"Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

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BuckyBadger
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"Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by BuckyBadger » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:18 am

We're planning a big trip in a few months. I found a deal on business class flight and a wonderful tour company to take my husband and me around Beijing and a few other areas in China. For 7 days including a personal guide, hotel, most meals, and admissions it's about $2,500 per person. And flights are about $2,200 per person.

It'll be the first time we've flown anything other than coach, and it's the only reason we're able to do this trip. With our job schedules we have to be able to hit the ground running - we can't afford a day to acclimate, so this gives us the best shot of showing up somewhat rested.

Anyway, we want to do it and we can afford it - it'll probably cost about $12k all in. We spent so much time as graduate students scavenging free pizza and traveling on the cheap, though, so it's kind of a culture shift for us!

What's the first time any of you treated yourself to something like this? Hotels instead of hostels. Restaurants instead of food carts. Suitcases instead of backpacks.

Anyone want to share?

bluejello
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by bluejello » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:52 am

For me, it started with business travel... my company would pay for me to stay in nice hotels and eat in nice restaurants.

Quick tip though — you really don't need a tour guide company for Beijing. $5000 for 2 people for 7 days in Beijing is a HUGE ripoff. You can stay in a five-star hotel for $300 or less per night, and taxis + food is not that expensive.

Beijing is a modern city with well-known landmarks and it's easy to get around with public transport and taxis (well, the traffic will be a nightmare but the tour company won't help with that anyways). Here's what I would recommend:

Stay: if you want an "authentic" experience book a homestay or hutong (traditional courtyard home), if you want luxury get a nice hotel in Wangfujing or Sanlitun. I usually stay at the Kerry Hotel in Beijing when I'm there on business but for vacation the Rosewood, Peninsula, Four Seasons, or Opposite House are all lovely.

Eat:
Quan Ju De for Peking duck
Haidilao for hotpot. When the noodle dancing guy comes to your table, take videos!

Do:
- Great wall, obviously
- Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square: considered another tourist must-do but frankly for me it was a bit boring
- Summer Palace (Yiheyuan): Beautiful, you get to see all the traditional architecture and gardens. If you had to choose between Forbidden City and Summer Palace due to time, I'd choose Summer Palace.
- 798 contemporary art district, this is a place I would go to again and again
- Houhai for nightlife
- Pangjiayuan Flea Market, good for picking up souvenirs. Bargain hard.
- Wandering around the hutongs — this is one of my favorite experiences. See how the old Beijingers really live. There are lots of hutongs near Houhai and Nanlouguxiang.

Have an amazing trip!

HildrGerry
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by HildrGerry » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:33 am

BuckyBadger wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:18 am
What's the first time any of you treated yourself to something like this? Hotels instead of hostels. Restaurants instead of food carts. Suitcases instead of backpacks.
I've always had a fondness for restaurant meals and real hotels over hostels, but there was a bit of a change in my mid-30's - before that I had been slightly more tolerant of Best Westerns, Comfort Inns, and the like. I also started taking more expensive vacations around then. Some of that might be blamed on finding a traveling companion with similar tastes. There's been little change in the ten years since then - I'm still pretty happy staying in a Hampton Inn, and I usually don't see much point in paying a premium for the Four Seasons when there's a perfectly good Doubletree down the street. Maybe after another $1M in net worth I'll want to seek out the Ritz Carlton.

I got my first rolling checked bags in my early 30's and moved to a rolling carry-on a couple of years later. I bought my first business class ticket at age 40, though buying business class tickets is still the exception.

Derby
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by Derby » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:11 am

OK, I'll 'fess up.

I'm thinking of doing this as a retirement/milestone B-day present to myself. Not sure if I can pull the trigger, but I'm trying to get there. :D :moneybag

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by mmcmonster » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:12 am

I've never done China, but it's on my bucket list.

