Three whole months to travel, see sights you’d never have time to see on a shorter trip, meet people, have leisurely lunches in cozy pubs – sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Well, it was in many ways, but the question I was tossing around in my head as we brought this adventure to a close was: Would I do this again?
In a heartbeat.
There are some things I would do differently, however.
- I would not stay away from home quite so long. Technically, this was an eleven-week trip. I want to say I’d rather not be away from home for more than eight weeks, but then I start to ponder which cities and sights I would remove from the itinerary. I can’t eliminate anything we’ve seen. And I certainly wouldn’t want to have seen it any faster; if anything, I wanted longer in some places. Which leads me to the next thing….
- I would stay at each accommodation at least a week. This, in conjunction with #1, would mean I would have to find a way to see less, but I think I would be sacrificing quantity for quality, and I’m okay with that. Even in the eleven weeks we were in Great Britain, we weren’t able to accomplish everything on my itinerary, and I expected that. We’d start out the day with a full and prioritized list, and drive until we’d had enough. The items at the bottom of the list that we didn’t get to were dismissed and forgotten – no regrets. I count myself fortunate to have seen all that I did see; it was plenty.
- All our accommodations would be self-catered flats or cottages. (Self-catered is a term used in the UK to indicate that, unlike a Bed & Breakfast, you will provide all your own meals; kitchen facilities are included toward that end.) No matter how much I love to eat in restaurants, it gets old after awhile. It’s not very healthy in the long term, and is quite expensive in the UK, even in pubs. Some days, on a “day off” or rainy day, I didn’t want to go out. And breakfast was so much easier when I could eat it on my own schedule. But aside from the food aspect, we loved having the space (such as it was) and privacy that a flat or cottage affords. We could spread out and relax.
- I would not travel so far north of the equator after October. I don’t mind the cooler days, but we found that many of the sights closed for the winter before we got to them. The gardens close at the end of September, and other sights closed at the end of October. We missed all of the gardens and castles in Kent (known as the garden of England) by saving it for last (November). Also, it’s harder to squeeze as much into a day after daylight savings time is over; it gets dark early that far north!
- I would have taken a pair of boots, even if it meant taking another suitcase. I love boots, and I rarely get to wear them in Florida. Everyone was wearing them in England. I was so envious!
That’s it for lessons learned. Not bad, considering we had never done this before. It was a fantastic experience, and I’m already thinking about the next one! ¿Habla español?