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The evolution of your travel style

Avirosemail had an interesting topic going recently about budgeting $200 /day https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/budget-tips/does-200-day-sound-thrifty-to-you-extravagant-moderate and I’d indicated in his post that while I don’t budget I also don’t spend mindlessly, usually don’t stay at 5-star properties and have never felt the need to upgrade my seats for air travel.

In my younger days with small kids and 1 income I used to be a proud and dedicated miser even when I didn’t need to be, but I’ve evolved to the point where my wife says I'm just cheap. Where once I would look for the cheapest flight, cheapest hotel and cheapest experiences I’ve learned to understand the value of minimizing connections while flying, staying close to the action, and spending for the experiences that we want. I’m still a work in progress and I sometimes have to fight my miserly demons, but the older I get, the more relaxed I am about doing what I want and not looking at cost.

I’m not sure if this is a natural evolution as we get older or not. How have your travel habits changed as you've gotten older, wiser and hopefully richer? Is it strictly income that’s helped you change your ways, or does experience and wisdom play a role?

Posted by
3897 posts

For my wife and I, where we used to do the whirlwind vacation staying at a different place every night we now spend 2-3 nights in a location and use it as a base to visit other places. Before, when we had little money, we used to do a lot of camping and we don’t need to do that anymore. Glad those days are over.

Posted by
1645 posts

I will occasionally take a taxi now. The turning point was when I had taken three flights and a train to Rotterdam, Netherlands and then took the tram to my hotel. I got off at the right stop but then I spent an hour finding my hotel which was a small establishment located on a two block long side street. And it wasn't even a language issue, as everyone spoke English. But no one knew where it was!

I am more willing to pay for a view.

I won't do crazy routing to Europe to save a few bucks.

And yes, it is partly more money but I don't have any more money now then when I insisted on doing public transportation only to my hotel in Rotterdam. I think I just prided myself on being able to manage public transportation. Now I at least consider whether a taxi makes sense after a long transatlantic flight.

Posted by
1059 posts

I think having more money is a large part of the evolution of travel. It seems every time I have tried to save a few bucks here and there when traveling, it seems to backfire. I now select hotels with amenities that are comfortable to me, AC, quieter areas for a better nights sleep, etc.

I also learned location is important, but not necessarily in the center of everything, as long as I have access to the train, metro or tram to get quickly to where I want to be. I find being out of the city center in the late evening is a plus.

I've never bought into the "local experience" as a goal of travel. It usually happens a few times during a trip where I meet locals and have a great conversation which is always memorable to me. I chat up shopkeepers, bartenders, servers, hotel clerks and sometimes local passengers on trains.

I probably still look for bargain meals at small, highly rated restaurants and rarely frequent a fancy place, probably because I don't pack fancy clothes.

I think folks use to travel as martyrs. By that I mean, people wore a badge of accomplishment to see how little they could spend while traveling. I never have done that type of travel. I would rather delay the trip, save a little more and enjoy myself on the budget I set forth. I never saw travel as a competition.

I am lucky now to not sweat some small dollar amounts that pop up unexpectedly. I find it interesting when travelers sweat over whether or not to spend a few extra dollars upon landing in Europe when they just spent a good chunk of money on airfare.

One other thing that has evolved for me when traveling is that I go where I want to go, see what I want to see and not concern myself with others who question why I missed this museum or that church. The answer is simple...I wasn't interested!

Thoughtful post Allan. Looking forward to other's evolutionary travel experiences.

Posted by
1713 posts

Good question! I am not feeling my travel style change financially per trip - I still like the same sort of lodging, food, sights, and watch or don’t watch my spending the same. But I am definitely traveling more often and for longer - and that’s a change.

What change I do feel creeping in is a change in my inclination to plan all the minutes of my day. I am looking at a 5 or 6 week trip for next fall and right now I am feeling strongly inclined to just kind of arbitrarily plan for a few days here and there and go, not really knowing a lot about the places but finding out when I get there. That is definitely not like “past me”…..

Posted by
3926 posts

Yes to wisdom and yes to income.

I've def slowed down - I learned after a few trips that slower was better (wisdom) - I like to do 4-5 nights in a major city and try to do 2-3 nights in smaller places. We still have the occasional 1 night stay, but it's more of a way to break up a longer travel day. And I try not to pack too much into a day - and I love doing guided tours now! Our last trip we did two in Vienna via Airbnb Experiences and I loved them both. We also did two in Prague - one w/Airbnb and one w/Naked Prague - both fab. When I had my Scotland trip booked - I had at least 3 planned between Edinburgh and Glasgow (hoping they are still doing them when we finally get to go).

I do still have a hard time budgeting more than $100 (cdn) a night for accoms - but I am slowly getting out of that mindset - we don't have to budget now like we did in 2008 when we did our first trip. We're both retired now (hubs retired just before Covid kicked in) and financially comfortable and still young - I tell myself - we can afford it! But my Scrooge tendencies still tend to emerge...lol. But I'll allow myself now to look for at least $125 a night. ;) (income)

As for flights - well, our choices from Halifax to Europe are limited, but I'd be willing to spend a little more for better times when flying in Europe - I'm not going to take that 8am or 10pm flight to save $100...and while my Scrooge tries to emerge again - I will pony up the extra $100-120 to choose seats and get the extra legroom.

