Keeping my day job

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AGMA loves to travel; ya’ll know that.

At some point last year, I declared on AGMA that I was done traveling for a spell.  I’d lost the joy of the planning to the stress of the planning.

Bummer…

Hubs and I used to take overseas tours that didn’t involve any planning with a value tour company.   They were normally no brainer, whirlwind tours with mornings often staring at 6 AM, but you got to see a whole lot of wherever you were.  And while the tour groups were larger (38 to 42 people), 98% of the folks were delightful and fun to be around.  The hotels were lovely and we found the tour guides excellent.  And we ALWAYS bought the tours when they were “on sale”.

Interesting factoid…did you know that travel goes on sale on Black Friday like everything else?  Sometimes you can snag an amazing travel bargain.

But alas…we can go on these types of value tours no longer.  Hubs genetic condition in his legs is slowly progressing and, although he can still walk slowly with a cane, he’s at the point where he needs a wheelchair or scooter to go any distance.

Bummer…

We have this awesome portable electric scooter (Ralph) that Hubs uses to get from here to there when we travel.  The seat comes off and the handle folds down to make it incredibly easy to stow and gate check.  And at 39 pounds, even a weakling like AGMA can lift and carry it.

It turns out that Ralph or a portable wheelchair are not welcome on traditional tour company tours.  WTF??

They say it’s because there isn’t room on the tour bus for mobility devices, but with a portable wheel chair that folds up flat and our offer to only take one suitcase between the two of us, we kinda figured out that “room” wasn’t the issue.

And tour companies that cater to those with mobility issues are priced way out of our price range.

Sooooooo…..

Most of our trips since 2016 have been AGMA planned and executed.

And they have been good.  Real good.

Because AGMA is an excellent travel planner.

Yeah – I said it.

I’m a left brained, ADHD, OCD detail oriented person who, despite having no Scottish ancestry, is as thrifty as they come.

So of course I plan fabulous trips that won’t break the bank!

But it is precisely because I’m a left brained, ADHD, OCD, detail oriented person who LOVES a great bargain that it takes many, many days to plan a 2 week trip.  Which is fine if you have nothing else to do…

That isn’t normally the case in my or most everybody’s life, so sometimes – most of the time – trip planning ends up being kinda stressful.

Total first world problem.

AGMA’s become a bit famous with her family, friends and acquaintances for her travel planning acumen.

I’ve had quite a few offers to “come along” on trips with friends/acquaintances to destinations I’ve already visited.  Seriously?

AGMA didn’t fall off the cotton truck yesterday…

I know the “come along” offer translates to “we expect you do all the planning and then be our tour guide when we get there.”  In the case of folks who are normally delightful, but would be absolute nightmares to travel with, I politely decline and offer to give some ideas for their trip.

With a smile.

They say you never really know anybody until you travel with them.  But with some people, AGMA knows absolutely for sure, for certain, even before setting one foot on a plane, that we would NOT be good travel companions.  Like oil and water.

Or more like gasoline and a flame thrower.

Some have suggested that I should hang a shingle out and help others plan their travel for a fee.

But honestly, AGMA can’t think if anything more nightmarish than travel planning for paying clients.  Well – I probably can, but this would be a close second.

It’s one thing to give friends and family pointers and tips on planning the perfect trip, and even some booking help now and then.  But when $$ gets involved, people tend to get a little cray cray.  They become unreasonable, demanding and just plain nuts.

Honestly, they couldn’t pay me enough.

With today’s technology, I’m sure I could figure out some way to leverage what I’ve learned so far about travel planning into some sort of business in the future.  That doesn’t involve dealing with the general public.

(shivers run down AGMA’s spine)

Right now, I think I’ll be keeping my day job.

There are 4 international jaunts AGMA’s trip hopper for 2019.  My head is spinning like the pea soup girl in The Exorcist.

So much for not traveling…

Two trips are easy peasy – short, and hotel/airfare/car pre-booked through an independent trip package.  These are packages booked through a travel operator but are not tours – the book your airfare, hotel and car (if you need one), but you are on your own for day to day activities.  And both are revisits to familiar places so we pretty much know what we’re going to be doing.

