How much is too much?

Old Jan 13th, 2004, 02:38 PM
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How much is too much?

I'm not a traveller. I'd like to become one, and in that vein, I'm trying to plan a trip.

When looking at some of the iteneraries on the site, some of them get replies that the schedule is simply too much, exhausting, overfull, etc.

How can you tell? How much driving is too much driving? How much sightseeing is too much? Is there some kind of formula you use to balance? Or is it just a gut feeling that you get from having traveled so much? Is there anything that you can tell me straight out won't work?

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Old Jan 13th, 2004, 03:09 PM
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I see an awful lot of messages from travelers who only have a week or so to see New Zealand, and propose to drive 6 hours per day in order to 'see' everything. When you spend more time in your car than out of your car, I think that you are trying to do too much. Many of us (myself included) make the mistake of trying to cram too much into a limited time, with the justification that we may never be back this way again. A hard lesson to learn is that it is better to see fewer places in more depth than many places with little depth. I unforunately have still only partially learned this lesson later in life - I attribute it to feeling a need to 'collect' places ("Oh yes, I've been there") - a characteristic I have seen in others as well. The real question should be, What does it mean to say that you have 'been' somewhere?

On our most recent trip to NZ, we spent a leisturely few days near Abel Tasman National Park, and a B&B operator asked us if we were Canadian. I told him that, no, we were 'Yanks', but I was curious as to why he would think we were Canadians (after all, there was not a single Maple Leaf sewed to any of our belongings!). He pointed out that we did not appear to be in a hurry, and so therefore, we could not be from The States. That is a sad commentary, but unfortunately too true.
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Old Jan 13th, 2004, 03:13 PM
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Hi There, you know despite the fact that you say you are "not a traveller".. I would beg you to consider, the last road trip to grandma's house, or your commute to work or your day trip to the amusement park as travel.
"How much driving is too much"...??? What if someone writes back.. oh 88.3 miles is too much, that is a hard and fast rule.... see this doesn't make much sense. There are as many styles of travel as life styles. For me.. 8 hours in the car is a long time.. for my parents, who are road trip junkies.. 10-12 for my neighbors with a toddler.. about an hour and a half is pushing it.
As for sightseeing, have you ever been to a museum near your own town?.. could you keep interested for hours or do you like a quick run through... maybe a sight that deals with sporting events would hold your interest all day.. but a castle visit or art museum would bore you to tears within half an hour.. or vice versa.

For myself, the first thing I do when deciding on a destination is run out and buy two or three good guide books and read them cover to cover try to determine what interests me and the people I will travel with.. My husband and I hate the idea of laying on a beach all day, but could spend sun up to sundown in an interesting historical town.. see? Go through the books or reasearch on the internet. For a good place to start.. pick 10-20 things you want to see depending upon the duration of your trip.. highlight the things you "gotta see or die".. "are pretty interested in" or "wouldn't mind seeing if they are easy to get to or not too expensive" and take it from there, being sure to leave room for "spontanious adventures" . The most important thing is to get out there and see the world .. and it's a lot easier then it may seem.
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Old Jan 13th, 2004, 03:47 PM
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Hello AlphaBeta,

ALF and Thyra have given you good responses. They posted their answers while I was composing mine in Notepad. Although I heartily agree with what they said, and there is some overlap amongst our answers, I'll go ahead and post what I had prepared, because I think it will round out their thoughts.

I don't think there is a single answer to your question. I think it is to some extent a case of getting to know your own travel style through trial and error.

Some of the things that work for me are:

* Only one museum or art gallery a day. If I visit a museum or art gallery in the morning (in Paris, say), then I do something different in the afternoon, maybe visit a church, walk along the banks of the Seine or whatever. If I try to cram too much art into a day, it all becomes a blur, and I can't even remember what I've seen.

* If I do one long, hard day of driving, I try to follow that with a relatively relaxed day. If I do a 12 hour drive from Calgary to Vancouver, I don't climb in the car and do ANOTHER 12 hour drive the very next day.

* Ideally I like to spend a minimum of 3 nights in each place. This isn't always possible, and my trips sometimes do include one night stays, but I do try to minimise the one night stays.