And let me tell you - our next trip will be lit - we still have our money banked w/WestJet, so flights are paid. And I rebooked our Rabbies tours after having left our money banked with them, so those are paid as well (two of the biggest expenses). In the meantime, we've still been saving $ every month in the vacation fund - so that's 18 mos of extra savings - and will be 2 yrs extra when we finally (hopefully) go next spring. You just KNOW I'm gonna splurge on nicer accoms!

Posted by
13431 posts

I have always been an arrogant twit. The style hasn't changed, but the ability to pay for it has..... I knew what I wanted to see and experience and under what conditions and that is what I have always done. As a result most every trip has been a memory never to be forgotten.

The exception is maybe Budapest where I just go to hang out and relax.

I think the greatest evolution in my style has been going from a 5wt with 3x or 4x to a 4wt, or sometimes even a 3wt, and 5x or 6x with smaller flies to match.

Posted by
2213 posts

I'm like you Nicole, I've got so much money banked with WestJet that I won't have to pay full fare until 4 trips from now. Airfare will be 'on the house' for Scotland next year, Sicily in 2023, plus one other European adventure that I'll try and fit in between those two.

Posted by
1327 posts

We've definitely evolved, especially DH. I remember the first time we were away (England in 2000) I occasionally wanted to stop for a cup of tea, and people watching. Chris was adamant - "NO - KEEP MOVING - WE MAY NEVER BE HERE AGAIN!". It was exhausting. Now he sees the value to taking it a little more easy. In fact when we went to Nice a few weeks ago, he didn't even want to do a day trip to Antibes, because he just wanted to stroll and relax. I'll have to get him moving next time!

We never do one-nighters, unless with a vehicle. With a vehicle we can tool around with the luggage tucked away, arriving at the next location at the end of the sightseeing day.

Being near Toronto, we don't generally need to connect, but when we do, I don't look for cheapest anymore. And we look for flights for where we want to go, rather than finding a deal on a flight and then planning a trip around that. That said, I have a lot of imaginary itineraries planned in my mind, so sometimes a good flight deal does direct the trip.

I'd like to be more cheap on the hotel room. DH simply cannot. He wants a nice place. And we spend too much on food; I have difficulty getting him to picnic. Right now its not much of an issue, because we can generally only do one trip per year because of work. When retired, I'd like to get him to economize better so we can go away more.

My dream is one of those lay-down pods in first class. Alas, that is a dream that will remain unfulfilled.

Posted by
767 posts

For me, I think it's partly age and the wish for more comfort that has accompanied it.

In times past, we always booked private apartment-style rentals---long before Air BnB was a thing---because we were a family of 5, and once our kids were no longer small, hotel rooms didn't accommodate us comfortably. I still often do this, but am more likely to book a hotel sometimes, now that it's just my husband and I travelling. Our trip to Africa had something to do with that. We stayed in "mid-range" lodges that were luxurious to us and loved the experience. The following year, we went to Costa Rica during "green" season and were able to book hotels that would normally be out of our budget for less than half the high season prices. I do like apartments for the space and the fridge, but I now prefer apartments that are associated with hotels. This often means we have breakfast provided and can check in or store luggage any time, if flights are delayed, for instance.

I've always liked to stay in somewhat unusual accommodations, though, and will still sacrifice some amenities in order to do so. We've stayed in a convent, a moored yacht, a casita in a compound, a half-an-airplane in the jungle, and a couple of artists' homes, among others.

For our trip that leaves in a few days, we splurged for the first time on business class seats by bidding for an upgrade. We have never purchased business class seats before (but were upgraded for free to them once), not even on really long flights to southern Africa and to Asia, but after cancelling our trips last year, and having to cancel a workshop in the US earlier this month due to the restrictions at the land border, I decided we could treat ourselves with lie-flat seats for our overnight flight, given that we didn't spend money on those other trips.

We are still pretty independent travellers and prefer to do our own research and planning. That's not likely to change until/unless it becomes too difficult to manage on our own, but I do feel aches and pains more than I used to and am more willing to pay for comfort.

Posted by
6544 posts

Yes, a natural evolution for many, but not all. Some people have frugality too deeply engrained in their habits. Money makes most things easier, doesn't it? It might come from higher income, or from rerouting your priorities so that travel is why you budget the rest of the year. Experience and maturity make you realize that cost is not the only component to value. Quality of the experience becomes more important. There's also just the physical aging that makes comfort more important, and the changes in your limitations. And, as I've mentioned before, acquiring a travel partner with different ideas and expectations will necessitate changes as well.

Posted by
4897 posts

Many on this board have experienced the ultimate travel style changer, the loss of one’s spouse. Obviously every aspect of life changes. How one travels, what one can afford, where one goes all comes into question. Do you return to a favorite place because you had a special time there or do you avoid it because it just magnifies the loss?

