Travel Gurus

One of the most influential travel guides I have read when researching this trip, is Rick Steves’ Europe through the Back Door. [amtap book:isbn=1598801082] Rick Steves seems to have a huge fan base and I think it’s entirely justified.

One of the key concepts is being less “touristy”. This means travelling off the beaten path, viewing the main sites – but doing it efficiently, and taking more time just to experience everyday life in Europe. This has really influenced our decision making process. It’s a terrible confession but we may not do every major monument in Europe! What’s more, we are trying to reduce the number of each type of tourist attraction. I suspect where we will bomb out on badly will be the theme parks and the museums, but the rest will be strictly rationed. We will be saving our sight seeing for a few select castles, and a few select cathedrals etc. I am thinking we can do without an hours journey each way just to see the leaning tower of Pisa. I know! I know! Total sacrilege! But I also figure the kids will get bitten by the travel bug, and that there will be plenty of time for them to come back and see the big monuments.

The other influential concept is to pack light. Rick Steves’ heavily promotes the idea of only taking carry-on luggage. I will talk some more about this in later posts. What we did decide very early on is that we were also going to be committed to taking over only carry-on luggage. Note: I did not say there we will not bring stuff back. I think this is an important distinction considering the last time we flew back from the UK I had several rolls of wallpaper border and a Winnie The Pooh lamp shade from Mothercare tucked into my suitcase. Or rather, taking up most of my suitcase.
Winnie the pooh lampshade
I just put that in there as I was having a nostalgia moment and so that you can see how smuggle worthy Winnie the Pooh is. Luckily for SGM, we now have entirely halogen lighting, which diminishes the need to bring back random light fittings. The rest of this however, I consider fair game…

Mad as Pants

You’d have to be mad as pants to fly from Australia to Europe with three kids in tow. Completely bonkers. I mean, it costs a serious amount of money. 

“Contestant number two, would you like to take a five minute family vacation to Europe or own a small African nation?”

This is not helped by us having three kids, which these days seems to count as a whole tribe.

“No seriously, I think you should consider the African Nation – you’ve got most of a tribe yourself after all.”

And so on revealing to people that we are planning to go to Europe next year, we are often met with some very startled glances. Most people are very keen to know what made us decide to do that. Have we in fact secretly won the lottery? Nope. But we have discovered a very unusual method of paying for things – it’s called saving. Oh all right, we aren’t financial geniuses but an auto savings plan does make a huuuuuuge difference in our case. The money that we don’t see doesn’t get spent on gadgets.

But why go to Europe at all? Well, the number one reason is that we have family over there. And a sprinkling of friends we’ve been meaning to catch up with as well. Apparently after three trips by the rellies over here, it is now our turn to visit. And the lure of Europe is strong. The wonderful mind stretching adventure of travel, with the added bonus of culture. language, art and shopping. Seriously there is no greater educational experience than travel. 

As Jean Luc Picard said,

“Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.”

We might be mad as pants, but we will have lived.