Introduction Thread & "Travel Style"

Since this forum is mostly a question and answer format, we don't actually end up knowing that much about the "regulars" we're all interacting with. There's also a lot of assumptions about the demographics here which may or may not be correct. Why shouldn't we get to know each other a little more? Maybe it will be harder to get so irritated with each other if we know a little bit more about the person behind the screen. Tell the forum a little bit about who you are, how and why you travel, and what's important to you when you travel.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

I'm Sarah, I'm 32, married, no kids (yet - running out of time, I guess, but I worry that one will prevent me from traveling as much as I want!), former professional, current hausfrau. Northern California native. Loved living there, but the crap economy meant we decided to try living in Europe where my husband was lucky enough to get a job with the US Department of Defense, despite never having visited Europe. My travel style is a combination of hedonistic and historically nerdy. I like good food, good booze, and great beaches. But I'm also a sucker for churches, synagogues, medieval art, and historical sights in general (current obsessions: Duerer and Archduke Franz Ferdinand). Semi-outdoorsy, down for a good hike in great scenery, but not a serious athlete. In terms of budgeting, we're pretty middle of the road - I like my hotels clean with en suite bathroom, but you won't find me spending more than $100/night - much less if we can get away with it. I'll "splurge" if I'm getting a 4 star hotel for a 2 star price, though. I spend a lot of time on and TripAdvisor reading reviews. I hate the idea of spending too much on a crappy hotel, one of my biggest travel peeves. I have so far only traveled independently, don't plan to change that for now. Tours sound claustrophobic for me, personally. I'd rather invest my own time in research to figure out what I want to do. Used to be a serious, detailed planner but the amount of travel I do now has made me a little more spontaneous and flexible than I used to be - not a bad thing! I enjoy using technology when I travel - you'll find me using apps on my phone to scout out good restaurants and sights (helps with the spontaneity thing!) I also apparently am very wordy. How about y'all?

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1708 posts

Sharon & Monte here, or S & M as I call it. Retired librarians. Sharon was the local public library supervisor for a long time and I was the library associate dean at the local university. We live in north central Idaho near Moscow. If I told you about our travels you'de think me a snob. Personal messages work. That's all.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

Personal messages work, sure, but so does...posting on a forum? I don't think anyone is a snob for talking about their travel experiences.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3082 posts

I'm 76, retired after a long time in the health care field. At 33 I bought EUROPE on $5 a DAY and went to Europe for a month. I bought a Eurailpass and traveled a lot. The whole trip cost less than $1000 including airfare. Next I spent a month traveling in Greece. Later I took a couple of trips to Ireland, then to the Soviet Union on a tour in 1989. Ten years later I had partially retired, then went back to England and Ireland. After that I took several RS trips to France, London, Italy, and Spain. In between these tours I traveled independently to Europe, usually spending time in Bath and London, followed by some time in Paris and either southern France or Italy. Paris remains my favorite place in Europe. I'm planning a spring trip to Paris, maybe Basque Country, and I haven't decided where else. Traveling has become more challenging to me physically, so I may not be going to Europe many more times. I live fairly simply in a mobile-home park. When I'm not traveling to Europe or planning my next trip, I like to take out my RV. Every Feb and March finds me in the Yuma area and Death Valley with stops in between. Talking about travel never seems like bragging unless the other person hasn't traveled. I usually save my stories for other travelers.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

Swan - man, I wish I'd been able to travel when Europe was still that cheap! I think that it's cool that you did this all starting at 33. I need to start traveling alone more - my husband's work schedule is terrible. I feel guilty for the idea of going without him, but like the idea of being totally independent that way. I get a free trip back to the US sometime after January 2014 and am tempted to rent an RV and see the parts of the country I haven't visited, particularly the south and southwest. It seems like a fun way to travel and enjoy the amazing American wilderness (er, sort of wilderness, anyway, in the RV park, but you get my gist!) My grandmother is a couple years older than you and had a great time visiting Budapest, Vienna, and Berlin with me last summer. She's coming this winter to do the Christmas market circuit. She didn't take her first trip to Europe til she was in her 60s but is doing pretty good at making up for lost time, even though with mobility issues some areas aren't that workable.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3039 posts

(Sarah- come to NC when you get over here and rent the RV!!! It's a great state- a bit of everything from Moutains to Beaches, Big Cities (Charlotte is mine) and little towns and lots of rural areas) Hi all! I'm Toni- from Charlotte NC. I just turned 55. I'm a retired middle school special ed teacher then an assistant principal (30+ years- I only twitch occassionally). 2 grown kids and 2 grandsons. We used to go to Europe twice a year- in June or July and in late Nov/Dec. We had to do short trips due to my school schedule and his limited vacation time. But family health issues have put a (temporary) stop to that for now. We LOVE the UK, Norway and Austria. For hubby's 50th birthday we did an 'around the world' trip in 14 days. More than 40 trips to Europe in just over 20 years. After a couple of 'big bus' trips, we saw Rick on TV and decided to try it his way- sort of. We bought his bags (still use them and they still look almost new)and were among the first in the carry-on only movement. We plan our own trips. We sometimes induldge in regards to hotels-location is very important to us and we must have ensuite facilities. We don't drive in Europe- we love taking trains and the occasional bus and using public transit. We like talking to locals- especially craftsmen at the markets. We've made a couple of friends that way- even spent a weekend at the home of one friend on one trip. I enjoy history and prefer ensitu art (a few museums is plenty for me)and we both love nature. Hubby is a great amature point-and-shoot photographer and I do pencil and chalk sketches. Travel is a bit of an escape for us and we really enjoy the time together. We would rather spend our money on travel than eating out at home, going to movies, etc.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1525 posts

I'm a 46-year-old father of three school-age children. Until 2007, my only foreign travel (besides Canada) was one 2-week trip to Great Britain in 1994. I enjoyed it, but never considered frequent visits even remotely realistic, financially. For many years we took 2-week driving trips across the USA, eventually touching on 40 states (and 5 Canadian provinces). But in 2004, it finally hit home (on our third visit to Mackinac Island, Michigan) that we were no longer thrilled by driving the same roads and seeing the same hotels, restaurants, etc year after year. We decided to save for two years and take the children to Great Britain again. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we revamped our entire modest household budget to return to Europe again in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012 (Australia and New Zealand in 2011). Meanwhile, to save money, I did all the planing myself and learned a TON in the process. That process of discovery is almost my favorite part of each trip. This year, with our oldest daughter wanting to visit some college campuses, we will likely stay in the USA and do a grand road trip of the sort that the children now barely remember. It won't be long before I get the bug to start planning for 2014. My travel style is to keep things as simple as is practical while seeing a lot over the course of a 3-6 week stay. Living by a school calendar gives us minimum finances, but maximum time, so we take advantage of it. We often stay in hostels for short stops and rentals for longer stops, eat very cheaply and seek out discounts. Going posh or being "served" doesn't interest us. We seek out history and revel in the small differences each country has from another. In the future, I suspect we will mix in other continents a little. But with the children growing up, it may not always be as a family.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1708 posts

Okay, We've been to Scotland six times including the Isle of Islay each time. We have been to Luzon Island in the Philippines. Also, Hyderabad, India. I've been to Lhasa, Tibet and Chengdu, Sichuan. We have had three forty-five to forty-seven day trips, one to Benelux and Germany, one from Istanbul to Amsterdam by train, and this year, one in Ukraine. On two of the trips we sought out villages my wife's grandparents came from and where my Swabian ancestors lived, that being in Ukraine, Dobruja, Romania, and the Odesa region of Ukraine. They have all been done with a convertible carry-on, no wheels, and a shoulder bag. We have never taken a tour or cruise and probably never will. There really isn't much we can learn about traveling except it getting harder as we age, 65 and 72.

Posted by Andrea
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
608 posts

I am 42 years old and work at a public library. My husband is same age and a metallurgist. I keep waiting for a good business trip through him but so far all he's gotten is six weeks in Siberia! We have no children. We were 30 when we went on our first "real" trip England. I vowed to do it again right away but it took four years before an opportunity through an old prof of my husband's got us to Poland. We added Vienna and Prague to that trip. That was 2004, and then we were so hooked on Europe we were away again in 2006, and every year since that, sometimes twice per year. We always travel in Europe independently, but we recently returned from a 22-day tour to China (which we agree was our best ever trip). I love everything about travel. I love the feeling of accomplishment, for example when you master the public transit of a foreign city (its never really that hard though, is it?). I love the way it makes me feel completely separated from real life (I don't need or want to catch up with things at work). It is total freedom.

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
646 posts

I will be 67 next month-when did that happen. I always wanted to travel and read lots of historical novels, especially ones set in England. So, just before I was 40 I bought my first RS book "England in 22 Days" and spent a year luxuriating in all the choices of what to see, how to get there, where to stay. More trips followed-mainly to Great Britain, France, etc. In 2004 I went to Italy and fell in love-with a country. In 2008 I took my first RS tour because my traveling partner was no longer around (not as in gone to heaven, but as in gone to greener pastures.) I had always traveled independently, but loved the balance of free time with group time and found I could travel alone and still have like-minded companions. I love to plan my trips, have a wonderful spreadsheet of things to pack which I enjoy updating, and have an ap on my phone which counts down the days to my next trip. As you can see, I live to travel. I am still working, but went to 4 days a week this year to learn how to retire.
All I ask of a hotel room is that it be clean and safe. I prefer an en suite bathroom, but have had wonderful experiences in b & b's where I had to go 'down the hall.' I went on a Viking River Cruise this past spring and really felt it was too luxurious for me (Attendants cleaning your room twice a day, really!) My Dad was a transportation nut, so as a homage to him I sometimes try to see how many modes of transportation I can fit into one day. I had a knee replacement two years ago and hope now I have at least 10 more years of exciting trips across the pond. In March I am going to Cuba. Next October my niece and I may go to London when the Vikings play an exhibition game (she loves the Vikings and I love London, a perfect combination).

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2193 posts

The details of my life are quite inconsequential... very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

Or if you don't want to talk about yourself publicly you could just not respond to the thread? I generally don't like PMing people unless there's a good practical reason. I don't do it to shoot the breeze. Frankly I think it's interesting to hear how people's travel styles have evolved, what they've learned, what they like. This is information can be helpful and useful to anyone. Also if you get a sense of "That's Andre, he loves to drive and dislikes public transit" (just an example) but you hate to drive and love public transit, you know that if he's giving you advice on transit he might be biased in one direction that you feel differently about, and can go forth to plan with that contextual knowledge. If people know that I personally hate feeling like I paid too much for a hotel, you can be fairly certain that any hotels I recommend are budget options and if you want something nicer, you might want to disregard my recommendation. Or you're just like me and want to follow it! But I guess we're better off with our totally on topic fights over the U.S. versus Candadian healthcare system, and whether recreational substances are awesome or terrible. I wish this was Facebook so I could "like" Michael's response, though.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
4939 posts

I like the idea of this thread and I think that anyone who doesn't should just go quietly on to the next one. One of my best experiences last year on my German jaunt was meeting, spending time, and becoming friends with Jo from Frankfurt. I've also made friends with quite a few people on trip advisor forums. I'm single, grew up in Chicago and spent most of my adult life in Israel and managed a few trips to England, Paris and Amsterdam. Then in 1997 I temporarily relocated to the SF Bay Area, for 8 wonderful years, when I was able to explore the Western United States and Canada (thank the firm for comp time) by car. Being so far from Europe, I put it on the back-burner for my eventual return to Israel. I want to get the most out of my time and my money, with a minimum comfort level (spend more for en suite rooms and take taxis instead of metros when I'm schlepping luggage), and an occasional splurge - a nice dinner or a Segway tour, for instance. I love museums, history, culture, WINE, scenery, markets. I've taken 3 organized tours to places that I wouldn't go to on my own. The latest was to Armenia and Georgia. Usually, though, I look at the the prices for most tours and work out the costs of doing it on my own, and it's just not worth the money. I enjoy the camaraderie of a group, but I don't need it. I take about one cruise a year, with Scrabble players from the U.S. We play serious Scrabble on the days at sea. I like not having to pack and unpack, but I don't like the too-short port stays. There's a kind of faux luxury onboard - cabin attendants 2 and 3 times a day, but a room that's barely a closet; 4 waiters and white linen at dinner, but just average food. If it weren't for my Scrabble buddies, I'd never take an ocean cruise. River cruise maybe, if I find a budget one.