If you have always traveled as a couple, traveling now requires new skills and new priorities. I’ve learned a great deal in the last few years. I’ve traveled with my sister, traveled solo, gone on two Rick Steves Tours and recently took my first cruise. I’ve grown as a traveler with each experience.

Posted by
1257 posts

It's wisdom and experience for me/us.
I am a penny pincher, always thinking I can get a better deal somewhere else (and I usually can). But with travel I now understand that you may never make it back to that store to get that thing and no you won't find it again.
I now know the value of spending more on lodging to be more central to save time, not worrying about doing things "right" or doing it the way others have done, it's 100% okay to get a coffee at Starbucks and eat at Burger King. I pay attention to my flights connecting cities and layover times and will pay more with the knowledge that we need at least 2 hours for a layover. I pay for experiences, but research thoroughly to still make sure it is a good value, high rating, is what we are looking for. I learned to acknowledge my limits and that sometimes taking a more expensive Taxi at the end of the day or when you are very unfamiliar with transit is okay rather than land up hangry, confused and lost beyond it being fun anymore. I still do look at the cost because I know there are scammers and unscrupulous businesses that pray on the people that are looking for cheaper. For our day trip to Stonehenge there was the very popular Evans Evans big bus tour or the Anderson Tours that was about 40€ cheaper (for both of us) and seemed to offer the exact same route and had excellent reviews. We went with Anderson, picked up in a small coach van and only had a handful of others on the trip, was able to spread out and we had a great day and at each stop I saw the BIG Evans Evans tour busses.

Posted by
233 posts

My travel style has evolved a bit, not necessarily with increased income, though I am grateful for that.

Living on the west coast, I definitely will splurge for business class beds these days as I can arrive rested instead of fighting awful jet lag for days. I recall one of my first trips visiting college buddy who know lives in Amsterdam and struggling to stay awake through dinner. This is even more essential if my trip is of a shorter duration.

On hotels, I'm not very picky. Just somewhere clean and safe in a central location. However, when traveling with spouse or parent, will definitely take their "higher" standards into account. When solo, the hotel is a way to make up for what I've spent on airfare. I'm not much of a food connoisseur, so dining out is another area where I don't really spend much unless it is treating a friend to a meal.

I will spend more on better theater/opera seats as my income now permits. Like one of the earlier posters, I will take a taxi from and to airports, especially when arriving from the US and usually when returning home. The exception may be if I've been to a city/place before and know the metro system and the location of my hotel. Otherwise, navigating to one's lodging in an unfamiliar city after a long journey is no fun. Definitely wouldn't skimp on musuems or attractions (never did) and would consider spending more for early or skip-the-line entrance.

Fun topic!

Posted by
273 posts

I make a decent salary, but after grad school in my 30s, career change, and years of living on a journalist’s salary, I’m still frugal in my 50s. I generally travel solo so that adds to overall expense. I book flights using FF miles often 10-11 months in advance, stay at perfectly good 2-star hotels, book train tickets as soon as they go on sale, and while food is a big part of travel for me, I enjoy a picnic with awesome bread or a pastry more than a fancy meal in a restaurant. Because Europe flights are exorbitant out of Charlotte, years ago I started booking 2 separate RT tickets: one to JFK and JFK to Europe. I save at least $1,000 doing this each trip.
I enjoy and prefer taking public transit, and am happy to fill in gaps by walking, even with my luggage.
But if there’s something I really want to splurge on (but for me, a splurge is spending $75 for a French Open ticket), I will.

Posted by
2213 posts

I am not feeling my travel style change financially per trip - I still
like the same sort of lodging, food, sights, and watch or don’t watch
my spending the same. But I am definitely traveling more often and for
longer - and that’s a change.

Me to. I figure at this stage in my life if my travel budget was to suddenly double, then I'd just to the same stuff but twice as much.

Posted by
448 posts

I'm not (yet!) at an age where I have made large financial differences in my travel style, but the one major change I have done that I absolutely don't regret is moving from flying economy to premium economy on long-haul, international flights. I hope to one day be like Todd and be able to fly actual business class to Europe, but I'm not financially there yet ;)

(I still stick to normal economy for domestic US or Canadian flights, though I won't book basic economy, as I find that the very strict conditions have often backfired on me when I need to make a change.)

I'm one of those people that doesn't sleep well on overnight flights, and having just a bit more personal space and legroom has made a huge difference for my rest and energy that first day after arriving. I'm also still of full-time working age (and for a while yet!), so being able to fly home in a bit more comfort also puts me in a better place for getting back to work.

For me, the extra several hundred dollars that this usually costs is completely worth it in both directions. I am also fortunate in that I live in NYC, so I generally have good and relatively inexpensive European flight options (though let's be honest, the very high cost of NYC living definitely more than cancels out any occasional cheap flight advantage!)

