Just Had a Bit of a Revelation

Old Jan 6th, 2008, 04:55 AM
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I think it's due to a number of reasons, but lack of vacation time is certainly at the top of the list. I teach nursing in a small college, so am on an academic schedule thus getting about 14 weeks off each year. I could make more money working in a hospital, but I'd only get 2-3 weeks vacation. I made that choice but not everyone has the type of career that lets them make that choice, and I'd bet even some people who had the choice would choose more money over more vacation time. I can travel alot, but need to do it on a budget.

I also think though that people look at a map and think they can cover more ground than is realistic. And this definitly pertains to Americans,etc as well as Europeans. And even to Americans in this country. People also read guide books or watch TV/travel videos and think a certain city has "x" number of sites they want to see, not realizing how much else there is until they get there.

But also I think some people just want to get a "taste" of someplace, and if they like it they'll go back. My first several trips to Europe were like that and I don't really regret it. But I've definitly slowed down and am more happy with this travel style.

That's what this board is so good for, helping people to realize what's "doable" versus what's "crazy". And helping people who want to cover a lot of ground in one trip do find sensible ways to do it. We should be careful to offer our knowledable advice but not to judge people.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 05:23 AM
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I think it is a combination of reasons.

First, the 10 workday vacation plus holidays limit most have for all travel--so after subtracting out trips to visit family, you have an American couple and maybe children trying to coordinate work and school schedules to get 1 or at most 2 weeks off together.

Second, after about 10 days of hotels, restaurants, sightseeing, and relaxing, my husband is ready to get back to work (self-employed). I used to go longer as a vacationer, but now find I like more shorter breaks myself.

Third, trips in two categories. One type of trip for us is the outdoor activity type--skiing, hiking, rafting and the like. The other is culture, sightseeing, more experiences. So if we take one trip to US mountains each year to ski or hike, that gives us maybe a week for an international trip for new cultures, history, etc. We tend now to choose two locations and experience all we can of interest in the two spots.

Fourth is related to experience. When you are making your first trips anywhere, I think you tend to pack in more destinations and activities because they are all new to you. We do less in our destinations now, not because we have learned to slow down because it is better, but because we have already seen many cathedrals, castles, etc. over 30 years of traveling. I don't think it is "wrong" to see a little of a lot when you are young, on your first travels, because then you learn what you like most and can focus on those in the future.

I've also moved to an academic job that pays less but allows more time off for travel. I've also managed to combine work and travel, but I don't find that as fun.

I asked a woman in Tokyo what their vacation situation is like these days. She said most office workers are working 5 days a week with 1 week of vacation plus holidays, though some get more vacation.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 06:31 AM
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I have about 32 paid days off/year and rarely get sick so it's all free time. I want to go to Europe; I need to visit my elderly father and mother-in-law (and the rest of the family), all out of state, my best friend thinks I should take a long weekend with her now and then , once in a while I have a home project...

So, yes, I do 'cram' a lot into my trips but I enjoy all of it and do not fall into any mental overload from it.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 07:04 AM
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Perhaps it is perspective. Many first time visitors from the states to Europe say..."I'm going to Europe" (a continent), but without having been there, simplify the concept. If one has travelled to Europe, then one realizes it is a big place, hardly a single destination.
Much like the western U.S.- so vast and so much to take in. Even while living there, I did not "see everything". To me, one only robs themselves if they wish to conquer a destination rather than experience it.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 07:53 AM
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I've learnt something from this thread : I have plenty of time but no money, americans have money..but no time. So the situation is pretty much the same, we both cannot travel as much as we like
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 08:51 AM
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I am sure that limited vacation time has a lot to do with it. But I also think that the people who respond to itineraries posted on this board by telling people there are too many destinations in too little time are frequently thinking of their own preferences rather than that of the travelers contemplating the trip.