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

@Michael - By any chance was that the Chloe from Rire-aux-Éclats?

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

First of all I will preface this response by saying I am not a travel snob. However, I have traveled quite a lot. My first real vacation was a two month trip up the Alcan Highway to Fairbanks, Alaska. My in-laws lived there. Many years later my husband was transferred to Fairbanks for the Alaskan Pipeline. Being bored, I went to work for one of the execution contractors and later tranferred to Coldfoot and Galbriath Lake. As an auditor in forensic investigations and litigations, I practically lived out of a suitcase the last twenty years prior to my retirement. For me the planning, logistics and research takes a lot of time and effort, but it is worth it. One can save money on hostels, hotels and train tickets if you plan carefully. The different cultures, the people, their homes, the grocery stores, etc. all is very interesting to me. Of course I enjoy the museums and sites in each city and country. No idea why, but I have been interested in European and Russian history since my teens. I feel very fortunate that I have visited 29 of the 50 states, several Canadian Provences, 8 European countries and Israel. After my daughter retires, she plans to take my great-grand daughter to Europe. We want her to know there is a world out there....not just Disneyland and resorts. I enjoy Travelers Helpline for two reasons. It is interesting reading about people and their travels and it has helped me in planning trips.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

HI! I'm Angela, 44 y/old with a techie husband and 2 teen boys. I'm president of a children's charity, with huge range of interests and passions. Travel is top of the list! My first trip to Europe was as a 14 y/old exchange student in Schapbach-Bad Rippoldsau, Germany (near Freiburg). I fell in love with the place, as well as the idea of going places to see, learn and do. The fire was lit! The more I go, the more I want to go. In college, studied in Vienna and at Oxford. Those were Eurail days, bombing around Europe with no money, great friends and tons of energy. Venice for the weekend? Sure! Vienna is still my favorite place. Thankfully, my hubby caught the travel bug just as bad. We decided early on that we would find a way and just GO, starting with a honeymoon trek London to Rome. Babies arrived, we kept going. I figured I could change diapers in Seattle or change them in Paris. I pick Paris! We take them everywhere. In our increasingly global society, I think it's so important for them to experience other cultures. Other people think differently, imagine differently, solve problems differently. The more they can understand, the better global citizens they will be. The kids love travel too-yay! We enjoy history and art, how things are built or made, cultural exchange, outdoor pursuits and sommerrodelbahns. No tours, just us. Planning is > half the fun! We love Europe, but savor the whole world, going int'l 1 or 2 times/yr. This Xmas, Australia will be continent # 6 for our family. (Antarctica is the hard one, esp. when one kid tends to get seasick.) We are fortunate enough to have many choices, but find that we enjoy a very wide range of experiences: camping/simple pension/occasional fancy hotel: all good. Sometimes we fly business class. Sometimes we take a rattle-trap bus. We aren't fussy, but just enjoy each place for what it is.

Posted by Webmaster
Edmonds, WA, USA
320 posts

Hi, I'm Andrew, I'm XX years old (I'll leave that as a great mystery) and I work for Rick Steves. I realized that in my five trips to Europe, I had the exact travel style that a certain guy I watched on TV was preaching, so I applied and joined the club. While I initially traveled just to explore, now I also do it for the freedom it provides, the memories I come home with, and the added ability to help others enjoy their travels whether I'm the webmaster or an assistant guide for one of our tours. Don't worry, I won't let the Helpline become Facebook. We're here to provide travel advice. However, I find no harm in letting those who wish to know more about each other do just that. I find value in that this topic can help others learn various travel styles too. Cheers, RS Webmaster

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1708 posts

Good for you, Mr. Mystery Man. Its good to match a face with the rest of the body.

Posted by Webmaster
Edmonds, WA, USA
320 posts

OK, so I can be a bit more forthcoming! I'm a huge Seattle Mariners fan and I love France. I enjoy speaking the language, eating chocolate croissants, and I have a soft spot for visiting Brittany, Provence, and Paris.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6115 posts

I'm Lola. I won't reveal my age but will say that my first trip to Europe was in 1967 when I went to study in Germany for 6 months as a college student. That was back when The Book was "Europe of $5 a Day" and yes, we really did that. The Deutschemark was 25 Cents and you could get a nice meal (Wienerschnitzel and Pommes Frites) for 3 DM. I loved traveling around Europe but did not have the time, money, or inclination to return for many years. In the interim, our vacations were either camping, backbacking (the real kind, where you carry tent, sleeping bag, food and cookware and go off hiking for 2 weeks), or skiing. In 1999 I signed up for a hut-to-hut hiking tour in the Austrian Alps with my university alumni group. The trip did not fill and was cancelled, but I was determined to go anyway, so I found a friend to go and planned the whole trip myself, using RS resources to some extent, and also the internet. The trip was a great success and since 2000 I (or now we) have returned to Europe almost every year, generally with other family members. Our grown kids love to travel too. I am the "planner" and everyone seems to enjoy what I come up with. No tours for us. As for style, we still mix it up between tent camping in the US national parks, skiiing, and one two-week trip to Europe (although this year's trip was Alaska instead). So far we have covered Switzerland (several trips), Italy, Spain, and Paris, generally with a stop in the UK going to or from. We like to stay in small, family-run hotels, or apartments. Lodging for me is all about location, location, location, along with the kindness/friendliness of the owner (and of course price). Between us my husband and I, we speak German, French, Italian and Spanish, mostly at the intermediate level, and we feel that enhances our trips a lot.

Posted by Emily
358 posts

I'm 34, unmarried but not unattached, and work as a nurse in a critical care unit. My first European trip (besides a stopover in Athens on the way to Israel as a teen) was for my 30th birthday. I had quit smoking 4 years prior and saved up almost $5000 by my calculations. We've got some very pricey smokes in this city! I used it to pay for a week in London and a week in New York, and I was hooked. I have gone to Europe at least once a year since 2008 with the exception of 2009 when I bought a home instead. On this year's excursion, I was a bit tipsy in Vienna on my favorite beer and wasn't wearing sensible shoes. My toe caught a raised threshold and I broke my left ankle on both sides. This year's trip finished early, but I'm returning in March to take my boyfriend, a Europe virgin, as a thank-you for cooking for me and helping me deal with the frustration of a broken ankle for 8 weeks. I've always traveled alone. Completely alone, and that never bothered me. By my own admission, I can be a bit impatient with other's indeciciveness (sp?) and complaints. But I'm actually looking forward to taking the man and showing him around my favorite city, Berlin!

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

In the early 80' I bought Europe through the back door by Rick Steves. The book demonstrated to me that people can travel to Europe without going 1st class. My husband (then) thought one had to travel 1st class. I now enjoy staying in hostels as much as a 1st class hotel back in the days. Excellent and interesting thread Sarah.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
613 posts

I'm 57 unattached and live in the Mission Valley area of San Diego directly across the street from the Mission de la Acala so everyday at noon and six PM I get a taste of Spain when they ring the bells, it was the first Franciscan mission established in California. I retired from the fire dept after 26 years of service Christmas in 2009, I worked the major brush fires in both 2003 and 2007, seeing what the east coast is going through it's something that touches home in a way. I grew up in Gallup NM, early on I had the travel bug so at 18 I signed up for Uncle Sams Gray Line Cruise Service, I saw most countries in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean, also Perth and Sydney Australia. I often travel to Vancouver BC, I've traveled all over the province and kayaked on the west & northern coasts of Vancouver Island, hiked the West Coast Trail along the southwestern side of the island and canoed the Bowron Lakes in northern BC. My first trip to Europe was in 1992, I'd seen a RS episode on the Mosel River Valley, I enjoy cycling so it seemed like a natural. I contacted a company that offered a trip from Paris to Frankfurt via the Mosel. I've also cycled for 3 weeks in Ireland, on this trip I'd just finished the climb on up Molls Gap, while resting a tour bus pulled up a guy on the bus saw my SD Padres cap and we started talking, he too was from here and he said he was a bit jealous of how I was traveling versus his way, no argument there. One day I was just surfing the net and came upon a post how would you like a free week in Spain? It was about Englishtown or Vaughanvillage, I went to that twice with a side trip to Normandy, on one trip I learned about the Camino de Santiago so I decided to do that when I retired, so I did my pilgramage in 2010 starting on May 22 in St Jean Pied du Port in the Pyrenees and arrived in Santiago on June 23, 33 days to walk 790 km! Travel style, carry on, AirBnb for places to stay.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3257 posts

I'm Laura, 40something, single, work and don't get enough vacation time, and live in the DC suburbs. My high school Latin teacher used to sponsor a trip to Italy or Greece each year. In 9th grade, I begged my parents to let me go. My father said that if I took 4 years of Latin and saved half the cost, he'd match it and I could go. I don't think he thought I'd follow through. I saved $500 and took my first international trip at age 17 to Italy. I've been hooked ever since. Since college graduation, I've made a trip overseas almost every year. In my 20s, I traveled on a very low budget ... backpack, no reservations, hostels, overnight trains, etc. Now my travel style is more middle of the road ...slower, moderate hotels or apartments in interesting neighborhoods, and I drag a rollaboard to save my back. From 1997 to 2000, I lived in Stockholm (2 years) and London (1 year). It was a real dream for me to find a job with the opportunity to live overseas. I took my first RS tour to Turkey back in 1991. I wanted to go to Turkey, but was hesitant to go solo. Back then, RS had no TV show and of course, no website ... just a paper newsletter. That was how I heard about the Turkey tour. The tour and the guide (Mehlika Seval) were fabulous. In 2006, I "rediscovered" RS tours (was desparate for a vacation and had no time to plan). I signed up for Village Italy on short notice; it was really fun and I loved the ease of it. My last trip was solo to London, Krakow, Warsaw, and Berlin. Next year I'm planning a trip to Argentina with a friend. I love learning about different cultures. I consider myself a "foodie" and love cooking, food, wine, and food markets. I do a lot of research in search of interesting places to eat and local foods to try. I also love theatre and music and every trip includes a concert or a show.