I would favor a tour guide over doing it yourself because it's likely going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. You don't want to miss anything and you don't want to be wasting your time either in lines or just going to a museum which you could go to anywhere else in the world.

I just started using tour groups five years ago, and it was night and day.

Have a memorable trip. Take lots of photos and some videos (I'm a photo guy myself, but nowadays no one prints photos; perhaps watching video albums will be popular in 10 years?). Pick out the top 20 things to do in each city and ask your tour guide when you get there which ones are must-sees. (Since you'll always have time to do things on your own.)

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by blaugranamd » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:33 am

First time was in medical school. We took an away month medical block in Africa and then had a month off, which we figured would be our last chance at a really long, crazy vacation, so we flew from Joburg to Europe and spent the entire month traveling and sightseeing. Spent a good $15k+ in total (between Africa and Europe) and getting used to eating out everywhere (esp in Paris), 3 course meals, really tipped me over the cheap food hump. Ended up being one of the most memorable experiences of my life and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. I'm still frugal in all other aspects of life, but when we only get 4 weeks off per year, we try to make them count. Now, what's "valuable" and worth splurging on is all your call. I've never felt the urge to spend the extra $500-600 to fly business/first but US to Beijing is a long trip and if sleeping well on the plane means you essentially gain an extra day to spend in China, it's probably worth it. Think of it as buying yourself more time and I might consider doing it myself.

Have fun, do it your way, make lots of memories!
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by climber2020 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:12 am

BuckyBadger wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:18 am
What's the first time any of you treated yourself to something like this? Hotels instead of hostels. Restaurants instead of food carts. Suitcases instead of backpacks.
I started getting fancier with my trips once I paid off all my student loans and had no more debt - around my early 30s. That freed up a whole lot of cash. Though I still travel with a small backpack to keep it light (not due to financial constraints).

Shallowpockets
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:55 am

The tour sounds very reasonable. The flights also considering the class.
Otherwise you can get a deal that would be almost half as much through someone like Gate 1 travel which would include almost everything, tour, sights, flight, hotel. We did similar with them to Morocco.
We do not usually travel that way, but it is convenient if you have limited time. You will not waste time. Those who say you can go it alone are right, but you will have a lot of planning to do and not only sights, but the little things like how to get to them. Or to a meeting point, and the timeframes. There will be a lot of lag time. Some of the lag time is simple, like where do we get the tickets, which line to wait in? Where is the entrance?
I am sure all the popular sights in China are very crowded and even if you take a taxi there, when you get out you look around there is a lot going on. Where do you start? Lag time.
You state you work and only have the seven days. You can't afford lag time. To do in seven days what a tour does might take you ten days on your own.
The tour will be much more efficient. You will learn a lot more. Pickup from your hotel and return. The guides on a tour can answer all those little questions you might have. Like, what is that they are selling, cooking, eating?
You are not going to see all China in one week. Just go and get your taste of it.
If you have that one week and are working, you need efficiency in your travel.
I travel frugally and am just now opening up to paying a bit more.
In summary, your tour price sounds well within the range of China tours. It seem the question is whether or not you want to go business class flight or not. What I see is that you are paying 2/3 of your price for the airfare alone. Then again, you are working.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:02 am

I moved to a different job - got a salary increase and big bonus - that was the year I "broke the seal" - took family on a European vacation for a price tag close to $20K for family of 4.

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by livesoft » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:07 am

Many museums / places in Beijing require reservations/tickets in advance since they are so crowded. Your guide should know and help you with that.
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by nisiprius » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:17 am

A few years ago I read about some research that explained something about travel. Just about all hotel chains are "selling" one idea: the idea of a good night's sleep. The idea is that a hotel can all-but-guarantee this thanks to their good mattresses, choice of hard and soft pillows, etc. But they can't, because you do not sleep well the first night in a new place, not because of anything about it except the simple fact that it is a new place. Whether there are any hotel chains that are so perfectly standardized, so perfectly consistent in room layout down to the last detail that your brain can be deceived into thinking that you are in "the same place" on several successive nights, I don't know--but I doubt it, and I doubt that any hotel chains are that consistent anyway.
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BuckyBadger
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by BuckyBadger » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:59 am

Derby wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:11 am
OK, I'll 'fess up.

