Beyond frustrated or why I hate Costco

Frustration.jpgOn Thursday a very nice young lady called the agency and said she had driven by and seen our sign and could someone help her with some questions she had about taking a cruise. Actually, the cruise wasn’t for her, it was for her 70+ year old Mom and Dad and two of their friends who would be visiting her this summer from Japan. They wanted to take a cruise-tour to Alaska and since she (nor they) had ever cruised, she wanted to come in and discuss it. I told her “we are here to help.

About two hours later she came in and we had a very nice talk. I found out a bunch of stuff about what her parents and their friends were looking for in the way of a cruise. I told her that I thought I had all the info I needed and that I would have some options for her before this weekend was over.

This morning she e-mailed me some additional comments and we went back and forth with questions and answers until she used that horrid word that I have learned to hate…Costco.

I have a huge love-hate relationship with Costco. I have been a member forever. We probably spend thousands of dollars there every year. We get all our gas there, we get most of our grocery staples, most of our meat, all our paper goods and a bunch of other stuff from them. Heck, my son has worked at Costco for almost 20 years. But when someone mentions them when talking about travel, it drives be nuts. Especially someone like this young woman.

Her question was typical, “I see that if I buy the cruise from Costco, they will give me a Costco gift card for $350. Can you match that with a discount?” The answer is no, we can’t. And we shouldn’t. Costco uses travel as a loss leader and another way to serve their membership. It’s the way Costco pretty much does everything. The prices are lower to us because they make much of their money selling memberships and they make a bunch more selling prime space in their stores to companies. You know that big line of products on the left when you go into a Costco? The companies that make those products pay Costco to be there. As well they should. It’s prime real estate and the fact that their product is there and not on a shelf in the back means they will sell a BUNCH of extra product.

But Costco should not be in the travel business. Not because they compete unfairly (which they do) but because the people you are dealing with when you buy travel from them don’t have a clue about what they are selling.

If you think about it, Costco people seldom have a clue about what they are selling  product-wise. My son is in the “Majors” department. That’s the one that sells TVs, computers, etc. He knows that stuff. He ought to after almost 20 years. But if you go into his department when he isn’t there, you might end up talking to a new employee that started last week about exactly which TV or computer you are going to buy. Now this if just fine if you know exactly what computer you want. If you know how much RAM, whether you want a traditional hard drive or an SSD or one of many decisions you need to make to buy a computer. If you are ready to make the purchase and have done all your research and you feel like you are an expert—buy it. But if you have no clue about computers, and if you are a smart buyer, you either wait until my son is there (LOL) or you go someplace that knows about computers.

This is even more true when it comes to cruises. If Costco wants to sell car rentals and flights and hotels, that’s fine. Those things really don’t have many variables, while cruises do. If you are going to rent a car, you rent a car. You know what a Ford or a Honda are. If you want to book a hotel and you see a Hyatt on an online website, then you pretty much know what you are getting (although a good travel agent would know about good restaurants and sights near a hotel that was just as nice.)

When you buy a cruise from Costco you are buying it either online or from someone on the phone. If online then you better know exactly what you want stateroom-wise, exactly which ports you want to go to, exactly what perks you are getting, which dining plan you want, etc. Cruises have hundred of variables. But if you don’t, you are in trouble. And this nice young lady who came in to buy her parents a cruise said exactly that, “I don’t know anything about cruises.” If she decides to buy one from Costco online, she will be in trouble.

Let’s say she decides to make a phone call and talk to someone instead of buying her travel online? Will she talk to someone who knows all about cruising? Probably not. In fact my guess is that she will probably talk to someone who has NEVER been on a cruise. Not one. Sure, they may have read some brochures or studied the websites of the cruise lines they sell but have they sailed 20+ times? No. They work in a big phone room (you can’t go to your local Costco and book a cruise—you can only do it online or on the phone), where the next person who calls gets the next employee who is free to answer.

