Monday, October 23, 2017

Travel: Yes & No

Happy Monday! I'm feeling refreshed after a low key weekend. My younger self would never believe that my older self likes weekends with very few plans the best. I guess this is evidence that our preferences do change as we get older!

Luckily, I have a short week ahead of me as we fly to Asheville, NC on Wednesday morning. This is the first time I will be back in NC since I moved away from Charlotte in May of 2014. I think enough time and healing has occurred since then so I am looking forward to this trip. [For those who haven't been long-time readers, I had a somewhat forced relocation to Charlotte in 2013 and that ended up being one of the hardest years of my life. You can poke around my blog and find some raw/honest posts about that time. I haven't been able to bring myself to read them and don't know that I ever will.] 

We'll spend most of the time in Asheville but we will spend one night in Charlotte. It's going to be a great getaway for us. We'll get to spend time in nature, eat great food, and connect with friends that live in the area. Some of my Chicago colleagues are going to be in Asheville for a wedding so we are also going to try to meet up with them for drinks (n/a for me, of course) on Friday night. I haven't had a day off from work (besides being home with flares which are NOT a vacation day) since mid-August so I am due for a break from work!

With our vacation in mind, I thought I'd do another "Yes and No" post (see my last one here) about travel!

We say yes to:

- Staying in VRBOs or Airbnb's. We prefer having access to a kitchen as we get really burned out on eating out for every meal. If we are only staying in a city for one night (which is pretty rare), we will stay in a hotel; otherwise we opt to rent an apartment. We have stayed in so many different apartments/small homes in various cities and have never had a bad experience! So if you are afraid to try this, I highly recommend it. Just look for places with lots of reviews and read through the reviews.

- Taking solo trips. This doesn't happen super often, but there are times when I go on trips on my own. For example, in a couple of weeks I'm heading to NYC to visit my friend Alli who recently had a baby. And then in early December I am flying to St. Louis to visit my friend Nora to celebrate the end of her chemo treatments (!!!) and to take in all things Christmas and literary. Neither of these trips will be about seeing the area I am traveling to; instead it's about connecting with these dear friends of mine. Phil had the option to join me for either trip but he opted to stay home so I could have my girl time and not have to worry about whether he was entertained. Phil doesn't take trips without me, besides the occasional golf weekend but if he wanted to do something with his guys friends, I would support that. We of course LOVE traveling together, but I have more friends that live far away and seeing them in person is important to me, so it makes sense for me to take the occasional trip to visit these friends. There are times when he will come with, like when we visited my friend Kyria in the Bay area. But that trip was about seeing Kyria and seeing the Bay area, which Phil had never been to, so it made sense for him to come along. I imagine I will take very few solo trips once we become parents so I am glad that I've done as much travel as I have while my life was conducive to it.

- Visiting smaller more slow-paced locations. We are drawn to locations that are close to the mountains or have a more low-key vibe. We have visited big cities, like San Francisco, but we did a lot of hiking and outdoorsy stuff on that trip. It's fun to visit big cities, like Paris, but the older I get, the more I appreciate visiting places that have less hustle and bustle. Our favorite slower paced location that we've visited is Santa Barbara and I have a feeling Asheville is going to be another spot we both love!

- Not having a detailed itinerary for our trips. This has changed since I met Phil. He does not like to be over-scheduled and appreciates a slower pace of vacations. When I traveled alone I think I felt better going into each trip with a detailed list of what to do/see and a plan for when I'd do and see everything. These days we have some things in mind but we take each day as it comes and see what the weather is like/what we feel like doing. So for this Asheville trip, we have some hikes and restaurants in mind and some rainy day back-up plans but that's about as far as we've gone with the planning. It helps that I've been to Asheville multiples times so don't really have to do much research.

We say no to:

- Paying or using miles to upgrade to Delta Comfort or First Class. I have traveled in first class several time, mostly when traveling for business. It's great but it's not worth the money or miles we'd have to spend. Since I have gold status with Delta, we can usually reserve seats in the exit row. We are small people so don't truly need the extra room in first class. And we don't drink on planes (nothing against those who do!). We did luck out and get upgraded to first class on our flights to Jamaica for a friend's wedding but we didn't order any alcohol which totally confused the flight attendant as everyone else was taking advantage of the free booze. But I get dehydrated enough flying as is, so I don't need to extra dehydration that comes from drinking on the plane!