I'm thinking of doing this as a retirement/milestone B-day present to myself. Not sure if I can pull the trigger, but I'm trying to get there. :D :moneybag

http://www.nationalgeographicexpedition ... our/detail
Wow. That trip looks unbelievable... That's a hell of a way to travel, and a hell of an itinerary!!

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by BuckyBadger » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:02 am

The fact that it's a private tour is what's making it something we can do. I ALWAYS have to plan vacations, and I just can't handle the time or stress of planning something to China. We can wing it a little in Europe (i.e. I'm willing to figure out how to take a train in France even though I don't speak the language) but there's no way I'm comfortable doing that in China. This tour is just the two of us everywhere, so that makes it work for us.

I love hearing your stories! Why do we earn and save all this money if not to spend it every once in a while!

Keep 'em coming!

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by flyingaway » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:14 am

Since the China tour is only $300, plan for a lot of shopping, be prepared to get ripped off at those shopping places for "special occasion" prices.

I might made a mistake. If the ground tour costs $2500 per person for a week, then it is too expensive.
However, the OP is not concerned about money, just ask if we did similar splurge. No, I might do similar things when I am 70 and find I have a lot of more money than I expected.
Last edited by flyingaway on Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Watty
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by Watty » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:32 am

Even with the best seat and sleeping well on the airplane I think you are kidding yourself if you think you will really be ready to start a big tour like that the day after you arrive. With traveling with a partner you both have to acclimate well and the odds of that are slim.

If you can't figure out a way to add a couple of days on the trip then I would save China for when you can take a longer trip.

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by maylikesun » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:35 am

$5000 for 2 person staying in Beijing only for a week is way too expensive in my opinion.
1 week is short and just enough to go to several landmarks. Directly book a nice hotel yourself. I am sure you can still arrange the private guided tour or just arrange tickets and transportation yourself with the hotel front desk.
I agree you should not wait in long lines for tickets and subways. But there is a huge gap between do-all-by-yourself and 5000 dollars for a week.

wrongfunds
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by wrongfunds » Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:23 am

that is cheap! we will be spending around $25K for (4 of us) total 6 nights in HK/CN to go to see panda. Heck, just the visa was $780. Partial sightseeing is $3000 US (already converted in to HK/CN currency). And this is with coach air fare.


I have mentally accounted for the cost, so I am going to enjoy the trip.

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by sailaway » Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:28 am

For a seven day trip to the other side of the world, I think a private tour is a good idea. It will relieve the stress of trying to navigate in a foreign language and culture, which is an exhausting experience. Does the private tour mean that you have some control over pacing?

If you have options, both the (new) Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven are amazing. Hopefully, you will go to a section of the wall that has zip cars to get back down :)

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by SrGrumpy » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:07 am

The Beijing Blowout? Don't forget a couple of $0.50 surgical face masks.

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by HildrGerry » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:27 am

Watty wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:32 am
Even with the best seat and sleeping well on the airplane I think you are kidding yourself if you think you will really be ready to start a big tour like that the day after you arrive. With traveling with a partner you both have to acclimate well and the odds of that are slim.

If you can't figure out a way to add a couple of days on the trip then I would save China for when you can take a longer trip.
This. Even if you manage to make the most of the vacation, you'll need another vacation at the end of it to get back onto your home timezone. This sounds like too ambitious of a trip for the time you have. Personally, I'd do something closer to home. The price also seems high to me.

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by Lynette » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:46 am

I think seven days is too short for China but it really depends on your financial situation. I went to South Africa about 40 times while my parents were alive. Sometimes during sanctions I had to stay in Europe as South African planes could not overfly Africa due to apartheid. Sometimes this meant up to 40 hours elapsed time from catching the plane in Detroit to arriving in Johannesburg. I've never flown business class and never will. As I was mainly going to see family I had time to recover.