* I like to have enough time to really notice the people and things around me. Let me try to quote an example. My family once rode on Puffing Billy, a cute steam train in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne. (Actually we rode Puffing Billy several times, but I'm thinking about one occasion in particular.) We shared a compartment with an Australian family. As I've mentioned in another discussion here, part way into the trip, the Australian mom pulled out a wicker picnic basket and poured tea from a thermos flask into real china cups for her family members. She didn't have spare cups, so couldn't offer us tea, but she INSISTED that we share her homemade Christmas fruit cake. We had the loveliest chat with that family that shared the compartment with us.

A guided tour group caught the same train, but they disembarked when we reached the first station, about one quarter of the way through the journey. Apparently their bus was going to whisk them off for a quick visit to Healesville Nature Sanctuary followed by a visit to a winery. Each of these things (Puffing Billy, Healesville Nature Sanctuary, and a winery) was something over which we took a full day. I cannot imagine that the people in that tour group were going to have the sorts of experiences we had (chatting with an Australian family with whom we shared a train compartment for 2 hours, listening to the park wardens' explanations of native Australian animals at the nature sanctuary, etc.).

* My husband and I try to alternate educational / energetic days with lazy days. When we were in Port Douglas, we went out to the Great Barrier Reef one day, lazed on the beach the next day, did an educational rainforest tour the next day, lazed on the beach again the following day, and so on.

* Some people can lie on a beach for two weeks, but we cannot. It would drive us stir crazy. We never have pure beach vacations. We have to alternate beach days with visits to nearby Mayan ruins, rainforests, coral reefs, temples, or SOMETHING. (This of course is a very individual preference.)

* Speaking for myself, I really do like to find out about a country's background and the factors that have contributed to the place it is today. Visiting the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, the Interpretive Centre at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Southern Alberta, the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, the Alamo is San Antonio, etc., etc., all have been very meaningful experiences for me.

* On a trip of a couple of weeks or longer, we find it takes at least half a day per week (and perhaps even one day per week) to attend to housekeeping matters (laundry, replenishing cash supply, receiving and sending e-mails, writing and mailing postcards, booking local sight seeing experiences that require reservations, etc.). We find it's impossible to keep going full tilt for two weeks or more without taking time out to do these chores.

AlphaBeta, you will have to figure out what works for you, but I hope the above at least gives you some things to think about.
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Old Jan 13th, 2004, 10:40 PM
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As this question appears in the Australian board, I'llention the distances in Oz.

It's roughly the same size as mainland USA - but with only 20 million people.

SO....roads are not as good over long distances. There aren't that many towns between points. You may need to fly between major centres. And, flying takes a lot of time (not as much as surface travel, but....)

The other posters are sensible in advising not to do too many things. The distances are great, the travel can be tiring, and you can expect it to take longer between points than it would back home (although new US airline policies might slow things down a bit!)

And Oz is so relaxed, it's a pity to race through it - just to cross places off a list.

Come and have some fun!

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Old Jan 14th, 2004, 12:50 PM
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Thanks for the responses, everyone.

Margo_Oz, I'm actually going to NZ instead of Australia, as I did figure out that it was too big, I was too unfocused, and I would have run myself ragged. I thought I might have a better chance at relaxing in a smaller place.

I think I've got a few more things to work out. I've only got two weeks a year, so I do want to make the most out of them - and it might be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. It's hard to balance which I'll regret more, not spending extra time to really explore place A or not seeing place B at all...

Once I adjust the itenerary, I hope you will all critique it. I think I'm going to need the help.

Thanks again,
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Old Jan 14th, 2004, 10:00 PM
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This is a common mistake for travellers; especially those coming from the US on their way to Australia or NZ; they feel it's a long flight and they want to fit in everything they can; and as others have said, this is a mistake. Trust me, you'll be more exhausted than when you left home!

Everyone had good advice, and Judy's completely have to decide what's of interest to you, and plan accordingly.

Travel distances can be deceiving. When you're in NZ, you're bound to be travelling on some roads that are 2-way traffic and you're behind a logging truck going up a grade....yes, there will be a point somewhere along the way where you can pass, but if you've scheduled your timing too tight you'll be stressed out and annoyed by the time this happens!

New Zealand is absolutely wonderful, and you'll find part of the charm is enjoying meeting the local Kiwis, experiencing the scenery, taking longer at lunch than you would at home, and getting off the main road and taking that interesting turn off that leads "who knows where".

As you said you'd like to become a traveller, remember, you don't have to fit everything into one trip -- you'll go back!


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