I am not what you would call well traveled.
Granted, I have visited a few European countries, but that’s only in the past five years. Prior to this spurt, I had only been to two foreign lands, Canada and Texas. I loved Canada. I liked Texas as well, although I did have some difficulties there because of the language barrier.
I guess my main problem with traveling has always been the going away part. Travel would have much more appeal to me if you didn’t have to leave home. Home is so convenient. Travel is so inconvenient. (And I’m not even going to get into the flying part here. For our purposes, let’s just assume you manage to get from here to there with no one dragging you off the plane.)
The biggest inconvenience, of course, is living out of a suitcase. How does one pack for a trip if one does not know what the weather or the dress codes will be?
There are two basic approaches to packing, as far as I can tell: You can spend weeks planning and organizing what you will bring. Or, the night before, you can randomly throw stuff into a suitcase until it is full, and then hope the hotel room will have an iron.
Once you fill your suitcase, there is then the matter of lugging it around. To the airport, from the airport, into the cab, out of the cab, up to the hotel room, down from the hotel room, onto the bus, off the bus, up to the new hotel room. … If the suitcase you are shepherding were of normal dimensions, it would be hassle enough. But because no one actually carries their luggage anymore, today’s armor-shelled, rolling containers have grown to be the size of walk-in closets.
Also, it is not an exaggeration to note the apparent correlation between the physical strength and dexterity of an individual and the weight of the storage facility they are toting.
As to the trip:
If you and your luggage are setting out for a multiday excursion, there are a couple of ways to do this:
You can go on a guided tour with a group. Or you can do it on your own.
There are a lot of advantages to going on a guided tour, foremost among them being they know where they are going, they do the driving and they provide an itinerary of the places and things you will see. One-stop shopping, if you will.
The major disadvantage of the guided tour is traveling as part of a self-contained unit. You ride together, eat together, sight-see together, wait for the stragglers together. There is too much togetherness. I mean, I don’t even know these people and they’ve gotten on my nerves.
Yeah, I understand in the vast majority of cases everyone gets along great on a guided tour, everyone has a wonderful time and lasting friendships are formed. But it would be just my luck to get hooked up with a group who share the experience of having once been abducted by space aliens. The worst part is there is no escape from this type of situation. (Although if it got too bad, I suppose I could ask one of my fellow travelers to use his influence and have me beamed somewhere else.)Read Full Article
The alternative to group travel is to go it alone. Going on your own gives you the freedom to do what you want, when you want. This sounds good until you end up lost and hungry, exhausted and about to spend the night huddled in a funky-smelling rental car surrounded by sheep.
Now that’s my kind of trip.
Jim Shea is a lifelong Connecticut resident and journalist who believes the keys to life include the avoidance of physical labor and I-95. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @jimboshea.