Of course this means when you call back because you need to make a change or something is a problem, forget trying to deal with the first person you talked to (“Can’t I talk to Joe, I really liked him so much when I called last time.”), that person may not even work there any longer. If the turnover at the Costco travel phone room is anything like the turnover at your local Costco, who knows who you will be talking to and what their level of expertise is. And imagine that this nice ladies parents (who, according to what she told me, speak Japanese predominantly) have a problem in boarding or anywhere along their way and they try to call Costco for help. They will get connected to the next person who answers the phone. Then they will get to explain their problem all over again. If they book with us and there is a problem, they will call me. I will know their circumstances and I will deal with the situation. And if I am not here, Mark

I have written before about my friend Seth Wayne. Next to Rick Steves he is probably Seattle’s number one travel expert. When it comes to cruising he even knows more than Rick. Before Kathleen and I got into the travel business he pretty much did not use a travel agent. He and I had discussions about this and his feeling was that he knew more than 95% of the travel agents he had met. As his friend and someone who he discusses travel with a lot, I agree with him. But that isn’t true of all travel agents and he knows that. That’s why when he found a travel agent who knew as much as he did, he started trusting him with his travel instead of booking it all online. (That would be me.)

You see Seth could book online if he wanted to because he is an expert. He knows if he is going to book a cruise, exactly what he will get from a particular cruise line (after 65+ cruises he should) and he knows exactly what to ask for if he buys it online. I have a lot of friends like Seth because we travel and cruise so much. They know what they want, they could book their travel themselves. But they don’t anymore—I do. Because they know that besides knowing as much as they know about travel, I have the time to look at all kinds of options and catch things they might miss. Not because they don’t know those things but because they are so busy they would have missed them. Sometimes they catch things I miss and they call me and I get them what they caught.

This nice young lady who called me actually told me, “I don’t know anything about cruising.” Should she book online or with Costco? You tell me. Will her parents have a great cruise if she books online or with Costco? Maybe. Will it be as good a cruise as it would have been if I booked with my expertise and the combined expertise of my fellow agents in our office? Probably not. If they have a problem, will they have someone they have met face-to-face to stand up for them, to fix things, to make things right—NO!

When I started this rant, I thought this will help with my frustration but it hasn’t. I have e-mailed the young lady and told her we needed to talk before I did any options for her parents. I had to do this because after being burned recently by a prospective client who had me do hours of research to find just the right cruise for her husband and his father, they went off and bought it at Costco. That is crushing. And I have resolved to never do that again. So as soon as someone mentions the C word, I stop working altogether until I can have a discussion with them. That’s where I am now. I have tried to reach her to no avail and have left her messages and e-mails but have not heard back.

Too many people today know the price of everything and the value of nothing. —Ann Landers

You aren’t bothering me…really

IMG_4119Over the last few days I have been working with two different clients on two different trips. One has me looking for a Caribbean cruise, first for next Christmas and then when that proved way too expensive and hard to find, one in February of 2020. The other was looking for a short cruise to Cuba.

I did most of the planning by going back and forth with e-mails. They would ask questions, inquire about alternate cruises, ask about travel insurance, different types of staterooms and other types of questions. I would send replies with new options for them. In all, I would guess that I exchanged at least 10 long e-mails with each of these wonderful folks.

But the one thing that both of them had in common was that they started every e-mail by apologizing for asking for so many options, for so many changes. On almost every e-mail reply the first line was, “Sorry to be bothering you with this,” or “I hate to ask you about a different option.” I just want to make one thing clear…you aren’t bothering me.

I have had this happen before with close friends. One of my best traveling buddies asks me about airfare and always starts by saying, “only when you have time.” Another very close friend spends a lot of his time looking at travel arrangements to have me book them. When I ask why he did all the research he said, “I didn’t want to bother you.”

If I was bothered by people asking me to find out about different types of travel, I wouldn’t be doing this as my “funtirement” job if I didn’t love looking for travel. I am at a point in my life where I don’t really have to do this job. And I really do love it…most of the time.

Sometimes because I look so hard for different options, I find something truly important. As an example, in looking for the Cuba cruise for these clients I discovered that if they went to Cuba after March 18, the overnight cruises were much shorter than after. The March 18 cruise (and those before that one) have an overnight in Havana. They arrive at 8:00 am on day 1 and then don’t leave until 3:00 pm on day 2. After the March 18 cruise, they arrive at the same time but leave Havana at 6:00 am on day 2 so even though they get a full day and an evening on the island, they don’t get a second day.