The other two trips are more challenging.

So while AGMA is in the throes of planning these two trips, I thought it might be fun to give you a view into the convoluted, demented and intensely OCD time consuming process I go through to end up with a fantabulous travel experience.

Not sure fun is really the word.

Tune in next week…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Keeping my day job

  1. Travel planning can definitely be time-consuming and stressful… I can relate! As for those who “offer” to come along on trips to places you’ve already visited, they’ve got some nerve!

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  2. Hats off to you for your travel acumen. Count me as one of the “travel averse.” My late father-in-law and his wife used to go on those top-of-the-line Tauk bus tours in the U.S. and then, once, went to Europe with a group. When they returned, all they had to say was there were a lot of “foreigners” and no one knew how to make a good cup of coffee. They were truly the epitome of the Ugly American. Sitting next to someone like that on a tour would be like being in Dante’s first circle of Hell. Ugh. No thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hate the “ugly American” traveler type too, and thankfully, I’ve only run into 2 individuals on the 8 tours I’ve taken. You just avoid them and let the tour leader deal with their ignorance. Most of the folks I’ve met have been great travelers excited to explore new places and meet new people. We’ve made quite a few friends on these tours that we’re still in touch with. A couple from Kansas City we met on our trip to South Africa 3 years ago are going with us to France in May! And we’ve visited friends in Australia twice that I met on a Tour de France tour. But I get it that travel is not everybody’s thing!

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  3. I am also a left-brained, detail oriented planner and right now, I have very little desire to plan any trip. I’ve not figured out why I cannot get anything going … nothing at all planned in 2019. Maybe because Hubby does not like to travel very much and hates crowds, so getting the details nailed down is critical, as well as having contingency plans. Ah well, maybe I’ll feel inspired to plan something still this year when I hear about your trips… or maybe not. It’s all good.

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    • So if your hubs hates crowds, off season travel seems perfect for you Pat! We just got back from a short trip to Italy (4 nights in Rome, 1 night in Florence) Rome was “relatively” uncrowded, but Florence was kind of packed. But the weather was perfect! Subscribe to Travelzoo’s weekly deals – there are some great tour options that are well priced that reduce planning to a minimum. And if nothing strikes your fancy, that’s okay too!

      Sometimes it’s a curse to be left-brained isn’t it??

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  4. I totally get being careful about travel partners. A sibling has for years suggested taking trips, and I have assiduously avoided it. We can’t even spend 48 hours without an argument, and that’s just on regular family visits. I can’t imagine in a foreign country! Good for you in sticking to your gut instincts. – Marty

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  5. Well that sucks about the tour operators not welcoming you guys anymore. I’m sorry that your Hubs is having more symptoms and becoming less mobile. Aging is hard enough without that complication. But I certainly admire you guys for continuing to do what you love and making it work. The two of you are an inspiration to me. Best Regards AGMA and looking forward to your future posts. Have you considered maybe becoming a travel consultant that charges a one time fee to share information, sources, planning and travel ideas without getting involved in the actual booking process? Or starting a travel blog that could be monetized? Just a thought…

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    • Oh Ilona – you are so sweet! We are traveling more often because we see the day ahead when it will get too difficult. We just got back Monday night from a short trip to Italy (4 nights in Rome, 1 night in Florence) and we took the wheelchair (which was lost and not delivered to us in Rome until 12 hours after we arrived – grrrrr!) It was easier to take it up and down steps than the scooter, but pushing it (and him) on those cobbles was a b*tch! He had a rough ride and my back hurt every evening. But I couldn’t tell Hubs…he already feels bad enough that I have to push him. But we ended up having a lovely trip so it was worth it. And my back feels much better! I like the travel consultant idea! Maybe I’ll have to look into that. Not sure I can keep up with “stuff” fast enough to do a travel blog. But again, who knows? Thanks again Ilona!