- Super early flights, if we can avoid it. It can be nice to arrive in a city early so you don't waste the whole day traveling. But when we have early flights (like 7 am or earlier), we are usually too tired when we get to our airbnb to do much exploring. So it kind of defeats the purpose of taking a early flight. Ideally we like to fly out around 9 am so we can wait up at our usual time.

- To traveling to locations with the Zika virus. Since we are in a phase where we are starting a family, it's not worth the risk to visit an area where we might be exposed to Zika. This really limits the warm weather destinations we can go to (hence the reason we went to San Diego last February and Hawaii for our honeymoon), but we just can't take on the risk of contracting Zika - at least not until they find a cure/vaccination for it.

- Long road trips. I know some people don't mind driving - we are not those people. Plus since we live in the Midwest, if you want to drive to a vacation destination it's going to be a LONG drive since our states are so huge. I won't even drive to Chicago which is about a 7 hour drive away. Our max drive is 4-5 hours. Flying can be a hassle with the time to check in and all the waiting around but I will take that over being trapped in a car!

When it comes to travel, what do you say yes and no to?


Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I love these yes and no posts. I basically do the same exact things as you traveling. I am even more crazy about air bnb/homeaway only with children. I realized this summer when we went to NH with Eric's family that Max had only stayed at a hotel once when he was 2 months old haha. He is now getting to an age where the hotel swimming pool is a huge draw, but before this I was like why would I try to entertain a baby/toddler in a small hotel room? Ha. I have also never had a bad experience with homeaway or air bnb and it's basically always cheaper overall too.

The only difference is, I don't do a lot of solo travel. I think traveling to your wedding was my first solo trip in... who knows how long, probably since I met Eric ha ha. I wouldn't be against it or anything but Eric loves traveling too and tends to want to come with me. I could actually see myself doing more solo trips now that I have kids because it's hard to come by a babysitter and if we had one we'd probably do a trip just the two of us, so if I want to see friends I might go by myself. This probably won't be until the kids are a little older though.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I am so glad that you had a nice relaxing weekend! I agree with you on most of these, such as AirBnB if you are staying for a longer period of time. However, I have tried VRBO only once and the way that I was billed was not my favorite. It was done in 3 or 4 separate payments rather than all at once and it made it confusing to reconcile, for myself, and for the fact that I was splitting the cost with two other people. Otherwise, the properties listed are usually the same! The other thing is, if I am by myself, I may opt to stay in a hotel or hostel or camp, depending on the location and price comparison. One thing that I have done as I have gotten older is realized that paying the extra 10 or 20 dollars is worth it! However, that really only works for a one or two week vacation; if I did another long term trip, I would probably have a different view.

I say yes to having a loose plan but not an every hour planned out itinerary. Yes to a mix of culture and adventure. Yes to walking or running rather than taking the public transport. Yes to learning how to say Hello and Thank You in the language of the country you are going to. Yes to trying food in every country (and beer!) Yes to exploring undeveloped areas. Yes to finding the highest point and climbing it. No to reading TripAdvisor reviews. No to avoiding countries that other people find "dangerous". No to prejudice and stereotypes (the French are NOT rude!)

missris said...

I just cannot do road trips! I know some people love them but I get horribly carsick and I just loathe them. Sergio and I drive from Pittsburgh to Asheville to see my sister about once a year and every time we swear we'll never do it again (it's about 7.5 hours). This fall when we go visit her we're flying :)

Marlys said...

We have rarely taken road trips, but it sounds more appealing to me as we age, and can hopefully take more time to travel. There is so much country I have never seen so it would be fun to just drive & explore on a leisurely excursion.
Your weekend sounded relaxing, and by the sound of it, your mini-vacation shouldn't be too stressful either. I think Phil's plan is a good one!

Charbelle said...

You are the one who introduced me to Air BNB. I don't always go this route but it's definitely a wonderful option! I can go about 8 hours in the car and on the East Coast that can take you quite a few places. I don't mind the driving but it's different when there's a 7 year old whining in the back seat about a variety of issues... I went to NoVa solo because it was just easier. I know that there will be plenty of traveling in my future because Michael likes to travel as much as I do. I'm looking forward to your brief overnight in Charlotte :)

Jeanie said...