For nearly twenty years, I used to take about 5 international vacations a year and like you I planned it extensively so that I could get the most out of vacation. On most of the tours it is late afternoon before one gets settled in the hotel so you only have time to sleep if you can. I was younger then and managed to do this quite easily. I often went on tours or on my own for a week but mainly if there was limited travel involved. I went to China but that was for nearly three weeks and I managed to see Beijing, go on a cruise on the Yangtze river, see the Terracotta soldiers and even got as far as Tibet.

It might be more expensive to go on a tour but they will be able to take you to more places than you can on your own. Also its a lot less planning. It really depends on your finances. If you really want to see China, you will have to go back again. I love Italy but when I was working I went there four times. I spent one wonderful Christmas week on my own in Rome. I fly on a Friday afternoon and return on a Sunday so that I get nearly ten days out of a week's vacation.

Enjoy.

Lynette

P.S. I'm 74 now - retired a year ago. I still won't spend money on business class but that is just me.

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by Zea Mays » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:57 am

I hope it works beautifully! I really appreciate the discussion of tour vs independent travel. Several years ago we did our first big trip. We were working but had received an inheritance, and could spend a portion. We went to the Galapagos via International Expeditions, arranged by the Oakland Zoo. It was fully 'guided' in the sense that we travelled from island to island on a small ship of 20 passengers. You could even call it a cruise, though we all ate the same meals and there was no menu, just family style food. We splurged on a top deck cabin. And each day-hike or snorkel was guided and restricted to areas that did not impact the animals. One beach had a path of stones right up the center - you were not allowed to step out, lest you crush turtle eggs. It cost about $9800 for two including airfare, and it was utterly wonderful.
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WL2034
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by WL2034 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:44 pm

Derby wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:11 am
OK, I'll 'fess up.

I'm thinking of doing this as a retirement/milestone B-day present to myself. Not sure if I can pull the trigger, but I'm trying to get there. :D :moneybag

http://www.nationalgeographicexpedition ... our/detail
Wow, what an itinerary! My only question to you is if this is a retirement gift to yourself, do you have longer than 24 days? If so (and if you are willing to do a little planning yourself), you can probably set up a trip 2-3 times as long with first class flights, 4-5* accommodations, and local experts for approximately the same price. Doing that itinerary in 24 days is a whirlwind tour! Of course, I've never been on a private jet, so I can't comment on how much better it is than first-class (OK, I've never sat first-class, either).

I suppose if you are traveling solo, this Nat Geo package becomes a slightly better deal because it is priced per person and some of the costs (tour guides, hotels) of planning your own trip would be fixed and cheaper per person if you were traveling with a companion.

I think most people who do an around the world trip wish they would have spent more time traveling. On the other hand, if you have the money and time in the future, you can always go back to the places that were your favorites along with some new destinations! I hope you make the trip, and share how it goes!

WL2034
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by WL2034 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:48 pm

Just a comment on the timing. We traveled to Hong Kong once with only 7 days off, and enjoyed ourselves just fine. It is definitely a compact trip, but I'd rather travel with the amount of time that we have off than wait for a better opportunity that might not come in the foreseeable future. You will be tired when you come back for work, but such is life. Can't comment on the pricing. We flew coach and didn't do a tour.

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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by Luckywon » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:52 pm

As I have gradually been able to afford more and began to value my time more, I have also upgraded my travel experience. Once the cost of plane tickets and opportunity cost of not working are sunk, it makes sense to me not to skimp on the relatively trivial expenses that really make the vacation fun and memorable, so I now like to use companies to customize itineraries and provide private guides. It sounds like you are doing the same in Beijing so well planned, IMO. Enjoy!!