Posted by
1199 posts

The more we travel the more we've learned how to travel. For example, rather than decide where we want to go and then make plans, we'll research which destinations the airlines are offering low convenient airfares and then pick a place if it suits us. Also, rather than travelling in the summer months we'll go in the shoulder season when there are fewer tourists and lower demand for hotels, etc. We've always selected lodging based on location but as our finances have grown we're staying in nicer facilities and occasionally splurging on higher end restaurants. We're also starting to visit more far-reaching places where our comfort level going in isn't as high as say another trip to western Europe.

Posted by
2186 posts

A great topic – my wife and were discussing this last week while driving through France. There have many factors which have impacted our Travel Style over the years.

STATUS - In the 1990s, I worked in corporate America and traveled 275 days a week. I also booked/coordinated conferences for 200+ persons many times during the year. Thus, I had MILLIONS of Awards points through Amex, IHG, Marriott, Hilton, etc. To escape the chaos that was our US lifestyle we’d go to Europe. In those days cell phones and email were just not prevalent and no one could find me! We flew First Class, stayed exclusively in 5-star "chain" hotels… all on points. But because of my job, our trips were no more than 7-10 days and we hit multiple destinations each trip. So while we saw a lot of places we didn’t necessarily see a lot! And then, technology started to catch up with us… and I could be found!

LOCATION – In the early 200’s, we decided to move to Europe – quite a contrast to the chaos of our previous lifestyle. (Our awards points eroded quickly). Once in Europe, our trips totally changed. Now, we had far more time and stayed in a wide variety of hotels – from a pensione to a 5-star hotel. We spent weeks at a time – especially in the summer – living in different areas, and exploring. So although we perhaps saw fewer places, we saw a lot more!

ACCESS – After 18+ years living in Europe, our lifestyle overseas has dramatically changed from those US corporate days. Travel is part of our daily discussions and weekly decision process (COVID period excluded). It’s great to be able to say, “Would you like to train to Antwerp today to have lunch?” -- or – “What do you think about flying to Rome this weekend?” As my wife and I have lived in eight EU countries, we have friends all over Europe. So, we’re constantly inviting each other over for stays. My wife discovered a hairdresser in Berlin she loved. As we lived then in Copenhagen, she and her friends would fly to Berlin - for the day - to get haircuts and shop. (And the flight & haircut was cheaper than doing the same in CPH as you could do Cimber Sterling Air for 39€ roundtrip... probably why they went out of business). When we lived in Vienna, she and her friends would do Spa Days on the Hungarian border. Yes, a different lifestyle.

LUGGAGE: Whereas our first travels to Europe were in First Class on big International planes with 2+ HUGE pieces of luggage each (because we could), now we primarily travel Economy Class, with carry-on only bags on say, easyjet or Vueling. We take many weekend trips, departing Friday evening and flying home on Sunday. (For example, we’ve seen Paris, London, Berlin, Munich, Venice, Rome, Vienna, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Malaga, Lisbon, and many other spots on quick getaways.). A great way to decide where you want to spend more time!

PACE - Because we have such convenient access, our trips are slower, deeper, and more focused. We don’t plan our days to the minute but rather enjoy what the destination brings us. We are able to travel year-round and focus on specific events or celebrations. We're fortunate to be able to go back at a later date - and have often.

WORK (Revisited) - And now, working in the travel business, I travel often for “work.” Definitely a privilege to have discovered so many amazing destinations, hotels, and experiences.

So certainly, financials play a huge part in how and where you travel, but so do life’s circumstances!

Posted by
4940 posts

Is it strictly income that’s helped you change your ways, or does experience and wisdom play a role?

All of the above, and more. Life circumstances change a lot over the decades.

Stan and I have been traveling for over 50 years. When we started, we were college students, paying our own way with full and part-time jobs, as well as student loans. Money was tight, and free time was scarce. We camped, staying in state, county, or city parks, whatever was cheapest. And we ate out of an ice chest. We added equipment one piece a year: getting a 2-man pup tent after a few years was a big deal!

We still camp, but our tent is roomier and our sleeping bags better quality. We still pretty much eat out of the ice chest, though.

Our European trips have evolved, as well. I recently went back and read my trip notes for all the trips we've taken since 2009. That was the year of our first Rick Steves tour, the Best of Florence. And according to my notes, almost every meal we ate, except the tour meals, were bread, cheese, fruit, and maybe salami in our room or picnicking. We did allow ourselves one nice lunch in a restaurant on our last day in Florence. Oh, and as soon as the tour itself ended, we immediately moved to a much cheaper hotel. (We still do that, usually!)
We now are more likely to find an inexpensive trattoria or bar for lunches and dinners, although we do still like the occasional in-room picnic.

We have, as a couple of other folks have mentioned, upped our flight comfort, moving slowly from economy to premium economy to business class. We also allow ourselves the occasional "splurge" meal, not often though.

We find ourselves now in the unusual position of having enough money to do whatever we want, and enough time. This is new. Neither of us is working, and we no longer have to help care for other family members. We are involved in a lot of volunteer work, but we're learning to pass some of that on to other people. Slowly.

