No Place Special

This isn't about a place, but more about how simple traveling can be without all the fascination with minutia (money belts, chip and pin, quaint lodging, connections, ATMs, etc). I'm going to talk about two trips: last month's and the present one - - in the hope that folks will concentrate on what they want to see and do rather than all of the logistical crap. September was supposed to be a non-traveling month for me. The Supreme Leader was going on an unguided, unescorted trip to Vietnam with a couple of her pals. I was going to be in hog heaven: forking around in the wood shop, catching up on some reading, eating unhealthy food - - all the guy stuff. She'd only been gone a few days when I found out that I really needed to go to a funeral outside of Lyon. Fine. Go to the burying, have a beer with the widower, more time in the air than on the ground, come home and kick rocks for a couple days because I'd lost a really good buddy...and then back to the guy stuff. It wasn't going to happen. A fellow mourner said I should come to Cairo for a week since it'd been a couple of years since her husband and I had knocked around together. From there, Israel was just across the ditch and it'd been a year since I'd seen friends there. By now, Herself was just about done, so we decided to meet in Bangkok. (Minor snags 1 and 2: bad connection in Singapore burned ten hours and it took me an hour to find Herself and her dead phone in Bangkok.)

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

From Bangkok we decided to spend a few days in Kyoto before heading home - - continuing east, of course. What I'd done was make it all the way around the ball, incrementally, and with no forethought or reservations with a couple of hours notice and with the standard couple hundred bucks in my pocket at the start. Credit card companies and banks were called from the Pensacola airport and car reservations were made while waiting at the gate enroute to the next stop. No complications, no stress. Just wandering. This month. Last Wednesday a pal and I were going to Poland and Romania. Monday night he finked out. I spent Tuesday morning tossing a coin between a solo trip to either Morocco or the western and northern islands of Scotland. I picked Door Two since it's been a while since I've chased stones and nobody else likes that kind of thing. Wednesday morning I left. No reservations, car arrangements made from the airport, banks and cc companies called in the same ten minutes, etc. Two minor snags so far: Credit card refused at gas station yesterday. Called to raise hell. $20k charged on it that was not mine. Fifteen minutes later it had become somebody else's problem. They offered to FedEx me a new one, but not needing it ...... And having no idea where I was going to be tomorrow....... Called Herself to report above and she said I needed to cut trip short a couple of days on account I had to go to England with her. After scratching my head a bit and suggesting maybe I could just, maybe, sort of, drive down - - she said we had to take a set of grand kids to London and she wasn't about to bite that one off alone.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Planning sucks...... Now it looks like I might at least have to make a reservation and start thinking about what to do to entertain three and six year old short people - - the last time I was in London with kids was before they moved the bridge to Arizona. Anyway, traveling is easy. Concentrate on the good stuff. The rest can be worked out in a couple of minutes. Oh yeah, minor snag three: stinking Nigel said he couldn't get free to drive up to Edinburgh and buy me a beer for our PeriodicLongestDitanceRickStevesTravelClubAndForumMeeting. Next time I'm going to slink in to Denver or Sacramento or something.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

You are welcome to come to our meetings anytime!! I hear what your saying about traveling on the fly, so to speak. I hope to some day have that freedom. In the meantime, we have to plan ahead. Love your style Ed!

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2030 posts

Nice report, your life is pretty envious. That said, not everyone can be spur of the moment like you are, because not everyone can afford it. Working on it, tho!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8735 posts

Expense is a large reason why I can't be as spontaneous as you are (plenty of time, limited money). It's a fact of life for most of us that we have to plan ahead, both for financial reasons and for use of precious, limited vacation time. But I do get your point that it isn't necessary to pre-plan and pre-book every minute, and try to take your regular life with you at all times, in the form of constant communication and internet access. Of course, there are scenarios where that might be necessary, but for many, it is just out of habit.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
7350 posts

Great trip report, Ed, and a reminder that our travel doesn't have to be exactly like our home lives (plans and obligations), at least not all the time.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
1211 posts

I want to live like you! My lack of funds, not my lack of desire, keeps me from a life like yours. Darn! Sounds like a good life.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

I guess I should've mentioned the cost, especially since the back channel burned about my supposed great wealth. Quite honestly, I'm neither well-healed nor a pauper, both probably because I'm a miser. Trip One. The Atlantic crossing got in my knickers since I left so quickly, but that would have happened regardless. The Pacific crossing was free because I got lucky. The other three flights and a couple train rides were well less than a thousand bucks. I spent about twelve days with friends, not exactly free-loading since these folks sleep in my beds and eat my grub often enough. Based on past experience in Egypt and Israel, I estimate that I would have spent about an average of fifty bucks a day for food and beds had I been traveling alone. That's six hundred and now we're up to $1600. The rest I kept track of but have since tossed the notes. Five days in Bangkok cost two of us $700 including the car and such - - my portion would have been $450 if I'd shouldered all the car costs myself. We splurged like hell in Kyoto - - my half of four days was $600. So, there you go, $2650 (reconstructed for discussion, something less for actual) two long air legs not included. Somebody ele can figure out a multi-city from the US to France and then Japan to the US. Trip Two. This one's nothing. Ten buck pub suppers (with ale and a double espresso), twenty dollar hostels (all immaculate), two dollars for breakfast and lunch combined out of a Tesco sack in the trunk. I'm just over half way done and with car and gas and close to five hundred bucks in stinking ferry fees, I still won't come close to averaging ninety bucks a day. Anyway, the point wasn't the cost, it was about how easy it is to travel without knocking yourself out. And, just for the record, the Kyoto idea came up at supper the last night in Bangkok. See?