You are far away from stuff -- even more than me. (Cgo -- 4 hours). I can deal with a car trip if I have some control to stop or whatever and enjoy along the way and really don't mind much -- but you are right; every trip from your hood is a long one by car!

I say yes to partial planning. I have a list of things I must do (usually short) and would like to do -- but if they don't happen, it's often because something better came along and I'm pretty flex. I don't fly business/first though I would consider it if we returned to Japan and I could afford it. Rick and I have different hotel prefs -- I'm a B&B or inn type, he's more "anywhere that is clean is fine" and we both are OK with mom-and-pops depending on where they are. But for long trips a kitchen is really nice.

I also say yes to avoiding chains for most meals. I can do that at home!

Glad you had a wonderful, mellow weekend. Enjoy Asheville!

Carolina John said...

Have fun in Asheville! I hope Phil loves it as much as I do. I know you're going to have a good time showing him around.

I'm with you on the road tripping, too. Recently I've done too many 8-12 hour drives, and might have a few more coming up. Since Kelley doesn't fly it's the only way to get her around. And by the time I pay for a flight and rental car it gets too expensive quickly. I'm thinking about doing a New Hampshire/Maine trip next year, and if she'll go with me it's a 13 hour drive each way. She's always wanted to see Maine so who knows.

Nora said...

I can't wait to see you!!!!!!!

Yes, we also love renting a condo/apartment if possible. Things like having a coffee maker and a stove + fridge makes everything so much easier. We will eat out one meal a day but the rest of the time we prefer to cook at "home," when we travel.

Our limit for driving places is about 9 hours which is pretty far... though we did go farther with the girls two summers ago and they thankfully did really well.

Things we say no to: the last flight out on any given day because that can tend to end poorly.

Stephany said...

I say yes to cruises! :) And yes to eating out more often. I don't love cooking when I'm at home, so it's the last thing I want to do when I'm on vacation. I will say, though, it got kinda annoying on my trip to Puerto Rico to eat out every meal. There were certain times when we just wanted to stay in! It's so expensive eating out every meal, too! I'm still an itinerary person myself. I just like having a solid plan of what I'll be doing, helps my anxiety.

What do I say no to? Hmm... hikes, haha. Hikes + Stephany do not mix well. I also don't like really long road trips. The longest I'll do is to Savannah, which is a 6-hour drive.

Amber said...

I also say yes to staying in air bnb's / vrbo's over hotels. If we ever stay somewhere for more than 2 nights it HAS to have a kitchen. Even if it's only to make breakfast in!!

I begrudgingly say yes to long road trips for financial / timing reasons. We can only fly to two places (Calgary and Vancouver) direct and flights are super expensive here, so it is way cheaper to drive places like Kamloops though it does make for longggg days! We are just used to it though, I wouldn't say I "enjoy" it but it's just part of life for us!

I also say yes to solo trips or girls trips but like you think I am entering a stage of life where that likely will not be happening nearly as often - or at all!

Abby said...

I AM finally trying to play catch up here. You’re leaving today! I was just thinking of you last night. HAve so much fun!!!

Our travel ideas are similar to yours. Much prefer air B & B if possible. Prefer destinations where we can do a lot of active and outdoor stuff. I prefer night flights. Or evening. Doesn’t kill a PTO day - and you can settle in and wake up to a full day in the morning!

Stevie said...

I LOVE Airbnb and VRBO. We've stayed in quite a few - on our own, with family, and with friends, and all of our experiences have been positive. I feel like they provide a more "local" experience, as opposed to staying in big hotels which are generally in the more touristy areas. I prefer to get a feel for the smaller neighborhoods and spots that are off the beaten path, and Airbnb & VRBO totally provide that experience. I also love having the option to cook/eat in instead of going out for every meal.

I absolutely love road trips, but I only like doing them if I'm not crammed in a car with a bunch of other people and there is plenty of time to meander and truly make the trip more about the journey itself. Growing up, our family vacations were always road trips from Seattle down to the Bay Area/San Francisco to see family and I have such fond memories of those trips. And it's fun to take different routes so you really get to see a wide variety of landscape.