Need advice on 1st international vacation

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ugaDAWGS09
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Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by ugaDAWGS09 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm

My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken. I guess the first place that comes to mind is London, but we are really considering several options such as Rome/Florence/Venice, Cape Town South Africa, New Zealand, Paris, Japan. I know some of these aren't English speaking countries but would be nice if we could at least order food, get directions, etc. without too much of a hassle.

We are both early 30s and love to sight-see, explore the local culture, and find nice places to eat. We would probably be going in the Spring or Summer of next year. Another issue is flight time. The farthest we have ever flown was Maui and that was a long flight from the east coast, and I know some of these locations are way further.

Any recommendations? We are really open to any location.

Tribonian
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by Tribonian » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:35 pm

Dublin has always struck me as the most polite city in Europe. It’s pretty common for people to approach tourists looking at maps and offer them directions and tips for places to visit. When my wife and I were there, we got on the wrong bus, last one for the night, and the driver risked his job to drive us 20 minutes out of the way after his last stop. Literally dropped us off in front of our B&B in a double decker.

The Ring of Kerry and Glendalough are spectacular, too.

runner540
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by runner540 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:37 pm

Since it will be your first time abroad and you speak only English, start with the UK: England, Ireland, Scotland. And flight times aren't bad from the East Coast. Then you can move the more advanced levels of non-English speaking countries.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by adamthesmythe » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:40 pm

English is also very commonly spoken in: Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

There is a bit of a communications barrier for Americans in England and Ireland, and perhaps more in Scotland. Although in Scotland the language is very pleasant to hear and people are quite friendly.

Hong Kong is fairly easy for English speakers to navigate.

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randomizer
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by randomizer » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:42 pm

Anywhere in (western) Europe would be fine/ awesome.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:48 pm

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken. I guess the first place that comes to mind is London, but we are really considering several options such as Rome/Florence/Venice, Cape Town South Africa, New Zealand, Paris, Japan. I know some of these aren't English speaking countries but would be nice if we could at least order food, get directions, etc. without too much of a hassle.

We are both early 30s and love to sight-see, explore the local culture, and find nice places to eat. We would probably be going in the Spring or Summer of next year. Another issue is flight time. The farthest we have ever flown was Maui and that was a long flight from the east coast, and I know some of these locations are way further.

Any recommendations? We are really open to any location.
I'd recommend London or elsewhere in the UK, if this is your very first international trip.

Even with the "same" language (and it's not totally the same), there are other cultural differences.
Language-wise, there are a few words/terms that seem the same, but have different meanings.
On my first trip to the UK as a post-doc, I found this out, much to the laughter of many colleagues. But occasionally it wasn't just "funny", it could be a bit confusing.

But there is SO much to see and do in London, it's not like you'll feel like you never left home.
We could return there again and again and still want to return yet again.

Once you've been there, then next time, try another place where English isn't too difficult to find.

However, it would help a LOT if you could learn some phrases, both for emergencies and also simply to be polite.
After all, you are in "their" country.
So learning how to say "Hello", "Please", "Thank you", etc. can go a long way.

When children were very young, I always taught them how to say "Police" and "toilet" in the local language :happy

There are also great apps these days; you can get a translation of a sign right away. Pretty amazing for those of us who struggled with signage in the past!

RM
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stlutz
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by stlutz » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:51 pm

What are you interested in? Art, food, nature, history etc.?

If you're planning this far ahead, you should have some time to learn some language. Not enough to be fluent but enough that you can make an attempt and natives will switch over to English to be nice to you.

jodydavis
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by jodydavis » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:22 pm

For a first international vacation, I echo the other folks who say western europe would be a good option. The tourist infrastructure is well-developed, and pretty much all of the major areas will have people who speak English, so it will be easy to get around. And the culture and food are fantastic and sufficiently different from the U.S. that it will be interesting and new. In terms of specifics, it all depends on what you are most interested in:

1. U.K. would be the easiest. London, the English countryside, Ireland, Scotland, etc. Language obviously not a problem. Lots of interesting sights to see, but not as different as some other parts of Europe.

2. France could be a nice option, e.g. Paris and other nearby areas (e.g. Loire, Normandy, etc.). Culture a bit more different than the U.K., but still lots of english spoken at the tourist areas. Food is amazing, as is the culture. Would feel a bit more "different" than the U.K.

3. Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, etc. - plenty of english spoken, interesting culture, although I'd probably suggest U.K./France as a better first visit.

4. Italy, Spain, etc. - a bit less english spoken, but still no problem getting around in the tourist areas. Slightly longer flight, but food and culture obviously amazing.

I would avoid Japan/China/Asia (other than perhaps Hong Kong/Singapore) if you are worried about the language, as it is a bit more difficult to get around (though still not really a problem, as there is a lot of tourism). Also, if you are not experienced with long flights, I'd avoid S. Africa, New Zealand, Australia, as those are really, really long flights.

Good luck!
J.D.

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whodidntante
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by whodidntante » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:32 pm

I have travelled internationally extensively and I was fine everywhere. I honestly think you are overthinking this. Go the place that interests you most.
Buy the ticket, take the ride. If your finances are in shape for it, go sooner than next year.

Regarding practicals, I would carry at least three credit cards from different issuers, and at least two ATM cards from different issuers. Tell all of the issuers your itinerary. Get cash as soon as you land from an ATM machine. Usually $100 equivalent will be enough, but if you're going to visit a cash economy then you'll need much more but pull it out as you run low. Don't carry everything you have on you. Leave spares back at the hotel safe. Take a picture of your passport and credit cards.

