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Trains, and Boats and Planes
Why (not) travel?
Member Name: helencb
Why (not) travel?
Advantages: Travel broadens the mind
Disadvantages: I cannot afford to go everywhere I want to go
HOW MANY TIMES A YEAR DO YOU TRAVEL?
I would say on average 2-3 times a year, as a "holiday". I have always done a lot of short UK breaks and stuff and it would be impossible to count those. I find work is terribly inconvenient, it gets in the way of travel. For a long time though, I travelled overseas on business, which has its good and bad points. the good points being that it is possible to see some parts of the world at someone else's expense, but the bad points being that there is often no place like home!
DO YOU STAY IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY OR GO ABROAD?
Both really. We would have gone abroad 1-2 times a year on holiday for many a year, and will take short breaks in the UK too. I think the UK has a lot to offer, and the countryside is fantastic. My eldest sister lives in Cornwall so I like to get down there for 4-5 days and explore - out of school holiday time. I lived in Scotland for 13 years and have seen more of Scotland than the average Scot. In fact I have covered most of Britain extensively.
DO YOU ORGANISE YOUR HOLIDAYS YOURSELF OR GO TO A TRAVEL AGENCY?
I generally organise them myself and I always have done this, although this is becoming more mainstream now, with the internet. I have done two package holidays in my entire life, namely one to Fuerteventura and one to Dominican Republic. I cannot stand all that ferrying around and organisation, and even though independent travel can often cost more, i prefer it by far. When I have booked package holidays I try and ensure I get private taxi transfers etc, as I hate being treated like cattle.
DO YOU PREPARE YOUR HOLIDAYS IN ADVANCE BY READING GUIDEBOOKS & STUDYING MAPS?
This really depends on how much time I have on my hands. I always get a guide book or two, and identify the places I would most like to visit. However, on my two trips this year (San Francisco and Bermuda) I had absolutely no time to read or plan in advance and my planning took place on the flight over. I knew that I wanted to visit Alcatraz in San Francisco, and had no such advance plans for Bermuda in December. I went to Geneve on business on 24 hours notice in November/December and I didnt even have a guide book, as EMA airport did not sell such a thing!
A few years ago we did a fantastic holiday to Vancouver, Alaskan Cruise, then Rockies driving tour, over 17 days. We didn't plan the last week at all, we simply picked up a car on our return from the Alaskan cruise and drove. Equally we booked our accommodation for our recent Californian self drive tour a day in advance. This is much more planning than 15 years ago, when we would have just shown up somewhere hoping for a bed. We drove from Sydney to Adelaide and had no overnight accommodation, and were in a situation at 11pm at night where it was 95 miles to the nearest inn with one room! It was right before Christmas too, we were heading to Adelaide for Christmas. Well there is always the car if you are stuck...funny, that is the same trip where I got caught speeding for the first time ever..
DO YOU TRAVEL ALONE, WITH FAMILY OR FRIENDS OR AN ORGANISED GROUP?
Generally I travel just with my husband. I don't like travelling in large groups at all. This is probably linked with the travel agent thing, I detest package holidays with a passion too - would much rather blend into the background. We have two different groups of friends that do group skiing and activity holidays every year, but I like doing things at our own pace and time and not having to be falling in with a group's desires. I have holidayed with my sister(s) on Australia, Asia, and America however, and now I have a sister in Bermuda and a brother in law living in Madeira, so we have our spring and winter beach destinations covered...!
DO YOU PREFER THE SEA, MOUNTAINS, PLAINS, OR CITIES AS DESTINATIONS?
I like all of the above! I love scenery, I love landscape, I love the absence of landscape and I love cities. I am not the kind of person that likes to do two weeks on a beach, although sometimes it is ok to do this to recharge the batteries. I guess all of my Western USA holidays confirm a love of the mountains, as we have driven extensively over Oregon, The Rockies and California (Yosemite). I would love to drive route 66, although not sure when I can fit this in, and we did go overland from Sydney > Adelaide > Melbourne > Canberra > Sydney, which I loved for the mere fact of witnessing the expanse of the country. I also drove north from Perth (WA) quite a bit, when I lived there. I think one of the most spectacular drives I ever did was the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff in British Columbia. I also drove from Phoenix to Sedona and the Grand Canyon (alone!) which was pretty special too.
DO YOU MAINLY RELAX OR ARE YOU AN ACTIVE HOLIDAYER?
I would generally be very active in terms of getting out and about. I like to see different things and cram in as much knowledge as possible about new places. I normally find it hard to relax beside a pool for seven days. I dont think I am overly active in terms of outdoor pursuits although we did have a great walking holiday in the South of France a few years ago. It is more about scenery and historical significance for me. I did one of these all inclusive holidays to a resort in Dominican Republic years ago, and I would feel disappointed to go all that way and not get out and about among the locals, see their villages and way of life, yet surprisingly a lot of people do not leave the complex. Each to their own, I guess.
IF YOU GO ABROAD DO YOU LEARN AT LEAST SOME WORDS OF THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE?
Yes, totally. I think it is completely rude not to. I do feel ashamed at my relative (ok, complete..) incompetence at speaking foreign languages, and try and use the language when I can. I find this is much easier in French speaking countries than anywhere else however...
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN THE CUISINE OF A FOREIGN COUNTRY?