ResearchMed
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:57 pm

sailaway wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:28 am
For a seven day trip to the other side of the world, I think a private tour is a good idea. It will relieve the stress of trying to navigate in a foreign language and culture, which is an exhausting experience. Does the private tour mean that you have some control over pacing?

If you have options, both the (new) Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven are amazing. Hopefully, you will go to a section of the wall that has zip cars to get back down :)
This is exactly why we tend to get private tour guides when we travel, by land or sea.
But we usually arrange those on our own, and separately in each locale.

However, for our recent trip to Japan for 2 weeks (we added a few days in Hong Kong on our own), we did work with a private tour agency for a fully private, customized tour.
This was the first time we were traveling someplace where we could not even read the alphabet, couldn't write down an address for taxi drivers, etc.
We spent quite a long time deciding upon both the itinerary and also which specific sites to see/activities to do.

First, it was incredibly expensive, in part due to the extra activities/lessons we had requested, each of which also required that the guide stay with us, as the people involved did not speak English, and they obviously needed to give us instruction.
But it was THE Best Trip Of Our Lives, no question about it.
We'd do it exactly the same in an instant, if we could have a "do over".

The tour company was terrific in suggesting "other" things for us to do/see, as we spoke with them more and they got a better sense of what we did - or did not - tend to enjoy.

[And yes, there were places "off the beaten path" where we went, when this was really useful. In some of the smaller towns, there are definitely places where no one spoke English, and that is fair enough; we were in *their* country, after all. Even so, there were a few times that got tricky while we were on our own, like when we needed to change train tickets at the last minute, and the agent took our tickets and then refused to give them back, without offering anything back to us, such as tickets for the second phase of that specific trip. Then we couldn't get our own tickets *back*. And there was no one else around. We were going to bypass the first leg of a cable car and a train. So when we finally got to the train, our tickets didn't work, because they hadn't been validated at the first station, where we almost "lost" the tickets entirely. The agent there, seeing the full itinerary on the tickets, but unsure of how we had suddenly appeared in the middle and at the wrong time, finally smiled, shrugged, and waved us through. Then, of course(!), we couldn't depart the final station, because our tickets still hadn't been properly validated :happy
We were able to enjoy these situations as "part of the travel experience", and that's really important.]

One thing, though, about the jet lag.
We flew out on JL, F, with great comfort (using awards!), and even so, we slept the ENTIRE first day. We'd never had that type of jet lag/time zone change, and it hit us much more than we had expected.
The tour company had suggested just a half-day for our first day (after arrival the previous afternoon), but we decided to have one totally free day, and then that "half day".
We had expected to do a bit of a "quickie tour by taxi" or something, or just wander around on foot briefly.
But... we woke up the first morning and had breakfast, which I barely remember, except that I couldn't eat much. We went back to sleep for a "nap", and woke for dinner, where we just had a snack by room service, and went back to sleep.
And then... we woke up on day 2, had a leisurely breakfast/morning, and were ready for our afternoon guide.
We had NO IDEA that we'd react that way, none.
When we'd traveled to Europe, we'd had a difficult time adjusting at first, but that meant extra naps, so we were not at all prepared for this intense "sleep"!

But if you can afford it, then customizing the trip would be ideal.
You can go at your own pace, and if you don't enjoy something or want to spend more time at something else, you can just do it that way. Or rest. Or have an extra sit-down snack, or .....
And the guides may have some spur of the moment suggestions once they get a sense of what you are enjoying. Good guides can get a sense of that pretty quickly, and they may suggest something you never even knew about, etc.

We thought this would be our "once in a lifetime" trip to Japan, which is why we did it this way.
But we loved it so much, we hope to return.
(We won't need the same degree of hand-holding as the first time, but we will be in touch with one of the guides, even though we won't need a "tour company" to do so much of the arranging for us.)

I agree that the time scheduled is a bit ambitious, especially without at least some "recovery time" once you reach the new time zone around the world.