If you visit Italy, I would definitely not go in summer. I was just there in the last week of May and it was already really warm. Europeans don't like air conditioning, ice, or cold drinks as much as we do.

h82goslw
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by h82goslw » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:44 pm

Great advice whodidntante. I spent a week in Germany and was concerned about, what I thought, would be the lack of spoken English. In Munich and Dresden just about everyone spoke English and it was very easy to navigate about the cities. I’m sure in the countryside it would’ve been much different.
As others have said, just go and enjoy the adventure. Can’t wait to be done with kids’ college expenses so I can travel more.

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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by jmg229 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:54 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:32 pm
I have travelled internationally extensively and I was fine everywhere. I honestly think you are overthinking this. Go the place that interests you most.
Buy the ticket, take the ride. If your finances are in shape for it, go sooner than next year.

Regarding practicals, I would carry at least three credit cards from different issuers, and at least two ATM cards from different issuers. Tell all of the issuers your itinerary. Get cash as soon as you land from an ATM machine. Usually $100 equivalent will be enough, but if you're going to visit a cash economy then you'll need much more but pull it out as you run low. Don't carry everything you have on you. Leave spares back at the hotel safe. Take a picture of your passport and credit cards.
This is great advice. Think about what you like and go. Our first international trip was driven by the cheapest ticket we could get to another continent (turned out to be Columbia; great trip despite each of us having only moderate Spanish knowledge). The second was driven by a desire for good chocolate, cheese, and beer, so we did Belgium, which I wholeheartedly recommend if you are into any of those things (you will find English commonly spoken in most large-ish cities where many things are in Dutch, English, and French, and even in smaller towns in the southern part of the country, broken french from a couple of college classes was sufficient).

In short, pick some arbitrary criteria, find a good guidebook, and go for it.

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KlingKlang
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by KlingKlang » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:09 pm

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken.
Would Canada be too obvious of a suggestion?

Tribonian
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by Tribonian » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:20 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:32 pm

Regarding practicals, I would carry at least three credit cards from different issuers, and at least two ATM cards from different issuers...Take a picture of your passport and credit cards.
Great advice. I’d also check which of your credits cards has the lowest (or non existent) foreign transaction fee. We also bring ratty clothes we can jettison and replace rather than wash though you probably want some nice clothes too.

If you travel in Western Europe and are buying bigger ticket items, ask for the Value Added Tax (VAT) receipt. Most big airports will reimburse you the 12-18%.

Have fun picking a destination and safe travels!

h82goslw
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by h82goslw » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:21 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:09 pm
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken.
Would Canada be too obvious of a suggestion?
I’ve been to areas of Canada where no one spoke English and it was difficult....French is the predominant language.

delamer
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by delamer » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:28 pm

runner540 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:37 pm
Since it will be your first time abroad and you speak only English, start with the UK: England, Ireland, Scotland. And flight times aren't bad from the East Coast. Then you can move the more advanced levels of non-English speaking countries.
Good suggestion.

I am more gun-shy than most because one of our kids got sick in Spain (on a family vacation) and ended up in the hospital overnight. It was very difficult to communicate.

English is a common second language in Europe, but it is far from univerally spoken even in big cities.

You could spend several days with a London base and several with a Dublin or Edinburgh base.

22twain
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by 22twain » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:54 pm

stlutz wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:51 pm
If you're planning this far ahead, you should have some time to learn some language. Not enough to be fluent but enough that you can make an attempt and natives will switch over to English to be nice to you.
it also helps to know enough to be able to decipher maps, restaurant menus, common street signs, instructions on ATMs and ticket-vending machines, etc.
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by livesoft » Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:59 pm

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken. I guess the first place that comes to mind is London, but we are really considering several options such as Rome/Florence/Venice, Cape Town South Africa, New Zealand, Paris, Japan. I know some of these aren't English speaking countries but would be nice if we could at least order food, get directions, etc. without too much of a hassle.
I've been to all those locations. Cape Town would be the riskiest crime wise, but an exciting place as are all the other places you mentioned. I wouldn't worry about communicating in any of them even if you cannot find people who speak English. Get out of your comfort zone and get comfortable. I've even been in a French hospital where no one spoke English and I didn't speak French and still got treated appropriately and I wasn't even charged one franc.
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Nicolas
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by Nicolas » Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:07 pm

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cfs
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by cfs » Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:08 pm

Just go to Ireland and have FUN. See you in the Cliffs of Moher. Gracias por leer / cfs
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Nicolas
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by Nicolas » Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:09 pm

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killjoy2012
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by killjoy2012 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:29 pm

We (Americans) are very fortunate that our native language also happens to be the default global common language. As others have said, any major city or tourist area in Western Europe will be easy from a language perspective. I love London, and the UK would be the easiest of them all, but I think you'll find minimal language issues anywhere in W. Europe. My first trip outside of N. America was to Greece, and even though that has probably been the hardest place in Europe in my travel experiences language-wise, I'd still rate it a 3 out of 10 with 10 being hardest.

Asia, Africa and such would be a more difficult trip in many facets. Egypt was the one destination I was extremely glad we had a tour guide, and looking back, there's no chance that English alone would've sufficed.

And it's always a good idea to learn the basic words of the local, native language before traveling there - Yes/No, Please/Thank You, Hello / Goodbye, etc.

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Watty
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by Watty » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:34 pm

Unless there is something that you specifically want to see in a country then an alternative way to pick where to go is to watch out for a great deal to an interesting location then choose that as your destination.

