Well - we haven't been ANYWHERE for Quite a While!
Here we are, 2/22/22 - Remember the insanity that started in 2020? Here is a partial quote from Yale Medicine concerning the actual, official date COVID cast its evil spell on the world:
On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2, a pandemic. The announcement followed a rising sense of alarm in the preceding months over a new, potentially lethal virus that was swiftly spreading around the world. A year later, we look back on one of the most challenging periods in recent memory.
The warnings continued into 2021. And the warnings are still around now, coming out of 2022. Of course, we all know people - friends, relatives, and others that felt the sting of this malady. The rumor mill from many institutions and media outlets that we trusted gave us bad information as well. The reality is, in relation to travelers and vagabonds everywhere, countries all over the world went into lockdowns. Therefore, travel plans got cancelled and many of us just sat at home and watched TV and played Monopoly.
SO NOW WHAT?
According to some "experts", we still should never leave our homes. Well, I'm here to say - Get out your maps, your laptop and plan, plan, plan. And now that the travel bug is biting us all again, you must plan smart to avoid paying too much for what was, pre-2020, just a nice place for a reasonable price.
THAT'S WHY THE NOMAD ARCHITECT IS HERE
From many hours of research on travel places all over the world I am going to offer some suggestions on how to get where you want to go without breaking the bank. In addition, I have travelled to some of the most beautiful, romantic and poetic places on earth with the greatest travel companion on earth - my bride of almost fifty years. And, as I always say - NOTHING IS TOO GOOD FOR MY PEOPLE! So, let's take a look at what, when, where and how to plan the trip of a lifetime or just another romantic week in the old country.
IMHO - The most expensive places to travel to may be in the good ole USA. Anything on the West Coast - from Southern California to Seattle or Hawaii will drain your bank account. And the big cities like New York, Chicago or LA are always in the upper range for travelers. However, if you do some research, you can find places that will please you and not blow your credit limit with AMEX or Capital One. However, generally they will not have all of the amenities that the $650 a night places have.
So, how do you Find Cool Boutiques for reasonable prices? First - I will concentrate on Italy. Italy should be at the top of every vagabond's Bucket List. It is truly an amazing country - the food, the wine, the architecture, the art, the history and the people. Perfetto! And it is one of the most economical places to enjoy travel.
WHEN TO GO AND HOW TO TRAVEL
That is a question all travelers ask. And it's not a simple question to answer - weather, crowds, prices, distances, how to get around, etc., etc., etc.. My recommendation is to not go anywhere in June, July or early August, particularly in Europe. If you go from June to early August, you will, generally, pay more and it will always be crowded in most places in Europe. My experiences in Italy and Spain in early to mid-Spring were perfect - small crowds, decent prices and good weather. France was also close to perfect in late September.
Train travel in Italy is the best way to get around. Spain and France also have decent train travel. Here's a little trivia for you - The first wine was made in Italy around 1,000 BC. How's that for a little history? In some places you may have to rent a car. If you plan your trip early enough, you will be able to take advantage of early deals most rental companies offer.
FINDING PLACES TO LAY YOUR WEARY HEADS
OK - You've been walking all day to see the sites. You've traversed numerous stairs and rocky paths to see the beauty of Lake Como and the great architecture aligning its shores. Or you've wandered around in the Galleria d'ell Accademia in Florence for a couple of hours and spent at least thirty minutes staring at Michelangelo's marble Statue of David. Bottom line - You need a nice bed to lay your weary head. Also, most boutique hotels in Europe have large walk-in showers and balconies, terraces, or courtyards to enjoy relaxing outside. Here are some of the best Travel Sites to find, price and reserve hotels that meet your budget with the amenities you desire.
I-ESCAPE - I have used this hotel website for years to find some of the most amazing small, elite hotels for pennies on the dollar compared to others. In Matera, Basilicata in Southern Puglia, one of the new hot places for wandering vagabonds in Italy, you can rent a very cool place to lay your heads from a Standard Classic for $105 to an amenity filled suite, including a huge hot tub with a nice terrace just outside, for $232 - L'Hotel in Pietra. It's an easy three hours by car from the Amalfi Coast, which you simply must see to believe. I-Escape has countless other hotels, mostly small boutiques, with great prices. And, you should always check the hotel's own website to ensure the best deal.
AIRBNB - I am a huge fan of this service for finding great houses, apartments, unique environs and even hotels. Generally, they are inexpensive, and you get very personal service from owners. We've stayed at many AIRBNB's where the owner checked us in and showed us bowls of fruit, cheese and bread, a nice bottle of wine and then sat down and showed us all the places he recommended that we see while there.
TABLET HOTELS - This site prides itself on showing the very best hotels. They tend to be a little higher in cost. However, you can also find outstanding boutique hotels under $200.
HOTELS - On this site, like the others listed, you can find hotels for under $100 a night. It's also a very user-friendly site with simple links to find what you're looking for.
TRIP ADVISOR - I must list this web site since it is the world's largest travel site with everything from very cheap hotels to ridiculous. In addition, it lists places to see and things to do. It also has excellent reviews of all the hotels and places to see, and it has easy to use links to find hotels with all the amenities you desire.
It is my hope that the above Travel Sites will help you plan your trip, find cool places to stay close to all the sites you want to see. I must admit, I have a preference for European Countries. If you go at the right times, generally early to late spring or late August into September, you will find airfare to be fairly inexpensive and hotels, food and places to visit not very pricey. You will also not have to wait to see those places because of large crowds. We have visited Italy, Spain, England and France. We adored all those countries. And don't believe any American that tells you how rude the French are. We found the people in Paris, Provence and other places in the la campagne to be welcoming and delightful. As the great Hollywood Actress of the forties, Audrey Hepburn said - "Paris is always a good idea"!
What to Read
I have read so many travel books - my list is way too long and varied. However, I highly recommend any book by the American Traveler and writer, Rick Steves with the TV Program RICK STEVES' EUROPE. And, if you are planning a trip to France, you must read the best-selling memoir about a couple who purchased and renovated a house in Provence - A Year In Provence. There is also a great website with that link. You will laugh and cry as you enjoy this trip through living in one of the most historic and beautiful places on earth. You can find thousands of books with reviews for specific places you are planning to venture to with your favorite travel partner, kids or friends.
Here are some quotes that I hope will inspire you to JUST GO!
1. The joy of discovery is the single most important thing in life. Don't forget it. - The Common Wanderer
2. Better an Oops than a Whatif. - Beau Taplin
3. If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home. - James A Michener
4. Once the travel bug bites there is no antidote, and I know I shall be happily infected until the end of my life. - Michael Palin
5. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. - Robert Frost
6. I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. - Mark Twain you, make you smile, maybe make you see something that will literally blow your mind
So, there you have it my fellow Vagabonds. So get out your laptop and your notebook and start planning your next adventure. I can tell you from personal experience - travel is one of those things that will enlighten you as you walk through an ancient city, or ride a train in a comfortable seat to see a world you have never seen before. And for you old souls, travel will bring back memories of past treks far and wide.
"Wherever you go, go with all your heart." - Confucius
And here is a little road tune for you to play while planning the trip of a lifetime!
What A Wonderful World