5 Years On - Can You Travel? Geneva Airport Railway Station

5 Years On – Can YOU Travel?

It’s just 5 years since we “found our wings” and started to travel outside of the UK, where we live. In our view we don’t get away that much, especially compared to other bloggers I read. But we enjoy ourselves and spend a lot of time looking for new places and ways to travel more. Can YOU travel. Our answer was a resounding yes!

So this post is aimed at people perhaps a bit like us. Call us “baby boomers”, “empty nesters”, “silver surfers” or whatever (I hate labels). The kids have grown up and left home. You still need the 9 to 5. The attractions of a tent on a budget trip are not what they were 20 years ago? You look at the adverts on TV and read a few travel bloggers? And wish you could travel.

We are not about to sell the house or blow the pension pot, but we will travel when and how we can, see some interesting places, eat some good food, and have fun.

Destinations – We Went There

Can You Travel - a fishing boat at Bazaruto Islan in Mozambique.
A tourist fishing boat at Bazaruto Island, with sand and fantastic blues and greens of the receeding tide in the background. Many boats are available in the area, from canoes to large dhows and state of the art fishing boats like this.

Looking at some of the travel blogs around, it would be great to say we have been all over the world. We have not, but we visited some interesting places.

  • 2014Ireland and later, the Isle of Wight. And don’t forget Tenby as well. And the wish to travel was growing. The travel bug was starting to bite!
  • 2015 – Santorini, and that fantastic Christmas break in Mozambique.
  • 2016 – Nerja in Spain and Durban in South Africa.
  • 2017 – Valras Plage and Beziers and Carcassonne in France and Hermanus and Umdloti in South Africa.
  • 2018 – Gstaad, Bern and more in Switzerland. A couple of family events took us on many day trips in the UK with visiting family. (Top picture is Geneva Airport railway station).
  • 2019 – So far a couple of day trips to London and Oxford. Thinking about the rest!
  • 2020 – The ideas are already buzzing! A “big trip” at Christmas?

And don’t forget other day trips to London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Hastings and more.

Obviously we are operating from the UK, where we live, but there’s normally a way, wherever you may be.

Our aim is to travel more – Working on that one.

So How Do You Travel?

At the beginning of the year, we start with a list of possibilities. Then it’s a matter of bringing the budget together and going. Simple really. Most of the time, anyway.

If there is a “big trip”, i.e. a long haul, expensive one, in the list we can be saving and planning for that over a year ahead.

For European trips we’ll kick a bunch of ideas around and book a month or two ahead.

Whenever or wherever we go, here are the questions we ask.

How will you pay for it?

Travel - Earn it or save the dollars

For many this is where your travel thoughts stop! Travel is expensive! Isn’t it?

Well, let’s put it this way:

  • If you want to just hop a business class flight to Jamaica and stay in a five-star resort for a week you probably won’t have much change from at least US$12,000 for a couple.
  • Pick your time carefully and three weeks in two locations in South Africa, economy class and self-catering will set you back around £3,500.
  • At the right time of year a week for a couple in Europe, all in, can be as low as £900.

Backpackers will tell you how much cheaper you can do it. I don’t know about you but my backpacking days ended a decade or two ago!

We are not talking about year long trips, so there are only two ways to finance your travels:

  1. Save from your income, whether that’s your job or some form of pension income;
  2. Earn some extra cash.

As a couple, if each of you can save or bring in £1 per day (=£14 per week, £60 per month, £730 per year) you are close to that week in Europe.

Save or earn £10 per day extra and you could go to South Africa, Australia, or similar.

Take that luxury trip to Jamaica when you win the lottery!

Tip: Remember also that what you spend at home on meals, going to the pub, etc., is money in your pocket for the trip.

Tip: Look at using customer loyalty points on store cards and debit and credit cards which accumulate points which can be swapped for travel.

What we do: We save each month, but also look for other means to make some cash.

When will you travel

When wil YOU Travel

As “older travellers” you don’t have to worry about the kids, school holidays and the like. So choose a time that suits you. Having said that, the first thing I do every year is fill in the school holidays in my planner. In red. That’s when we don’t travel because the crowds are there and it is more expensive.

Typically prices are lower in the “shoulder” seasons, especially in the first half of the year.

What we do:

  • Use Google calendar and fill in the school holidays.
  • Then create a calendar with the seasons in possible destinations.
  • That tells us when we are likely to travel. Except when we don’t! Like going to Mozambique at Christmas!

Who will travel?

Traveling with friends can be tricky. It’s a good way to break friendships. But with the right friends its a great way to share the cost. Do leave each other room to breathe and be accepting of each other ways. We’re all different.

What kind of Travel do you want?