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
951 posts

My name is Kelly and I am a travel-freak-aholic and all I do iS obsess with travel. I have all the magazines and frequent forum boards; I read (and cringe uncomfortably) more posts than I actually post. I have a bazillion travel guidebooks. I feel I have mastered my craft of travel planning as it is almost my favorite part of traveling. Kinda wished it was my job but instead I am a physical therapist who specializes in gait, balance, and vestibular/vertigo dysfunction.
My style of travel is independent, meaning non-tour group ;I don't want the travel snobs to tell me I can't independently travel if I research or use travel guidebooks ;) but i spend 4-5 months researching where to go, then another 4-5 months planning the trip using a variety of books, internet searches, forum advice. I look for the nicest places to stay that wont break my bank. If I traveled solo, I would consider a hostel but since the husband is in effect, can't quite rough it anymore. Also, to save $, I travel in the winter. So I can stay in a 3-4 star place for 1-2 star price. We never rent cars as I am too afraid to drive in Europe, even though I have a European manual transmission. Oh and I am insanely irresponsible on how we travel. I charge it all. Pay it off over the year. Once paid off,charge up another trip. It is what I have done for the last 8 years. I have travelled annually since 2005. My first trip was Spain. I fell in love and realized I was meant to travel. I promised myself that no matter what, get up and go far away. I have lived up to that promise without fail. I regret none of my travel irresponsibility. I am returning to Spain with my husband in December, to galavant around but also to smash the terrain of the Sierra nevadas in Andalusia with mountain bikes. We can't wait to blend our passion of mountain biking and travel...a first for us.

Posted by Leslie
Spokane, WA
262 posts

I live in a small town in Eastern Washington and teach at the high school there. Originally from Levittown, New York, I graduated high school in Edmonds at the same time as RS though we were at rival school. I have always loved travel but grew up in a family where vacations never seemed to happen. When my grandmother was dying, she would go on about all the wonderful places she visited in Europe, unfortunately she only visited those places in her dreams and I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't let that happen to me. Even then, I guess I thought of Europe as one big trip, you did it once and crossed it off the list. One day in the late 90's (sorry to throw this quote out) I was watching Rick on PBS and he uttered those infamous words – "don't assume you won't return". That changed my way of thinking. Fast forward to 2006, my kids are grown and self sufficient, I just refinanced my house and after probably one too many merlots on a cold, dark winter night, I signed up on a waitlisted RS tour to England - never dreaming that anything would come of it. On the last day of the school year, I received a call from ETBD that there was an opening on that tour and would I like to join it. Not finding anyone to talk me out of it, I decided to go and two weeks later was on my way to Scotland.
Since then, I have been to Europe at least once every summer, visiting 17 countries - sometimes on RS tours, sometimes independently but usually a mix of both I like simple and so I don't need fancy hotels or restaurants though because I am a bit of a foodie, I do like to splurge once in awhile .I know a lot of people on this sight are not fans of tours but they have worked well for me - I have seen some unbelievable sights in my travels, had excellent guides, made friends that I still travel with, and hope to enjoy many more trips. Thanks Sarah for starting this thread.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1732 posts

First, hats off to Sarah for flushing out the Webmaster! I'm 49, married, with 3 young adult/late teen kids. It's the biting-the-tongue phase of parenthood. My husband and I own a small business that's doing well. That means I have some funds to travel, but not much time to do so. Family vacations when I was a kid were always camping trips in the Midwest, and that's pretty much what we've done as parents. Love Michigan, but now we rent cabins instead of camp. I always wanted to travel to Europe, and got my first chance at 24, when I went to Scotland with a friend. Then marriage, kids, & business happened, and I finally went again on a trip with my girls and my mom to Paris & London. It was great, but left me wanting more. I felt like I hadn't seen as much of Paris as I wanted, so a year ago I went by myself for a week. I figured I'd get it out of my system, and then could work my way down my travel list. Didn't work that way-I'm more obsessed with Paris than ever. My husband doesn't want to spend more than a couple of hours on an airplane, so until he can go by boat, I'm on my own. I've got no problem going solo. If I went with a friend or relative we'd have to agree on a similar travel style. I don't need fancy. I like to scrimp when I can and spend when I want. Not into shopping unless it's food, housewares, or books. I like not so old art and any architecture. I figure that if I travel every other year I can keep my sanity. One year to relive the last trip, and another to plan the next one. That's the theory.

Posted by James E.
3262 posts

okay, ill bite. 50 something husband and wife team. I started with Greece, Italy and Egypt in the 80's and the got buried in life until 2000 when my wife and i returned to Italy over the years we've been to all the standards like London, Paris, Rome, etc. Some multiple times. Then we spread out to the Czech Rep, Austria, and finally Budapest where we fell in love with the city. After several trips back we purchased a small apartment in Budapest near the Opera. Using Budapest as a base we have seen Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Israel and even Moscow one cold winter. A few years ago to help pay the bills we started renting the apt to tourists when we weren't there, Turned out that it paid more than just the bills so this year we bought a second place which is currently being renovated. I got stuck with a 700 sf cold war bomb shelter as part of the deal. Anyone interested? Okay, so i am biased but if you read my responses i don't show favorites i try to help people find what they will enjoy in any location i know anything first hand about. We tend to travel at the high end of the middle of the road and usually plan one somewhat extravagant day or night each week while on the road. it might be the Bolshoi or a few nights in a 5star hotel in the mountains but then we quickly come back to reality. i can save $25 if i were to use public transport from the airport in Budapest but I will take a cab instead to save an hour and s lot of hassle. Time is very valuable when traveling. while i carry emergency cash we travel on Debit and Credit Cords as that's the best Hassle Free Exchange rate.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1671 posts

When I first read the post, all I could think of was or whatever that dating site is called. Then as I read the poster, I found how diverse a population of posters are on the site. I am finally retired with two children and four grandchildren. My first career was as an elementary school teacher. That was back in the day when parochial schools had many, many children in a class. Stuck with it as I loved it. Left to raise family and had many very part time jobs, you name it, I did it. In my mid-thirties, went back to school to become a registered nurse. I always had a travel bug and was finally able to afford first trip to Europe in 1992 as I found a FANTASTIC deal of $274.00 round trip air fare from PA to Paris. Never had heard of Rick Steves at that time so I did all planning myself. First trip, seven days, one thousand miles in a car with two teenagers who were missing girlfriends as it was over Valentine's Day. I didn't know what packing light was so I packed seven woolen sweaters, seven pair matching turtlenecks and pairs of jeans and also rented a car and drove in Paris and then over alps in snowstorm to take kids skiing, it wasn't snowing too much when we left Munich at five pm in February. Many, many trips later as have been to maybe forty countries, some several times, go with a back pack or weekend bag. I love to travel for the history, read a book about a country and I am so there. I am now blessed as can fly free, stand-by and off season but will keep on as long as I can. Hostels, B&B'S,picnics, etc as I do like to be every economical. Thanks Sarah for your idea.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4222 posts

What a great idea, Sarah. I'm a midwesterner who now lives in NYC having moved here to the big city in my 50's. I grew up with an English grandmother in the house and so always wanted to go to the UK. I ended up, however, going to Germany for six months when I was in college. We got to travel widely, but the highlights were a trip to Berlin, Greece/Italy and then Paris. I was a textbook rep and back in those good old days & we got the summer off, so I took my bonus money and went to the UK for a month and two years later went to Greece for a month. Both trips were awesome, but I was spoiled and it took me a long, long time to realize that I didn't have to have a whole month to enjoy a trip to Europe. I did do a heck of a lot of US travel in-between. Since then I rediscovered travel to Europe, I've been back nearly every year. Scotland is my favorite place. Not only was my grandfather from Orkney, I now have friends there. But, I do like to bust out of the Scotland rut now and then. What I like best about travel is getting to know the country today and to understand the history. I love reading novels based in the places I'm visiting and I have to follow the story on a map. I enjoy learning more about the music of different countries and like to get the music on my iPad. I mostly travel alone, but also meet up with friends, or take a tour or two as well. I will have my DSLR with me and occasionally my tripod. My next trip is to the Shetlands. I work for a British firm and so may combo it with a work trip. Someday, I'm going to go to Spain with my niece and nephew since they speak fluent Spanish. They are only 8 and 11 and so I have time. Pam

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
757 posts

Great thread. I've been following the helpline for about two years now and have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge for our 2011 trip and upcoming 2013 trip from both the regulars and others such as myself. My husband and I are both 54 and love to travel. I grew up in Minnesota and did the three week camping vacation in the station wagon every summer with my 4 brothers. After finishing college, I had to move to Colorado (one too many ski trips) where I met my husband. Then after 20 years in Colorado, we decided to move to northern California, (after many weekends/vacations to Wine country) where we've lived for 13 years. (See the trend?) My first trip to Europe was in my early 20s for a three week group bus tour. Great seeing Europe, but swore I'd never, ever, do a tour again. The next trip to Europe (my husband's first) was in 2004 to Portugal, then 2007 to Dublin/London, 2011 to Germany/Italy (our first 2 week vacation as working adults), and next April to Italy. We've also love our tropical vacations over the years; Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, Hawaii, Mexico, and most recently, Costa Rica.
Now that we have more discretionary income, we are able afford longer vacations further away. We will almost always spend more to save time. We've had great luck following RS 3 Star hotel recommendations and always choose the boutique hotels with ambiance and charactor as well as views, balconies, or terraces. For us, good food and wine are an important part of any vacation. Researching, planning, and looking forward to vacations is either an obsession or a hobby for me....but at least I'm not alone.

Posted by DERRIC
algona, wa, usa
8 posts

wow this is great to learn about all you "posters"! I check out this site on my lunch break and have enjoyed vicariously your travels. When I was younger I spent too much time on a barstool dreaming "what if"... with no intention of ever leaving Seattle. Coming to, so to speak, gave me extra $, a different life and new courage to try living. My sister was studying at Cambridge and suggested I visit. With not a little fear, I took the plunge and using RS books we also spent a week in France. Since then I've made six trips to Europe, Italy and Greece stand out as more than memorable. RS Grand Daddy Tour (21 days) was fantastic, and this year, on my own, I took my mother to the Czech Republic and even drove a rental car! Definitely I'll return, maybe Northern Europe next year. Thank you all for the advice and travel "secrets" that you may not have known you gave. I'll keep reading....

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5384 posts

I'm Jo of course, from Col. Ohio, 57 and have lived in Frankfurt for 26 years. Came over with my Army Reserve Unit in '86 and thought it would be a grand idea to move here. Living in Frankfurt allows me to go on lots of short, 1 day, or 3-4 day weekend trips, as the city is so central in Europe. Travel is by train usually and I enjoy finding bargains and the best schedule, preferring Regional trains with a scenic route, but also like the ICE trains. Am one of the few who will use Ryan Air with no complaints. It has gotten me to Edinburgh and Rome on the cheap. Hotels are what ever is low priced, but decent. Could care less about ambience in the hotel, as am surrounded by ambience in Frankfurt on a daily basis. Trip Advisor is my main source to read up-to-date reviews for hotels, tours and attractions. I enjoy walking tours the most, hate bus and ho-ho tours, like open air museums, adore old churches, preferring Romanesque or Carolingen to Baroque. Things that are unusual, like cemeteries, museums with out of the ordinary themes, and unique festivals attract me. Love to eat and will seek out hole-in the wall places with cheap, authentic food before eating grocery store stuff. Traditional food is part of the experience of travel to me. Archeology is my secret passion, but really, anything historic I can delve into and research. From Celts, to Romans, to the Jewish history in Europe, to the wars that were fought here. One of my favorite things to do is just talk with people, store clerks, front desk people, folks on a train, etc. Have been to Edinburgh, London, Brussels, Bruge, Oostende, Antwerp, Berlin x3, Garmisch, Salzberg, Munich, Bayeux, Paris, Amsterdam, Milan, Rome and many of the towns around FF dozens of times. Turkey, Greece and Morocco are the farthest I have gone. I also enjoy meeting people from the Helpline, but also those from Trip Advisor and Fodors forums. Making new friends is fun.

