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Old 04-16-2015, 10:41 AM   #1981
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I notice the Costco travel deals are usually a year out.
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Old 04-16-2015, 11:15 AM   #1982
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I have found that for Europe trips, if I want to stay in a desired hotel, I usually need to make a reservation before I buy the plane ticket! You can usually get an OK price on a plane ticket a couple of months in advance, and really no sweat with 3 months. But for some hotel reservations you need 3 months or more.

I noticed last year that I was looking at some hotels of interest in April for first half September availability. A couple of places I wanted were available in April. When I booked my plane tickets in May (for a late August flight), a couple of places I wanted to stay were already full! And I kept checking, but no availabilities ever opened again.

Moral of that story was perhaps I should have made cancelable reservations when I first looked at and noticed a hotel I would really like. Although you can't really tell in advance which hotel is most likely to fill early.

+1

For our trip to Cancun in May, I started looking at hotels and airfares in September. In November, I made two reservations for different dates because prices went up and I wanted something. In December, I saw a really cheap airfare one day, but didn't buy because DW couldn't ask for the time off until January. It was gone the following day. Early December also brought a special at the hotel, so two more reservations were made. I had joined the hotel's club and for my birthday, they offered a 10% discount in addition to the member's 5% discount. This, along with a price drop in January, ended up saving a few $100's.

Once DW got official approval for the time off, I cancelled all but one of the reservations. I followed airfare and when the price dropped on the flights we wanted, we got the tickets. Unfortunately, the price never dropped to the one I saw in December, which would've saved us another $100+ each.

I continue to check on pricing and today, a hotel reservation would cost four times more than ours. I also check our flights and fares have varied a little from what we paid. Any future vacation planning will likely follow this scenario.


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Old 04-18-2015, 07:22 AM   #1983
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We are leaving shortly for France, our first time there. We have nine days on our own in Paris, at which point we'll be joining a group to do a big sweeping tour of France's wine regions, plus a quick layover in Monaco.

Our itinerary for Paris, developed primarily via Rick Steves Paris travel book, is packed, and includes day trips to Versailles, Giverny and Normandy. The plan is to do most of our walking about by foot, because we love to do so, but we'll hop on the metro if we peter out at some point. We also have our 'big' attractions scheduled first each day, so if at some point we want to just hang out and drink coffee or wine at a little cafe, we can blow off the rest of the day without remorse.

We'll be gone three weeks in all. Would have loved to have rented an apt for a couple of weeks, and extended our trip, but our first grandbaby arrived last year, and for now we're limiting travel to spurts of one month or less so we can spend as much time as possible at their home. They grow up so fast at this age!
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Old 04-18-2015, 08:06 AM   #1984
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We also just booked a river cruise for next May, which has long been on our bucket list. We start with three days in Amsterdam, then we travel to Cologne, Germany, where we board for a 26 day river cruise through Germany, Vienna, Budapest, and what I'm calling the 'ias' - Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, at which point we disembark and conclude our journey with five land days in Translyvania, a total of 35 days from start to finish. We've signed up for every single optional excursion to make sure we see and experience as much as possible. (We always do this. No one would ever accuse us of being laid back travelers!)

We're making our final payment today to take advantage of a 10% pay in full one year in advance discount the company offers. I'm still pinching myself that we are really doing this one!
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:18 PM   #1985
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Be careful of France if you rent a car. They have the sneaky cameras looking to get you for $45 Euro if you go 97 in a 90...just got my first of probably a few more...

Welcome home!
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Old 04-24-2015, 07:28 PM   #1986
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ElizabethT - I don't think you will have trouble spending your retirement income! Have a great time!

We are also headed to a 3 week visit to France starting in Paris late May, (Paris, Loire Valley, Alsace and Chapagne), and then another week in Amsterdam where we visit family.
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Old 05-06-2015, 01:56 PM   #1987
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We are gearing up for our big Europe trip! Leaving in 2 weeks. Paris, Loire Valley Chateaux, Alsace, Reims/Epernay/Champagne, and finally some time visiting family in Amsterdam before returning home.

I've actually learned an amazing amount of French in the past few weeks, so I'm looking forward to using a little of it. Apparently the natives appreciate at least a little use of their language, so I will certainly try!
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Old 05-06-2015, 01:59 PM   #1988
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I've actually learned an amazing amount of French in the past few weeks, so I'm looking forward to using a little of it. Apparently the natives appreciate at least a little use of their language.

Yes, they do. They had a pretty good laugh at my expense when I tried, but were very polite and kind.
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Old 05-06-2015, 02:06 PM   #1989
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Yes, they do. They had a pretty good laugh at my expense when I tried, but were very polite and kind.
At least I know how to apologize for my pronunciation (in French)!

Both of us found this free podcast series extremely helpful: Learn French With Alexa
You can go on iTunes or wherever and download the free podcasts. The first 15 lessons cover very useful stuff and they are extremely well put together. Good for listening to while out walking!
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Old 05-06-2015, 02:08 PM   #1990
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Old 05-06-2015, 05:33 PM   #1991
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I just purchased airfare for August to Copenhagen--where we'll be picking up a cruise to Estonia/St. Petersburg/Helsinki/Stockholm and back to Copenhagen. Then we fly to Oslo where we'll take a train over to the fjords--and take a boat ride over to Bergen, Norway. Many world cruisers say it's their favorite cruise of all time.

We just got back from Vegas/Hawaii/San Francisco for the month of February. We took a cruise to Aruba, Curacao and Turks/Caicos in October. Last April, we were in Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Prague.

Does anyone know if there's a Twelve Step Program for chronic travelers? I'm an admitted travelholic.

My saving grace is in finding airfares, rooms and cruises at completely bottom line prices. I wouldn't have visited 12 countries in just over a year had I not got bargains.

My wife has a very bad back and arthritis, and she's not expecting to be able to travel internationally in another 5 years. We're getting it while the getting's good.
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Old 05-08-2015, 06:39 AM   #1992
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A boring slideshow of the trip from which we just returned:

http://1drv.ms/1zQQ55f

Just click the first pic to start.
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Old 05-08-2015, 08:36 AM   #1993
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A boring slideshow of the trip from which we just returned:

http://1drv.ms/1zQQ55f

Just click the first pic to start.
Haha. That's purrty boring slideshow.
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Old 05-08-2015, 08:59 AM   #1994
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Great photos, nemo! I especially liked the peacocks! It must have been so beautiful there! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-08-2015, 09:19 AM   #1995
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Nemo - what awesome pics. I love the character on the wall in Gibraltor. Also got excited by the Barcelona pics since we'll be there in August. Your apartment's view looks similar to the place we're renting - tiny balcony above a narrow pedestrian street.
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Old 05-08-2015, 09:37 AM   #1996
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Old 05-08-2015, 10:26 AM   #1997
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Ahhh, the Selfi Generation....quoted by many as "devoid of brain matter"!
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Old 05-08-2015, 02:12 PM   #1998
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What is wrong with these people!!?
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:28 PM   #1999
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does flying down to Houston count as exciting travel?


ugh
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:29 PM   #2000
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does flying down to Houston count as exciting travel?


ugh
Depends on where you land.
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