Saturday, November 2, 2013

Make your vacation a relaxing, joyful time; you've earned it


Fresh flowers for the hotel room are a must for Cookie -- here  she chooses at a Rome stall near the Vatican.


IT'S EASY to get tired on a long trip, no matter how exciting the destinations or events. You've worked hard for your vacation, you've done your homework. You've made certain you won't be financially strapped or physically and emotionally exhausted when you return home.
A visit to the Alpenhof Lodge in Teton Village meant
staying Saturday through Monday, to honor the rule.
Here are a few antidotes to depression of the pocketbook and spirits while on holiday:
* SAVE and BUDGET. I usually have three or four big trips on the books and several long weekends ahead, so I'm constantly saving and stashing money aside for travel.  I like to pay my first night's hotel when I book (it's easily refunded if you cancel within the given period) and I put something aside each month for travel.  If you do something for "extra money" -- in my case, playing piano at various venues a few nights a month -- make that your "travel boot."  Buy traveler's checks or begin accumulating Euros as far ahead as you can.  Even $25 a month can give you more money for more fun on your trip.
* THE TWO-NIGHT, three-day rule.  It's our own invention and we honor it!  We never spend less than three days and two nights in a place.  That way, we get to know the town or village and can truly savor the surroundings.  We also take a longer break in a three or four-week trip, about mid-point -- usually for five days.  It's a wonderful way to lift spirits, regroup, repack, rest and recharge.
Use hotel resources to find to eateries -- here Pangea in Ashland, Oregon.

* TREAT YOURSELF.  We always have fresh flowers in the room -- even a $5 bouquet can cheer the place and the hotel, inn or B&B will be glad to send up a vase. Or use the room service cream pitcher or coffee carafe if you're feeling improvisational. You can also dry a flower or two in a favorite travel book to take home for a pretty, memory-jogging bookmark.
* DON'T BE SHY.  I have no problem asking questions, seeking advice, consulting others as I travel.  I am not embarrassed to be a tourist.  I've been one all my life and am proud of my curiosity, manners and global interests.  Your hotel concierge or desk clerk is an invaluable resource.  He or she can point you to restaurants, obtain difficult theater tickets, scare up a rental car and recommend off-beat sightseeing.
A couple consults the check-in staff at Ashland Springs Hotel, for tips on the town.
* Tipping.  I always leave something for the maid in Europe or anywhere abroad.  Remember special courtesies or service.  Europeans have a different attitude toward service.  It's a time honored profession and waiters are paid better.  Still, look to see if the gratuity is included, then act accordingly.
* LEARN AT LEAST a bit of the language. I have a couple dozen Berlitz language books, some of them
As the suitcases are unpacked, evaluate the usefulness
of their contents and pitch what you don't need!
beautifully battered.  I write the date of each trip and it's a lovely memory.  I always take the appropriate language guides to my countries of destination.  Even a few words help transcend the culture gap and show you're willing to try.  My college French serves me well even in Paris, known for its contempt of foreigners who insist on English.  I've never met a Frenchman I didn't like. And I thank them all now for putting up with my lousy accent and appreciating my attempt in good spirit! (Sometimes they even answer in their native tongue -- that's high praise.)
* Settle your bill the night before. You have time to look it over and correct any mistakes.
* Eat and sleep where the locals do -- bistros, tavernas, government run paradors or pousadas -- to save money and discover unique places.

COMING SOON:  We continue our travel tips series with pointers on packing.  There's a real art to it if you want to arrive and return relaxed, rejuvenated and organized!  We'll share essential elements to sane packing and a lighter, freer, happier you on the road!  Remember to explore, learn, live, and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at

1 comment:

  1. Cookie, I absolutely love the picture of you picking out flowers - it is one great picture and you're one great gal! Thanks for sharing all your travel knowledge with us! Lana