Next year we're planning a 6 week + trip to Europe. I feel almost giddy, but also a bit apprehensive; it doesn't seem possible that we can have that much freedom.

Allan, as usual, thank you for a thought-provoking topic. It's instructive to look back on our travel style over the years, and interesting to see what other folks have to say.

Posted by
2213 posts

I remember a time where I thought more money meant more luxury which meant a better experience.

I was 25 years old and on my honeymoon. We stayed at a lower budget chain motel because that's what we could afford. One day we walked through the lobby of the Anaheim Hilton and were mesmerized by the opulence; both of us had grown up camping and cheap motels. We swore that one day when we could afford it we would stay there. 5 or so years later we did and were disappointed. Nothing wrong with the hotel, but we spent so little time in it that it seemed a waste of money.

We rarely splurge on expensive hotels now. The evolution of our income says we can, but the evolution of our wisdom says why bother.

Posted by
13431 posts

Its all about what you enjoy and preferences, so tailor your trip for that and nothing else.

A shorter more expensive trip works for some while a longer cheaper trip works for others.

To do anything less that squeeze the most personal enjoyment out of a trip is where the waste is, and I guess that is what I have learned over the years.

Some trips are dirt cheap; usually fishing in the Balkans and staying in a 2 star near the river, while some are a bit pricier with a stay in that special hotel I had read about.

And be creative and open minded; in July I went to Odesa, stayed in a 5 star, got waited on hand and foot, layed on the beach and just let the world go by; because it was Odesa that cost about the same as one of my cheapie fishing trips in the Balkans; with both I got experiences that will be hard to match.

Its about collecting experiences and gaining understanding; and the more varied for me, the better.

Posted by
21671 posts

How we travel has not change substantially over the years but the frequency has. We were both in education with the typical salaries associated with public schools and universities. And with two sons, that keep our travels to major trips about every two years during the summer. Upon retirement when all of our IRAs finally kicked in our income nearly tripled providing the opportunity to travel frequently and for extended periods of time. Have not quite accepted the idea of paying for business class but am close. That is the next hurdle. And, as we approach that 80 mark, paying for convenience is more important. We do take taxis more frequently but the hotel level hasn't changed.

Posted by
57 posts

We all value things differently.

Up until Covid I was flying 150 to 200K miles a year with 4 or 5 international business trips. Usually flying business class, generally in business style hotels. Typically for vacation/leisure travel I have lots of reward miles for free business class travel and for hotels.
I'm in a "pre-retirement" mode right now but have planned and budgeted for travel in my retirement so that I can travel "comfortably" (which is subjective I know). For me having fought the airline general disrespect for passengers and also being a road warrior for the last 25 years I've learned that buying the cheapest seat you can is almost always an invitation for a poor experience so I'm very picky about which airlines I fly and make sure there are adequate connection times. To me it is worth while to shop around early and spend $4K on a business class International ticket vs a $850 super discount economy ticket on a sub-tier airline and deal with the headaches and unpleasant experience that come with it. Others I know could care less and I get it.
I also am very picky on the Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) in Europe. and I wont fly airlines like Ryan and a few others even if you gave me the tickets free. (Although I have found EasyJet Ok if you buy the early boarding to be not too bad and cost effective). I work in the Aviation industry and also probably know "too much" about some of these airlines and their operating practices.
I realize not everyone values that the same, but when you travel a lot in your normal life it gets harder and harder and your body takes a beating. For a few years I was flying 16 hours to China every month and because of business conditions had to fly in economy on some less than desirable Asian airlines. So for me life is short and I do what I can so I don't dread the flights which can be punishing now that I'm 60 and not as skinny as I once was.

As I get older I value more and more simple luxuries.. over saving a couple bucks. I tend to like major business hotel chains especially in unfamiliar cities/countries simply because when I arrive I know there won't be a screw up with the reservation. I know there are a lot of small gem hotels out there as I've stayed in them on rick steves tours.. but on my own, I don't risk booking unless it is recommended by someone I trust.

The reality is I started taking RS tours because it was the tour group for people who hate tours. (When I was a kid and young adult did a few of those Globus, Brendon etc. tours with 60 people on a bus that took you to every kickback location they could). I liked RS because it was smaller groups and I didn't have to drive and spend the time planning trips to more remote locations...

I don't do bus transportation from the airport to hotels... I'll gladly pay for the expedience and convenience of a taxi although I do like subways in most European cities as long as it isn't rush hour (as it is kind of a hobby I have of figuring them out). The more iffy the city/location the more I tend to stay away from public transportation.

That said I've always been generally happy with Rick Steve's accommodations and I've been on 5 or 6 tours now. There are a couple which were a little funky in downtown Rome or in eastern Europe, but by and large I'm ok when they have been vetted by RS. Yes there is an argument for staying in the small family hotels... and I generally like them, but sometimes they suck as well. So I will stay in them if they have been screened or recommended.
The one thing that has been said about Rick, is the older "he" gets the better the quality of the hotels get. Lol..

So that is why I say we all value things and experiences differently.. To some an upgraded seat like the OP mentioned is a waste. To others it is a psychological life line.. If you can afford it and value it.. then it isn't a waste...

