My son and I just returned from a trip to Europe. Likewise, my son’s Great Aunt and her son just returned from their own trip to Europe. The Great Aunt is a very sharp, active 70 year-old and her 43 year-old son is a smart, extremely amiable, professional, single guy. So at our recent family reunion, we had the opportunity to contrast our two different traveling styles.
Our relative’s Europe trip was an 11-day vacation consisting of a flight to Barcelona, then a flight to Prague, then a flight to Munich where they had guided group tours in each of those cities. The mother enthusiastically shared their photos with people at the reunion where I learned about the amazing architectural genius of Antoni Gaudi (wiki) who graced Barcelona with amazing art! Before sharing her photos, the Great Aunt first shared a fantastic book showing many of Gaudi’s gorgeous structures in order to help us to more fully understand her photos which were photos of the same structures but many of them with her standing in front of them and other tourists in the background.
The Great Aunt and her son came back with pictures of buildings and art. They had no pictures of people, no stories of conversations or encounters of different cultures. And I could not help wonder if I looked at her book on Gaudi’s architecture about 10 times and looked at a few others like it, then 5 years later (if we had a way to compare her and my memories of the art of Barcelona) that our memories would not vary much? I suspect our memories would be similar except that she could say, “I was there!” That memory would be missing for me.
My son and my trip was in a rented car and avoided big cities as much as possible during our 21 days. We couch-surfed each night without plans for the next day. We let our hosts’ recommendations guide us and spent as much time with our generous, kind hosts as we could — tasting local life.
The Great Aunt and her son had a fantastically fun time in Europe and joyfully shared their photos with many people at the reunion who also enjoyed them immensely — as did I. But the contrast in our traveling styles was stark.
Question to readers: What are some travel styles you have experimented with? (PS: please don’t forget to see the photo below)