How Far is Far Enough?

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Do you have a limit as to “how far away” from your home is “far enough” for a hotel or motel stay?

We don’t. Okay, maybe fifteen minutes away might be too close, and it probably matters that we live out of town.

Even with the above view out our window, Mister and I still enjoy getting-away. Long distance trips don’t happen as often for us anymore, but we take a few short jaunts every year.

This post was triggered by our recent venture which is a popular one for us. It’s roughly an hour and a half drive from our home.

Have you or would you stay in a Hotel or Motel that’s near where you live?

I can’t speak for Mister, but what I enjoy most about these little trips is they are usually in a city, and are often closer to family or friends.

It has been 38 years since I’ve lived in a city with everyday conveniences within walking distance.

I loved living in the country with horses out our back door, and here at the golf and lake resort. But, I was born and raised in a city, and I kind of miss that way of life too. Maybe it’s just that “grass is greener on the other side” thing, but living in a smaller city or town remains on my bucket list.

If a “staycation” is when you vacation at home, is there a name for when you stay in the same city as you live or somewhere super close?

In the beginning years of marriage when our kids were young and we lived in the country, a 30-60 minute drive to one of the nearby cities was sometimes our vacation. (Guess what word I first typed at the end of that sentence? Check out my “Holiday or Vacation” post for an explanation.)

When our youngest was about a year and a half old Mister started travelling more and more with his job. The kids and I would go with him as often as we could.

They were (still are) great travellers. It never bothered them to sleep in a different place every night. They never whined about time spent in a vehicle, even if the day was 8-12 hours on the road.

Most of these trips were before in vehicle DVD players, handheld tablets, or cell phones. They would pack books, travel games, and a few toys each for entertainment, or just watch the scenery. Eventually, Walkmans and a few handheld electronic games, plus Gameboy, came out. Books remained one of their favourites along with listening to their own music.

A part of what we loved about these trips with Mister working his way across provinces and states meant we visited a lot of little towns. We’ve traveled many main routes, country roads, and back highways through areas most tourists don’t visit.

If Mister expected his business stop was going to be lengthy he would drop us off to explore shopping areas, playgrounds, parks, main-streets or wherever we thought looked interesting. This part of our life started before people had cell phones. We had to wear watches and coordinate pick-up places and times.

I remember when Mister got a pager, and how when it went off we all had to watch for a phone booth while he drove.

Do you remember the days before things like, “text when you are on your way”

Do You Over Pack

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It can pay off big time.

I’ve always over-packed. Whether it’s different climate outfits or just extra choices, there’s always clean clothes coming home in my suitcase.

But, for all the times that’s happened it only takes one delayed return, added days to a trip away, to appreciate those extras.

Sure, I never go where purchasing or washing clothes isn’t an option, but that isn’t always convenient though. Plus, it’s definitely never easy to find what you need in a pinch, unless it’s the basics (socks or underwear).

We just got back from a trip that ended up being 5 days longer than expected. I tell you those extras packed were greatly appreciated.

My method when packing is, if there’s still room in the suitcase, fill it. Unless I’m going where I know I’ll be shopping.

I also always travel with more medication than required, and I’ve finally got Mister doing the same.

Do you travel with extras or just the bare minimum?

Pre-book Accommodations or Wing-it?

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Mister and I use to wing-it for accommodations when traveling, we didn’t like to schedule the exact where and when.

This habit began way back when the kids and I would go along on Mister’s business trips. He didn’t always know how long or how many daily stops he would make so it was easier to wait and choose where to stay each night.

Plus, we preferred to see properties in person, rather than rely on phonebook listings or brochures which usually used out-of-date pictures.

Some may find this next detail hard to imagine and the concept may make some shutter.

The wing-it days I refer to started before the biggest world change I’ve witnessed in my life, so far.

It was back when people didn’t own home computers, laptops, iPads, notebooks, or cell phones with internet. Heck, back then we never heard of Google. A handheld GPS was better known as a, map.

Now, with internet at our fingertips, even-though you can’t believe everything on there, I feel with enough research and weeding through reviews you can get a pretty good idea about a place.

And so, we made a habit change for our last few holidays. I pre-booked accommodations for all or most nights we were away. The main reason was, a couple places were popular enough that if we hadn’t had reservations, we would have been hooped.

Unexpected upsides came with having nightly reservations.

We never pulled into a town or city tired and possibly in the dark and then had to search for a place to stay. We also never stopped too early because uncertain of what the next town would offer. Both these may sound trivial, but believe me, Mister and I have shared many cranky episodes regarding these points in the past.

Do we ever pass places we would like to stay at while on our way to one we’ve booked? Yes, but we’ve also driven through towns that if winging-it we would have been disappointed and moving on down the road.

Another bonus to pre-booking is becoming aware of local events that may mean places are full. I can’t count the number of times while winging-it we would arrive somewhere, towns or cities we had stayed before and knew they had lots of choices, only to find a concert or sport event had everything jammed.

Our trip planning starts with a basic route or a particular destination in mind. Using the internet, I research sights along the way and estimate the time it will take to drive and see the ones that interest us. Considering that information, I’ll check 2-3 towns or cities we would be near at about 2-5pm each day. I like to look for unique Hotels, or Motels but we have some well-known chains we like too. I’ll make my choice after reading reviews on numerous websites.

If the trip isn’t for a while, and it’s required, we always pay the couple dollars extra for, get this, free cancelation. Smiley face.

Pre-booking still causes me occasional trepidation, but there is also the excitement that we could stumble on a hidden treasure of a place, which has happened. By this I mean, an establishment that its curb appeal might have us driving past, but by reading reviews we’ve booked, stayed and have been pleasantly surprised.

Knock on wood, we also haven’t been disappointed to the point where we’ve had to move to a different premise.

For now we’re enjoying this new way of travel, but I’m also sure we’ll do a wing-it trip again. If and when though, I’ll use the internet to research and list possibilities along the route.

I’ve also tried doing reservations a couple days ahead while on the road, but this meant evenings were spent researching and booking, and I felt it took away from the trip.

Do you pre-book trip accommodations or wing-it as you go?

Do you prefer privately owned motels or big hotel chains?

What is the biggest worldly change that has occurred during your life, so far?