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EuropeUpClose Travel Confessions

Everyone has a quirky thing or two about how they like to travel and what they like to see and has a travel confession to make. Some travelers gravitate to sites in which they have particular interest while avoiding destinations or sites that bore them or they just plain hate. And many travelers, if pressed, would admit to a little embarrassment regarding their own travel proclivities. We have asked a few of our writers to let you in on their personal travel confession.

Travel Confessions

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard
I really dislike tour groups. I can see why they appeal to some people, but they just aren’t my cup of tea. Sure, I’ve been known to go on a guided tour of a historic site (I learned a lot on my guided tour of Ephesus, Turkey, for example), but having to follow the travel plan laid out by a tour guide day in and day out is not the way I prefer to travel – I need to have more flexibility, and more opportunities to experience the highs and lows that come with discovering a country oneself.

As long as we’re confessing things, my husband and I once feigned illness to get out of 3-day guided tour, and ended spending some of the best days of our lives together stumbling around London, discovering both the good and bad elements of this phenomenal city—not just the parts the tour guide wanted to (or was paid to) show us.

Irene Butler

Irene Butler

Irene Butler
How has it come to this? I have some regrets; the samo-samo has greatly diluted my fashionista propensity, not to mention my garments after a zillion washings are crinklier than Grandma Moses’ brow. Yes, my husband Rick has won out – no matter if we are traveling for five plus months through a half dozen countries, we have succumbed to winging-our-way to distant lands with ONLY carry-on luggage.

On the plus side, it is great to sail through customs without having to wait for checked-luggage. Now most airlines allow a carry-on of 10 kg, plus one other bag (such as a computer case or a hand bag). While enjoying each country purchases are bound by the “one in – one out” rule – i.e.: any new item added must be balanced with the discarding of another to keep within the 10 kg weight allowance. Flying between several countries went smoothly…until a section of our trip was to fly with New Zealand Air. Not until we were at the airport an hour before flight-time did we learn their recent incorporation of a 6 kg-allowance for carry-on luggage! We reeled in surprise…shock even. Okay- what to do?

Considering our carry-on case weighed 1 kg by itself, we had to rid ourselves of approximately 3kg of stuff each. Confession time – I packed on as many pieces of clothing as possible and Rick followed suit. Like a rapper, I wore all my jewelry. Our guidebooks were tucked down the back of our pants. We had a difficult time keeping a straight face when our bags came in under regulation weight. “Let’s work re-configuring our carry-ons,” Rick challenges, “as no doubt more airlines will be taking a stricter stand on the weight.” Envisioning the scant items left in my carry-on, the jury (me) is still out on that one, but a prior check of weight allowance is wise.

Eric Barrier and his Crocs

Eric Barrier and his faux Crocs

Eric Barrier
My travel confession? I recently bought a pair of knock-off Crocs for house shoes, and now I take them traveling with me. To anyone who just cringed, bear in mind these things don’t make public appearances. In fact, I only recommend Crocs, or mock Crocs, for wearing around inside your accommodation: when creaking to the bathroom in a rustic B&B, when making your way to the continental breakfast, when visiting the pool.

 But I would never introduce them to the world at large, and not just for style reasons. Crocs single out a hapless tourist in a way the fanny pack could only dream of doing. This makes them a safety issue, particularly in places thick with pickpockets such as Prague and Barcelona.
In essence, then, my actual travel confession is that I take up precious room in my bag with some clunky, awful house shoes. But at least I can power wash the things when I get home.


Terri Fogarty

Terri Fogarty

Terri Fogarty
OK, I hate to admit this, but my travel confession is that I like to see the weird and the macabre when I am traveling. And, I really hate to say this, but the best places to see this type of thing is in Catholic churches.

 I have seen the head of St. Catherine in Siena, the body of St. Agnes in Montepulciano, the leathery arm of some saint in Rome  and much more. Fingers, feet, and bones galore can be found encased in gold filigree  glass-sided boxes inside almost every church in Europe. They are usually housed in side altars or in the crypts below the church.
These are relics of Catholic saints and are to be revered by the faithful. Some of the “uncorrupted ” bodies like that of St Agnes are on display to show that God has blessed them with sainthood.
Ann Lonstein

Ann Lonstein

Ann Lonstein
I never accept the first room I am offered. It started years ago on a family trip to Mexico. We were given a room that had mildew. We had pre-paid so argued and threatened until they changed our room. We were given a two-bedroom suite (it seems that there is always a suite available even when the hotel is fully booked.)

More recently in Sydney, Australia we stepped off the elevator and smelt paint. I am allergic. The bellhop took one look at my face, called down and changed the room. It had a better view and no paint smell.
My favorite is our trip to Santa Barbara CA, on our anniversary. We booked an ocean facing room with a balcony. Our room was small and dark and the balcony had a high concrete wall and two plastic chairs. When we sat down all we could see was the sky and the tops of the trees. We refused to stay and demanded our deposit back. We moved to the Biltmore and got a room with a balcony and three huge picture windows facing the ocean. They apologized because the DVD player was not working. Surprisingly it was not that much more expensive.
These are just a few examples. I am now famous among my friends and acquaintances, who also turn down the first room if it is unacceptable.
Mattie John Bamman

Mattie John Bamman

Mattie Bamman
When I first started traveling on my own, I saved money by renting a car and sleeping in it. Yeah, no comfy hotel beds for me—and I even convinced a girlfriend to rough it a few times, too. Other than the discomfort of sleeping in a partially reclined driver’s seat, the technique really wasn’t so bad.

The hardest part was finding a safe and secluded place to park for the night. One time, I found a dirt road in the Chianti region of Italy and slept just a few yards from a farmer’s vineyard. Another time, I’d planned on parking and then cooking a pathetic meal of hot dogs over a fire, but it started raining. I wasn’t going to go to sleep hungry (especially in a car), so I “cooked” them on the car engine! I probably won’t be using a car for a hotel in a foreign country again. For one, it isn’t safe, and, for two, it can be a lot of work. But those backpack-style memories will be with me for the rest of my life.

Do you have a travel confession you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by Staff for

August Buzz 2013

Wednesday 28th of August 2013

[...] Irene Butler and her husband Rick are motored out! Since driving to TMAC in mid-June they continued to driving east, chalking up 8,000 km visiting family and collecting stories as far as Halifax (cheating the roadways by hopping a flight for their Winnipeg-Halifax-Winnipeg portion). On another note: Travel Confessions? We all have them….some make them public. Irene’s is the second one down at Europe Up Close [...]

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