Note: We are already at retirement age, so it's time to "do those things we've been waiting for" (and we waited "too long" for some of them), and financially, it's fine. It's part of "what we've been saving for", after all. But IF we could do it again in terms of how/when to travel, we *would* have done some of the more special trips much earlier. Not all, but some...

Enjoy!

RM
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MathWizard
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by MathWizard » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:03 pm

The first time was this summer for us. 35th anniversary.

This summer we flew business class and a non-stop flight from St Paul Minn to London. This was the first time
other than economy. We also checked luggage. Before we had long layovers and backpacks on legs and small
rollerboard luggage overhead for a 2 week trip. The backpacks plus small amount of leg room meant that
my legs were crammed in, and I could get very little rest.

This time, we got slightly larger and lighter rollerboards and checked them, and stuck the backpacks overhead.
We also were in a row with just my wife and I, aisle and window. I didn't sleep, but we weren't worn out when we arrived.

The entire 2 week trip cost 13K all in, including new luggage and camera just for the trip.

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whodidntante
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by whodidntante » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:21 pm

I have been to Beijing and I probably walked 10 miles alone there. It is very safe. And the subway is understandable if you do ok with maps and other subways.

You do not need a tour company IMO.

ResearchMed
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:44 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:21 pm
I have been to Beijing and I probably walked 10 miles alone there. It is very safe. And the subway is understandable if you do ok with maps and other subways.

You do not need a tour company IMO.
Not everyone can walk 10 miles.

I can't walk long distances, and often cannot walk even medium distances.
One thing that also helped us was having transportation all arranged. The company knew about that, and had everything just perfect for us.

The two times we needed to get taxi's in out of the way places (NO public transportation there at all, and taxis were few and far between), DH and the guide had to really scramble, and in one place, the guide finally phoned for a taxi later, while we sat for some nice tea and local food.

Everywhere else, it was all arranged in advance, but we could still make any adjustments, "that day" or in future days.

When we were younger, even 10 years ago... but now? With an injury and assorted health issues, walking all over towns the way we used to? Not a possibility.
Yes, walking *everywhere* in London, or taking the Tube... terrific. We could not do that now.

RM
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by flyingaway » Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:13 pm

I tell my wife, if we stay in cheap hotels, we can go more places.

Drew777
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by Drew777 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:19 pm

Thanks to travel hacking I fly business class, stay in 5 star hotels for free, and am starting to accumulate more points/miles than I have time to use. Maybe I will have to start flying first class before long.

halfnine
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by halfnine » Tue Dec 19, 2017 5:13 pm

I am going to agree with a few others. A 7 day trip out to China is not worth the jet lag. There must be something in the Americas on your list that would be more reasonable for a 7 day time frame. Plus, China itself is worth way more than a 7 day journey.

ReadyToRetire
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by ReadyToRetire » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:09 pm

MathWizard wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:03 pm
The first time was this summer for us. 35th anniversary.

This summer we flew business class and a non-stop flight from St Paul Minn to London. This was the first time
other than economy. We also checked luggage. Before we had long layovers and backpacks on legs and small
rollerboard luggage overhead for a 2 week trip. The backpacks plus small amount of leg room meant that
my legs were crammed in, and I could get very little rest.

This time, we got slightly larger and lighter rollerboards and checked them, and stuck the backpacks overhead.
We also were in a row with just my wife and I, aisle and window. I didn't sleep, but we weren't worn out when we arrived.

The entire 2 week trip cost 13K all in, including new luggage and camera just for the trip.
My wife and I spent a bit less than MathWizard for our 20th anniversary. It was the first time we had ever spent anywhere near that amount. Our vacations have always been pretty cheap - All inclusive Mexican resorts, trips to see family, etc. Stuff like that. We did the 7 day Alaskan Cruise with and extra few days land tour and an extra day in Vancouver at the end of the cruise. The cost came in upgraded accommodations on the ship and an upgraded food and drink package.

