Hitting the Road This Summer
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." Those
are the words of Saint Augustine, and they say all that I believe about the
joy and value of traveling. Summer is when most people travel (especially those
with children), and although I vacation in fall, the start of summer always
makes me think that it is time to get on the road again. So I ask for your
indulgence while I write about one of my favorite topics – travel. Researching
and writing about travel brings me almost as much pleasure as actually going.
Many solo and small firm practitioners think it takes more effort to take
vacation because it is difficult to be away from their clients and office.
I believe that it is critical for your practice that you get away regardless
of where or how you do it. I cannot come up with one reason why anyone would
not want to travel. There are destinations for everyone, and I am going to
give some sites that will help you decide where to go, how to get there and
how to enjoy the journey.
Not only do I love to travel, I also love to read about travel. One of
my favorite books is 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, by Patricia
Schultz. I am sure I will not live long enough to visit all 1,000 places, but
I am going to try. It is also fun to see how many you have already visited.
Author Bill Bryson has written many books about various places, but my two
favorites are A Walk in the Woods (Rediscovering America on the Appalachian
Trail) and Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe. This is one
of the of the funniest books I have read, and if you have every been to Europe
. . . well, it says all that you were really thinking about some of the sites,
food and people.
I am not a fan of Anthony Bourdain but I have been compelled to watch his
series on the Travel Channel in his quest for the perfect meal. His book, A
Cook's Tour in Search of the Perfect Meal, was very good and more enjoyable
than his show. Although it is unlikely that I will ever eat a meal in a Vietnamese
fishing village, I am impressed that he does it with such delight.
In the everything-old-is-new-again category, Travels with Charley by
John Steinbeck is an interesting read almost 50 years after it was written
as to how much has changed and how much has remained the same in this country.
If you read it in the past, revisit it, and if you have never read it, it is
In addition to travel books, there are many great guide books and sites to
help you decide where to go. Two of my favorite guide books and websites are Fodor's and The
Lonely Planet. Both have websites (www.fodors.com and www.lonelyplanet.com,
respectively), and both have forums where others share information. I have
used the Fodor's Forums extensively to get ideas on what neighborhoods or towns
to consider for lodging, and it has proven to be right on target. The Lonely
Planet features user-created "Bluelists" such as "Top Things to Do in Dublin" and "Best
Places to Try Wine". They are not as extensive as the forums, which can be
Another series of publications I have used are the Irreverent Guides by
Frommer's. They are currently available for 15 destinations in North America
(New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, DC,
San Francisco, New Orleans, Walt Disney World and Vancouver) and Europe (Amsterdam,
Paris, Rome). Although they feature many of the same sights as the regular
guides, they give different reviews. If your time is limited and you want to
avoid some real tourist traps, these guides are helpful.
For those traveling within the United States, though there may be regional
differences, most of our customs are similar. In fact, chain stores and restaurants
make much of the country look the same regardless of where you are. That is
obviously not the case when you travel abroad. One of the ways to make your
trip much more enjoyable is to find out something about the culture and customs
of the place or places you are planning to visit. (It also helps if you can
say a few words or expressions in a foreign language.) Both of the guide books
and many others offer information about customs in foreign countries.
When my husband and I took our first trip to Europe in 2000, we rented an
apartment for two weeks in Paris. We used the Internet to find it, and we were
very happy. Searching for apartments in Europe via the Internet has improved
dramatically in the past six years. If you are traveling anywhere for an extended
stay, I highly recommend staying in an apartment. The cost is the same as a
hotel and it is much more comfortable.
The sites now feature many pictures and also include maps, transportation
information and other links. Many of the sites also have comments from past
visitors. We just rented an apartment in Barcelona, and we had many places
from which to choose.
Of course, not everyone wants to leave the country on vacation; many people
still want to travel by car to local destinations. Naturally, car trips require
time out for eating. A really useful site to help you find good local places
to eat is Road Food. It
will help you find the most memorable local eateries along the highways and
back roads of America. (Also, if you are traveling by car this summer or for
this vacation, check out www.gasbuddy.com to
help you find the cheapest gas near where you are located.)
My travel tastes are very diverse; I also am a National Park junkie. My favorite
site for information about all the National Parks and National Monuments is
from the National Park Service.
If you are planning to visit any of the parks this year, I suggest the National
Park Pass, which costs $50 per year but allows for free entrance to all National
Unfortunately, not everything always goes according to plan; hence, two good
sites for information on safety and health issues are My
Travel Rights and the Centers
for Disease Control regarding health issues around the world.
- Phone Home: If you are traveling out of the country and want to
stay connected, make certain that your cell phone can be used. If not (and
most cannot be used outside the country), two sites – www.cellhire.com and www.roberts-rent-a-phone.com – can
help you rent a phone. Both allow you to tell when and where you will be
traveling. Both also allow free incoming calls – but always beware,
and read the fine print!
- Museum Overload: It is important to have some information about
museums that you hope to visit to find out about the best times to visit,
traveling exhibits, hours and other important facts. One great portal site
for this is www.museumnetwork.com, which features information about
museums and zoos all over the world.
Let's face it, though: some of the best places are those not listed by the
usual guide books that you discover on your own. For example, did you know
that there is a Mushroom Museum near Philadelphia? I have been there, and it
is pretty interesting. A good site for some very bizarre museums is www.brucevanpatter.com/odd_museums.html,
especially if you can't wait to see cockroaches in costumes. Another site is Altervistas
Bizarre Collections & Collectables - museums. Not for everyone, perhaps,
but it helps to be weird sometimes.
- Running Away From Home: If you are a runner and want to run on
vacation but are not comfortable scouting out a route, Run
the Planet –
which features comments from people all over the world on the best places
to run all over the planet – can help. Also, Runnersworld has "Best
Runs" for cities all over the US.
Your Inner Adventurer
Many people are now looking for a little adventure in their vacations.
Unwilling to go it alone, there are many companies now offering a wide variety
of adventure trips for people of all fitness levels. Many of these companies
also offer trips exclusively for women as well as families and couples.
Some sites are:
Have a great summer, and enjoy the trip!