Posted by pat
cochranville, pa, usa
249 posts

Thanks for starting this thread , Sarah. Love hearing about other people's travels. In fact its one of the things I enjoy when meeting people in B&Bs etc.. I was born in Belgium and my family moved to the US when I was 10. My husband had never been on a European vacation (He had been stationed in Turkey during Vietnam era) and I always wanted him to see where I spent my early years. In 1997 we took a trip to Belgium and Netherlands. He fell in love with travel and Europe and have gone 3 weeks a year ever since. We normally travel independently, leasing a car and staying mostly at B&Bs or small hotels. We have however taken 4 RS tours which include Turkey, Spain and Rome. We have quite a collection of Rick's travel guide books. Our favorite countries are France and Italy though we haven't been anywhere we wouldn't return. We find travel enriches our lives so much and are at a point in our lives when we look for experiences rather than things.
One main benefit of our travels is that we have passed the travel bug on to our grown sons and our grandchildren will hopefully follow suit.

Posted by Suz
Denver, USA
223 posts

I'm in my mid-60's (really? I feel like a kid!), and semi-retired (recovering lawyer). Since the mid-1990's I've been trying in a modest way to make up for lost time as to travel. Just wasn't interested when I was young. Not that I've seen a lot of the world yet. I keep hopping that BA nonstop flight from DEN to Heathrow - and never getting across the Channel! London's my favorite place in the world; I can't explain it and I don't even try. I just try to get back for a visit often, and I'm overdue for the next one. I have toured Australia, NZ, Fiji, Peru, Thailand. When I retired in 2007, the GBP/Euro exchange rate was horrible vs. the dollar so I headed in other directions, to get the most bang for my travel buck. Now I'm looking toward Europe, which is why I follow RS on TV, and attend the Denver group meetings. I'm fine as a solo traveler, also have booked tours as a 'single' and not been disappointed - have become lasting friends with some folks I met on those tours. My travel style is modest comfort, and I prefer not to be rushing about past the point of tiredness just to "see" a lot of things. You can really see a lot just by sitting down and looking at the people and places around you, even if you can't put names to all of it or recite the history of everything. I can see myself booking a RS tour, I hope sometime next year. And probably gaining the confidence from that to explore more of Europe on my own on the trips after that. I've enjoyed meeting in real life, people I first "met" on TripAdvisor and this forum.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3180 posts

I'm over 40 (blah) and married - pretty much DINKs. I LOVE to travel and spent 9 months in France in college. While there I explored almost every corner of France and much of Europe. Then skip ahead almost 20 years... Three years ago I was given the opportunity to travel in Europe for several months. I covered most of Western Europe starting in the Baltics and moving south to Greece. My wife joined me three times and caught the European travel bug. Now we're planning another trip next year. I'm very much a foodie and love to eat and taste regional foods that can inspire me to cook when I get home. I love art and architecture and history so mostly focus on seeing those types of things. I can still travel on the cheap, but more and more am able to splurge on nicer accommodations. I'm used to traveling on my own or just with my wife and wouldn't do a tour in Europe.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11671 posts

Its nice to see such an upbeat (well except one contributor) thread. Thanks, Sarah. I'm Nigel, pushing 60 and married to my special wife for over half of that time. I am not a snob, and I do plough my own furrow. Born in the US to a diplomatic family I have been a US/UK dual citizen all my life. My family went back and forth across the Atlantic every year or two so I have a few miles on trans-atlantic liners (mostly Cunard and US Lines - big and little boats) between NYC and Southampton under my belt. My high school years were started in south London and completed on Long Island, NY, with University in Montreal. When I moved from New England to Texas I met and married my lovely Bride. As an adult I have lived on the left and right coast as well as several years in Texas. About 15 years ago we moved back to the UK, prompted by a Rick Steves public TV pledge fest and a job which opened in the UK at the Canadian firm my wife was working for. We had the priviledge to meet Rick in Paris where we thanked him for the inspiration to relocate. In the US I have visited all areas except the Northwest and the deep South. In Europe I have never been to the island of Ireland, nor the Scottish Islands, nor the Isles of Man or Scilly or the Channel Islands. We go to Europe frequently but never have been to Iberia or further east than Austria. We have had one very rewarding trip to Israel. I work on the UK railways so we prefer to avoid "busman's holidays". Sometimes we take the train but usually drive our own car. Favourite places we return to year after year are Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and all over BeNeLux, and France. I am astonished by how much we yet have to see. We used to, when both working, stay at pretty nice places. Now, with horns pulled in, we usually stay less than 100€ a night.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6115 posts

And now we will all sing a rousing chorus of "I've Been Working on the Railroad" in honour of Nigel! And Nigel, you should come and visit the Pacific Northwest sometime. But make it summer, as it is not very nice here right now. I should add to my bio that I am a lawyer, my husband is a doctor, and we are new grandparents this year. One of my grandchildren has already been to Europe, at the age of 6 months. His parents took him in September, and apparently he charmed the socks off everyone they met. He did just fine on the flight over and back, so is now a seasoned traveler.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
2029 posts

Thanks Sarah for the thread. I think it's interesting to get to know the ages and backround of the travelers on this forum. I'm 67, single, retired and love to travel. I spent my first 60 years in Minnesota, then moved to Colorado for 6 years, recently moved to Corvallis Oregon. I traveled extensively in the US for years, visited all but 4 states. First trip to Europe was in '97 and have been going as often as possible since. Have cruised and traveled with group tours but prefer solo. I'm friendly with all types of transportation - boats (big and small), trains, planes, automobiles. One of my passions is lighthouses and I belong to the US Lighthouse Society. They offer tours geared to seeing the lighthouses of an area but also the normal tourist sites too. Have been to Sweden, Greece, Turkey, NZ, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Scotland with them and loved them all. But Europe is the big draw for me. This summer I spent 2 months in France on my own, one month driving (and training) around the country and one month in an apartment in Paris. Favorite places are Provence, Brittany, Paris but also enjoyed Alsace and really loved Annecy. This was a one-time "trip of a lifetime" for me. I have friends my age who have health and mobility issues and can't travel (except for cruises) so I decided I had to do it now in case I wouldn't be able to in the future. Took a bite out of my retirement fund but I would do it again in a minute. I'll never have to say "wish I had done that when I had the chance".

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3694 posts

I just turned 56 (yikes), I have a 22 yo son who just graduated from UC Davis and I own a small business. I grew up in France (my Dad was in the Army). We first lived in a small village near Paris, then moved to International Housing nearby. We had lots of friends from all over the world. Unlike most other Americans living there, my parents immersed us in French culture, my sisters and I went to French schools and we shopped in town and at the weekly marche. We travelled all over Europe in the RS style (long before RS). After moving back to the US we returned to visit and travel. When I was 18, I moved to Paris for a year on my own. After marrying, my (then) husband and I spent a month in Paris, then traveled for several more weeks in Europe. My son was born with severe congenital heart disease and my dream, when he was well enough, was to one day take him to Paris. Finally, in 2001 we went. He also fell in love with Paris (a family gene I guess), and all of Europe really, and we've now been to Europe together 6 times. He's been once on his own with friends. We do all the planning and research ourselves. We take one rolling RS bag each, and one RS daypack. All our trips have been anywhere from a month to 2 1/2 months. We can never get enough of Europe! For me, it's like being a kid at Disneyland... it's a treasure box of fun. I hate coming home. I love different cultures, history, the people, parks, chateaux, gardens, grocery stores, museums, churches, the food, cities, towns and countryside. Love to walk, bike ride, hike, take public transportation and sit at outdoor cafes. I like both kinds of travel, slow and easy (renting an apt in Paris for a month) or faster...6 countries in 7 wks. When I think back on all the memories of just the past 6 trips, I could write a book. Those memories and experiences have enriched my life beyond words...

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
493 posts

Sarah, this is a nice idea. It is great to get to know others on the Helpline. I am a 59 y/o mother of three adult children and the second of 5 other siblings; now living in the Seattle area working as a Legal Assistant (30yrs). Dad was in the Army which "afforded" us ample opportunity to travel as a group (and boy was it) over both coasts of the continental United States, part of Canada, Germany (2x) and Hawaii (1960s to 1996). I have two beautiful granddaughters who live close by, along with my two daughters – this is why I could not live abroad for any length of time. My son has stayed on the Island of Hawaii and we visit every 3-4 years. I lived on Oahu from 1971 to 1985 and the Big Island from 1985 to 1996, when I decided it was time to pack up the kids and seek out better schools and more worldly understanding for them. I am not a person to travel "on the fly" so much. Like to plan and devise an itinerary that is comfortable, educational, active, and entertaining – and usually it is solo travel for me. Pack light, use a money belt (most of the time), stay in hostels if traveling alone or small centrally located hotels (75-100E tops), otherwise. I like to connect up with friends along the way and that is why planning is so important to me. Have taken one group tour (RS) and enjoyed it – but the pace was too fast. Fortunately, I combined the trip with solo travel before & after the RS tour (Italy: Tuscany, Umbria & Rome). Places I have travelled in the last 20 years: Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Italy and France. Plans for the future: skip a year to work on the floors, then Spain & Portugal. For the near future (maybe this Spring), I want to explore the Southeastern part of the U.S. & the Gulf coast. Linda

Posted by Marcella
Hendersonville, TN
98 posts

I am 38, single & custodial parent to my nephews (almost 17 and just turned 10). I travel with them as well as my mother and sometimes my niece (8). I was born in the San Francisco bay area, raised in South Lake Tahoe and spent a number of years living in Northern Nevada and Las Vegas before moving to the Nashville, TN area. My love of travel started with romance novels mostly set in England. I dreamed of London! As a child my family took only 1 vacation to Disneyland and Universal Studios when I was 12. My only other travel was to visit grandparents and the occasional night in Reno at Circus Circus. I eventually traveled a bit to various parts of the US but never thought I would have enough money to go to Europe. As someone else said I just woke up one day and decided that if I didn't commit then I never would get there. I finally saw London in 2007 (actually went twice that year) and also spent a few days in the Cotswolds on that trip. I didn't get back to Europe until last summer when we were able to spend 2 weeks in France; Brittany and Paris for a week each. I returned to Paris just this past month for 6 nights thanks to a Travelzoo Top 20 lead on great airfare. We are currently planning a 2 week trip for 2014 to celebrate my oldest's HS graduation and my 40th and grandma's 60th birthdays. We are planning Rome (his pick) and a return to Paris (girls choice).
I love to research almost as much as I love to explore the places we go. We all enjoy museums, architecture and food sampling!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3252 posts

As a photographer/artist my approach to travel is relatively spontaneous. I have structured my life so I am able to make plans at a moment's notice, and I often do. First trip to Europe 1998 and I have now been at least once a year, often two or three times, but I travel on a shoestring and give up most other things to be able to do this. I travel on instinct rather than itinerary. I love the train but it has one drawback and that is, it will not stop when I see an incredible image I want to photograph, so I have driven thousands of miles in Europe. Obviously, I love art, but you will not find me spending hours in galleries...about 2-3 hours is all I can handle...instead you will find me hanging out at locations that inspired artists...the countryside, a vineyard, the gardens or seashore. I enjoy history, but am definitely more into the visual beauty and ambiance. I plan only when I feel it is necessary. I appreciate people who plan all the details, but I like the surprises that I find. I probably spend more time worrying about what cameras and clothes I will take than on my itinerary (shallow, I know) I travel light and pack efficiently, but love fashion.
Travel alone, with friends, with granddkids...whoever. My main source of income has changed from environmental portrait photography to mostly selling wall decor images from my travels to Europe... thus it justifies my frequent travels. I try to travel with no regrets, and many times have missed sights of great historical signifigance due to my lack of planning, but I always have another experience that wasn't planned and for me, was better. Met Jo from Frankfurt last year and will see her again in Germany in a few weeks...its fun to hang out with people who have the same obsession for travel. Appreciate all the help I have received from people on this site.

