Pauper Travel

A blog dedicated to ultra-cheap travel. Based on my book "Travel Cheap-Travel Well!- Confessions Of A Travleing Pauper. You can learn how a Pauper travels like a King---all the time!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Senior On Senior Travel- Guest Blog!

Whether traveling alone, in a group or on a tour, there are some things I suggest that Seniors should do to ease their way across Europe, or pretty much wherever they may be going. Based on experience they can help you have a much more enjoyable trip.

Guest Blogger
Michael Russel

Forget the suitcases. Bring a backpack, preferably a 9" x 22" x 14" with wheels so you can pull it along behind you when you tire of packing it on your back. Be sure to include a short bungee cord so you can attach a smaller bag on top. Pack light, you will have an extra spring in your step if you do. Two tops, a pair of good lightweight pants (depending on the time of year), good walking shoes that are well broken in, a couple of changes of underwear and socks and that should be all you need in your pack.

Consider traveling in the shoulder seasons (April, May, September and October) when Europe is not so busy. The most fatiguing aspects of European travel are the crowds and for most North Americans, the heat. Easter Weekend for example is an excellent time to visit Holland; the Keukenhoff Gardens are in full bloom, a sight not to be missed. In the fall there are more harvest festivals than you could ever hope to get to. You'll find the locals generally have more time to spend with you on the off season. Whenever you go to Europe, be sure to get to meet the locals, they are what you will remember for years to come, not some dusty museum.

If you are flying direct, and taking a suitcase of any size, consider checking your bag in with the airline because it can become a real drag towing it along all over the airport. If you are a little slow walking, ask the airline or flight attendant to arrange transport to make sure you get your flight.

When arranging accommodation in advance and stairs are a problem, be sure to ask for a ground floor room. And you might give this some consideration: different areas and different types of accommodation offer varying advantages and disadvantages. If you have a heavy suitcase, or tire easily, book a hotel near the train station. If you stay outside the city where there's good connections downtown for day trips, you'll usually find it much cheaper, it will be quieter, bigger rooms, and with fewer stairs. If you are up to it, try staying at hostels, every city tourist center will have a list of them. If I'm on a trip longer than two weeks, I will definitely find a nice spot and just laze around for two to four days and get rested up.

Don't forget to ask for Seniors' discounts everywhere possible. This is particularly true at any kind of museum, some concert halls, railways, airlines, bus lines, ferry and shipping lines. If you've got gray or white hair - flaunt it! It may save you a bundle on a two or three week trip. Most places have a discount policy in place, but YOU HAVE TO ASK. By the way, don't be put off by the term they use in the UK. They call it a "concession", but like a rose, it's just as sweet by any name and they are actually quite generous with it in the UK. Some few places will even let you in free and you can't beat a hundred percent reduction, call it what you will.

Get a micro-cassette recorder and use it to make brief notes on what you see and experience. Later you can transfer the notes to your journal for your grandkids to read, assuming you've been behaving on your trip! If you want to bring a camera, make sure you know how to use it properly, well before leaving. Buying it at the airport prior to departure doesn't work. You'll spend more time trying to get it to work than you will enjoying the scenery. Ask anyone who has traveled a lot; they have all seen this happen time and again. Spend all that money to tour Spain or wherever, and then spend half your trip battling with your camera, or video recorder.

These have been just a few tips that really only make common sense, but you may not have thought of them, and if they help you enjoy your trip a little more, then this blog has been worthwhile.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Travel