I like using the Google Flight map view to browse to see where there are good airfares. There are some discount airlines but so far I have not felt comfortable with using them so I have stuck with the major airlines.
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip.
I would highly recommend reading Rick Steeves "Europe Through the Back Door" book to help you figure out what type of travel you want to do and how to pick where to go in Europe. This is more an overview so you can get an older edition that you can find at your library or buy a used copy for next to nothing. Once you have decided where you want to go then then I would get the current edition of the Rick Steeves book for that country if you are going to Europe.

Given your username I would think that there is a good chance that you are also near Atlanta. If so that often means flying on Delta. They will often have credit card sign up promotions for 60,000 miles which is often enough for a round trip ticket to Europe from Atlanta to Western Europe. If you sign up for their frequent flyer program you will likely get junk mail with that offer.
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation....
That is not nearly long enough to make going to New Zealand or Japan worthwhile.

If at all possible try to extend that to at least two weeks wherever you go. One of the great things about Europe is that outside of the big cities there are lots of small moderately priced hotels so you can extend for a very reasonable cost by adding five days outside the large cities. In the US a budget hotel frequently means something like a Motel 6. In Europe a budget hotel often is a family owned business with a dozen nice rooms and these are easy to find if you read the reviews.

This is especially true in Southern Europe and other than airfare I can usually travel for a lot less in Southern Europe than I can in the US.

When I take a trip I figure the cost per day , including airfare, so taking a longer trip can significantly lower the cost per per day since the cost of the airfare will be spread over more days.

With a 7 day trip there is also be chance that a storm system will take three days to go through and give you bad weather for half your trip.

I
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
We would probably be going in the Spring or Summer of next year.
For most areas going in the spring would make a lot more sense because before school is out everything will usually be less expensive and less crowded. Southern Europe can be very hot in the summer and air conditioning, if they have it, may not be as good as in the US.
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
..where English will be commonly spoken.
You will be fine with just speaking English in any area in western Europe that tourists normally go to.

The best way to see most of Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, and England outside of London is by renting a car. The problem is that they all drive on the left which may be a negative with sticking with English speaking countries. I did not find that hard but that might be a bit too much for your first international trip.

Even if you do not drive in England be very careful walking around since it is not uncommon in London for a tourist to be hit by a car when they step out into traffic after looking in the wrong direction for oncoming traffic. In many crosswalks they even paint "Look Right!" on the ground.

OnTrack2020
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by OnTrack2020 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:43 pm

My husband was on a business trip to Japan a while back. He had been to four different countries for business in a span of about four months. He wasn't very keen on Japan. From my understanding, once you get out of the airport, little English is spoken. He spent the majority of his travel time when there on a train getting from one place to another. Also, he didn't care for the food and mentioned that items tended to be undercooked.

Our family has traveled to China before, but we had a guide with us the good majority of the trip. The country itself was very interesting, but not some place I would go for a first international vacation. Typically, in any fast food restaurant we went to, they handed us a picture menu to order from. Otherwise, when we went to a sit down restaurant, our guide ordered.

When we were leaving one of the provinces in China to go to Hong Kong, we were waiting for the plane. Someone else who spoke English came over to tell us our gate number had changed. We didn't understand the announcement that had been made. Otherwise, we would have just kept sitting there waiting for our flight. :shock:

obgraham
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by obgraham » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:54 pm

Netherlands.

Friendly people, English widely spoken everywhere, lots to see, and the culture is different enough that you will really feel you went “someplace foreign”.

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tooluser
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by tooluser » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:27 pm

The smartphone is your best friend. Make sure you will have one that works on the local phone network, and that you have a Browser, Maps, and Translate apps installed. Awesome planning, execution, and recovery tools. If your credit and ATM cards work, and you have your passport, almost everything else is recoverable when something does not work out.

Don't forget the charger and outlet converter.
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Misciagno
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by Misciagno » Sun Jun 03, 2018 3:18 am

Just a couple tips from someone who has lived abroad most of my 22 year gov't career: Ireland has some of the friendliest people around and they are very kind to Americans. Prices aren't low, but not as bad as places like Denmark, where prices are ridiculous and customer service is not their strong point. The rest of the Scandivavian countries are similar pricewise and servicewise, though English is widely spoken and understood. I lived in Florence for 3 years. English is not spoken widely in Italy, but the food, art, and wine is unparalleled. Eastern Europe is more gritty, but cheaper, and many people speak English. I can't recommend Holland enough- people are friendly, everyone speaks English, prices are US level, and they make the best pancakes. Germany is good too, English fairly widely spoken, fascinating country. I advise making your first trip to Ireland. It will feel familiar, it's a beautiful, friendly country, and the beer and whiskey are awesome.

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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by tigermilk » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:45 am

My 2 favorite cities in the world are Tokyo and London, There is so much to do in London that you can easily fill 7 to 10 days there. Great museums, architecture, parks, gardens, etc. You can't go wrong with it. Tokyo, ontheother hand,is just an experience. The vibe and electricity of the city is amazing. Wife and I took her motherthis past spring for cherry blossom viewing and she really enjoyed it. I have been to Japan nearly 30 times and it never gets old to me. The only downsides to Japan are weather (incredibly hot and humid in the summer) and crowds (the number of foreign tourists this time around was overehelming). While English is spoken in limited quantities, honestly you would do fine. Japan is making strong efforts for foreigners aheadof the 2020 Olympics.