I must say that we really enjoyed it. We aren't the types to do something like that annually by any stretch but we are thinking every three to 5 years might be possible. And we would like to continue that schedule in retirement.

If travel is your thing, I say go for it. In the great scheme of things, a few over the top trips over a lifetime of work will hopefully not derail your overall financial goals and will give you some great memories.

Have fun!

Alf 101
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by Alf 101 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:50 pm

Having done more than a fair bit of independent travel, your days can often focus on three basic questions -- where am I going to sleep, what am I going to eat, and how am I going to get to the next town or destination. Also you can add, how long until my money runs out. Due to the inevitable failures to answer some combination of these questions, you have adventures, and get off the beaten track. It helps if you have a lot of time, as this isn't an efficient way to go.

So I don't begrudge you taking a tour at all. With so much to see, experience, and learn; this is a great way to make the best of limited time. I would be sure to let the tour operator know what kind of traveler you are. Sometimes tour companies can be a little formal, and a bit cookie cutter, so be sure to get the kind of trip you want. We worked with tour operators in India, and it was useful to let them know we'd traveled before, and could roll with it.

I've made one trip to China, many years ago, and I spent a month. I was invited, and put up with a place to stay while in Beijing, and the family hired me a driver for several days to see the main sights. This was an excellent way to go. I rode along in the front seat, and had someone to talk to. He wasn't a tour guide per se, but knew all the great places to eat, and gave me a great sense of what it was like to live there. At night I returned to the family, where I could ask more questions, and rode the subways and buses to visit a few other people while I was there. Unless you can read Mandarin, you're functionally illiterate, and communicating in a tonal language is always a challenge. Still connections, while important everywhere, are vital in China. Once I made a few, things opened up.

I spent one week in Beijing, then flew down to Kunming, and made my way up through Yunnan and Szechuan. Had I only spent a week in Beijing, however, I would have felt it worthwhile. As for jet lag, I was fairly young at the time, and could sleep on the plane, and powered through.

I'd say that I've never seen any trip as a "once in a lifetime" one. You may want to go back.

As for flying business class, I find international travel fairly comfortable in coach. But if you can afford it, go for it. I was upgraded once on a flight into Seoul, and it was nice.

sco
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by sco » Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:12 am

No question on the Business class seats. It is still a long flight

BuckyBadger
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by BuckyBadger » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:06 pm

Thanks for the comments, everyone! I did a little more research and was able to get the flights down a few hundred, and found another tour company that seems legit and should save us a couple thousand dollars. So it's getting even better!

8-)

User avatar
Artful Dodger
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by Artful Dodger » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:34 pm

Derby wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:11 am
OK, I'll 'fess up.

I'm thinking of doing this as a retirement/milestone B-day present to myself. Not sure if I can pull the trigger, but I'm trying to get there. :D :moneybag

http://www.nationalgeographicexpedition ... our/detail
WOW, that's seriously "breaking the seal"! :beer

kaudrey
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Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by kaudrey » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:44 pm

The last time I stayed in a hostel I was 25, that was 23 years ago. Having said that, in my 20s and 30s, we camped in Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Alaska, and various other places. I have upgraded my hotel stays as I've gotten older, and in 2013 we did a fully-guided bike tour through Portugal.

My sister and I are going to Belize next month and we let a company organize it because we've had a really tough, busy year, and just wanted someone to do it for us. I can't wait. It cost more, but I think it will be amazing.

Everything is a balance, and travel is a HUGE part of my life; so I save for it and spend for it, and don't worry about it as long as it's planned!

Enjoy your trip.

ResearchMed
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Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: "Breaking the seal" on more expensive travel

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:41 pm

BuckyBadger wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:06 pm
Thanks for the comments, everyone! I did a little more research and was able to get the flights down a few hundred, and found another tour company that seems legit and should save us a couple thousand dollars. So it's getting even better!

8-)
I sent you a PM.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

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