We also looked at another cruise that did an entire day in Havana and then sailed away at 5:00 pm and then did an entire day on the south side of the island in Cienfuegos from 8:00 to 5:00. But I also read a lot of reviews by other travelers that had been there that one of the things they loved the most was the evening time in Havana and this cruise didn’t give them that. And I found other options. They ended up getting the exact cruise they wanted along with all the visas and travel insurance they need.

I loved finding that kind of stuff. Digging to find the best thing for the clients. See the smile on my face. You aren’t bothering me…really

I like bothering people and stirring things up. –Tim Daly

It’s all about the fun

adobestock_172983654The last few days in our office I realized why I am enjoying the travel business so much more this year than last year. This year it’s more fun. We have been doing this for a year and people know where we are and are coming in regularly. Comparing the last couple of days to the same time period last year reminded me that last year was all about training and learning and just getting started. Most days last year I felt I was in over my head. This year has been all about meeting new people and arranging their travel…and having fun!

Today for instance I got to meet another member of a bunch of wonderful women who range in age from 66 to 89 (I can mention their ages because I would NEVER mention their names)  who came in late last week to book a cruise for next October. I have now met five of them and loved every minute of helping them plan their cruise and the air arrangements to get there. Between their three visits to the office so far, I have made five new friends.

Then yesterday, another client (who is becoming a friend) called to ask if she could bring in her new Mac and have me help her find some info on Cruise Critic. Had a great time doing that. In the meantime, I booked cruises for the ladies, talked with the Royal Caribbean Business Development Manager (who is a GREAT guy) who came in to see our fearless leader. Found out some facts I needed to know for still another client about things for them to do that are…you guessed it—fun!

Then I finished up today by meeting two other client friends at Starbucks to talk about their South America cruise that they just returned from. They shared some great recommendations for any other traveler that comes in who is going in that direction.

And lastly, earlier this morning, when I was talking to our fearless leader we were discussing why we do this job. I told him that I know there are many reasons our travel consultants do this job but for me, it’s because every day…it’s fun. I have spent the last 37 years working in the publishing industry where the most common contact I had with customers/clients was when they had problems. When they were facing deadlines. It’s altogether different in travel. In travel, people are calling us because they want to go on vacation. They want to have fun. It’s one of the best jobs I have ever had…helping people have fun.

Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun. –Nina Dobrev

Dealing with schedule changes

AdobeStock_84068264.jpgOne of the things that I have always had a huge problem with is schedule changes. Today I had an appointment with four wonderful women who want to take a cruise to Mexico next fall. Was really looking forward to meeting with them. But yesterday the leader of the ladies (so to speak) called to say she couldn’t meet due to a personal appointment she had forgotten. She asked if we could move the meeting to tomorrow (Tuesday) at the same time.

Only problem is that Tuesday is my regular work day. By that I mean that on Tuesdays, I work on my real job. Of course I work on my “real job” other times during the week, but I set aside Tuesdays for big project work. This week (the last week of the month) is when I schedule creating my monthly newsletter, my biggest product. Now I know that it would seem it would be an easy thing to just do that on Monday instead of Tuesday. But as I told my wonderful bride this morning, it’s tough to just turn creativity on and off. Plus, I had information and graphics I was waiting for from other sources. But still, I had to make it work and I did. But it was a pain.

All of this will be moot tomorrow if these really cool women come in and put a deposit down on their cruise. I just have to get used to rolling with the punches.

I don’t think that scheduling is uncreative. I think that structure is required for creativity.—Twyla Tharp

A typical day for a great team

2018060509454467-ios-upload-file-49085540What’s a typical day for a Expedia Cruise Ship Center Travel Consultant like? Isn’t that something you have always wanted to know? Today was a typical day. Did a bunch of paperwork at home this morning and then we went into the agency. Our agency is about a 20 minute drive from the house and the best part is that it’s opposite the flow of traffic so we get there with a minimum of effort.

No sooner had we arrived at the agency and got settled than my first appointment of the day walked through the door. The couple I had booked the Mediterranean cruise for (that I wrote about yesterday—the strange non-balcony) were coming in to go over travel insurance (a topic for another day), their airline seating, shore excursions, pre-cruise hotel and all the other parts of the (as we call it in the travel biz) “the complete vacation.”