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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by gd » Sun Jun 03, 2018 6:22 am

As evidenced by the responses that are, well, all over the map, not enough information. You need to give preferences or figure out if you're looking for bustling big cities, rural and bucolic, historic, museums, churchy, arty, multicultural, monocultural, obscure and subtle novelties, world-famous tourist checkbox targets, dramatic nature, calm travel, maximum coverage rush from spot to spot. 7-10 days isn't a long time, pick your theme.

ugaDAWGS09
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by ugaDAWGS09 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:11 am

runner540 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:37 pm
Since it will be your first time abroad and you speak only English, start with the UK: England, Ireland, Scotland. And flight times aren't bad from the East Coast. Then you can move the more advanced levels of non-English speaking countries.
Thanks, this is what I have been thinking too. I'm not one who hates flying but I absolutely can't sleep on planes so long flights are tough. Would you hit two of those places in one trip, or just stick with one city like London and maybe see a few smaller cities around it?

ugaDAWGS09
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by ugaDAWGS09 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:13 am

ResearchMed wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:48 pm
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken. I guess the first place that comes to mind is London, but we are really considering several options such as Rome/Florence/Venice, Cape Town South Africa, New Zealand, Paris, Japan. I know some of these aren't English speaking countries but would be nice if we could at least order food, get directions, etc. without too much of a hassle.

We are both early 30s and love to sight-see, explore the local culture, and find nice places to eat. We would probably be going in the Spring or Summer of next year. Another issue is flight time. The farthest we have ever flown was Maui and that was a long flight from the east coast, and I know some of these locations are way further.

Any recommendations? We are really open to any location.
I'd recommend London or elsewhere in the UK, if this is your very first international trip.

Even with the "same" language (and it's not totally the same), there are other cultural differences.
Language-wise, there are a few words/terms that seem the same, but have different meanings.
On my first trip to the UK as a post-doc, I found this out, much to the laughter of many colleagues. But occasionally it wasn't just "funny", it could be a bit confusing.

But there is SO much to see and do in London, it's not like you'll feel like you never left home.
We could return there again and again and still want to return yet again.

Once you've been there, then next time, try another place where English isn't too difficult to find.

However, it would help a LOT if you could learn some phrases, both for emergencies and also simply to be polite.
After all, you are in "their" country.
So learning how to say "Hello", "Please", "Thank you", etc. can go a long way.

When children were very young, I always taught them how to say "Police" and "toilet" in the local language :happy

There are also great apps these days; you can get a translation of a sign right away. Pretty amazing for those of us who struggled with signage in the past!

RM
Thanks for the advice. I need to look into some of these apps and make sure I'm familiar with them before we go. London seems like a beautiful, safe city. I just need to do a lot of reading and planning to see if it's the best option.

ugaDAWGS09
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by ugaDAWGS09 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:17 am

stlutz wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:51 pm
What are you interested in? Art, food, nature, history etc.?

If you're planning this far ahead, you should have some time to learn some language. Not enough to be fluent but enough that you can make an attempt and natives will switch over to English to be nice to you.
We love art galleries, museums, and beautiful buildings. We aren't foodies, but enjoy good meals. We aren't going to spend 75 dollars a person on a fancy restaurant more than once on a vacation, but we like to use tripadvisor to find good recommendations. I guess when I think of going overseas it's to see the sights and experience the culture. I want to make it a memorable vacation and take in as much of the city/country as we can. I guess this is why Rome appeals to me is the buildings, art, culture, etc.

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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by runner540 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:18 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:11 am
runner540 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:37 pm
Since it will be your first time abroad and you speak only English, start with the UK: England, Ireland, Scotland. And flight times aren't bad from the East Coast. Then you can move the more advanced levels of non-English speaking countries.
Thanks, this is what I have been thinking too. I'm not one who hates flying but I absolutely can't sleep on planes so long flights are tough. Would you hit two of those places in one trip, or just stick with one city like London and maybe see a few smaller cities around it?
In 10 days you can hit two main locations and see the highlights of each, with a couple day trips. So, 4-5 days in London, with a day trip to Canterbury, Oxford, or Cambridge, and 4-5 days somewhere else (northern England, Dublin or Scotland). Or, you can stay in London and do multiple day trips. There is everything from ancient Roman history, religious sites, "modern" history, 1000 year old college towns, beautiful hikes or "walks" as the English call it. I strongly recommend the War Rooms museum in London. London has many great free public museums as well.

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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by blaugranamd » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:20 am

randomizer wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:42 pm
Anywhere in (western) Europe would be fine/ awesome.
Agreed. English is the second language for nearly everyone in Western Europe. We have been to Spain, France, and Germany and only speak a very little but of Spanish and did just fine. Multilingualism in Europe is MUCH broader than in the US and you'll find nearly everything from menus to signs to subways have at least 3-4 languages written out, typically the native language, English, and then Japanese, and one other major European language. I would say at least half the people speak English fluently (in Germany probably closer to 90%) enough to help you, especially at major tourist sites and in large cities. In the few instances where they don't Google translate will suffice. If you start any conversation trying to speak the native language people will be very apt to help.

We in the US are truly the exception only speaking or primary language.
Last edited by blaugranamd on Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ugaDAWGS09
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by ugaDAWGS09 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:21 am

jodydavis wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:22 pm
For a first international vacation, I echo the other folks who say western europe would be a good option. The tourist infrastructure is well-developed, and pretty much all of the major areas will have people who speak English, so it will be easy to get around. And the culture and food are fantastic and sufficiently different from the U.S. that it will be interesting and new. In terms of specifics, it all depends on what you are most interested in:

1. U.K. would be the easiest. London, the English countryside, Ireland, Scotland, etc. Language obviously not a problem. Lots of interesting sights to see, but not as different as some other parts of Europe.