I have taken some trips that would be booed down by the people on this board. Not recently, but when I was younger and more energetic and more enthusiastic about cramming in as many experiences as possible. I still have enjoyed recent road trips where I spent just a night in each place.

There are different types of trips for different types of people, and different types of trips for any person on different occasions. And being somewhat contrarian, at least at times, the more posts I read about the undesirability of fast travel, the more I feel tempted to take such a journey again.

People here frequently say that if you see too many places in too short a time, you will not remember them. I have not found that to be the case. I would not trade a single memory of the madcap travels of my youth for any cliche I can think of that would finish this sentence.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 09:19 AM
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StCirq and others, thank you for this treat.

It has always been one of my greatest challenges not to cram too much into my life and of course, into my trips. So far I have failed miserably.. I wish I knew why people like me feel compelled to do this. As we speak, I am maikng yet another New Year resolution to "do less", following a dear friend's advice.

I also find myself reassessing travel priorities, now with 6 weeks' vacation. A friend and I have been planning a week and a half in Tuscany in one villa, (a 6- and a 9-year-old are involved). It would take a fair amount of willpower for me stay in one place in Italy, even with daily trips, and forgo all other scenarios . I wonder how many people on this forum can relate to that..

I will report back on this "experiment".
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 09:34 AM
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<i>I have taken some trips that would be booed down by the people on this board.</i>

me too!
October 2003
2 nights - Amsterdam (Arnhem)
1 night - Cologne (Koblenz)
2 nights - St Goar (Boppard)
1 night - Basel
2 nights - Lucerne (Weggis)
1 night - Zurich
...6 hotels, 10 towns, 9 days

My husband said this was a 'relaxing' vacation!
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 09:51 AM
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Kendira hits my issue: I'm self-employed/freelance. Family and frinds alike think this means my time is my own - what it means is that I haven't had paid time off in a dozen years! Freedom is great, but the means to enjoy it is critical as far as travel is concerned.

Many people, Americans and otherwise, choose tours because they don't trust their own ability to maneuver through an &quot;alien&quot; place in an unknown language. Price, as well, motivates the tour-package traveler: it generally looks &quot;affordable&quot;, and the traveler at least - usually - has an idea of their total costs. And, truthfully, many people will only make one or two trips abroad, and they've heard so much all their lives, seen so many movies ... they can't imagine going to Europe without visiting Lond, Paris, Venice AND Rome, plus Austira looks so wonderful ...

PatrickLondon wrote: &lt;&lt;But seeing is only part of an experience, even (especially?) of a &quot;must see&quot;. We just have to stand back a bit from &quot;completist&quot; thinking, and accept that we'll never see everything&gt;&gt;

That's my thinking. I usually prefer to have a deeper, focused experience over a fleeting, all-items-checked one. I like to see something well, than everything in passing. (My choice of words obviously frames my bias.) I like walking the same street and turning the same corner for the tenth and 20th time. That said, short visits to a place can be just as rewarding in their way, if we don't try to do every damn thing on the &quot;list&quot;! I had only two days to drive into the mountains from Calgary on a business trip, for instance, but will never forget it, and that sort of short term visit can happen almost anywhere with satisfaction.

It can be great to be on the go, get a taste of many places and cultures and compare first impressions. What's tedious is hearing someone, after ten days stoping in 8 countries by motor coach, say, &quot;We loved Germany, but really didn't like France at all.&quot; I can say the same about last week: I loved Wednesday, but Friday was a real disappointment.