Posted by Larry
Pearland, Texas, USA
423 posts

Hi, I'm Larry and I'm 66 years old, a retired Baptist minister and trying to catch up on the things I put off for years. The last few years my wife(47 years next week) and I have made month-long trips to Europe, staying in hotels but I prefer B&Bs and Ireland. Our last trip ended on October 15th and included Venice, Verona, Florence and Munich. As to why I travel, my father, who died at 92, told me "if there's anyplace you want to it while you can because there'll come a time when you can't". I'm trying to do it while I can.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1167 posts

I'm 57, female, and grew up in Michigan. In 8th grade, we were given the option of taking French, German, or Spanish and I chose French. In high school, I took a school sponsored spring break trip to Paris and loved everything about it – the croissants and pastries, the Jeu de Paume, traveling by train to Rouen, Chartres, just walking around and exploring. My hotel room had a glorious view of the Opera. Didn't go back until 2005 when a friend moved to Paris. I visited her for ten days and came home wanting more. I've been back to Paris six times since then, and have also been to Italy, England, Scotland, and Spain. I almost feel like a drug addict, wanting/needing my dose of Europe, and this site/helpline helps scratch the itch until I make my next trip. I can only travel for two weeks at a time, and hope to take longer, slower trips when I retire, especially to England, Scotland, Italy, and France. My travel is about 50-50, RS tours and independent travel. I love RS tours, the guides are terrific and I can go off on my own and yet there's a fun group to tour and eat with too. I've kept in touch with friends made on the tours and we've traveled together since. My favorite classes in college were art history and I love visiting art museums and also love to visit gardens and parks, love people watching, food, architecture, scenery, walking, history, historic homes more than palaces. I like staying in smaller, family run hotels and having one good meal a day, with lighter meals in between. I also like to read about travel and to read about places I'm visiting. I have a stack of books on Italy to read for my Italy tour next year.

Posted by Galen
Dallas, United States
462 posts

At first I didn't know if I was eligible to post; what's a "regular"? Over one hundred posts? Over 10,000,000? At least one? We are retired and live in Oregon's beautiful Willamette Valley. Our travel appetite was whetted early as we lived in South America for 9 years right after marriage. After a travel hiatus for raising kids and getting into our respective careers, we encountered RS on PBS and he got us interested in Europe. We've traveled to Europe eight times now (from 4 weeks to 4 months), gone to Australia/NZ/Fiji, and also to Israel and Jordan. Three of the Europe trips have included an RS tour and on four other trips a volunteer stint with a Christian church-related organization (once in SW Germany, and 3 times teaching English in Lithuania) has formed the basis of the trip. Consequently we've hit almost all of the countries in Western and Central Europe and Scandinavia, Greece and Turkey. We've traveled in Mexico, the interior not the coasts, a couple of times, back to Brazil as a family of 10, and many of the countries in South America. In Europe we travel mostly by train but also by rental car, and look for, in many instances, the RS recommended centrally located hotels. We like everythingmuseums, art, WW I & II sites, archeology, nature's beauty, and more. We're not foodies, but we really like to eat. I enjoy the Helpline because I've learned so much here that has been beneficial in our travels in spite of some of the stuff that goes on here. From time to time I contribute, and hope that what I have to say is worthwhile.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5687 posts

Great idea, Sarah. Maybe Webmaster Andrew can put up a "Profile and Travel Style" page? I love to travel solo, have never taken a tour but I certainly appreciate the appeal, especially the RS tours - I've run into several groups on their own with an RS tour and they are the happiest bunch of people. I guess grumps really aren't allowed. I have summers available for traveling (I teach at a small private college) so I try to turn money into time, which means a daily budget of about 100-120 euro. I take one rolling carryon and one messenger bag. Toward the end of the trip, I start throwing away clothes (once I came back with no packed clothing at all, which confused the customs agent). The last couple of years I've met up with lifelong friends who now live in Switzerland for a couple of weeks' travel together (we rent a car, otherwise I travel by train/bus/boat). It's a nice break from solo travel. I can't seem to get out of Italy, but I'm trying (the Gothic cathedrals in France are making me feel guilty for teaching about them when I haven't been there). I plan to visit Berlin, France, Belgium and The Netherlands this year. That's in addition to Italy. Like many posters, I love to go back to my favorite places and I love to add new places - which makes for longer trips! I've been to London and Paris briefly, with multiple trips to Switzerland, Greece and Turkey.

Posted by Crash
Vance, Alabama
146 posts

Hello Folks, Sarah, once again a great post! My real first name is Kosmo, no wait, that's Seinfeld. My real first name is Craig. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1957. Came to the states when I was 5 years old, when my dad and his brother, got jobs at Bethlehem Steel in Pinole. Grew up in San Francisco, Napa, then South Lake Tahoe, CA. Graduated from Cal-Poly SLO, with a linguistics degree. I haved worked almost my entire life in construction, for B and R, working on projects all over the world, but never in Europe. Usually horrible places. Mostly passed through the airports in Europe. I met my wife, Cindy, when I was building a hotel in Las Vegas, and she was dealing blackjack at the Flamingo Hilton. Played on her table for about a month on her graveyard shift, until she finally agreed to go out to dinner. The rest is history. We have traveled Europe extensively since 1997, sometimes two trips a year. Recently, I applied and got an opportunity to work for a major German company in the U.S. We were sent to the Stuttgart area for training. After completion of my training, I was asked to take a position here which will keep us in Germany. Now waiting on our permanent work permits. After seeing Sarah's post, about a good European home base, we rented a tiny apt in Köln until February, when my position will open up. Sarah gave us great advice to use Köln as a home hub. Love it in Köln! Cheap airfare, and we are minutes from the train station and airport. Love to travel. When we get in a jam while traveling, we always say to each other, "W.W.R.S.D?"
Our vow is, we will travel until we run out of money, then we will travel on foot from there.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1543 posts

Hello Sarah. I liked reading the replies here. Traveling to Europe is what I like to do. I will travel to London this month (November). I was at a total of seven countries at the Europe continent, plus England and Scotland. A total of seven vacation trips from the United States of America to Europe and/or Britain. Each trip was to one or two countries, except my trip to Scandinavia which was to three countries. In each trip, I was over there a total of 10 to 14 days, except a trip to London : I was there less than 10 days; and I was at Greece 17 days. I will not be able to go to all of the places at Europe or Britain that I think I would like to be at. In deciding which places I will not go to, I decided to not go in a building that I saw in a "Virtual Video". About four years ago, on my computer's screen, from an internet website I saw a "Virtual Video" of the interior of a big room in a pleasure palace (chateau) in France, built in the 1600s or early 1700s. Moving my computer's mouse, I looked every direction in that room. It was as though I were standing on the floor in that room, turning my head to the right, and to the left, and I looked up at the ceiling, and I looked down at the wood floor. I could do that at any location on the floor in that room. I liked seeing that. I decided : "I do not need to go in that palace (chateau), because I saw it". But, to experience the environment and atmosphere at the island Naxos of Greece (Naxos is the biggest island in the Cycladic islands group at the Aegean Sea) a person must actually be at the island Naxos. (I was there, in the year 2005). I did not spend much money in any one trip to Europe. I travelled in trains in Europe. My age is 60. My flights to Europe or Britain are day time flights (of airlines) across the Atlantic Ocean from Chicago O'Hare airport, departing there in the morning.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10505 posts

Hello, I'm Tom and I'm a Euroholic. Prefer hiking, skiing, cycling, rural areas, mountains and lakes to cities, museums and festivals, but will take them in small doses. Can't tolerate hot weather, so I've mostly avoided southern Europe. Spend the most time in Germany (obviously), Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, going to Scandinavia more and more often over the past two years. Also spent a lot of time in the Balkans for work, but that was over a decade ago. Pick lodgings based on convenience, comfort and services, couldn't care less about having a "cultural experience" while I try to sleep, shower and eat my breakfast. I travel because I must. Apparently at age 36, it seems that I'm one of the younger regular posters here.

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1545 posts

I love this thread. I'm a 60'ish single woman. First trip to Europe in Oct 2001, on a Rick Steves
Paris tour. Wanted to go to Europe all my life, but Ricks informative TV shows, his enthusiasm and travel philosophy made me take the plunge and come here. I've returned almost yearly since then (both with family and friends and traveling solo, which I enjoy also). I like 3 star hotels and renting nice apartments (when I can get others to share the cost with me). I like a reasonable level of comfort. I take the metro and public transportation most of the time, and walk a lot! I have friends who are into cruises, but I haven't done one yet. I like to live like a local. I retired last December, from my job as a software test engineer, working for city of San Francisco, in the IT dept. at SFO airport. I decided to spend a year living in France. I have rented nice apartments in Fontainebleau and Paris. I like it here. I live by myself, but have had a steady stream of visitors. Will return to California next year but plan to continue traveling, but probably will spend 2-3 months abroad instead of a year but this may change. I'm at the stage of life now where I do what I want! Paris my favorite city, Venice a close second. I also love Cortona, Florence and Rome, Italy. Been to London a few times, and 2 years ago went to Ireland which I liked a lot. Last week I went to Nice and Monaco my first time in South of France. I want to keep traveling as long as I can. So much more I want to see. I love organizing trips for myself and friends, deciding where to go, booking hotels, finding nice apartments, etc. I take a lot of photos and share them with friends, and have quite a few fans of my photography. My interests are architecture, history, art, culture, music, food, fashion, shopping. I generally enjoy cities more than countryside, though I really loved the Irish countryside and Tuscany.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
2029 posts

"I'm a Euroholic" and "I travel because I must". I hear ya Tom, welcome to the meeting (ha ha). You're lucky to be able to travel like this at your age, enjoy it!

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7877 posts

I'm 53, wife of nearly 29 years (March), four kids. I've traveled on duty with the Air Force (served 6 1/2 years active duty) and with the Air National Guard (part time, just coming up on 20 years total) as well as for business outside the military - but I normally just plan long, budget conscious, trips to places I haven't been. My ideal lodging is cheap, clean, and quiet. I'll stay in a hostel dorm or a nice hotel - but always with an eye toward value and quality of sleep. A bath down the hall is not a problem. My use for a room is a safe place to sleep. Outside of sleep hours, I'm usually outside of my room. My meals are cheap, most often purchased at a grocery store or a corner fast food kiosk. My only commitment is not eating what I could eat at home - which left me in Dublin once eating a McVegie, because the McDonald's was the only place open. I like to see major sights but mix them in with many smaller towns and less visited sights. I'm becoming more likely to rent or lease a car now. I make multiple stops most days - which becomes nearly impossible waiting for public transportation connections. Travel time is valuable, so I try not to waste it. My itineraries are heavily planned but loosely followed. I like to know every option available along our route so when we make a choice, we also know what we are skipping.

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
493 posts

Brad, I like the way you put that, "planned but loosely followed". As mentioned, I also plan my itinerary by researching a ton before the trip so that I know all my options to change the days' planned activity if a hitch comes up.

