It’s that time of year where many of us are bombarded with advertisements urging us to make bookings for our summer holidays. For us it is the same routine most years with November to February mapping out great big ambitious trips where money and time is of little consequence before settling back for something a bit more dreary.
We also do much the same looking for our next house move but apparently surveys indicate that the majority of British check on the internet for their next house-move very regularly so obviously it was just me who wanted to dream of a move away from an awful workplace.
We’re lucky that neither of us could particularly care less for beach holidays. We like to see new places, experience history and culture and meet new people in their local environs. This can be a blessing and a curse. A blessing because we could holiday a life-time in the UK and not see everything there is to see and as we close in on the ten-year marriage mark we can say that despite hundreds of day trips, dozens of weekends away and many week-long holidays, we have probably seen only really seen about 6% or 7% of what we’d like to see.
It’s a curse because if we just liked beach holidays then we wouldn’t have so much to see. There is also the fact that I despise flying or at least the imagined crashing part. It doesn’t help that often where I have flown, there has been a huge fatal crash at the destination just a week or two before where I have gone and my relatively small number of flights have probably had beyond their share of aborted landings in fog and serious electrical failures. Still I take it in good humour and happily joke how we are all going to die and every take-off has the “go with throttle-up” moment in my head, these being the last words of the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger. So far through unbelievable good luck, I’ve made it through each one more or less unscathed.
We have both realised that it is time that we started to make more of our travel opportunities and though it is fair to say we have seen much of Europe and I’ve been around north Africa and the Middle East quite a bit, there are still vast swathes of the world that we haven’t got to see.
Some of them we have got in hand. There are vague plans on our 10th Wedding Anniversary to spend a month or more driving across the USA and Canada. Who knows, having come so far we might try and squash in Mexico too.
We also have a thoroughly planned and costed trip on the Trans-Siberian Express. For someone who doesn’t like flying how exciting it would be to go by train from London to Moscow and then onwards to Beijing or Hong Kong. Did you know that about 1o or 11 days from leaving London we could be in Japan without ever stepping on a plane. So though hating flying is another curse, actively loving travelling on the ground is a definite blessing and having travelled by train as far as Eastern Europe, I’ve probably covered enough ground to know that for me, overland travel is not a second best option…. it’s actually the entire purpose of the trip.
To cover every eventuality the Trans-Siberian spreadsheet actually has various options, one that branches off to Japan, another that heads down through S.E Asia all the way to Singapore and a third that doubles back through the rather wild but very rarely visited Central Asia. If you are happy eating, sleeping and travelling with local people, life on the road can be much cheaper than even staying at home.
There are other journeys too that are less well mapped out, Machu Picchu is as firmly on the list as it was 25 years ago and we would both like to travel through the expanses of Patagonia in Argentina. There is also much of Africa that I haven’t yet got to in Ethiopia, Sudan and South Africa that are particularly high-ranking places.
Then there is Australia? Just how the hell do you get to Australia from the UK without flying? Well obviously I can tell you that with various options… don’t think I haven’t looked into it many times. Not so long ago there was at least one bus company that would take you there in 92 days! Infant every time I drive to France on a Ferry or the Eurostar, a bit of me gets excited that from here I can drive to anywhere from Cape Town to Mumbai to Singapore, probably even New York or Argentina if the sea-ice freezes up ok between Russia and Alaska.
Of course the easiest and most comfortable way to see all of these places is on a World Cruise. Yes it is expensive but like everything else we do, we travel cheaply and lightly. I was amazed how much some people spend on a simple beach holiday, an amount that would have me over by the Great Wall of China or sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge. Visiting Sydney, Hong Kong, Cape Town and New York by sea would definitely be the preferred choice.
It probably helps that we both enjoy budget travel and don’t need home comforts… I wonder whether we actually have many at home! I read in a newspaper that the majority of people these days, wouldn’t visit Paris if they couldn’t eat out every night or that if they had to skip a night then it would ruin their holiday. For us, we were happy just being in Paris and experiencing everything in that amazing city. We ate out just once in a week and it was a treat. We certainly didn’t feel like we were missing out as we explored the city and hung out with the locals. We’d buy our own food in the markets and make our own meals. The money saved probably paid for another holiday or two.
We’ve just come back from 4 days in the beautiful city of Ghent in Belgium and with judicial planning, the travel, meals, hotels, tourist sights and spending money came to £220 and we fit everything we needed in one small shoulder bag! Life and travel can be as simple and inexpensive as what you make it and if having a holiday in January sounds a bit luxurious, we think exactly the same of people who spend nearly the same amount on their weekly groceries or iPhone rental.
This year my wife has been looking at Antartica and I have been looking at Oman. The more realistic option would be visiting Croatia, Montenegro or Greece. What will likely happen is that we’ll probably settle for something much closer to home like Yorkshire. It won’t stop us planning though.
Where are you likely to holiday this summer and where would you prefer to go? Do you prefer to holiday in style and have a big trip once a year or two or travel frugally with multiple trips in mind?