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
711 posts

"Unexpected travel plans are dancing lessons from God."

Posted by Kim
1605 posts

Wow, just wow. Hope you have fun with Herself and the short people!! You don't happen to be visiting the Ring of Brodgar?

Posted by Kim
Daphne, AL, USA
25 posts

Ed - you are truly "livin' the dream". Hope to follow in your footsteps (& air space!) one day!

Posted by chun
Las Cruces
189 posts

Ed, you're starting to grow on me. I love The Supreme Leader and Herself. I've got to use that one. My husband has a tee-shirt that says "Behind every great man, there is a woman rolling her eyes." Wonderful trip report. Thanks,

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Note for the BeWaryInHostels people: Computers were strewn all over the tables and beds while people went about their day's business. One lady left her phone, jacket, and wallet on a couch when she turned in - - somebody put the whole mess on a peg - - it was still hanging there the next morning. Nobody put a padlock on the box under the bed. Nobody wore a money belt - - and everybody wanted to know why I asked - - I didn't fess up that I was going to post the answer for nonbelievers here. Final cost on the ground averaged eighty-three bucks and one seventy-five plus gas for the long drive home. I got home twenty hours late. The new credit card was sitting on my desk with a statement of no money due. No excitment. The End.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

To finish this sucker off now that it's over. My roomie for four nights in Stornoway was a twenty-two year old gal from Vancouver who's seen way more at that stage of her life than I'd ever dreamed about and makes me look like a planning maniac. I took notes. For some reason Clydesdale Bank didn't like one atm card (several locations) but the other one worked fine. Both worked everywhere else. Edinburgh airport can be a screw job. The 'atm's downstairs are AmEx deals right next to the booths with the horrible exchange rate. Go up the escalator to the departure area and there's a bunch of BoS machines - - way out of sight to people arriving. Thanks to my big yap, I wormed in three jumps at Kirkwall for chipping in twenty pounds for the gas. Over beer following, the guy who owned the plane was bitching that the never got to jump. I fixed that for him the next day, tossed in a free flying lesson, and got a couple of hours in a machine I'd never seen before. Jumps at ten bucks each were a bargain since the going rate around here is one fifty. Fought the hurricane from Newark to Washington. Luggage with the muddy clothes should arrive soon. Couldn't get into Dulles, got to National, rented a car (booked on the roll out of EWR with my phone hidden under my leg) for the last thousand miles - - which made it the most dangerous part of the trip - - driving New York plates through the Deep South.

Posted by Sharon
2739 posts

I'm totally impressed Ed! You should do a "Travel Like Ed" TV show or blog - we could all learn a few travel lessons from you! It's great that Herself is as adventurous as you are - enjoy your next adventure! BTW, you're always welcome to visit one of our Atlanta group meetings!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3553 posts

Ed...hysterical...but you are going to give some people here a coronary worrying about the money belt industry. As I tend to travel 'on the fly' quite a bit I sometimes think I could have saved some money if I had planned better, but also realize that most people do not travel as cheap as I do... they only see that I travel a lot. (I am currently dumping our leftover food from our car picnics as we prepare to leave Germany)...I guess I really just don't like to plan...when I hear the word 'efficient travel' I start to hyperventilate.... Travel On!

Posted by Denise
Lake Forest, CA, USA
1546 posts

What a wonderful trip report. You are quite the authorlove it. I had to make hotel reservations and plan out a 6 day trip to the German and Austrian Christmas markets. I know, 6 daysmy daughter could only get one week off of work. It was very difficult for me to make hotel reservations which ultimately was locking me into a place to be by a certain day and time. And, getting to that destination was dependent upon the weathersnow and ice. I surprised myself and did it. And, it worked out okay. However, I will not plan my trips like that again. I'm too independent and just too spontaneous. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1496 posts

Ed you are an absolute gem, and you helped me tremendously in 2011 when I was over planning a trip to Paris with a side of Normandy. Your advice was fantastic, and am so glad I dragged His Magesty to the Beaches, Museums, and WW II sites. We're both from Military Families, both dads served in The War and His Magesty flew off aircraft carriers in Viet Nam. He is also thankful that I dragged Himself up there. The people in the North of France are wonderful, hardworking, and contrary to the bad press the French receive are very friendly and remember the U.S. and Her People with great esteem. Thanks, keep travelling and keep posting. Your advice (sometimes crusty) is always spot on and valued. Hugs (or gloved hand-shakes) to Her Magesty. We'd love to meet you and Nigel some time.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6563 posts

I'm jealous of your spontaneity (geez, I had to look up the spelling and it still doesn't look right). And I'm ticked you didn't look me up while you were here - in fact I was home for all of Sept-Oct. (for a change). I'd have invited you over for a beer, at least.