Reflections and Change of Itinerary

We’ve been on the road now for almost 4 months and thought we’d summarize some of our thoughts and experiences so far while we try to take it easy in the French riviera.

It’s been great seeing all the countries in Europe, learning about the history and experiencing the food but also a bit tiring to be constantly on the move. Believe it or not, it can be stressful at times (but still beats the best day at work!) We’ve enjoyed the most staying put for a few nights at a time to get a chance to rest and fully explore where we are at. We also have to resolve ourselves that we can’t do it all, see it all, or experience/buy anything we want (time and money). We are already over budget for Europe which we expected (so had built a cushion), but may end up eating rice and beans by the time we are in Australia next year! Our souvenirs will be mostly in the forms of pictures and memories.

Also, unfortunately we had to change our itinerary to eliminate Madagascar. Sylvie is highly disappointed as she had been to this beautiful country and wanted to go back and show James how diverse and unique it is. But due to the recent tourist events ( Read : <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/10/madagascar-seeks-calm-after-mob-kills-three-201310412554218915.html&gt; ) and possible messy elections coming up, we made the choice not to go. Instead, we will stay in Europe some more and go to Andalusia, Spain: Hola Sevilla!!! Madagascar will have to be some other time when things calm down.

We made a list below of the best and the worst (so far) we have experienced since being on the road:

BEST:

  • Experience in the US: Watching the wild mustangs roam free, Wyoming/Montana
  • National Park in the US: Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Experience in Europe: Hiking the Dolomites in Italy
  • Place in Europe we visited: Dolomites, Italy (with South of France a close 2nd)
  • Food overall: France! (hands down)
  • Hotel in the US: Wind River Casino, Wyoming
  • B&B in Europe: Erding, Germany followed by Harburg, Germany
  • Backcountry US camping: Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park
  • Wildlife sighting in the US: Great Grey Owl, Yellowstone National Park
  • Wildlife sighting in Europe: Pink flamingos, Camargue, France
  • Photogenic European city: Carcassonne, France

WORST:

  • Experience in the US: Moose scare in Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Experience in Europe: Austrian Gestapo stop on the autobahn
  • Food overall: Germany (although we did have a nice meal on our last night)
  • Hotel in the US: can’t think of one
  • Hotel in Europe: Balladins, Carcassonne, France
  • Breakfast: Barbara’s Gasthaus, Idrija, Slovenia
  • Stressful driving: South of France
General observations while on our travels:
– Not booking too much in advance can be good thus leaving destinations open for changes & length of stays.
-Making sure you have a travel agency committed to providing you with excellent service and options if you want to re-route (AirTreks, our agency,  has come through so far).
-Booking an apartment with a kitchen vs. a hotel or B&B has been helpful to control expenses more. You can pack your picnic and eat in for dinner if you don’t want to go out.
-Have a budget spreadsheet in an editable version for recording and tracking your expenses as you travel.
-Our ipad and certain apps such as the GPS has been invaluable to us.
– Staying in an area for at LEAST 4 to 7days (versus moving every day).
– For our style of travel, we’re glad we traded in our big backpacks for a hybrid suitcase (has hip belt and shoulder straps that tuck away but also wheels), especially since we’re carrying somewhat heavy daypacks as well which we would have had to wear on our front side. So far we’re finding it much easier to drag them around.
image
Front and back view of our main luggage, we have the same one- just different colors 🙂
-Expect there will be frustrations and things that will go wrong (that’s part of the fun and memories later).
– Finally, your weight and how you feel will fluctuate depending on the country you are in (diet, stress, pollution ..etc).
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6 Responses to Reflections and Change of Itinerary

  1. I agree that its probably better to stay in one somewhat limited area for several days than to have a brief glance at everything–Lawton B

    • speters14 says:

      It can get very tempting to wander into another country and start exploring it (especially here in Europe), but then you find your time there, and for the rest of your itinerary, more constricted, not to mention the cost of tolls and petrol.

  2. Gene says:

    That’s a nice summary posting. It looks like no major disasters so far, just the usual travel “adventures”! Are you feeling tired after four months? We were pretty exhausted by that point, but we had a more aggressive itinerary.

    • speters14 says:

      Yes, nothing major so far, but then we’ve been on the somewhat cream puff part of our journey (life is tough right now on the cote d’azur 🙂 We were thinking of your guys’ trip and how go-go it was for you, so can imagine how tiring it must have been. We feel the same when we only get 1 to 2 days in any one accommodation. We’re looking forward to Africa and having someone else drive & tour us around, but not the bump bump of dirt back roads (as you described). There will hopefully be a lot of wildlife to keep us occupied and not think about it.

  3. Tracy Thomas says:

    It’s hard to believe its been four months already. Does it feel like that long? I was reading about Madagascar recently and wondered if you were still going. Too bad, but another time!

    • speters14 says:

      It’s funny, only when we review old pictures does it seem like a long time ago. Otherwise it doesn’t when living in the moment. Too bad about Madagascar indeed. We’re just trying to stay alive so you guys don’t have to deal with our will 🙂

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