Posted by Sharon
2726 posts

Hi! I'm a newly 60-year-old. I grew up in Iowa without much opportunity to travel beyond my small rural town. My first trip to Europe was in 1988 and I haven't stopped traveling since. Two years ago I started the Atlanta Rick Steves' Travel Group and have made wonderful friendships sharing adventures and inspiring each other to travel to new places. I retired from community college administration nearly 6 years ago. My current passion is art history and I'm a volunteer docent at a local ancient art museum. Travel enhances my learning of art and history! My husband is my favorite travel companion and he's also retired. We have no children but have taken six nieces/nephews on trips to Europe. We're frugal at home and on the road. We travel to Europe typically 3 weeks at a time usually twice a year - spring and fall - mixing less traveled spots with our favorites - France and Italy. Most recently, we explored the Puglia region of Italy. Thailand and Argentina are other destinations we like very much so we want to explore more of Southeast Asia and South America. When we travel we focus on museums, food, and local culture - we don't typically like to stay in any one place too long spending 2-4 nights in each spot before we move on. One day, I hope to be as spontaneous about travel as Ed from Pensacola but for now, I'm a pretty detailed planner.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

I'm a bit long in the tooth, but spent a month pedaling around Tajikistan the summer before this one that just passed. I retired from soldiering years ago. I've mucked about in flying machines just about half the time they've been around. I speak a few languages. I have no couth since I come from a long line of undifferientated hog thieves. When I grow up, I intend to go to finishing school and get some tact. I wander. I goof off. I don't care where I go. Reservations and planning suck. Already knowing what's in the world doesn't. It takes me ten minutes to pack and thirty more to get to the airport. I can leave fast. I'll travel alone or with anybody with a lick of sense. I won't suffer laggards or dolts. I have no style. I came home a few days ago from two weeks in £15 per night mixed dorm rooms in hostels. Starting tomorrow night, I've got two weeks in a suite at the Langham in London for quite a bit more (praise Allah the reservation-maker doesn't know about the Dorchester).

Posted by Sarah
Here and there
79 posts

It's been really interesting to learn about all of the regulars. It explains a bit of how each of you approach traveling and why you recommend what you recommend. I'm not exactly a regular poster but do read a lot and will chime in when I think I have something different to say or specific experience that might be helpful. I'm only 30 and have a job that moves me around internationally every few years, with occasional stints at the mothership in the USA. Though I'm only 30, I've lived in seven countries and seven U.S. states. I've traveled to 28 countries and most of my travels have been for work, study, to visit friends and family, and side trips off of those other trips. So, my traveling style is usually more of a home base with friends or family or a hotel for work, and then day or weekend trips around that. I did a couple of big tours while studying abroad, but haven't done that in over 10 years. I usually stay with friends or family, in hostels, in decent hotels for work, and sometimes decent hotels on my own since the work hotels earn me a lot of hotel points. I've studied abroad three times, twice for a year, and once for a semester, and still work with exchange students, so I know a lot about that type of experience. I've also managed multiple international moves, so I've also got some insight on traveling when you're moving and getting a household set up internationally.

Posted by D.D.
375 posts

I'm an American who has lived in several places in Europe over the past decade plus, and we try to travel here as much as we can. I enjoy reading the Helpline, but I have a fairly low post count for the length of time I have been aware of this site compared to many posters, because I am not generally particularly chatty. But I offer suggestions or comments if I think it might be useful. My philosophy about travel style is that it may be best not to get too attached to any particular style, but to adjust depending on the needs of each trip. I weigh the pros and cons of a decision and choose what I think will work best for that time and place. If a discount local airline can get us where we want to go at a reasonable price, we take it. If that doesn't work for us for a given trip, we take the train, or coach, or drive, or whatever does work. Sometimes I wear a Gortex parka and sometimes I wear a wool city coat. I usually prefer to carryon a bag, but for some trips it works better to check one. Sometimes I do a lot of specific planning in order to feel comfortable, but other trips are more spontaneous. So I do a quick cost/benefits analysis in my head and then choose what I think will work best. I certainly have preferences, but I don't think there is a particular way to travel that will always work for every single trip.

Posted by Paula
Toronto, ON, Canada
38 posts

Hi, My name is Paula, I am 40 years old and live in Toronto, Canada. While I am not a regular poster, I am a regular reader :-) and have picked up many great tips from this website. I travel to Europe for 6 weeks every 2 years (hopefully yearly now that my son will be entering university). My husband and I love adventure and exploring new city's. While we pre-plan most of our travel (hotels and transportation) we leave our daily schedules almost empty and just go where ever the wind takes us. Thank you very much for starting this post Sarah, It's been wonderful learning a little bit about all the wonderful people here who selflessly share their travel knowledge. Paula

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

i'm loving all the responses! we are an interesting and diverse group! really glad other people were as interested in getting to know each other (or at the very least, talk about themselves ;)) as I was! and of course you don't need to be a "regular" to respond!

Posted by Jaye
Dallas, OR, USA
131 posts

Hey Sarah and everyone! I just love reading this thread; meeting like-minded fellow travelers – so fun! A big thank you to all of you - the help from this site has been invaluable. Like Galen, I wasn't sure if I should respond as I'm not a regular contributor. Does being a regular reader count? :0) I hope to be a "regular" one day but for now, it is very exciting when I can contribute something to assist someone else and give back. I travel with my wonderful husband of 33 years; we are retired (he from Law Enforcement and me from mortgage banking/escrow). We have one grown son who travels with us when the scheduling works. All my life I dreamed of going to Europe but never had the opportunity/time/finances until 2007. We have been to Europe three times now, always combining a RS Tour with independent travel – the best of both worlds. Not sure what to call our style, still pretty new to it all. We pack a bit more than most here (24" bag and check it), do tons of research ahead of time (anticipation!) and enjoy a clean, centrally located hotel or rental apt., a nice view never hurts either! I am a big planner and pre-book many things but also build in free time to sit in cafes or hike or whatever we feel like then. We save for two to three years and build up air miles to allow us this travel. We love music, nature, walking, art, history, and meeting new people. And, of course, wouldn't want to forget our love of food and wine, or maybe that should be wine and food. :0) Some of our friends ask why we keep going to Europe and I just tell them, until you go and see the art and history for yourself, you won't understand! Travel has changed us in many ways, all for the better I think.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8729 posts

This is the second time I have written out the stupid thing and had it "fail to post" . Wish they would fix that. When I go back its dissappeared. Will try again later. Hate that.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8729 posts

I am 50 and have three kids, 22, 20, and 16. My husband started a business paper which I helped him with for 5 years, when he sold it we took the money and started our own company. I have investment properties that I manage myself,so basically semi retired as its not a full time job by any means, have the systems down pat by now. Worked with disabled kids when I was younger and in the hotel/restaurant mangement for about a decade, just after marriage till second kid arrived. Retired from 9-5 after that. I have been to France many many times. Was born there so many summers as child etc. Try and return every 2 years, try to make trips at least 3 weeks long.
First independent trip at 23, three months in Europe backpacking with friend. Went many places. Faves were Greece, Switzerland and France. New favorite is Spain, hope to go there again next year. Cheapo travel.. bathroom down the hall. Have taken two of my three kids'( two seperate trips one on one, kids were 13 , and 11) . Have only taken one tour , a 14 day RS Family tour with my 11 yr old, but we also taken on 12 days on our own, Paris and Rome. Have visited UK,France, Italy , Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany and Austria. I basically like clean cheap accomadation, must have a/c( I am not good in heat) and must have private bathroom, and good location. I can always find what I want with tons of research, I pay between 90-120 euros usaully. I have rented an apartment once, it was nice enough, but I don't feel the need to "live like a local" like some do( I have done it already) , I prefer someone else make my bed and bring me clean towels. I however do not need room to be big, nor does it have to have luxurys, no little soaps needed , lol .

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8729 posts

Weve done RVing with kids, Rockies etc, visited California , Nevada, Oregon, . Visited Hawaii 6 times and cruised 6 times. I can honestly say I have never had a bad holiday, whether it was in Paris or in the Okanogan at a campground.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7877 posts

I should add, all trips - whether solo, spouse and I, or kids in tow - are made carry-on only. I have a convertible bag, spouse has a roll-on (our kids all do roll-ons too). One of the Air Force sayings is, "Flexibility is the key to airpower." As a flyer, we always added "that loosely translates to 'always carry on your luggage'." Back in my flying days and my limited road-warrior days in business, carrying-on meant you could switch planes on a dime if you needed to without worrying about losing your luggage. If a flight was delayed or canceled, you could take opportunities that other travelers had to pass on. Anyone who travels with me, has to agree to only carry-on luggage. I like being out of the airport and on my way quickly. I also like not filling a rental car to the roof with luggage and being able to hop on a train or bus easily with one small bag.

Posted by Marcella
Hendersonville, TN
98 posts

Brad, So true for my family as well. Each kid is in charge of their own roll on and backpack. They are great travelers and can trek from the train station to our accommodations with all their own baggage in tow. I always wonder what my travel style will be once the kids are grown and on their own. Will I start to splurge on a hotel with housekeeping or will I still pick up dinner from the grocery store and boulangerie to take back to my little apartment? I have years yet to consider.

Posted by Lo
1354 posts

I am a 66 year old retired librarian. I grew up in San Antonio, TX. I always wanted to go other places, anytime, anywhere. My first husband never wanted to go to Europe. Within a year of divorcing him, I sold almost everything I owned to finance a trip to Europe. I was left with a VW Rabbit, a bicycle and 10 boxes which I stored with friends. I took the first Freddie Laker Skytrain flight from NY to London. With BritRail and Eurail passes, my copy of Let's Go Europe and a backpack I bought in Amsterdam, I made my way around much of Europe for about 4 months. I was in heaven. I stayed in hostels and an occasional B&B. That trip led me to later get a job with the US Army in Germany where I lived for 3 years. 24 years flew by, yikes! My current husband and I went to Europe for 2 months in 2009. It was his first trip to Europe. Our daughter was in Sicily. I thought we would spend a few weeks in Italy and then go home, but he had some specifics on his list stretching from seeing her to visiting Iceland and including Germany, England and Ireland. Trip creep, you know. We used almost all public transportation. Our 2011 trip was at a much slower pace with 1 week each in Lisbon and Florence, a couple of internal European flights and 2 weeks of driving the Alps. The 2012 trip was one month in France with a week each in Paris and in Aix-en-Provence and about 3 weeks of driving around France. The 2013 trip will be a month split between Holland and Belgium, this time without a car. What's important to him is having a place to sleep late and ease out and to see something car racing related. What's important to me is being able to get up early, make my own coffee, see architecture and to be places where I don't know the language. We both place great value on things that are unique to specific places and on just being where we are watching that world go by. And then there is the food...