The “complete vacation” starts when you leave your house and head to the airport and it ends when you walk back in your front door after your trip. I like to run an Excel file that lists every possible thing that could cost them money (other than souvenirs and lunch) during their vacation. This is also a great way to remember all the places you are going and things you are doing. And I really appreciate clients like these who are looking for that “complete vacation.” I promise much more on this topic in a coming post.

After our discussion with this wonderful couple (we spent about half the time just talking about all the amazing ports they will get to see on their 22-night cruise) they were off and I started on my to-do list for them getting all those things done that they now don’t have to deal with themselves. I still have a few more things I have to do to complete the list and it seems to keep growing all the time. About halfway through the list, a friend of a good friend gave me a call to see if he could arrange a birthday cruise for his wife and eight or nine friends. So I quickly got him some numbers and dates so he could start organizing the celebration.

 

While I was dealing with the to-do lists for our Med travelers and checking on the birthday celebration, Kathleen was doing all the paperwork for the Med travelers and checking up on some others we needed to update. There is quite a lot of paperwork involved in our business (with Expedia) and most agents have to do their paperwork themselves but Kathleen and I have a wonderful set up where I deal with the clients and do most of the research while she takes care of the invoicing, receipts, etc. It’s a perfect situation as we both get to work to our strengths and makes us a truly great team. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do this job without her.

Why we cruise?

img_0834Why do you cruise? This is something that always comes up. When we are with friends who do not cruise (like our next door neighbor who we love anyway) and we tell them that we cruise, we get a look. A look that is almost like we have told them we are swingers. Well, not that bad but close. And I know that I have a lot of non-cruiser friends out in the Twitterverse and in Facebookland so I want to address that today by telling you why we cruise. (WARNING: I may get verbose here.)

We haven’t always cruised. When we got together back in 1997 we did road trips (Yellowstone, Oregon Coast, etc.) and then we did our first big overseas trip to Italy in 2002 followed by the British Isles and Paris the next year…all on land and air. In the meantime, we tried cruising by going to Alaska on Holland America and a HORRIBLE Carnival cruise to Mexico. But what really got us into cruising was that while we were planning our European trips the value of the dollar changed dramatically. A hotel we had booked in Venice for $175 a night became $225 a night between the time we booked it and nine months later when we stayed there. The price of the room in euros hadn’t changed but the exchange rate between euros and dollars certainly had.

So we said, let’s try cruising again. Once you pay the price, you know the price and it stays that way. Our travel agent at the time, the amazing Norma Jean had told us we would HATE Carnival and not to go. She was right. It didn’t fit us. It was great for some but not for us. This time (three years later) she suggested Celebrity. So we booked the Panama Canal in 2004 and sailed. And we LOVED it! We met new friends—some we are still friends with today and had both an amazing time visiting four countries and seeing the canal as well as sea days with more stress-relieving relaxation than I ever knew I needed.

So that’s how we got started. Here’s why we still cruise and have done more than 25 since then and have four others already booked.

You only have to unpack once

This is the first reason that most people who cruise think of when they are asked why they cruise. When we did Italy we each carried 22 inch suitcases and we stayed in five different hotels. We lived out of those suitcases, then we packed them up and moved them on to the next place by air or by train. To be honest, it’s a pain. We did the same thing this last fall in our pre-cruise trip through Canada, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. Five different cities, packing and unpacking. Then we got on the ship, unpacked into the closet and dresser and we were good to go! HEAVEN!

Your hotel moves every night

If you choose your cruise line well, then every night after you tour a city or an island you come back to a hotel that you love. You have dinner at that hotel, you sleep in the bed you slept in the night before and while you are asleep, the hotel moves to another city or island or town that you can explore the next day. And then you do it all over again. And if you get too tired touring the places on shore, you can stay on board, or there might be a sea day so you can relax. You can go to the spa, take a cooking class or just read a book knowing that the next time you wake up, you will be someplace new.