Patrick, I'm reading a novel called &quot;Haussmann or the Distinction&quot;, Paul LFarge's fictionalized account of the shaper of Paris. One character describes the experience of going to a city specifically to see their cathedral. But arriving, from a taxi to the great church, he sees a beautiful woman, follows her, falls in love. Then they suddenly fall out of love or she leaves, or whatever the crashing blow &quot;and you can't stay another minute in the city ... it's only as the train pulls away that you remember that you never saw the Holy Wisdom - but what a beautiful cathedral it is now, in your imagination! For it's got all the force of your lost love in its buttresses, and, painted in the gilt of the dome, your lover's face.&quot;

The woman he's tellig this to says, &quot;You mean that we can't see everything, and that's the only reason we see anything at all.&quot;

There is one great motivation I confess to for &quot;trying to see&quot; much. And that is that you never know behind which corner lies the view of your dream, the piazza that vibrates with your frequency, the rocky outcropping that hides your personal motherlode. That's wanderlust.

It's the same world, whether you see it at 90 mph on the train, or from 50K feet altitude, or at arm's length. But it's not the same experience. Some people are so perceptive that they &quot;get&quot; a place or person quickly. Others can have months or a lifetime and never understand or become curious about the neighbor or the neighborhood. In between are the rest of us, with our various approaches and &quot;ways of seeing.&quot;
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 11:01 AM
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Interesting- but I think there's a lot that goes into it rather than one thing.

It's as much a factor as
-first trip to Italy, France, etc.
-only chance to see it
-don't travel for work, etc.

We used to have jobs where we rarely traveled for work. Now, I travel a lot for work and the last thing I want to do is hop city to city on vacation.

Our first trip to Europe, we stayed in a different hotel every night so we could see all these palaces, churches, etc. that all the guidebooks said were so spectacular (and by the way, different from what we have here in the US). The more we travel to Europe (we've been doing 1-4 trips per year since 1993), the more we've slowed down. Last year, we flew to Calabria in Southern Italy and spent time lounging at the beach. Not one church, palace, or museum!

Now when planning a trip into a new region, we look more closely at what would interest us. For example, we're heading to Hungary in April and going wine tasting, but have no desire to go to one of the famous &quot;spas&quot;. We love spas, but a spa in a much different sense of the word than the Hungarian version.

We've learned what we like so do, and what we don't like to do, and we now are much better at planning this way. And we always approach a trip that &quot;We can always see it on the next visit&quot;, rather than &quot;This is our only chance&quot;.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 11:04 AM
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I don't think that ambitious itineraries are necessarily an &quot;American&quot; characteristic, or that it's related to the fact that we have fewer vacations days than Europeans. I think an important factor in the development of an itinerary is whether or not the planner plans on ever going back to that country/area. We recently went to Hawaii, and because we thought this would be a once in a lifetime trip, we visited 3 island in 2 weeks. But on our honeymoon to Italy, we spend the entire 2 weeks in Amalfi because we know that Italy is someplace we will return to again and again.

I think a lot of it has to do with the characteristics of the person, too. Some people thrive in a face-paced itinerary, while for others like myself, that's not a vacation at all--that's work. We always schedule downtime in our vacations, but some people just can't sit still, even on &quot;vacation.&quot;
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 11:40 AM
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Two points I would like to make. First, when I was working and had limited vacation time it really didn't matter as only wanted to be away for a maximum of two weeks. Second, now retired I have plenty of time and sufficient funds to travel for long periods of time. However, I still am not comfortable being gone for more than a few days. In addition I am always in a hurry! It is just me.. I can do the British museum in an hour or so, as I get Very bored. Heck, I do most things quickly, can help it, I just want to go and when I get to where I want, I am ready to to head out again. Wierd, but that is the way it is.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 12:15 PM
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Visiting as many countries as possible is akin to having as amny sexual conquests as possible. It is more for the bragging rights.

We believe we would rather see one country well than two countries poorly.

Unless you are older and you have financial constraints and you may not have the opportunity to see a lot in the future, then enjoy your travels, your vacation, and your life.

I just spent 15 years in a Fortune 10 company where the corporate culture demanded A++ personalities, so I well aware of the hyperperson. That is all the more reason to slow down, have a drink at a cafe and watch the world pass. It is similar to the theory that you cannot learn when you mouth is going. You cannot learn about a country if you are constantly moving.