2. France could be a nice option, e.g. Paris and other nearby areas (e.g. Loire, Normandy, etc.). Culture a bit more different than the U.K., but still lots of english spoken at the tourist areas. Food is amazing, as is the culture. Would feel a bit more "different" than the U.K.

3. Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, etc. - plenty of english spoken, interesting culture, although I'd probably suggest U.K./France as a better first visit.

4. Italy, Spain, etc. - a bit less english spoken, but still no problem getting around in the tourist areas. Slightly longer flight, but food and culture obviously amazing.

I would avoid Japan/China/Asia (other than perhaps Hong Kong/Singapore) if you are worried about the language, as it is a bit more difficult to get around (though still not really a problem, as there is a lot of tourism). Also, if you are not experienced with long flights, I'd avoid S. Africa, New Zealand, Australia, as those are really, really long flights.

Good luck!
J.D.
Thanks, Western Europe seems to be the popular choice. I really need to start researching and see how many days we would like to spend in each area of the country. I would love to have enough time off to see Ireland and also visit London, but just not sure yet how much time we can get off work.

ugaDAWGS09
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by ugaDAWGS09 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:24 am

whodidntante wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 4:32 pm
I have travelled internationally extensively and I was fine everywhere. I honestly think you are overthinking this. Go the place that interests you most.
Buy the ticket, take the ride. If your finances are in shape for it, go sooner than next year.

Regarding practicals, I would carry at least three credit cards from different issuers, and at least two ATM cards from different issuers. Tell all of the issuers your itinerary. Get cash as soon as you land from an ATM machine. Usually $100 equivalent will be enough, but if you're going to visit a cash economy then you'll need much more but pull it out as you run low. Don't carry everything you have on you. Leave spares back at the hotel safe. Take a picture of your passport and credit cards.

If you visit Italy, I would definitely not go in summer. I was just there in the last week of May and it was already really warm. Europeans don't like air conditioning, ice, or cold drinks as much as we do.
Thanks, I guess I just want to pick a destination that will really make us want to continue overseas travel. I didn't want to pick somewhere too difficult (language, food, directions) and not want to go back and experience different places. I think you are right though, I'm probably overthinking it. I'm such a planner though, especially with a trip like this which will be so different.

ugaDAWGS09
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by ugaDAWGS09 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:29 am

Watty wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:34 pm
Unless there is something that you specifically want to see in a country then an alternative way to pick where to go is to watch out for a great deal to an interesting location then choose that as your destination.

I like using the Google Flight map view to browse to see where there are good airfares. There are some discount airlines but so far I have not felt comfortable with using them so I have stuck with the major airlines.
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip.
I would highly recommend reading Rick Steeves "Europe Through the Back Door" book to help you figure out what type of travel you want to do and how to pick where to go in Europe. This is more an overview so you can get an older edition that you can find at your library or buy a used copy for next to nothing. Once you have decided where you want to go then then I would get the current edition of the Rick Steeves book for that country if you are going to Europe.

Given your username I would think that there is a good chance that you are also near Atlanta. If so that often means flying on Delta. They will often have credit card sign up promotions for 60,000 miles which is often enough for a round trip ticket to Europe from Atlanta to Western Europe. If you sign up for their frequent flyer program you will likely get junk mail with that offer.
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation....
That is not nearly long enough to make going to New Zealand or Japan worthwhile.

If at all possible try to extend that to at least two weeks wherever you go. One of the great things about Europe is that outside of the big cities there are lots of small moderately priced hotels so you can extend for a very reasonable cost by adding five days outside the large cities. In the US a budget hotel frequently means something like a Motel 6. In Europe a budget hotel often is a family owned business with a dozen nice rooms and these are easy to find if you read the reviews.

This is especially true in Southern Europe and other than airfare I can usually travel for a lot less in Southern Europe than I can in the US.

When I take a trip I figure the cost per day , including airfare, so taking a longer trip can significantly lower the cost per per day since the cost of the airfare will be spread over more days.

With a 7 day trip there is also be chance that a storm system will take three days to go through and give you bad weather for half your trip.

I
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
We would probably be going in the Spring or Summer of next year.
For most areas going in the spring would make a lot more sense because before school is out everything will usually be less expensive and less crowded. Southern Europe can be very hot in the summer and air conditioning, if they have it, may not be as good as in the US.
ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
..where English will be commonly spoken.
You will be fine with just speaking English in any area in western Europe that tourists normally go to.

The best way to see most of Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, and England outside of London is by renting a car. The problem is that they all drive on the left which may be a negative with sticking with English speaking countries. I did not find that hard but that might be a bit too much for your first international trip.

Even if you do not drive in England be very careful walking around since it is not uncommon in London for a tourist to be hit by a car when they step out into traffic after looking in the wrong direction for oncoming traffic. In many crosswalks they even paint "Look Right!" on the ground.
Thanks on the book recommendation, I will definitely find this book and read it before making any travel plans. We will be flying out of Atlanta so most likely using Delta. We have been going to St. John for several years every summer so we are almost professionals at driving on the left side of the road. :D . I think traveling in the spring will be our best option, as it's easier for us to get the time off work.