Posted by
4372 posts

I resonate with many of you who have more travel money available in our 60’s than in our younger years but still spend money about the same.

My evolution of travel has definitely changed. We started our Europe trips together with two wonderful RS tours and then I planned our yearly trips to Europe for several years. We had a fantastic time on each of them! Previous to 2018, all of the trips were my husband & me traveling. In 2017, we had a helpful discussion where we talked about travel, what time of the year to travel, etc. From that came our summary: my husband prefers to travel off-season and really likes Hawaii, etc. He wants to be home during the warm season to golf. I love traveling to Europe and want to be there when it’s warm, sunny weather.

So in 2018, I took my first 3-week solo vacation to Italy. In 2019, I went solo to France, and my husband joined me for the last week. Again, two fantastic trips, and I could cater all of the activities to my favorite hobbies!

I shared that to preface that now my travel style is able to be completely mine. Many people enjoy traveling at a slow pace; I’m the complete opposite. I’ll schedule several one-night stays to see something of interest or something I want to photograph (Le Mans’ Cité Plantagenêt). I love the ambiance of small cities in the evening, too, so I avoid day-trips. There’s excitement and a sense of adventure riding a local morning train to another place, anticipating seeing in person what I researched over winter.

I talk more to people when I travel now than when I was younger - less self-conscience to speak the local language with my elementary attempts. I think, Allan, that my changes in travel are much more in the wisdom/experience categories. But one monetary change - for the first time, I’m seriously considering taking two trips to Europe in 2022 - one is a mother/daughter trip we had to cancel in 2020, the other possibly a solo or invite a friend to a RS tour?

Posted by
1117 posts

This is an interesting topic! I'll add my 2cts about what has changed for me:

I have always loved traveling, and I would love to see many far-away places. However, during the past couple of years I have felt increasingly guilty about the impact flying has on the environment. It makes me feel torn between my desire to travel and fly again and feeling "flight shame" at the same time. Carbon offsets are better than nothing, but doubtlessly the best thing would be not to fly at all. Which, at the same time, would suit my fear of flying. :-)

So, I am trying to change my travel style as much as possible, going by train instead of plane whenever possible, avoiding domestic flights altogether, and hoping for an expanding system of night trains with sleepers. That of course also being an income issue because those sleepers are not exactly cheap (I'm beyond the age when I was willing to share a couchette compartment with five strangers). But I love the idea of waking up at my destination after a good night's sleep in a horizontal position instead of trying to get some sleep squished into an airplane seat.

Oh yes, and one other thing has changed over the years. I have to wear compression stockings on long trips now. :D

Posted by
31 posts

OK here goes. Budget is larger now which gives us more freedom but not changed how we spend. We are definitely wiser these days. Allan, I'm not sure if I am frugal or cheap, maybe both. Always traveled independently, currently considering RS tours for some future trips.

I started traveling to Europe in the early '80s. My DH traveled on business and I saved up and traveled with him when I could. We rented a car and took vacation days in conjunction with his business trip. Sometimes I traveled with him; more often we traveled separately. DH traveled business class when we flew separately. I flew coach on whatever airline had the least expensive fares or used frequent traveler miles. We stayed at small hotels, even though his company would have paid for business class hotels. I'm not a minimalist packer. I traveled with 2 big suitcases and 2 big carry on pieces and my purse.

We are now retired. We have been traveling to Europe every two years. We are the only family caregivers to care for my mother who is becoming frailer. We are uncertain how my mother's situation will affect our future travel plans which does cause some concern. We are at an age where we are aware our years to travel may be limited.

We hope to travel to Ireland and/or Germany/Switzerland in 2022. We no longer rent cars, but rely on public transportation. I carry a large LL Bean backpack which I check. DH checks a smaller backpack. I carry onboard a medium sized backpack and a smaller backpack which fits into the medium backpack when boarding. The backpack fits under the seat in front of me. Since I am short I can rest my feet on it. We still fly economy although I am thinking of upgrading to premium economy next trip. We have been flying together with one of us using frequent traveler miles, the other purchasing a ticket. However, the last trip in 2019 my husband had TSA precheck on his ticket and I did not which did cause some problems when I got stuck in a long line. Sometimes we buy bread and cheese, etc. to eat in our room. We typically stay in small pensions or family run hotels which offer a good breakfast. The last trip we stayed at a hotel in Bavaria for a week and for the first time purchased half board. This worked very well for us and we plan to do it again. We do not feel a need to eat at expensive restaurants, preferring less expensive cuisine. In the future we hope to travel to Europe twice a year. We have been staying 3-4 weeks each trip. The length of stay may not change, however I never feel ready to return home.

One experience that has not changed over the year is going to flea markets. I buy lots of little things at them and often find gifts. We've met so many friendly locals selling goods at these markets. And my experiences at them have always been fun.

I do extensive research and work out a list of things we'd like to do or see. These days there are not too many "have to do at a certain day/time" items on the list. In the past we've been on the go all day. Now we often take a break in our hotel in the afternoon.

