By Jerry Vaughn, Travel Talk
In my previous column, I discussed experiences of traveling with grown kids.
Our trip is well under way now, and as I indicated in last week’s column, when your kids are grown, traveling is a whole lot easier with them taking care of themselves instead of parents having to do it all for them.
So far, it has been a lot of fun and a good bonding experience.
Since young adults generally understand a lot more today because of the media, unlike small kids, they also share your pain, particularly with the horrible currency exchange rate resulting from the devalued U.S. dollar. It makes traveling in Europe by land a very expensive proposition.
Our three days in Barcelona before the start of the cruise were shocking in terms of the costs of food, lodging and ground transportation.
When they are paying some of their own expenses, grown children have a greater appreciation of the impact those things had on dad’s wallet all those years.
NOTE: There is no question, the best value for visiting Europe right now is by cruise ship or land tour, where most things like lodging, food and transportation are included and prepaid in U.S. dollars. You will save an incredible amount of money traveling this way as opposed to paying everything a la carte as you go.
Another major issue with travel in Europe today is the monumental problem of lost, delayed and damaged luggage.
We have a number of people in our group who are still without any luggage. The most serious area seems to be luggage being transferred through Heathrow Airport in London.
While we received all our luggage, one of my daughter Heather’s bags was so seriously damaged it had to be replaced. The time it will take for reimbursement from the airlines (if at all) could be quite lengthy. She learned a little about how unanticipated emergency expenses can impact your vacation spending money real quick.
If you are visiting Europe, be sure your bags are well marked on the outside with your identification. Also put information inside your bag with all your contact information so that if the outside tags are torn off, authorities will have a good way to contact you.
Be sure to take a change of clothes and a small bag of toiletries that conform to Homeland Security requirements. That way if your bags get lost, you can still get by for a while without being inconvenienced too much.
Never pack important travel documents or medications in your checked bags. Always carry them with you in case your bags are lost so your whole trip won’t be ruined.
Now, off my soapbox and back to our trip. Our first port of call is Villefranche, a scenic and picturesque city perched on the mountainside on the French Riviera. We spent the day touring, starting with a walking tour of the old city in Nice.
This is a charming and historic area that exudes the French spirit in its architecture and history. After spending several hours in Nice, we continue on the medieval mountain village of Ese. The views from here are absolutely spectacular.
This is where having grown kids with you is really nice. The thought of pushing a stroller up and down the steep streets and walkways is just not very appealing anymore. I did that on a number of occasions and trust me, having kids move under their own power is much better.
After leaving the intriguing village of Ese, we traveled on to Monaco and Monte Carlo. This is a hectic time there as they are preparing for the Formula One Grand Prix race this weekend. Normal traffic patterns are disrupted and it is a little inconvenient to get around.
The magic of Monte Carlo is like no other. The wealth and auspicious lifestyle is a little overwhelming. Seeing Rolls Royce after Rolls Royce interspersed with high-end Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other exotic vehicles is incredible.
The Monte Carlo Casino, Hotel Paris and the Café Paris form an image straight out of the movies. Heather just had to see if the machines in the Monte Carlo Casino were generous enough to change our station in life.
Alas, she found out the truth that the reason casinos can build big beautiful buildings and serve complimentary drinks is that more people leave a lot more money behind and those who take money out.
At least now she can say she did it.
One of the really nice parts of traveling with adult kids is that they are expressive and you can tell when they really appreciate something.
Unlike small kids who look and then become distracted by almost anything, you can have intelligent conversations with your adult kids about what you are seeing and doing.
Seeing them truly enjoy the experience they are having is really quite rewarding and satisfying.
Jerry Vaughn is president of World Voyager Vacations in Federal Way. Contact: email@example.com.