Cost is set

As I mentioned above, once you buy a cruise, you know what your vacation will cost. A bunch of cruisers just thought, “Not my cruise, I added a bunch of stuff.” And that is true. The cost of a cruise can go up after you sail…if you buy services or things that cost extra while you are onboard. But it is YOUR choice. You don’t have to have that manicure in the spa. You don’t have to go to the speciality restaurant, you don’t have spend an additional cent. A good travel agent should be able to tell you to within a $10 how much you will spend to take a cruise including the price, the gratuities, any tours you want to take or anything else you would like to do. If you go over that, it’s your choice.

Everything is included

So on those land-based vacations we took, we could budget for a certain amount for food. But then we would get to the restaurant and see something on the menu that was more than we had budgeted and since we would probably never get back to this place again, we spent the extra to get it. On a ship, everything you need to survive is included. And on some ships, everything you want to survive is included (think alcohol here).

Planning is easier

This is my favorite. As a travel professional I have done complete land-based trips for clients that you could not fit a single day of the plan on a sheet of paper. There were so many variables. Train tickets, hotel reservations, restaurant reservations, tours, shopping time, etc. When I plan a cruise, I book the cruise, check the ports, book a tour in each one and I am all set. I know where I am going and how I am going to get there. Yes, I could do all that and keep track of it all while I was traveling on land but it’s just too much hassle. I will take a cruise any day.

Easier to disconnect if you want to but also easier to connect if you have to

You have such a better choice with cruising when you want to be able to disconnect from work, your home or the world in general. If you don’t want to hear from anyone, you turn your phone to airplane (cruise ship?) mode and you are all set. The same can be said if you need to stay connected. It’s easier to stay in touch on a ship. There’s WiFi where you need it, you don’t have to search a city for a Starbucks.

It’s a super value

Cruising can be an awesome value. I just had a client come in looking for a longer (more than 20 night) cruise with a base fare of $100 per person, per night. I wasn’t sure I could get him anything that low but lo and behold, I found him a 35 night South American adventure up the Amazon for $97 per night per person. Try going from Buenos Aires to Fort Lauderdale with 25 stops in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Aruba and five other stops in the Caribbean by air, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants for that price. Good luck!

Cruise ships come in all shapes and sizes

So you might want to cruise but you don’t think you want to be on Behemoth of the Seas. We get that. There are cruises on ships that have under 100 passengers and cruises on ships with more than 5,000. There are cruises where the ship itself is the destination. There are cruises where the destination is everything. There are cruises where you could be busy every second and ones where you can do nothing but relax for 22 hours a day (you have to eat sometime).

Friends

I saved this one for last because while it is not the reason we started cruising, it is the reason we still cruise. We have made about 90% of the close friends we have in our lives while on or planning a cruise. My two best friends in the world are both Bobs and I met them both on cruises. We have sailed with both Bobs numerous times and we have cruises planned with them in the future. Because of cruising we have friends in England (hi Paul and Gail), Italy (hi Marcello), New Zealand (hi Charlotte, Warwick and Daniel) and Toronto (hi Tim and Perry) and lots of other places. We have been to see some of these folks, we have toured with others, we share memories on Facebook with others.

Both Kathleen and I worked in jobs where there weren’t a lot of people nearby (in my case, my nearest coworker lives more than 65 miles away) or in our age range (most of Kathleen’s coworkers were 20-30 years younger than her) so we have made almost all our friend cruising.

Plus, cruising is a great way to get together with friends without anyone having to host or cook or clean. Many times we have considered renting a cabin or a condo with a bunch of people but then who has to do that stuff. Sure you can share expenses but what about dietary wants and needs. Or handicapped access for someone in your group. If you all go on a cruise together, everything is taken care of for you. It’s been a while (other than a working cruise to Alaska last year) when we have not sailed with at least 10 people that we have sailed with previously. We are part of two groups of cruisers (The Martini Mates and The Silhouetters) who cruise with each other all the time. It’s awesome. We stay in touch on a daily basis on Cruise Critic (more about that in another post), Twitter, Facebook, texting and e-mail. That’s how we plan all those cruises.

So that’s why we cruise. We don’t believe it’s for everyone, but we do think everyone should try it. When we did that Panama Canal cruise in 2004, Kathleen was worried that this Type-A personality guy would go nuts on the six sea days (frankly, so was I) but I now LOVE sea days. And when people ask me my favorite cruise destination, I always have the same answer (always will)—the ship.