Another difference from our earlier years is how we react to jet lag. We take melatonin upon going to bed on arrival day. We now allow ourselves a couple hours nap once we settle into our hotel. To our surprise by the second day we've adjusted. Years ago we didn't allow ourselves a nap. I remember shopping in a one M Migros one afternoon on day of arrival. I should have been napping. I was not able to successfully maneuver a shopping cart. Returning home we take melatonin at bedtime until we feel adjusted to our home time zone. I don't mind waking up early for days after arriving home. By 11 a.m. I feel I've done a days work.

At this time for us we have the money to travel but still experiencing problems finding the time to travel due to caregiving responsibilities.

I am enjoying all the posts on this thread. Happy Travels everyone!

Posted by
1645 posts

I was thinking some more about this question and came up with a way our travel style has not evolved as much as we vowed in our 20s.

My husband and I made two extended trips to Europe in our 20s before having children. I remember being in Paris, buying dinner from a vendor on the street, and my husband saying he wanted to come back to Europe again we had enough money to eat at least one meal a day out at a restaurant. Fast forward about 30 years and we do. But we discover quickly that we do not like eating every meal or even every dinner at a restaurant. It takes too long for one thing. We have ended up over four trips in the past five years eating out about half of the time-which is not much different than what we did in our younger less affluent days.

Posted by
1611 posts

We traveled a lot on our own until the last few years. We will continue to do so if se can travel easily by public transportation. But I want my husband to enjoy the trip and if he has to drive it is just not as pleasurable for him. So we now do small group tours when the public transport logistics become too onerous. I used to turn my nose up at tours but now find them quite enjoyable. I like the group dynamic and found that we have had experiences on a tour that we would not have otherwise had if we had done the trip on our own. We have also made some wonderful lifelong friends.

Posted by
10004 posts

In a nutshell, comparing style now to 11 years ago when we took our first trip to Europe:

  • Longer stays because we are longer working so 2 months versus 2 or 3 weeks
  • Fewer changes of location. Will spend 2 to 4 weeks in one place.
  • More cooking because restaurant fatigue sets in
  • No car rentals AT ALL as driving detracts from my enjoyment. Some taxis especially on arrival in a city otherwise public transportation daily when we have no luggage.
  • Business class from the West Coast direct to Europe (and back) versus changing planes on the East Coast and premium economy
  • It’s all about the hiking/walking and never about museums, churches, etc.
  • Private tours of important sites are worth every dime when we do succumb to sightseeing
  • More apartments even for as few as 3 nights. Might not cook but we appreciate the extra space and coffee first thing (hate to wait for the breakfast room to open).
  • Expect an apartment to have a washer, dishwasher, and a Nespresso. Doesn’t have to be fancy but little things mean a lot.
  • Splurge on a nice half-pension stay of 2 or 3 nights at least once each trip
Posted by
1117 posts

Expect an apartment to have a washer, dishwasher, and a Nespresso.
Doesn’t have to be fancy but little things mean a lot.

Wow. You call that "little things"? I can't remember EVER having stayed at an apartment that was fancy enough to have a washer and a dishwasher. :-o

Posted by
1059 posts

We now allow ourselves a couple hours nap once we settle into our hotel. To our surprise by the second day we've adjusted.

OH YESSSSS. This little nap is a change I made many years ago, against all that tell you not to do it. Not only does this short nap fight jet lag, but makes arrival day a much more pleasant, less exhausting experience. I previously bought into the talk about not napping, but I found not doing so, made myself miserable all day to try and stay awake and made the second day almost as bad.

When arriving in the morning, if I can get into my room, a maximum 2 hour nap, shower and a very low carb lunch and I am refreshed and good for afternoon sight seeing, getting some sunshine and light walking. High carb meal for dinner and asleep by 10:00pm. The next day I am refreshed, not sluggish and ready for whatever I need or want to do.

Good mention, travelergirl. This was truly a big evolution for me which made trips from the start extremely more pleasant.

Posted by
258 posts

Our changes have been more reactionary. Reacting to hitting our 70s, we want to travel more while we still can. Reacting to the pandemic, we're jamming two European trips into 2022. Reacting to our kids becoming more self-sufficient, we're taking a few more luxuries. Reacting to Britain staying closed for so long, we "pivoted" to Brittany last August. (It IS known as Little Britain.) But we still love historical sights and a nice dinner each night. Oh yes....we try to make the days when we fly a little easier rather than a marathon of connections and check-ins (which is not easy to do with the addition of Covid testing rules and extra documents).

Posted by
2213 posts

As it gets nearer, I often wonder if retirement will bring on an evolution of my travel style. As I'm still working, one thing I crave but still don't have is unlmited time. I posted a question last year on how retirement changed your travel style and if I recall correctly, a common answer was longer and more relaxed trips. I still don't take more than 2 weeks at a time and tend to go full throttle from the time I wake up until I go to bed. After 2 weeks I'm ready to head home. I want to take longer trips and I suspect I'll need to tone down my frantic pace.