Posted by Gretchen
Andover, MA, USA
427 posts

Hi Everyone, I'm enjoying reading this thread. I have been a regular reader for almost 5 years. I occasionally answer questions too, but I find that most of the regulars here are far more knowledgeable, so I leave it you all to answer. Thanks, by the way! I am 41 years old, single (but looking), and a special ed teacher and a speech therapist too. I've taken three RS tours so far, but I did an EF education tour back in high school and a Contiki tour with two friends back in 2000. Both of those were of the "if its Tuesday it must be Belgium" variety. I'm probably slightly different than most of the regulars on the Helpline in that I actually prefer the RS tours to the alone time. I find that I actually accomplish more when I'm in a group than when left to my own devices ( but I'm like that in my 'regular' life too). I often arrive to the tours 1-2 days ahead to do a little bit on my own. I really enjoy the time to get to know all the other tour participants. This past summer, I did the city Istanbul tour and although I loved the city, I found I didn't love the tour itself as much since there was less bus time to chat with the others on tour. Different Than most of you here, I realize. :)

Posted by Bonnie
Boston, MA
116 posts

Hi everyone, I'm Bonnie, 28 years old, and addicted to travel. I visit here everyday but don't post all that often - as Gretchen said, the regulars all give great advice! I work in retail and just started grad school for library and information science, specifically archival management. My first trip to Europe was when I was 16 - an EF Tour to Italy. I fell in love with travel, and over the next years I went on tours to England (and Quebec...well it was supposed to be France but 9/11 happened and we were rescheduled to Quebec). After graduating high school, I stayed in touch with the teacher who ran the trips and was able to continue as a chaperone (and travel for half price and free) to France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Ireland, and also Egypt. I quickly grew tired of being on a tour like that, so I would go a week ahead of time and travel on my own before meeting up with the group. Last year I revisited England for two weeks completely on my own, and the one thing that I miss from doing half solo/half tour trips is the socialization. I am a total introvert, and although I did love my trip, by the end I was a bit lonely. This spring I visited Ireland and Northern Ireland, and I'm planning on spending at least a month in London this summer (one month in a grad school program and I'm considering flying over early for at least a week). When traveling, as long as I have a bed I don't really care where it is, so I usually stay in hostels to keep the cost down. I did splurge and stay in a very nice B&B in York. I've only ever used public transport on my own; I personally do not feel confident enough to rent a car on my own. Maybe when I get a travel buddy. I love visiting churches, museums, libraries, and castles! I really need to get to Wales to spend time seeing the castles. Not really a foodie, so I try to keep things on the cheap, either making it myself or buying at the supermarket.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1739 posts

What a wonderful topic, and how nice to learn something about one another. I've spent most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area and work as a writer... primarily to pay for travel. I can't even imagine when I'll be able to retire (maybe at 90?), so I try to work deals with my employer to get more time off. I'm thinking of switching to freelance work to get more control over the work/play equation. (No one takes meaningful vacations at my current employer, something they neglected to mention during the interviews.) I travel mostly on my own, very simply, and I enjoy planning almost as much as traveling - usually I'm contemplating my next destination on the flight home. I treasure having "enough" time to get to know a place, rather than covering lots of territory. I find it painful to leave prematurely. Florence, Assisi, and Egypt are favorite destinations, and I never seem to tire of revisiting places I love. Art and/or spiritual pursuits are usually central in my travel plans, and some of the pilgrimage experiences I've had in recent years have truly been life changing. I am so grateful for them. For me, one of the real blessings of travel is the perspective it brings on how life can be lived (and is meant to be lived).

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5687 posts

Ralph, I hope you're posting a trip report.

Posted by Al
Kent, WA
18 posts

Hi folks. We are in our mid 50's and now that our kids are older we are able to do some traveling. We are dedicated carry-on only travelers, when relying on public transportation in European countries it makes life much easier. Most of our travel interests are in the US/Canada or in Europe. I don't see any trips to Asia, Australia, etc. in our future. When we get somewhere, we mostly just want to be left alone to do what we want. We enjoy our interactions with those we come in contact with: waiters, hotel staff, etc., but we don't usually go out of our way to meet the locals. Life is so busy that we really enjoy spending time with each other outside of our normal daily routines. Back in the early 80's I was in the Army and stationed in Germany for 3 years. I was about 20 minutes out of Stuttgart, thanks for starting the thread Sarah! I was able to travel a lot back then, so it is nice to be able to have the chance to be back there occasionally again. We've had a couple trips over the past few years to Germany with our (mostly) adult kids in tow, and also to Italy. I tend to spend way too much time doing research before our trips. My wife thinks I am wasting time on the internet, but I prefer to think of it as research. Even with all this research, I learned it is still possible to buy a ticket for the wrong day on an Italian train. Happy travels, it's nice meeting all of you.

Posted by Janet
Lakewood, WA
92 posts

I'm Janet. I love living in the northwest. I am a third generation international traveler. I just got engaged Yippy!!!! I like living close enough to ETBD office that I can go and talk to a person if needed. I travel because I am a very curious person and I like learning about other people's history. I also like to be able to see all the buildings, art, etc that I read about in school. I am also an avid reader so to see places mentioned in books or news articles really helps me understand whats going on. What's important to me when I travel is food and stories. I am something of a foodie so finding good food is essential. I also like long talks with food or over dinner as it makes everyone comfortable and open to sharing.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1708 posts

Don't wake me up with this stuff, I'm trying to take a nap.

Posted by Sylvia
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
331 posts

I'm 50,born in Holland,married,2 kids.My first independant trip was at 20 for two months with my best friend,my backpack & a Eurail Pass. Holland,France,Switzerland,Italy & Greece using "LETS GO Europe" as our bible. At 23 my future husband and I sold everything & headed to Europe with a 6 month Open Return ticket,the books " LET's Go Europe" & "Work your way around the world". Worked & travelled the UK in a VW camper.Sold the camper, travelled to the Netherlands & burned the "return ticket".By train to France & Italy staying in pensions,bought a tent & ferried to Greece camping on beaches,renting cheap rooms.Low on money we worked as Deck Hands on a 66 foot sailboat(the Wilderness)which was to take us to Israel in three days for $75 each.The trip took 7 days just to Cyprus where we paid the "captain" $350 or he wouldn't give us our passports back(NEVER let anyone hold your passport) Ferry to Israel & worked in a resort for a few months, travelled for 2 months in Egypt,flew to Spain,toured & hitchhiked south to Gibralter, worked in restaurants & rented a 3 bedroom apartment in Spain, renting rooms to travellers.After 19 months of travel, we were ready to go home. In 2008 we took our daughers 13+14 to Europe for 5 weeks w backpacks,rail passes & alot of enthusiasm.The Netherlands in hostels,France with overnights on trains,hostels and a rented house then Italy to a rented flat. This June I will do a 3day stopover in Iceland, Netherlands to pick up my cousin then Greece for 2 weeks.For me eating from street vendors & buying food at grocery stores for picnics is a big part of the adventure and so is being somewhere that isn't native English speaking.My next dream trip is to Indonesia,where my mother is from,to meet the other half of my family.

Posted by Jeff
Taunusstein, Germany
305 posts

Fascinating group. I'm 50 something and have traveled extensively thanks to my parents, the military and my wife and kids. Have been in all 50 states (sometimes not more than a foot off the train...but I have seen every state)Last count is 42 or more countries (including one that doesn't exist anymore). History has been a driving force for some of the places I have seen from Iwo Jima to Little Big Horn to Normandy ad infinitum. Authentic travel experience is as mundane as a cheeseburger at a Buffalo Grill in France or some Pork Katsudon and a Sapporo at a stand up stand in Tokyo. Only plan in detail when the schedule of a place that I want to see dictates attention beyond that I see too much worry here about finite details of travel. Worry less and enjoy more when traveling always works for me. I figure at some point the desire to travel will lessen but until then its all fun.

Posted by Bethanne
Philadelphia, PA, USA
162 posts

Hello, Such a fun idea!! I am a 31 Paralegal from Philly who was recently married (January 5, 2013) to a wonderful man I have known since first grade. I have a stepdaughter who is 10 and that is about as far as I'm going to get with having kids, at least for the next couple years... I have been to London twice with a little sprinkle of Paris and then Rome & Venice. I started watching RS after my first two trips to London in 2001 & 2002 and finally planned a trip back to Europe with my then fiancé for Rome & Venice in 2011. We planned the entire trip from the website here, Rick's books, lots of research, and of course, lots of help with our itineraries and bookings from all the wonderful people here. We are now planning our "delayed honeymoon" for November 2013 to go back to Rome and finish up some sites we missed for a week with a day trip to Florence and a day trip to Naples/Pompeii and then onto London for a week for my Husband's first trip there! It's still sounds soo strange to say "husband!" We love B&B's, using the metro, shopping at the supermarkets and picnicking. We like to a two or three nice dinners out but enjoy the aspect of living like locals and food shopping for breakfast, snack and lunches. We plan to do this on every trip! We hope to travel every other year to Europe and to start taking Gia with us when she's around 12, as we feel she'll be able to appreciate and handle the intensity of it better when she gets a little older.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

Hi Everyone! This has been a fun read! I am 50 - and loving it, my husband is 73 - rockstar 73! We have been married for 28 yrs. We are currently semi-retired and live full-time in a 40' motor home. We owned a B&B in Cape Cod, MA for about 9 yrs and met many wonderful people from all over the world. Our first trip to Europe was in 1997 - Paris, 10 days in Germany with a rail pass then London - my husband was terrified - unfamiliar things tend to do that to him! Me, being fearless, said "come on - it'll be great!" - which it was! We ended up in London the weekend of Princess Diana's funeral and while it was an incredible time to be there we did not really get to experience the real London. We eventually made it back to the UK, a three week trip - a little more than 2 weeks by car and the last 5 days in London - yay - get to see London for real this time - well half way into that trip 9/11/2001 - well that pretty much changed the tone of that trip. We have no plans to return to the UK in the near future! While we owned the B&B traveling in the summer was out of the question - we learned to love Paris in January! We have never taken an organized tour - probably never will, we travel off-season or shoulder season and don't usually make a lot of advanced reservations - there have been times we just shoed up at the train station and looked at where trains were going in the next 30 minutes and picked one! I really enjoy reading the posts from all the folks here and love all of the ideas I get - thanks for that!

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5384 posts

Ron, you forgot to tell us about yourself. You just told us what trips you went on.

Posted by S Jackson
Vancouver, Canada
61 posts

Hi, I live here on the " Wet " Coast of Canada with my husband, who is a homebody and doesn't like to travel much. Having said that, he has just had two trips to the UK alone,to take courses, and he planned them all by himself, having never done that before! I was very proud of him, as his trips went like clockwork. Anyway, I'm a young 58; and come from a family of people who moved around a lot. We lived in Scotland when I was little; so I went back there after high school to go to college, and lived there for many years afterward. I've also lived and worked in three other countries. I did a lot of traveling at that point; and have been to Australia 3 times; Sri Lanka, Africa, most of the UK, Turkey 4 times, and other places. My husband and I have been on one cruise and loved it; and have had three trips to Europe together. For the past six years; I have gone to Italy on my own nearly every year, and have a minor obsession with it!! I meet my friend from back in college, who lives in Europe; and off we go together for 3-4 weeks in Italy; sometimes with other friends meeting up with us along the way. I do all the planning; and have never had a complaint from anyone else! I run plans by them all before I book things. I recently read that my form of planning is known as "forensic"; as I am very detailed! I love the planning and research as much as the trips themselves. We always rent apartments; having pretty much given up staying in hotels. I find it's great to have a kitchen, a balcony, a washing machine; and stay somewhere and get to know the neighbourhood. I've taken Italian language classes in Italy, which was just wonderful. This year we are off to explore Naples and some of the south of Italy.
Buon Viaggio, everyone!!

