As a way over 50 traveler, I find some of my travel destinations simply feel better than others.   Chicago has always felt like I belong. However, when in New Orleans, I can’t seem to get in the right step. I had a friend who visited Seattle for the first time and fell in love with the city. She returned home, put a For Sale sign in her yard, packed her bags and moved. This is radical, but we often feel a connection or disconnection with a new place. The question is…why?

My thought is that the location matches our travel goals.

  • Fun: Is the location a fun place to visit?  Define that “fun” based on how you have fun.  I find people’s interests run the gambit from museums to sports to nightlife to…name it. As many people produce as many targeted fun. When I was working with David Ingham and Ian Hardy on Walk London, David wanted us to write about every museum in London. Trust me, there are lots of museums in London. Finally, I told David…enough on the museums! He loves them, but not everyone is crazy about museums.
  • Weather: Does the weather suit you?  I love Seattle, but the weather drains my energy. I know sunshine makes me happy so I search for warm, sunny places. Different times of year make places fun or miserable. When we did the Weekend Escape on Helsinki, Finland, we filmed in October. Helsinki should be a destination during the summer, not winter! We were not prepared for the cold and rain. Planning your trip to match the weather defines a smart traveler!
  • Transportation: my favorite cities have accessible and easy transportation.  When we began The Suzy Guides, guidebooks to the greatest cities on earth, one of our criteria was that the city had to have extensive public transportation.  Personally, Paris has the best Metro system in the world. It is easy to use, inexpensive and most of the time, clean.  The worst subway system is NYC. It is difficult to decipher and traveling east and west is a real issue.
  • Tours: when our time is limited, tours are often the answer. This might be a bus tour, a walking tour, a guided tour or even a private tour led by a local tour guide. Some of the best guidebooks offer One, Two and Three Day self guided tours. Tours can be restrictive. You go where led. When I visit a new city, I always try to balance tours and exploration. Even the locals will succumb to a tour. When we were working on Walk London, David and Ian (both Brits) along with me signed up for the tour of Hampton Court. We were able to see things that would have taken weeks to find on our on.
  • Special Events: Many times we plan our vacation and travel time around a special event, such as the London 2012 Olympics or Carnival in Venice or Fourth of July in NYC or Uncle Barry’s birthday.  Because I write guidebooks, much of my travel is in preparation for or attendance at a special event.  I have a story about one such event….

Venice Carnival

My friend and I immersed ourselves in Venice’s Carnival. The costumes were breathtaking, the atmosphere was riotous, the crowds were claustrophobic.   Venice, a city built in a river, doesn’t have a straight street in the entire place. Street signs are on the sides of buildings and I’m sure they mean something to a person living there. To us, they were worthless.  The day we were to train to Milan, we had lingered too long at the glass shop. Time was quickly running out to catch the train to Milan and the plane back to Paris.

Our loaded backpacks prevented sprinting; but, the serious problem was…getting lost! We circled the streets like rats in a maze.  Panic set in.  Then, yelling at each other ensued.  When I saw a young man not too far ahead of us, I tapped him on the shoulder (hoping he could speak English) and asked if he could direct us to the train station.  He began giving directions only to realize that we were hopelessly incapable of zigging and zagging.  He said: “follow me.”  With that he began a fast pace, in and out, along the narrow streets of Venice.  Suddenly, the train station loomed ahead. We had arrived.

We thanked him profusely. He nodded that he was happy to help. Off he went and we jumped on the train as it pulled out of the station.

Nice people. Helpful. Not expecting anything in return.  This was just one of my “ah, yes” travel moments.  The moment when you say… yea people!

What are your ah yes or oh no moments?  Please. Share your travel Up’s and Down’s with Fab Placez.

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