, etc ... you will never see all in a week. Might as well take a day or two to stop and relax. For example ... in London have tea at Fortman & Masons. You will be seeing, and being.

Posted by
1688 posts

Aw, Frank, now you have hurt my feelings. 🤣 I was feeling all profound and thoughtful…..

Posted by
198 posts

I'm right there with you Travelmom (and others who use/used spreadsheets) ... I, like AlanJ, am an IT guy and have been for 30+ years, so the spreadsheet and all the other project management stuff blends naturally with my style of travelling 'to see' ... I too have all the places, dates, times, etc... loaded into the schedule to maximize the ROI (did I really just say that?!) ... I even have a place that countsdown the days/hours/minutes until departure (the good old T-Minus from the Apollo and Space Shuttle launches we watched on tv) so every time I open it I am reminded of how long I have to wait ... my spreadsheets for my next 3 trips (German Christmas Markets, Andalucia region of Spain and my 5+week retirement trip to London/England/Netherlands/Belgium/Luxembourg) are ready to go, with several others in the planning stages ... now while I freely admit the 'to see' part is the driving force, the 'to be' part has made some headway, especially since the realization that I/we can't keep up the pace from our younger days travelling with the kids (our 2010 2+ week family trip to Munich / Prague / Vienna / Ljubljana / Venice / Munich (by car) was my Mona Lisa masterpiece) ... now the spreadsheets are not as aggressive and actually have some built in 'to be' time, but i know I'll be itching to get the spreadsheet out and see what time we need to leave and be at the next 'to see' place ... I highly doubt I'll ever get to the point where the 'to be' will rule supreme.

Posted by
13414 posts

London have tea at Fortman & Masons .... GoWest, I wish you hadnt reminded me. Now I have a reason to return.

Posted by
1688 posts

DQ, I am sure I will never give up my spreadsheets. I mean, we all have to keep our travel info somewhere - and I am moving beyond the “paper” phase. But I still find myself at war with myself this year ….. I have a pretty short trip (@ 10 nights) to England in the fall and had to give myself a stern talking to to keep from booking a first night in one place before my next 3 nights in the same place. Despite my whole plan being to go there without a huge list of “sights”. :) Fortunately I managed to refrain and now have my 4 nights together and am really happy about it. The first half of my year will be faster and more planned, but the second half is definitely headed the direction of more slowly enjoying where I am.

And as for Braum’s, you haven’t lived till you have had the sundae with cappuccino chocolate chunk ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Every time….. :)