Loss

I fully realize this is supposed to be a travel posting. That I should be writing about travel. But to be honest, life got in the way. There was a great post on why you should use a travel agent I was going to write or a note about why we like to cruise. I had some time, so it would have been a good one.

But about 10:30 this morning Kathleen came down to my office where I was working on some travel stuff and she was crying. She said she had some bad news. She had read on Facebook that one of my oldest friends had passed away on Wednesday. His name was Bob. Now I have had three close male friends in my entire life and for some reason they are all named Bob. Seriously. This Bob used to live here. He worked with the yearbook company that I still work with. I have known him since 1982 when I joined the company. Since our other two Bobs have come into our life, we always refer to this Bob as “Original Bob,” because he was the first Bob in my life.

couture1
That’s “Original Bob” in the middle between me and Phil (who worked with us for a while). We were at Teatro Zinzanni in I want to guess 2003 or 2004.

When Bob and I first met I had a sales territory in Eugene, Oregon and Bob had a sales territory here in Redmond (where we now live) that encompassed most of the Seattle  area. We would see each other twice a year at business meetings where, because my last name started with B and his with C, we almost always wound up rooming with each other. He became my favorite person I worked with because he was so worthy of being a friend. He was the FUNNIEST person I have ever met. His wit was so quick it outpaced mine by a mile. He was smart-funny. He was so many things I wished at the time that I was. Confident. Good looking. Well dressed (wow he was well dressed), a great husband and father and so much more.

After I had spent nine years in Eugene and decided to take a territory here in Washington I found myself living in Leavenworth with most of my territory being north of Seattle. That meant to get to any of my schools, I would need to drive 125 miles each way over a mountain pass. And since I had about 30 schools over here, I would have make that commute 8-10 days every month. Bob and his incredible wife Cindy and their two boys Chris and Drew quickly offered me their guest room (actually their couch) and for the next six or seven years I spent 6-8 nights a month at their place. Those nights were amazing. Spending time with the Coutures was always fun and Bob would teach me things about yearbooks and selling yearbooks that no one else ever had. He was a true mentor. During that time, they would come and see us in Leavenworth as well but business-wise Bob and I talked about five times a week even after I stopped that commute.

A few years later, Bob became my boss. He took the position as regional manager for the Northwest and did absolutely terrible at it. Not because he wasn’t a great manager of people (because he was) but because he HATED the politics of it. He didn’t last long doing the job (I want to say less than a year) and when he went out (after 20+years with the company) he did it the right way. He took all his good company friends out (using the company credit card) while we were in San Diego for a meeting and we had the party of a lifetime. And then the next day, in front of an open meeting of the entire region, he just quit. And really lambasted the entire culture of the company (which needed it when he did). It was awesome. Pure Bob.

I need to mention that before he left that job he and Cindy helped me get through my divorce. Bob was there to talk whenever I needed to talk. He was my friend and he proved it during that time. They were the first of my friends that Kathleen ever met. They loved her from the get-go and that really confirmed how I felt. I remember us going out to brunch with them the first time I came over to see her. It was the first of many outings we would take together. Most memorable were a particular night at Desert Fire here in Redmond, seeing Teatro Zinzanni for the first time and the aforementioned dinner in San Diego. Bob and Cindy were one of only six people from the company at our wedding. And sadly, we lost another of the six less than two months ago.

After he left the yearbook company, Bob joined and ran a financial news magazine about the mortgage industry for a few years. As I mentioned, he was a GREAT manager and he did great at this as well. He eventually decided to take the magazine digital and asked me to be the one to do that with him. I was both honored and thrilled to be working alongside him again. We would probably still be doing this but corporate politics did him in again. He just didn’t want to be bothered with the crap and I don’t blame him one bit.

Soon after he and Cindy moved to Arizona, where he went back to his original job (my original job too) of teaching school. He taught drama and…what else…yearbook. From that point on though, other than them coming up here or us going down there (which happened about every other year), it was Christmas cards and tweets and Facebook posts. But I always knew I had a friend if I needed one.

