I work pretty ridiculous hours 9 months a year, and then I have some free time for 3 months. My first assignment each time I get to my break is to re-connect with my youngest child.
We have made a habit of taking off together, just the two of us, for a “him-cation.” It’s all about him. He can choose the destination (within reason), choose the activities and even choose where we eat. He says “please” and I say, “yes sir!”
When he was little, he chose a Disney cruise. That was great fun! Though the ship had dozens of activities and excursions, all he really wanted to do was play soccer on the upper deck. If I wasn’t out there playing with him, I was sitting on a lounge chair watching, and reading a book.
As I became a fixture on the deck, watching my son, Cast Members generously brought me new books. Even other passengers offered magazines. It was sweet. Everyone aboard was very thoughtful. I enjoyed their enquiries and visits.
In the evenings we’d sit on the pool deck and watch the movies and eat pizza. Every night he went to bed happy and feeling loved. While we didn’t maximize our Disney activities, we sure had fun. Neither of us will ever forget it.
Fast forward to this year’s “him-cation” and he chose Carli. What’s Carli? Actually, it’s a who. She, is a fabulous person that I used to work with and son remembers oh so fondly from his childhood.
Carli moved halfway across the county to attend university. He missed seeing her around town. We all did. So when he asked if this year’s trip could be to see Carli, I gave her a call and then bought the plane tickets.
She showed us the university, where she worked, and where she liked to hike. We had a blast! She remembered him as a little boy and catered to little boy things… like finding blue crabs to “race” on the beach, logs to walk on and waterfalls to admire.
My take away message here is that it’s not always about the destination, it’s about the people you share your time with and the memories you make. The best vacation ever… can happen absolutely anywhere.
Have you ever said this? “My town has nothing to offer.”
Travel can help.
Here’s the thing. When YOU travel, you see and experience new things. Perhaps you come home with a business idea or a fabulous way to plan events or promote your own industries. Or perhaps, in your travels you meet a friend and invite them to visit your community at some time. That helps your town. You help your own town by travelling and returning with new ideas and renewed energy.
The other side of the coin is when you INVITE tourists to your community, you stimulate the economy. You see, when tourists come to visit, they stay in your hotels and eat at your restaurants and buy souvenirs in your shops.
Staff that work in the tourism and hospitality industries are often students, and when you put money in the hands of students (through employment), they SPEND it. That’s a good thing…. no, it’s a great thing! When your part time worker is not burdened by a mortgage or a heavy debt load, they spend money on dining and clothes and car repairs and social events etc. Their disposable income is much more than the burdened family, so these part time employees are injecting new money into the economy rapidly.
It’s the circle of LOCAL. When a student shops locally, with their paycheque, they help shop owners provide additional jobs, which in turn pays for groceries, and car sales, which pays for taxes and health care, which pays for music lessons and birthday parties and so on and so on.
But what if you’re back to the stumbling block of “our town has nothing to offer?” That’s impossible! I offer you Pisa, Italy as an example. Simply a small community with a bell tower built on swampland, that started to lean and a builder who never took credit for the error. Hundreds of years later, tourists are still gawking at the sight and also paying $35 a person to climb the legendary example of construction gone wrong.
So, I believe every town absolutely has something to offer! You just have to look at things a little differently. See things from a new angle! And invite the tourists to come.
So, this in my opinion is a really cool travel story. I was in Los Angeles, California last year and I had a neat little tourist map in my hand. It showcased movie set and nostalgic locations, and that kind of thing. The one location that really caught my eye was the Ghostbuster’s firehall (from the original 80s movie). It took a bit to track down, and in fact it was in a pretty scary part of the neighbourhood (at least for this small town prairie girl) but I did it, I found it! I snapped a couple photos and hightailed it for a more familiar and comfortable area of downtown LA.
But at least I got to see it, and recognize it and that was so cool!
It was once recognized as one of the most beautiful and highly coveted fire halls in America and given National historic status. However, in 2015 when I tracked it down, it was in an apparent state of disrepair.
The oddly graffitied cat portrait on the curved door really stood out for me. In fact, I took my photo and printed it on a t-shirt for myself. I often wear my custom-made freaky cat door t-shirt to bed. I have a theory that it keeps ghosts (and nightmares) away. LOL
If Ghostbusters, or this unique lego set intrigues you, they’re available on-line at the official Lego store for $400. If you’d rather have a 2015 freaky cat door t-shirt, that can be arranged for less than 10% of the Lego set.
It was an amazing experience. Unlike anything or anywhere I’d ever been. Would I go again? In a heartbeat.
And I would definitely go in February, March, October or November. As a Canadian, I like my space. I don’t like crowds and I’m simply not accustomed to waiting more than 15 minutes in any line.
Even the locals in Florence told me, that they flee the cities in July and August. The cities are too hot and far too crowded. The place to be is by the sea. And I got the impression that tourists are not completely welcome at their seaside hideaways, some of the last undeveloped tourist areas.
September is a lovely month, for weather. But, it’s also harvest. Their agricultural economy depends on the grape harvest, which is then followed by the olive harvest late September, early October. Their culture and livelihood are so intertwined with this annual ritual that I wouldn’t want to get in the way as a tourist wanting to tour wineries.
In late February, we had lovely weather, about 15C most days. I was comfortable in a light jacket, and with a scarf in the mornings.
As far as tourist sites, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the wait was less than 15 minutes and you could just walk up and purchase a ticket at the desk. In tourist season (April-Sept) you would need to buy tickets on-line, in advance and attend at your scheduled date and time to avoid waiting 2-3 hours in the walk up line. You have likely read this several places if you are already researching a trip to Italy or Europe
Flight deals can be had, especially in the low season. If you choose to go to Italy in October through February, you can watch for airfares as low as $650 on sale. High season, you would budget for $900 or more per ticket. (Taxes in, return trip from YWG)