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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by f35phixer » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:38 am

You’ll be fine wherever you go, English is spoken... Use a google translate app for translation. UK, Scotland and Italy have been our most recent adventures. Are you going to drive, quite a change from the correct side of road to drive on wrong side!!! Our Edinburgh to Fort Williams was EXCITING. When you come to a corner and SLOW/SLOW are overlapped and you have a Lorry coming at you, well exciting!!!!!

If you go to UK, watch Broadchurch, just finished series, great show. UK talk with marbles in their mouths ;-)) That will give you an idea of what you’re in for.

jayk238
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by jayk238 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:39 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken. I guess the first place that comes to mind is London, but we are really considering several options such as Rome/Florence/Venice, Cape Town South Africa, New Zealand, Paris, Japan. I know some of these aren't English speaking countries but would be nice if we could at least order food, get directions, etc. without too much of a hassle.

We are both early 30s and love to sight-see, explore the local culture, and find nice places to eat. We would probably be going in the Spring or Summer of next year. Another issue is flight time. The farthest we have ever flown was Maui and that was a long flight from the east coast, and I know some of these locations are way further.

Any recommendations? We are really open to any location.
Just went to Ireland a month ago. PM me if you have questions.

That said I dont recommend Ireland on a first trip unless you have a large enough budget to accomodate the expense of a tour bus. Ireland is a lot like the USA in that you wont find much in the way of public transportation outside of dublin and other cities. England is better in this regard to do daytrips or train rides to more distant towns.

My wife has been to england without a car and has done just fine. I wouldnt recommend renting a car in ireland for your first trip. Anyone who thinks driving on those itty bitty narrow roads with gps that is often wrong by both google and garmin is out of their mind.

Might I suggest a Mediterranean Cruise instead? Your time spent on land will be more limited but cost effective and more fun. We took a Norweigian line and got a good discount (900 per w all inclusive meals drinks for 8 days plus a few excursions that we paid out of pocket) and saw rome florence napoli barcelona canne marseille and french riveria and maybe one or two more. For a first timmer like me ( but not wife) -it was a great experience 3 years ago to have a relatively easy and accomodating experience.

Also I strongly suggest you buy a Rick Steves guide for where ever you ultimately plan to travel. We also recommend the rough guide which I recently encountered and liked.

Im also new to travel-cruise 3 yrs ago, germany last year, ireland this year and my wife is more seasoned -10 years worth.

Id be happy to answer any questions you have about logistics and getting from a to b which is the hardest part.

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c.coyle
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by c.coyle » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:54 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken. I guess the first place that comes to mind is London, but we are really considering several options such as Rome/Florence/Venice, Cape Town South Africa, New Zealand, Paris, Japan. I know some of these aren't English speaking countries but would be nice if we could at least order food, get directions, etc. without too much of a hassle.

We are both early 30s and love to sight-see, explore the local culture, and find nice places to eat. We would probably be going in the Spring or Summer of next year. Another issue is flight time. The farthest we have ever flown was Maui and that was a long flight from the east coast, and I know some of these locations are way further.

Any recommendations? We are really open to any location.
English is spoken in almost every decent-sized city on the planet that caters in any degree to travelers. Don't stress on that. You will have no problem ordering food and getting directions unless you are in a remote rural area.

But, I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend learning a few basic words and phrases in the local language. Please, thank you, hello, good (morning, day, evening), yes, no. You will butcher them, and you will forget them a week after you get home, but locals will appreciate you and respect the fact that you've made the effort. And your trip will be more enjoyable.

What do they call a person who speaks two languages? Bi-lingual

What do they call a person who speaks three languages? Tri-lingual

What do they call a person who speaks one language? American
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swr
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by swr » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:55 am

There are some great web sites that send out fare deals; secretflying,com is my favorite. Also for accommodation betterbidding.com ;mostly USA but also some international postings on priceline and hotwire strategies.
Australia is top for my vacations ; the long flights (from Boston) is the draw back but well worth it .Also new carriers to Europe have made flights affordable from the east coast; Norwegian are flying to Ireland from Providence RI for incredibly low prices; flew to Dublin last year for $99 and returned from Cork for $125.I think half the fun of travelling is the planning and scoring a great deal.

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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by HoleInTheAir » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:01 am

To piggyback off the original question, does anyone have any ideas for dealing with anxiety from flying?

My wife and I, along with some friends, are going to Ireland later this year for about a week, and that 8-hr flight already has me nervous. I've flown about a dozen times so far - all domestic - and it just doesn't seem to get better. We went from ATL to LA (about 4.5 hours), and I could not relax. My heart rate stayed in 110-120 range (normally around 50), I was clammy, etc. I get that travel by plane is very, very safe, but the lack of control, and feeling of being trapped is too much sometimes.

I'm going to test out a Xanax a few months before to make sure I react okay, and may use one of those before we board to relax/sleep. We fly Delta Comfort, so the extra space helps out some.

Anyone have any thoughts or things that help them?

stan1
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by stan1 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:05 am

Europeans often use English to talk to each other so it is many people's second language. I heartily endorse London as your first overseas vacation destination especially if you are an independent traveller. The key to enjoying London as an independent traveller is buying a Visitor Oyster Card which gives you unlimited transport for 6.80£ in a 24 hour period within Central London. Also, by next Spring the new Elizabeth Line (one of the greatest engineering projects of this decade) will be open giving you much more convenient access directly from Heathrow to all of London on a modern rail service. In addition to all the sites within London you can easily take day trips by train to Cambridge, Salisbury, Bath, Canterbury, and St. Albans without needing a car. To get the "been there done that" check mark for Stonehenge I'd take a well reviewed tour out of London (paired with Salisbury or Bath).