While I know that I haven’t seen Bob since last Christmas (2017), we had plans to see him and Cindy this March at their place. And it’s just not fair that I won’t get to see him again. Getting old sucks. Not from the aches and pains and the memory loss but from the friends you love that you lose. I will miss you Bob.

 

 

Verbose

So yesterday my number one reader sent me an e-mail and said I was being verbose. Of course I have heard the word used to describe me many times.

If you were like me and didn’t know the exact meaning, here you go.

ver·bose
/vərˈbōs/
adjective
  1. using or expressed in more words than are needed.

He is right. I can be verbose. Yesterday I was. I should have just written about the 15 best small cities, why we liked the ones we have visited and asking which ones you have visited and why you liked them. Instead I kept going back and adding stuff and writing asides. Sorry about that.

I tend to write the way I talk. It’s conversational. And those of you know who me, know I talk a lot.😀  And what makes things worse is that  I type about 100 words per minute. When I get going—I get going. Ask Kathleen. She always looks over and asks, “What are you typing about now?”

So I will do my best to be a better editor. I promise. Less is always more. See you tomorrow. Have a super day!

Where are you going in 2019?

Happy New Year!

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 8.31.16 AM
Saw this online this morning and loved it. We don’t do it often and I think we should. always seem to know where we are going because I love to plan vacations.

I have had this post in my head all day long and finally have time to get it up and online. It’s kind of a combo post. A chance to share where we are going this year and a chance to ask you where you are going.

Last night we had dinner next door with our wonderful neighbors Jayesh and Lisa as well as Lisa’s sister Leanne and her husband Derrick. Most of the night was spent talking about travel. One of the things that came up was all the places we would all be going in the coming year and I told our friends that it just drives me CRAZY when I don’t have something planned. Either a cruise or a road trip or a visit to someplace we haven’t been.  There was a point a few years ago where we didn’t have any trips planned anywhere and it drove me nuts until we got something reserved.

Last year we did not sleep in our bed (because we were traveling) for a total of 70 nights. That’s more than two months. We are pretty sure that this is the most we have ever been gone in a calendar year. We did three cruises, one preceded by a very long road trip as well as going on a number of short trips within the western US not to mention numerous 100+ mile road trips to see the grandkids in Wenatchee.

This coming year we already have 40+ nights that we know we are going to be on the road. Between those short trips to the kids in Wenatchee, a March trip to Arizona, our big European trip in May and June and our Alaskan cruise with the grandkids in July we will be getting close to that two month number again. I know we will add something in the fall or we just wouldn’t be us.

We try to take one BIG trip each year and a lot of smaller ones. Last year we were in Southern California three times (January, March and November). Those were our small trips. Our New England trip was the big one that found us out of the house for almost a month. And we also had two other short cruises, a FAM to Alaska with HAL and Seth’s birthday cruise  around Puget Sound.

This coming year the big trip is May/June Europe trip. We will spend four nights in Edinburgh, six nights with our Mates Paul and Gail in Leeds, UK, then three nights in Dublin followed by a 10 night cruise from Dublin to Iceland and back. We will be gone almost a month on that one.

So that’s our plans right now. What are yours? Where are you going this year? Some of my readers (who comment a lot) are coming with us on some of this but we would love to know where else you already have plans to visit in 2019. So let us know in the comments below or on our FB page or by e-mail or Twitter. We would love to hear from you.

Traveling Friends

Just a quick post on New Year’s Eve (or New Year’s Day depending on where you are). Which brings me to the subject of this post. Kathleen pointed out on Twitter this morning that we must be travelers because so many of our friends that are travelers. As I write this we have a bunch of our closest friends (who we met while traveling) who are celebrating the New Year in Ushuaia, Argentina (Hi Tim and Perry), Sydney, Australia (Hi Seth and Jason) and Agra, India (Hi Bob and Holly). We are here at home…having dinner with our next door neighbors who are also world travelers and will be off to Italy for the umpteenth time in just a few months.

If you travel, I guess your friends are travelers too. I like that. Our best wishes for a wonderful 2019 to all our traveling friends even if you are home and safe tonight. And for those of you who don’t travel—you should!

“To Travel is to Live” – Hans Christian Andersen