Posted by
269 posts

This has been a really interesting topic. My husband and I took two trips before kids, and our first trip especially was tightly budgeted. It also was an incredibly memorable trip. After sleeping in convent in Rome with no AC in July, we vowed to get rooms with AC while in warmer locations. A few years later, we thought we’d be fine with no AC in Berlin and Prague, and sweltered in our rooms in a 100 degree heat wave. Lesson learned, finally! We have also learned to say yes to experiences. We do this most of the time, but remember a few times when we turned opportunities down (due to cost or schedule) and looking back, we wish we’d said yes.

Now we travel with kids, so our trips look much different now. This past summer, we spent longer in place (4-5 nights) and rent apartments to have more space and a kitchen. We like our kids to have their own room so we aren’t sitting in the dark at 8pm when they’re in bed. An apartment with somewhere to sit outside is especially nice. We also do way more hiking with kids, which everyone enjoys.

Posted by
6544 posts

Allan, when we both retired, we didn't change our style so much, or the length of our trips. We had pretty much settled into that RS groove as far as how we travel. Longer trips sound nice, but we get tired after two weeks, so we're hoping for more often instead - a mix of relaxing (domestic beach/mountain) trips and European trips. But the level of hotels, restaurants, pace, transportation, and comfort didn't change as much as it did in the years before retirement..

Posted by
2213 posts

I just rebooked my Scotland 2020 trip for June, and now I just found a phenomenal seat sale to London in September for $600. This is definitely the evolved me; I can take more trips, just because I can.

Posted by
2091 posts

In my 20’s I traveled and stayed at youth hostels. Not anymore! My DH and I like our creature comforts and like at least a mid range hotel or bnb. We definitely splurge on food with at least one special meal on the trip.
I expect when my DH retires in the next 3 years, our travel style will change again. Plan is to spend 6-7 weeks each year in Europe, with lot’s of USA travel as well.

Allan, we are taking 2 International trips this year as well, making up for 2020! When are you retiring?

Posted by
74 posts

To slow down. The first times I traveled to Europe, I thought I'd never be able go to back, so I pushed very hard to see as much as possible. Now I try to stay put, take more day trips but move around less. The next time I go, I hope to be going to Rome and Florence with my brother, and to spend 5-6 days in each.

Posted by
2213 posts

Allan, we are taking 2 International trips this year as well, making
up for 2020! When are you retiring?

I was hoping within 12 months, but my wife won't give me the go-ahead. I think she's nervous that I'll be following her around the house looking for things to do. She's probably right.

Posted by
891 posts

Things have changed a lot since my first trip to Europe in 1996. Back then, I budgeted heavily and spent as little as possible for airfare, rooms, and transportation. 25 years later and retired, I still have to fight the urge to scrimp and save on trips, but my age definitely plays a factor now. I refuse to be uncomfortable in a budget airplane seat on an overseas flight, so I pay to upgrade to a Premium Select seat on Delta. I used to walk everywhere and rarely used public transportation within the city limits, but that has definitely changed. I still walk but supplement my walks a lot with trams and trains. And I'm more willing to pay more for a comfortable hotel or a nicer shared apartment, rather than trying to find the cheapest place available. It helps that I have more money now, but I think that as we get older, we tend to want more comfort in our lives (and are willing to pay for it).

Some things haven't changed, however - I still pack very light (one carry-on and a tote bag) and I still travel solo for the most part. I have found that traveling solo throws you into situations where you meet people you might never have met otherwise. In London, I chatted with a Scottish member of Parliament and his wife at a small restaurant, and spent an evening drinking and talking with a German couple in Fethiye, Turkey. I've met people from all over the world--both locals and other travelers--and have the freedom to go where I want and when I want.

Posted by
13431 posts

Style includes interests?

My biggest change came after wandering into Budapest with no particular plans or idea of Budapest. Prior to that a half dozen trips to Italy, the UK, France, Greece (and I am forgetting a few). After than everything moved East as I went looking for more of what I enjoyed in Budapest. Then it went from ancient history to current history interests and from monuments to people.

Packing? Sure its lighter now. I try for just carry on, but i pack for what I will be doing as opposed to expecting others to accept me as I am because I have to pack light. If its a trip to the theater for opening night in cold weather, then I will have to check a bag for the suit. In warm weather or less formal I can fit a sports coat and slacks into in the carry on. If its fishing and just fishing, then carry on still works, if its fishing and a nice dinner at another stop, then maybe not.

Fishing brings up another change. I try harder now to do more varied things. Fishing, flying, next trip maybe sky diving, scuba ... etc. So many options and so little time.

Posted by
133 posts

a late reply. but biggest eye opener ... not afraid to pay for a private tour guide. We used one for our first trip to London and he was worth it. Got us to front of lines for Crown Jewels. Knew his way around Westminster Abbey. Got us in a side door, and knew where the bodies were. He knew his way around Hampton Court.

No confusion about which train or subway. He saved us time. Leaving more time for us to wander about town on our own, or later revisit.