Look up "slow travel" on the internet. We much prefer to go to one place for a week or two, get central well located accommodations, and then explore the area using a "quality not quantity" approach. Packing up and moving every night or 3-4 days plus transit time between locations really eats into the time you have for your vacation.

I'd avoid summer travel to Europe. It is sweltering hot and swarming with tourists. Spring and Fall are better times if you can work that into your schedule.

Don't worry about the duration of the flights if your concern is inconvenience and discomfort. The experience of travel is worth it. If you have the money or air miles book in a Premium Economy class for some extra leg room. I am 5'7" and 145 pounds. If I was 6'5" and 270 pounds I wouldn't consider flying otherwise on a long flight in Economy. The cost of the extra leg room just is what it is. If you truly have a medical issue related to flying talk to your doctor.
Last edited by stan1 on Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

livesoft
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by livesoft » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:07 am

HoleInTheAir wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:01 am
Anyone have any thoughts or things that help them?
Consult your doctor. Seriously.
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midareff
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by midareff » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:16 am

I think a couple of phrases in the local language such as Excuse me, I'm lost.. do you speak English... would be very helpful. OTOH, my country count now stands at 42 and I haven't been anywhere I couldn't get around with a little research before and a local map app. A smile and a hello works almost everywhere in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Rupert
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by Rupert » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:32 am

HoleInTheAir wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:01 am
To piggyback off the original question, does anyone have any ideas for dealing with anxiety from flying?

My wife and I, along with some friends, are going to Ireland later this year for about a week, and that 8-hr flight already has me nervous. I've flown about a dozen times so far - all domestic - and it just doesn't seem to get better. We went from ATL to LA (about 4.5 hours), and I could not relax. My heart rate stayed in 110-120 range (normally around 50), I was clammy, etc. I get that travel by plane is very, very safe, but the lack of control, and feeling of being trapped is too much sometimes.

I'm going to test out a Xanax a few months before to make sure I react okay, and may use one of those before we board to relax/sleep. We fly Delta Comfort, so the extra space helps out some.

Anyone have any thoughts or things that help them?
I just take an antihistamine, such as dramamine or Benadryl, a half hour before the flight. Then I have a small glass of wine with dinner on the plane. Only one glass, as drinking a lot while on antihistamines isn't a great idea. The antihistamine has the added bonus of preventing motion sickness on rough flights. Some people swear by Ambien for long flights, but that's overkill for me and I want to be alert when the flight ends to navigate through customs, etc.

jayk238
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by jayk238 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:51 am

HoleInTheAir wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:01 am
To piggyback off the original question, does anyone have any ideas for dealing with anxiety from flying?

My wife and I, along with some friends, are going to Ireland later this year for about a week, and that 8-hr flight already has me nervous. I've flown about a dozen times so far - all domestic - and it just doesn't seem to get better. We went from ATL to LA (about 4.5 hours), and I could not relax. My heart rate stayed in 110-120 range (normally around 50), I was clammy, etc. I get that travel by plane is very, very safe, but the lack of control, and feeling of being trapped is too much sometimes.

I'm going to test out a Xanax a few months before to make sure I react okay, and may use one of those before we board to relax/sleep. We fly Delta Comfort, so the extra space helps out some.

Anyone have any thoughts or things that help them?
I dont think medical advice is allowed here. So I wont suggest CBT...
You really should consult your doctor first.
But personally-
I ask myself why do I get anxious. Regardless of safety do I feel worried about dying from a crash? Does the turbulence get to me? Alot of it is reorienting your mind

I for one have been terrified of turbulence despite being told its safe and despite telling myself how safe the travels have been for so many years. Turbulence is really only when I get bothered and I would drink heavily to deaden the nerves on the plane.

However, recently I read an article that interviewed a pilot that helped a lot. He said turbulence can be divided into 3 categories- mild, moderate, and severe. Mild means you see the drink slosh about- this happens maybe 70% of all turbulences. If you dont see liquids sloshing its not even mild. Moderate means the drinks spill over on your table or others. And severe means that the carts crash over or run into the stewardess. He said a seasoned pilot may experience it 10% of all pilots. and a business traveller may expeirence 1% of all business travellers and frequent vacationers and less should never experience it. Planes are designed to withstand incredible shearing forces and stress and the fear that it will topple out of the sky, tear apart, or flip over or go into a tailspin due to turbulence is bunk and that it does not happen. full stop.

I felt this was really helpful for me to read it and internalize it. Now when I feel turbulence and get the start of a feeling of fear I think about whether its mild or not, realize that the plane wont get damaged, and carry on. I've only experienced mild turbulence once and the none of the other.

For you, the relevant part is recognizing that you are having irrational thoughts and then to distract them with another thought- perhaps an article that explains why you dont need to worry or some method to work through (type of turbulence for example) and use that to anchor your feelings.

I would never take a xanax because the grogginess after wake up and touch down coupled with jet lag would suck for anyone.

