Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Planning, attitude, advance work make trip memorable


Memories come in small moments, here on Portugal's Belem Castle bridge.


WHAT MAKES a trip memorable?
For me, it's having planned as best I can, being familiar with my itinerary, lining up lodging and activities before we leave.
Then, the frosting on the cake: the unexpected treat, and being able to fully appreciate and enjoy it.
The unplanned upgrade to the corner turret room at the Victoria hotel, with a harbor view of the ship we'd sailed in on.
A charming little B&B can delight -- with scenery, comfort, hospitality. 
The whitewashed inn on Santorini, where we sipped Ouzo, watched the sunset on the Mediterranean and had fabulous lamb skewers.
The farmhouse B&B in Ireland, where the family invited us to a musical evening.  I played the piano with the granddad fiddler in their parlor for hours! We even jigged!
THE CONVERTED sugar plantation hotel in Nevis where monkeys played in the tree outside the bedroom window.
If you don't stop to smell the flowers, you will not fully
 enjoy your trip and you may return home annoyed. 
The sidewalk cafe in Sydney -- jam packed, with no empty tables.  The owner motioned us to wait, disappeared into the back and came out carrying a table over his head! A waitress followed with place settings, olives and a bottle of wine! We had a view of the famous Sydney Opera House and the bridge -- and the best table in the house. All impromptu!
TRAVELING is supposed to be fun.  If it seems more like work or a chore, you're doing something wrong. Not over-packing and considering off-season travel are two hints! We hope these other tips will help.  They're gleaned from a lifetime of passionate traveling:
If you forget an item,you can buy it -- here a hat for Cookie.
* BUDGETING.  Years ago, a wise older friend taught me this "ball park" formula for trip planning.  The total daily expenses of two people will be roughly two-and-one-half times your double room hotel rate.  It's a pretty accurate equation. Make it three times if you plan to splurge -- lots of fancy dinner or several high-priced theater outings.    This includes most things -- room, meals, museums, cabs,  tickets, tours, drinks and snacks.
An off-season trip to a beach or seaside hideaway saves money.
* GET A MAP, the best you can find, when you choose your country or region.  Bookstores have great maps.  So do libraries, but you'll want your own so you can mark it up and take it with. Once you book your hotel, you can arrange outings from that base. Start tearing out newspaper clips and magazine articles that pertain.
* STASH THE CASH.  I always get $40 or $50 one-dollar bills from the bank.  Ask for new ones.  Divide them in a few places -- both of your wallets or purses, with a few in a plain envelope for the hotel safe. Many places in Europe still take dollar bills for small purchases. I also get $50 worth of $5-bills which make excellent tips to the hotel porters, a concierge who books a restaurant or play, the tour guide who gives lively commentary and helpful pointers. Or a busker who plays Bach fugues.
* FOREIGN FEES. Your bank may have an international partner where ATM fees are waived.   Sometimes the ATM cash withdrawal is cheaper than an exchange kiosk for getting Euros or the local currency.  We always get $200 in Euros at home -- or the destination country's money -- so we have taxi fare and first-meal money and can avoid the high exchange charges at airports .

A half-day trolley tour for Keller
in Lisbon. Although it was late
November, a light jacket was fine.
COMING SATURDAY:  We take a look at the advantages of traveling off season, and eating where the locals eat. Then it's on to travel apps and phoning abroad. Then our grand travel tips series takes an in-depth look at packing and preparation!  On to dining in splendor on the road without turning into a tub of lard and doubling your dress size.  Then tips for navigating through TSA at the airports, and how to beat jet lag.  Remember to explore, learn and live, and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at:

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