Posted by Michael
Griffith, IN, USA
447 posts

Retired firefighter and now work at a local community college. Uncle Sam sent me and the wife to Germany in 1967. We stayed 2 1/2 years which were some of the best times of our life's. In the last 14 years we have made 16 trips back and within the next year we plan on staying 6 weeks a year just resting in Europe. Our first daughter was born there and we are now taking each of our four children with their children on a European holiday. We also did Europe on 5.00 per day but back when Europe was a lot smaller and trains a lot cheaper. We have taken many of our friends with us and some many times.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

hi all, I started out not interested in traveling. But my first job sent me to the Southampton, UK ,Calais, France and HOlmdale NJ for work. I also inquired if i could take some time to be a "tourist" on my time off over there and was informed, its okay, but that time and stuff was on my dime. So, i got bit by the travel bug all due to work. What also made a dif was that i was an Art/Architecture student for a while and if any of you followed the same path, know almost everything you learn is from overthere. So i had a chance to see in person what i saw in little pictures in my Jansens book. World of difference! Im traveling now just to see other nifty places and to see some of the historical stuff that happend around the world. IE, Normandy, Bastogne, Paris, London.... Afa whats important to me about the traveling. Its being there. Dont have to "do it", but just being there means alot. RS has alot to do what i do since i discovered his TV show. I try to watch it as much as i can buy my work schedule interfers sometimes. IAC, i read his books and go from there. I may follow most of the book, but i also google what else to do and see in which city. i find his books EXTREMELY helpful in getting to/from places and such, opening times and cost. It just take alot of guess work or asking for directions or how to get you there. the books also help me budget my time & $$$ on each trip. NOt to say i dont ask anyway, but it saves alot of wasted time/travel. My last trip and i think from now on, my tactics is to visit/tour the big city(s), learn how to get around and then if/when i come back, its waaaay easier to get around once youve been there since it will be "familiar" to you and not so scary. also, most of the expensive stuff can be in the big citys, so if/when i go back, i can skip all that and head out of Dodge. enough...happy trails.

Posted by Angela
Eau Claire, WI, United States
51 posts

Hi everyone, As you can see by my low number of posts, I am new to this site. I am 34 and married with a 14 year old step-daughter. I am currently planning our collective first trip to Europe this July (unless you count a trip to Germany when I was 3-which I don't) and have found these boards and all of you to be immensely helpful. THANK YOU! We have traveled the US and Canada pretty extensively over the years and a bit of Mexico, too. Now that our daughter is old enough to remember the experiences, we are ready to invest in the big trip and will spend 3 weeks in Europe including Germany, Italy and a 6 day cruise that stops in Croatia and Greece. We are thrilled. I have family in Germany and minored in German in college and cannot wait to test my skills with the language. Our travel style fits nicely with RS tips and these boards. We are planning one backpack each for our trip. We love picnics, but will splurge on a nicer sit down meal if it is a must for that area. We like small, locally owned as much as possible and often find connections with local people in our travels whether it is Hawaii or just another part of lovely WI. We are quite outdoorsy and love camping, hiking, biking, etc. Our main preferred sites on a trip are natural beauty and cultural experiences. Thank you all again for sharing your wisdom out of the goodness of your hearts! It is your advice on these pages and the RS shows/books that made me believe I could handle planning this trip for the 3 of us and allowed me to convince my husband of the same! Angie

Posted by gone
2081 posts

hi, i must have missed this one or its been resurrected from the old dusty post. Im a early 50 y/o single guy (not planning on changing that either) and just started to travel again after a long delay. My original thought to travel was to horseback ride in each country as a vacation, but what i found was that it was expensive and limited my travel. So i did some changes and im going to try and do a day or one or 2 hour ride in each country i choose to see. at least, thats what i hope to do. Ive never thought of traveling before but we did as a family and traveled across the USA via RV. My first job out of college sent me to Southampton, UK and Calais, France. then onto Holmdale,NJ and then a month in Hawaii. so for me, it was all new, strange, scary and fun in the end since i found out that i could spend a few extra days on my own (at my dime) but they paid for the flights and i found out there is alot out there that is soooooooo cool. Eventho my degree is in Engineering, i started out in Art/Architecture and as any of you know that entails most of Europe and is what you study 90% of the time. Sort of brings me back full circle. I remember the Prof saying if we can get there to see whats in Jansens book, to do so. For my travels at this time, im doing it solo. i enjoy the planning and figuring out the logistics and reading RS and others books. sometimes its just watching the boob tube and get ideas too. right now i have almost a dozen binders with different countries/continent names on it for future travels just to collect data.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

.... currently i work for a chip maker (its not the one youre thinking of either) and they are so nice that i get 4+ weeks vacation/year. for that i have to work a compressed work week (Cww). For those of you that dont know what a CwW is, one week i work 3 - 12 hour days and then next is 4-12 hour days and then it repeats. that leaves me with approx 1/2 the week off. it can drag on you, but i enjoy the time off and use it. theres alot of there stuff too, but i dont want to spill my all of my guts now. happy trails.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5641 posts

@ Ray - You said "i must have missed this one or its been resurrected from the old dusty post." You actually posted an answer to this on 3/19/13 @ 3:12 p.m.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

The best introduction I can think of is to share a few of my best travel memories. This is how I remember it, and most of this is probably true: > First school trip to Paris when I was 10; passer-by complimenting us on our lovely school uniforms > Age 11, riding on the back of my uncle's motorbike through the tunnels in the Rock of Gibraltar; swimming in the dark and then eating squid, octopus and kebab from a stall (this is my number one all time memory about anything, not just travel) > Wild dolphins in the Straits of Gibraltar while crossing to Morocco > Seeing a mountain for the first time, on a school trip to Austria, and staring open-mouthed at the size of it > Hitchhiking to Paris aged 18 and getting a lift all the way from the ferry to the Eiffel Tower with the French cultural attache to Britain > Another hitchhiking trip to Paris, arriving at the ET around midnight one November weekend and sleeping in the entrance to a postcard booth (chilly, smelled a bit) > Camping at Arthurs Pass in the South Island of New Zealand, being woken at dawn by a Kea (mountain parrot) sliding down my flysheet just for fun; wild dolphins in Milford Sound > Camping in Yosemite National Park in the snow > Driving from the Bay of Biscay to the Med, then the Med to the English Channel; the world changing from beige to green when crossing the Pyrenees to the French side > Crossing the Atlantic under sail; seeing wild dolphins 1,000 miles from the nearest land I could go on, but won't. By the way, in case anyone is still reading, I'm 47, can't travel much at the moment but plan to spend months and months in Provence and Umbria and Tuscany when I'm a bit older. I live in the New Forest national park and commute to London a couple of times a week. I love trains, and train timetables.

Posted by Shelly
Charlotte, NC, USA
61 posts

What a lovely travelogue! I'm the youngest of 5 kids, grew up in a tiny Midwest town in a family that never traveled. The summer after I graduated college in 1985, I took out a loan from our local banker (co-signed by my dad) and backpacked Europe for 5 weeks, seeing much of Western Europe. Fell in love with Paris. The year I turned 30 I quit my job as a financial analyst and backpacked around the world for a year best decision ever! During the year, I taught English for 2 months at a summer camp in a village outside Prague. About a year later, I moved to Prague and taught English for a year. I'm now an editor/writer, and even before going back to school in the '90s to study journalism, I thought my dream job would be working for Rick Steves :) I received a sabbatical from my newspaper several years ago, and returned to my No. 1 spot: New Zealand. Last year, I went to France for my 10th visit: a week cycling in the Languedoc, week in Paris, and a few days in Normandy during the D-Day anniversary.
I'm a budget traveler, thrilled with 2* hotels these days and still an occasional hostel. Planning my next trip (gosh, are there 4 words more exciting than those?) for the fall.

Posted by Alexander
Quad Cities, IL/IA
340 posts

How have I missed this thread!? My name is Alexander. I'm from near the Quad Cities in Illinois/Iowa and I'm 27 years old. In my undergrad I studied French. During that time I had the opportunity to study abroad in Tours, France and I was forever changed. I remember a friend telling me about Rick's work, so I purchased the guide book. I was hooked and had to see all of is shows. He really inspired me. My studied abroad experience changed me for the better. My thirst for travel cannot be quenched. After my undergrad I had the opportunity to teach English for a primary school in the Eure-et-Loir region of France. This was the chance of a lifetime, as I was a 20-something. Though poorly paid, I was able to travel throughout France (including Corsica) Greece (including Crete), Spain, and Italy. After that engagement I opened a restaurant where I grew up that introduced some different Italian cuisine to the people in my area. My passion had always been teaching, so I sold the restaurant and started graduate school here at Kansas State University where I also teach French. During this time I had the privilege to travel to take a refresher course in Paris at the Institut Catholique and this summer I'm taking a teaching course back in Tours, France. Coming full circle. I'm currently single and probably will stay that way for some time. Travel and teaching is my passion. I feel fortunate to be in a profession that has many vacation days (though nothing compares to teaching in France!). I enjoy reading many of your posts. Keep 'em coming! This is a beautiful place to discuss travel.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
334 posts

I grew up Roman-Catholic in a French-Canadian neighborhood in a small manufacturing city. I went through most of my school years with people like myself. I understand why my parents and grandparents encouraged us to think for ourselves, and to have an understanding of the outside world. Today, I am a better person because of them. I was more of an introvert and shy in many ways. I was afraid to raise my hand in class. I stayed away from things that put me in the center of communication. I liked all kinds of kids but beyond saying Hi to everyone, I didn't know what to say next. Being a tom-boy and later thriving in girls' sports hide this fact well. Sports allowed me to push my limits and to grow outside my comfort zone. In Junior High my French class went to Quebec City. With a loan and gifts from both my grandparents and parents, I experienced my first non-USA culture. I loved every minute I got lost or couldn't speak the proper French to order my food correctly. It forced me to interact with the local culture. My first train ride was in 1968 when I skipped school to go to my first Red Sox game! My goal was to teach and then travel during my breaks and summer vacation. That never happened. After a couple of years of teaching, school loans, and still living at home, I took a job in Boston as an insurance underwriter. There I met my husband of today. Together, we worked self-employed in a small insurance company. My husband and I travel together. A few years ago I started doing solo trips, too. Solo travel allows me to learn to depend only on myself. I find myself once again, pushing my limits and growing outside my comfort zone. I love it! We enjoy mainly independent travel. My solo time has been (3) RS tours and independent time as pre and post tour stays. I look forward to going independently in 2014 on a non-tour.

Posted by Maggie
Boscombe, Dorset, UK
960 posts

Grumpy Old Woman here.
Hobbies include shouting at the TV, reading the newspaper over other people's shoulders and playing opera CD's really loudly to annoy young neighbours. Have lived in several countries, only moving on when the authorities insist. Love to travel- have to get away from myself somehow.

Posted by Ragan
Blair, Nebraska
29 posts

We are 48, well my husband Steven is, and I -Ragan- am 47 still! and have been married for 24 years. 4 kids 23,22,20 &17; the older 3 are in college the youngest will graduate from high school next spring and then we will be empty nesters! If there is ever really such a thing..we had always watched Rick as our virtual getaway and kept promising each other that one day we would do that. Our first trip abroad came last year when the opportunity came up to visit a friend that lives outside Dusseldorf, Germany. He let us use his guest house and his great little red VW. This was our first trip away without the kiddos in 23 years! We only planned our trip as far as beginning and end reservations in order to make our flights and what we wanted to see in between..the Rhine, the Romantic Road, Stuttgart, Neuschwanstein, Cologne, Wurzburg..10 days and what a blast! We rode planes, trains, subways! It was so much fun we went to Paris this year, since Paris costs sooo much more we had to shorten our time but we had tons of fun! And oh my what a learning curve! We, again, met our friends from Germany,when we drove to Metz, Fr, after 4 days in Paris discovering the Louvre, Versailles, Arc de Triomphe, Champs élysées, Il de la Cite all the fun stuff! With our RS guide book firmly in hand. Of course we did experience the riots at the Eiffel little scary.. Metz was wonderful and had a lot of small-er town charm, and a beautiful Cathedral! Epernay and Rheims were stunning! and the Champagne! The drive into the French countryside was amazing and eye opening! We hope to take our youngest to the UK next spring for his grad present and talk his older sisters into beginning to travel abroad!
Thanks Rick for the inspiration and Sara for the great idea!