We are not big into visiting iconic sights and places. Great, if we are close, but that’s not our main aim. In Switzerland we had an unexpected free day, so we hopped on a train and went to Bern. Why? It was a good idea at the time and great fun!

Tip: Decide what you want to see and do. Be clear on this one. If you are into weekend city escapes, or magical beach holidays, or walking holidays, then plan to do those things. Travel for fun!

Where do you want to stay?

Our Hotel in Perivolos, Santorini
Our Hotel in Perivolos, Santorini

Some enjoy the all-inclusive, sit by the pool trip. Others will only ever go self-catering. Some want five star, while others are happy with a hostel. Where would you, realistically, like to stay?

This can be tricky. Opt for self-catering and you can find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no access to interesting places. Opt for an expensive all-inclusive deal and you could find that the restaurants down the street are much more interesting. But now you have blown the budget.

What we do:

We will always opt for the self-catering option first. And then do our homework. In Santorini and Nerja we chose a bed and breakfast, flights and hotel deal. That meant we found places for lunch and dinner away from the hotel. We ate well! On our 2017 South Africa trip it was all self-catering, except when we chose to go out.

Tip: A bit of homework is necessary, and can be done easily using Google Maps – simply zoom in on the place you are heading for. The ideal is a self catering spot with a cafe, restaurant and store, probably a small supermarket, within 10 minutes walk. The cafe for breakfast and restaurant for dinner with the store supplying everything else.

How will you eat?

Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.
Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.

A big part of our trips is enjoying local cuisine. Strange as it may sound, that often means skipping the big flashy restaurants and hunting down the popular local ones.

Most hotels, we have found, serve very toned down meals to try and meet everyone’s tastes.

What we do: We have a light breakfast. Every day we aim to eat out once, but look for the simple local spots. the food is often better and more representative of the local cuisine. Then we will buy simple food like cold meat and salad and eat that on the beach, or even in our hotel room.

Tip: Ask a local!

Greek food – Santorini, in a restaurant in a cave.

How will you get there?

Switzerland – A train at Lausanne station

If it’s a long haul trip, you have little choice but to find the most economical flights.

Short haul generally means using a budget airline, as much as you may hate those.

But look at your options and preferences. Train travel to and in Europe is an attractive thought and something we haven’t tried. Bus travel and self drive are options as well, though we don’t find either of those attractive.

What we do:For Europe we have typically used the budget airlines, which are never fun. For future trips we are thinking carefully about the train.

Then Go

Then we just go. And enjoy.

Okay, there is normally a bit of anxiety attached. Will the plan work? Will the budget work? But that is all part of the fun.

Can YOU Travel

5 years on – Can YOU travel.?

Yes, we can. You can too. It does take a bit of effort, but it’s worth it!

Give it some thought.

Drop us a comment with your thoughts.

On a sunny day in the town of Nerja, in Andalucia on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. The Balcon de Europa, giving a fantastic view of the sea and nearby coastline, is a 19th century monument. Here’s the view along the boulevard looking back towards Nerja.

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5 Years on - can YOU travel? We can. Visit us and see how we go.

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The Hairy One

Call us silver surfers or empty nesters if you will. Our kids call us hippies. Our friends just accept us as we are.
Juggling jobs and travels, eating good food, and taking photos. We are living our lives our way. Life is a journey!

2 Comments

  1. This pair of bleeding edge U.S. boomers was free-choice travel constrained by duty visits to widely scattered parents for almost 30 years. Marrying immediately after completing our undergrads and just before starting graduate school, our roaming for pleasure and adventure was limited as much by leave time from work, as finances.

    International travel may have stayed limited after that. I had never traveled as a child, had little understanding of it, and perceived it as daunting. My significant other was afraid of flying. Friendship with a fellow blogger and his family changed that. An insistent request to visit them in Cape Town, in 1995, got us moving – an invitation for which we have been ever grateful.

    This spring, it is Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels, and southern France. May Chicago and New Orleans this fall, Ireland and Spain for next spring are in the planning phase.

    Now if only I can get more comfortable doing advanced rail bookings for travel in Europe.

    • I know the family duty / leave / finance cycle well – still trying to get out of it!

      I have to say Cape Town must have been a superb start to your International travels. I hitchhiked there from Durban (where I was at university) in 1979 and 1980 and loved it. I’ve been a number of times over the years, with a possible (family!) visit late in 2019.

      That’s an interesting choice of spring destinations for this year! We have an invitation to the Beziers area in Southern France, and have been toying with the idea of doing the new Eurostar direct trip to Amsterdam, returning with a detour to Bruges & Brussels. We’ll see how the budget looks!

      I share your pain with bookings!

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