We have visited almost 30 countries and if he had rushed it could have been 50, so now I just plan to see the others.

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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 12:24 PM
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I think vacation time plays a part, but I think 2 other things are more important:

1. Have you traveled a lot or are you just starting to be able to travel on vacation?
2. Are you able to ignore others' &quot;must see&quot; lists for your own?

With the first consideration, I think many people forget the excitement of being able to travel to some &quot;exotic&quot; location for the first time. When you first travels, you tend to have so excitement and energy for the trip that you can do more in a day and feel fine with it. You're there to see everything you can see because you've never seen it before.

Most of the people on this board have travelled a lot over the years. They have passed the point of seeing everything. They've been to places more than once and can now focus on what they WANT to see and do rather than what they NEED to see and do. When you first go to Paris are you really going to skip the Louvre because you'd rather sit and relax in a park? Probably not. But once you've gone and seen the Louvre, do you need to see it again and again? Probably not - so now you say &quot;that's too much to see in too short a time, simplify it&quot;.

The second consideration is a harder one to work around. When you read the travel guides do you feel you need to see everything listed? If everyone tells you that you MUST see the cathedrals, do you add them to your list or think &quot;I don't really care about cathedrals so I don't need to see them&quot;? Do you add a trip to the Hard Rock Cafe because everyone says &quot;it's great! you have to go&quot;, or do you accept that you don't like bars and loud music, etc. and don't bother going?

I've been planning a month long trip to England, Wales and Scotland for years now. It's not happening for several years, but if I mention it to people I get a lot of &quot;you must go see XX&quot;. I've got what I MUST SEE down pretty well (I've been planning this trip for over 20 years) and it doesn't include the majority of what people are telling me I must see. But I've had years to define my interests and research the destination. I know what I don't care about and I don't feel obligated to see something I'm not interested in just because it's a &quot;top&quot; tourist sight.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 12:34 PM
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i think it has less to do with the amount of vacation time (but it is a factor). it's just that when people visit a continent that they rarely visit they want to see as much as possible.

a typical european holiday for europeans is to go to spain, portugal or greece and lie on the beach, go skiing, golf, go walking/hiking, rent a farmhouse somewhere in the countryside of france or italy, etc.

we do not typically take grand tours of europe involving several cities...for example, visiting rome, florence, venice, milan, etc on one holiday is not really very common. visiting multiple cities in multiple countries is even more rare for us. americans are much more interested in seeing many of europe's cultural sites on one holiday than are europeans. when europeans visit european cities for pleasure it is typically on a long weekend break or in combination with countryside holiday.

however, when europeans go to america (especially the ones who don't go there often), they wish to visit, for example, boston, bnew orleans, florida, niagara falls, chicago, nyc, memphis, california, etc. seeing 'americana' is at the top of the list...unlike when americans holiday in america.

so i believe that americans vacation in america in a similar way as europeans holidaying in europe. and average people on both sides of the atlantic behave in a similar way when visiting the other's continent.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 01:47 PM
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Hi N,

&gt;I would not trade a single memory of the madcap travels of my youth for any cliche I can think of that would finish this sentence.&lt;

So, how much of that madcap traveling do you remember?

No fair looking in scrapbooks or other memory aids.

Hi TT,

&gt;I think many people forget the excitement of being able to travel to some &quot;exotic&quot; location for the first time.&lt;

I feel lucky that I have never lost my youthful sense of wonder.

Every time I come out of the San Lucia train station or each time I arrive at the hotel Bonaparte, I get the same feeling of fresh adventure.

(Or maybe I get the feeling that I'm home.)

&gt;I've been planning this trip for over 20 years.

And I thought that I was a careful planner.

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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 02:03 PM
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Ira - 20 years is a bit long for planning, isn't it?