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  6. I am looking forward to doing so much after my kidney transplant surgery. No news on when it will be but hoping for next month and then a few months of staying close to hospital waiting for green light to go home. I am dying to go to somewhere with palm trees and happy hours – right now my lawn is covered in snow.
    I love your expressions, and am curious: when did you fall off the cotton truck? LOL

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  7. “It turns out that Ralph or a portable wheelchair are not welcome on traditional tour company tours. WTF??” I think you should argue with the company and tell them that folding bikes would be allowed on some national buses, planes and trains, etc. Their ruse maybe to forget accommodating someone who is slightly disabled because it requires them to slow down/plan differently.

    So if the tour is flat without much stairs, you should argue it/challenge it.
    OR arrange tours where it does accommodate the disabled.

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    • I agree totally! The tours that are considered “disabled” tours are really expensive. I think they are meant for folks who are 100% in wheelchairs. But even when we get to that point, we’re still not going to have the $$.

      And I’m sure you’re right about the tour companies having to slow down/plan differently. When there are 41 mobile folks on a tour, they don’t want to have to slow down for 1. I kind of get it, but then again, they need to say that and not that there isn’t enough room for a mobility device. It’s just a hassle for them.

      You know, you pick and choose your battles Jean… Maybe I’ll return to this one day and fight a bit harder! Thanks for the support!

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  8. The “pea soup” girl, gasoline flamethrower, and falling off cotton truck sure had me guffawing. You & Hubs get a medal for your work-arounds on travel. First, all the left-brained details (I can SO relate!) and then going so far as to have Ralph the folding wheelchair catch up to you in Rome and your pushing him on the rough cobbles — Aya Kaya! How you do that? We went to Florence and I know how rough the cobble streets are on the feet.

    Aging Boomers we know go to China, Cuba, Egypt and other exotic places despite arthritic joints and one friend who has macular degeneration going on. There is a story, though, that I heard from my vascular doc which still makes my hair stand on end: he had a colleague who yearned to boat on the Nile in Africa. Not a cruise, mind you, but some kind of regular boat (like Thor Heyerdahl in Kon Tiki?). Dunno the exact details of the craft — only that this colleague came face to face with…are you ready…a crocodile. Yikes! As the vascular doc is blasting the ropey/non-functioning vericose vein in my leg he goes on to lay out the particulars of the fate of his colleague. I had no idea that crocs had a special “shelf” where they stored their prey before actually eating it. That’s what the doc told me. I thought Crocs were just perky shoes for wearing when gardening.

    Anyway…the point of this is that I am such a spoiled Princess & The Pea when it comes to travel. And sleeping on mystery mattresses? I’ve had an onset of low & mid-back issues this year which I am attacking with acupuncture & physical therapy. I hope to heal and that hubby & I travel more but I assure you there will be no cruises down the Nile!

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    • We took a Nile cruise (just before the Arab Spring), but we were on a BIG BOAT! I can’t imagine sailing down in a tiny canoe or whatever that guy was in. So did his friend end up on the crocs “shelf” or did he escape? Asking for a friend… We LOVED the Nile cruise by the way!

      Yeah – lots of different kind of mattresses out there… I would say 90% of them are very firm. Some sort of like a rock. But when you’re jet lagged, just being horizontal is a blessing!

      I love that people travel despite what others see as “limitations”. There are usually work arounds as long as somebody is willing to put the time and energy into figuring it out! And yes – the cobbles were tough. But then I think about the ride Hubs is getting and I’m amazed he still has teeth in his head! Ha!

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      • The doc’s friend ended up on the croc’s shelf! At least that’s what the doc says. For the most part, inquiring minds want to know, but in my case, I feel it is TMI to fact-find on Internet about this croc-shelf thing. Maybe it’s a croc! But the doc’s friend did indeed die from the crocodile snatch. Big boat is the way to go — glad you enjoyed your Niles cruise!

        And Cudos to you, AGMA, for figuring out the logistics for you and Hubs on your travels, and not being Princess & The Pea about foreign mattresses. I admit to being too much of a princess about beds…wonder if it dates back to the white eyelet canopy I had as a child and never sharing a room with a sibling…uh-oh…don’t need to get into the weeds of that! Anyway…you inspire!

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