But please see a doctor.

stan1
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by stan1 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:11 am

True story:
Standing in line at immigration in Heathrow at about 8:00 AM after an overnight flight from the US. Person next to me collapses onto the floor. Immediately gets up and says "Oh, it must be the Ambien". Talk to your doctor.

epictetus
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by epictetus » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:44 am

i would suggest taking a look at Rick Steves' website as well as his books for general travel ideas as well as specific itineraries for different countries. he has various plans (if you have X days in country y do this).

another option is to look into traveling with a tour group. there are pros/cons to doing that versus planning your own trip.
with a tour group there is less flexibility but also much less research/decision=making re: where to go, where to stay, what to do, etc. ,etc.

we have used Globus several times and have been pleased with them. they have tours to anywhere in the world and have lots of UK and European tours.

just a thought
Focus on what you can control

cherijoh
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by cherijoh » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:58 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken. I guess the first place that comes to mind is London, but we are really considering several options such as Rome/Florence/Venice, Cape Town South Africa, New Zealand, Paris, Japan. I know some of these aren't English speaking countries but would be nice if we could at least order food, get directions, etc. without too much of a hassle.

We are both early 30s and love to sight-see, explore the local culture, and find nice places to eat. We would probably be going in the Spring or Summer of next year. Another issue is flight time. The farthest we have ever flown was Maui and that was a long flight from the east coast, and I know some of these locations are way further.

Any recommendations? We are really open to any location.
I would rule out South Africa, New Zealand, and Japan from consideration. They are really too far to travel for the amount of time you have available. Japan is also super expensive.

I think you'll enjoy yourself more if you don't try and do one of the "sampler" bus tours which hit 5 countries in 8 days. Even 5 cities in the same country can be exhausting if you have to be packed with your bags outside the door before breakfast.

I have done several vacations in the UK. You could do London and then a loop up to Yorkshire, across the moors, the Lake District, down to Bath, Oxford, and/or Cambridge. A friend and I flew into Gatwick, stayed several days in London then went back to Gatwick and rented a car. (That was an adventure in itself :happy). You could also get a BritRail Pass and hit some of the cities as day or overnight trips. Or hit London and Edinburgh or London & Dublin in the time you have allotted.

I did do a bus tour in Ireland through CIE which included 2 stays at B&Bs. I'm not a super fan of bus tours, but we were a group of 6 and i was the only one would have been willing to drive in that group (which I wasn't willing to do since the scenery is such an important part of an Ireland tour. After experiencing the Ring of Kerry, I was definitely thankful that I hadn't taken on the driving! :shock: This is the itinerary closest to the tour we took - it looks like they eliminated the B&Bs.

I have also taken a couple of walking tours in England using Wayfarers and Country lWalkers. I have done group tours with both tour companies, but Country walkers has started offering Self-Guided tours where they provide 24/7 local support, luggage transfers, and all the detailed maps you need. I did a Cotswold walk with Wayfarer's which was walk from Inn to Inn and the Cornish Coastal tour with Country Walkers - we did day hikes from 2 different locations. England is rather unique with its public footpaths. With the exception of one of the Cotswold villages that was part of a bus tour route, we rarely saw any other tourists. We were eating lunch and in local pubs and dinner in nice local restaurants. Accommodations were local inns and B&Bs. I really enjoyed these tours and have done several others in the US and Canada.

cherijoh
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Re: Need advice on 1st international vacation

Post by cherijoh » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:58 am

ugaDAWGS09 wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 pm
My wife and I are looking to plan our first international trip. We are looking for a 7-10 day vacation in a safe area where English will be commonly spoken. I guess the first place that comes to mind is London, but we are really considering several options such as Rome/Florence/Venice, Cape Town South Africa, New Zealand, Paris, Japan. I know some of these aren't English speaking countries but would be nice if we could at least order food, get directions, etc. without too much of a hassle.

We are both early 30s and love to sight-see, explore the local culture, and find nice places to eat. We would probably be going in the Spring or Summer of next year. Another issue is flight time. The farthest we have ever flown was Maui and that was a long flight from the east coast, and I know some of these locations are way further.

Any recommendations? We are really open to any location.
I would rule out South Africa, New Zealand, and Japan from consideration. They are really too far to travel for the amount of time you have available. Japan is also super expensive.

I think you'll enjoy yourself more if you don't try and do one of the "sampler" bus tours which hit 5 countries in 8 days. Even 5 cities in the same country can be exhausting if you have to be packed with your bags outside the door before breakfast.

I have done several vacations in the UK. You could do London and then a loop up to Yorkshire, across the moors, the Lake District, down to Bath, Oxford, and/or Cambridge. A friend and I flew into Gatwick, stayed several days in London then went back to Gatwick and rented a car. (That was an adventure in itself :happy). You could also get a BritRail Pass and hit some of the cities as day or overnight trips. Or hit London and Edinburgh or London & Dublin in the time you have allotted.

I did do a bus tour in Ireland through CIE which included 2 stays at B&Bs. I'm not a super fan of bus tours, but we were a group of 6 and i was the only one would have been willing to drive in that group (which I wasn't willing to do since the scenery is such an important part of an Ireland tour. After experiencing the Ring of Kerry, I was definitely thankful that I hadn't taken on the driving! :shock: This is the itinerary closest to the tour we took - it looks like they eliminated the B&Bs.

I have also taken a couple of walking tours in England using Wayfarers and Country lWalkers. I have done group tours with both tour companies, but Country walkers has started offering Self-Guided tours where they provide 24/7 local support, luggage transfers, and all the detailed maps you need. I did a Cotswold walk with Wayfarer's which was walk from Inn to Inn and the Cornish Coastal tour with Country Walkers - we did day hikes from 2 different locations. England is rather unique with its public footpaths. With the exception of one of the Cotswold villages that was part of a bus tour route, we rarely saw any other tourists. We were eating lunch and in local pubs and dinner in nice local restaurants. Accommodations were local inns and B&Bs. I really enjoyed these tours and have done several others in the US and Canada.

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