As we mentioned in our last post, we recently got back from a trip to Australia, part of which we paid for and part of which Mr PoP’s employer paid for. But since we don’t do big trips like this often (really only 3 that I can think of in the 10 years we’ve been together), it was a nice reminder of some of the things that let us travel relatively cheaply (though this one was a tad on the splurgy side with all that food spending).
Lesson #1 – No more flying for 20+ hours for us.
Mr PoP’s hatred of airplanes + the horrible jet lag we got upon our return (14 time zones…) = the next time we go to Australia, we’ll sail there. Kills 2 birds with one stone, 3 if you count our long burning desire for a sailing adventure.
Lesson #2 – Expensive doesn’t mean better.
We can dress up and go to fancy work gatherings and have a good time, but when it comes down to it, Mr PoP and I both had a lot more fun and were able to relax a lot more on the portion of the trip that was just us where we spent about 1/10th as much as the work event was spending on us.
Lesson #3 – We are pretty darned cheap to entertain.
All Mr PoP really needs to entertain himself is a book or an internet connection, a nice cup of coffee and to be left alone for a while, even if it is in our somewhat frumpy “historic” hotel. Luckily that’s pretty convenient since my ideal days are finding an open area and spending some time out in nature whenever the weather cooperates. (This trip meant several days of hiking, other days of running, and spending a day viewing contemporary installation art on a heritage site/island in the harbor.)
While I’m all for lazy days reading when the weather is bad, and he is happy to go on short hikes/wanderings with me when he’s well fed (otherwise he calls them death marches), we’re both happiest when we indulge our desires separately and come together and share them with each other in the evening. It’s a nice balance and this trip was a good reminder that we travel best together when we get a lot of separate alone time.
Lesson #4 – Life without cell phones is not only possible, it’s liberating.
Our Ting iPhones didn’t get service in Australia. Sure, we could use them in wifi zones (and did), but we didn’t have a reliable way to communicate with each other when we were on our own. Instead of getting the shakes about being incommunicado, it was liberating to not have constant emails coming in and out or leaving meetup plans until the last minute. Instead, we made plans to meet up in given windows of time (eg – meet at hotel lobby between 5 and 6pm) and then we followed through. We had backup plans on how to contact one another if we were delayed. Honestly, it felt kindof amazing to spend a little time feeling like it was 1999 again and not tied to an electronic leash.
Lesson #5 – We have been spoiled by toilet culture in the US.
Now we’ve never been to Japan, which is kindof famous for their fancy technologically superior toilets. But what I do know is that the exhaust fan standard in most American bathrooms puts us miles ahead of Australia where bathroom ventilation basically don’t exist. Not only that, but (as Mr PoP attests), the urinals were basically troughs with drains without water to rinse them out. What does that mean? It means that the bathrooms all over the place (even in the 5-star hotel we stayed at during the work portion of the trip!) stank to high heaven. When we got back to the US and stopped at the bathroom at LAX (the Los Angeles airport), the LAX bathrooms looked a bit worse, but smelled just about on par with an Australian bathroom. If you’ve been in an LAX bathroom, you know it’s not great.
Honestly, we think there’s some pretty extended long-term travel in our future and this gave us a decent sense of what it might look like (though likely with more stable accommodations – hopefully with better toilets – and home cooking and a lot less eating out than we did).
What kind of travel makes you happiest? Have you learned any lessons on about yourself or your family on your travels?