Completely! I love my food! I would eat very internationally anyway and have lived and worked abroad. There is nothing that special about British Cuisine...(unless it is modern British). I think the same can be true about some parts of Northern Europe, quite frankly but it is important to sample local dishes. I love the cuisine of Asia, and I love the 50s diners in America for the ambience and the breakfasts (although not particularly the rest of their dreadful "fast food" eateries!). I like to try the dish of the region and I also like to taste a local beer or wine if I can, or enjoy a glass of champagne if the location is particularly special, like Sydney Harbour or top of Table Mountain, near the Casino in Monaco or in any of the world's dream destinations.
WHICH MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION DO YOU PREFER?
This seems like an impossible question, as unless you want to go holidaying in Britain or Northern Europe, there really is only one option, of the plane. I actually find flying to be a dreadful experience, not because I have any fears or anything, but just the whole cooped up feeling, and the effect it has on the body long haul.
I have travelled to Australia more than a dozen times, and all but one of those was in business class, but it is still a horrible feeling on the body, and it is mind over matter for the most part. This year after my flights to San Francisco, I promised that I would not be flying medium haul again, but less than six months later I went to Bermuda, which thankfully isn't so bad from the UK. I love driving, I love the freedom of the car and have driven on four continents. Now I live in England again, I would have no qualms taking my car across the channel and driving into European countries. I have done European interrailing as a holiday and I enjoyed this to a point, but it has its disadvantages, such as convenience at the destiination end, or the cost of public transport locally if you want to go further afield.
WHAT KIND OF LUGGAGE DO YOU TAKE WITH YOU? DO YOU HAVE PROBLEMS PACKING? DO YOU TEND TO TAKE TOO MANY/TOO FEW THINGS WITH YOU?
I tend to take wheelie cases for holidays and wheelie suit carriers for business. As I have travelled so much on business and pleasure I find I am very much a last minute packer. If I was going to Australia, I would pack on the day I am travelling. I sometimes do have problems packing in that as I was spending so much time travelling I dont always have time to think. Even on my recent trip to Bermuda, I really didnt know what to take and probably took twice as much as I needed. More often than not, I take too much, but it is so hard to judge. For example I recently worked in Geneve and took clothes for evenings and I hardly went out, but if I had not packed ample, then it would be inevitable that I would have been out every night.
DO YOU SEND PICTURE POSTCARDS TO FAMILY & FRIENDS.
Normally just to my parents, I dont send them otherwise. Sometimes I send one to the office but as a rule I do not write that many.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS ~ GOOD & BAD?
I think I have had some fantastic holidays over the years. In Australia I loved the expanse of the open road, and experiencing the sheer vastness of nothing..!
I also loved snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef and seeing the sun go down over Uluru, (my sister joined me for those last two experiences). For the Americas I think the Alaskan Cruise was amazing, as was the White Pass Train (Gold Rush Country), and being able to visit the Spa hotels and sit in spa tubs at indulgently warm temperatures whilst overlooked by snow capped mountains was amazing, as was that Icefields Parkway. With no planning at all, we found log cabin accommodation at a place called Patricia Lake in Jasper, and the water was so calm and still, that there was a perfect reflection.
When I lived in Australia, I heard about a trip to Antarctica. It was a day trip and a flight only, which left Sydney and Melbourne in the summer only, and flew to the edge of this great continent. I justified the trip to myself on account of a favourable ££...and I loved it - the thrill of seeing the first Iceberg,and then to be able to fly low to the continent itself and listen to scientist at the stations there. It was a truly memorable experience.
I went to South Africa on business, and again it was amazing for the plane to circle Table Mountain before we landed, and to then visit this. I also took a bus four hours from Johannesburg to a fantastic game reserve and got the opportunity to see animals in their most natural surroundings.
For sheer simplicity we had a Gite holiday in France a few years ago, and we just used it to relax, walk, eat simply and read, and it was simply fantastic. I also loved the opportunity to visit Rome, Pompeii and Vesuvius, because of their historical importance.
Bermuda was excellent because it offered the best of both worlds in that we could get up, get the bus and explore the island but at the same time we could come "home" at night, as we have family there.
I cannot honestly think of any BAD moments in all my travels. I suppose I can think of a situation when I had to get a taxi from Johannesburg to my hotel and the driver went off the main routes and into the shanty towns, and as I was alone I was panicking somewhat inside. However I was able to maintain a calm exterior and remained "knowledgeable" about my surroundings, and came to no harm. In fact I was over there on business, but had been ill at the time, so delayed my return and spent a few days there alone. It really can be a dangerous country, which is unfortunate as Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. But it isn't a bad moment, it is just a moment, and I am glad I got the opportunity to go and work there.
ANY MORE PLACES YOU'D LIKE TO VISIT?
LOTS! I want to visit a lot more European cities, including a few places on my list that have now become very popular, like Prague, Budapest, Barcelona, Latvia etc. further afield and I want to do a driving holiday across New Zealand, and also explore places like Cambodia, China and Malaysia. I would also love to discover South America in depth, and if I had the money and the sea legs (which I don't think I have...) I would love to take a boat to Antarctica, just to step foot on that fascinating continent. This year however, it is Bangkok and Koh Samui that will be my first port of call.
For a bit of fun, try this link...
It allows you to calculate the age you will be, by the time you have visited all 50 places in the BBC list, based on your current age and travel plans. I am going to be 118, so I guess that means I need to get a move on!
Summary: It's motivated me to book my next trip..