The nice thing is that I know what I really want to see versus what is just a moment's desire. There are certain places that have never been removed from my list. There are other places that go on after reading a book, seeing a movie, etc. that after a few months get removed because I realize they aren't that big of a deal to me. Which is why I like to plan - I have time to decide if I really want to see something or not.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 05:07 PM
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We've been living in Europe for a year now. Our time is limited - we could get called home any time. I don't like long flights or tiring trips so I'm taking lots of easy trips all over Europe, many by train, and I guess I've been a little travel obsessed. Everything is close, and wonderful, and fascinating and I have to devour it all! Plus, I'm not working here like I do at home so I have time to do this.

My girls and I visited Colmar and Strasbourg just before Christmas to see the markets...the girls seemed unusually tired and disinterested and I got the feeling they were &quot;humoring&quot; me for the 2 days. They slept the entire train ride - round trip.

Well, StCirq, my 17-year-old bluntly shared this little revelation with me...after she dutifully climbed all the way up the Cathedral tower in Strasbourg... &quot;You know what, mom? I think I've just climbed my last European church tower! Yup, I'm finished. Seen one, seen 'em all! Thanks for taking us on this trip but what I'd really like to do is hang out in Zurich during school break and see my friends.&quot;

Admittedly, I was a little hurt at first. I have so wanted to &quot;show&quot; my kids Europe and keep telling them what a once-in-a-lifetime experience this is. (I still hadn't taken her to the Duomo in Milan! She has to climb that!!) On the other hand, I realized she has the rest of her life to see Europe even if I probably won't have this experience ever again.

I realized it was time to slow things down and not worry how much they saw but that just living here and interacting with international people is an education in itself. Switzerland itself is so diverse and beautiful and we should really get to know our host country well. I need to stop pointing out the train window and saying to my family &quot;isn't that beautiful?&quot; It is to me, but my kids (and husband) could care less. Truthfully, did I care about beautiful scenery as a teenager? No.

And, I probably won't get to see everything on my list and will not stop traveling just because I'm back in the US. Huge epiphany for me!

Well, I'm not totally cured. I'm still planning a few trips in the next months
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 05:08 PM
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Kay: No, I don't think the point was that AMEX and INTEL gave no annual vacation leave to employees until they'd been working 7 years (think that would be illegal), just that after a certain number of years they gave them a big block of time, the theory being that such a block of time would ultimately benefit the company, as the employees would come back relaxed, refreshed, recommitted. I say that's nonsense. Why every 7 years? Does the company only need refreshed, recommitted employees every 7 years, and how does it make sense to give an employee 6 paid months off every 7 years instead of a month or 6 weeks off every year? I just don't understand these companies' equations.

ira: I did a lot of rushing around Europe in my 20s and 30s, too, but it was still a lot less hurried than many itineraries I read here. Even back then I had figured out how to take 4-6 weeks a year to travel. I guess that was just always my priority.

And to those who responded about working for yourself and traveling, yes, it makes for a life where you are never really &quot;on vacation.&quot; I never really am, but looking back on my travel history, I wouldn't change a thing.

Thanks for those of you from Oz who let me know what vacation norms are there.

Thanks to everyone, in fact. Interesting information....and viewpoints.
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Old Jan 6th, 2008, 05:19 PM
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I'm wondering if INTEL and AMEX are actually simply allowing employees to build their vacation time up to the 1-6 months amount and then use it all in one lump sum?

Many companies have had the &quot;use it or lose it&quot; policy concerning vacations. If you don't use your 2 weeks within the calendar or fiscal year, you lose the time. Companies like it because many employees won't take the time if they have no where to go, so the company just saved money that year.

Perhaps INTEL and AMEX are allowing the employees to save their time up for longer time frames and allowing them to take a larger block of time off without any fuss.

I think many companies would be unwilling to let an employee take 6 months off at one time even if they have a time.

So, in that way INTEL and AMEX are leading a new age in allowing their employees to take an extended length of paid leave off without having to have a medical reason.
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