Thursday, January 03, 2008

Determined to Enjoy the Ride

So where did we go for the holidays? Nowhere. It was great going nowhere. No queues, delays, crazy prices and, of course, no crowds.

We’re a bit ashamed to say we loved staying home. People who write about travel should love travelling but, looking back on 2007, what stands out is how disagreeable many of our journeys became. We know we are fortunate to be able to travel and even if we really loved the destinations, we have to admit that getting there was often pretty awful.

We’re determined to travel better this year. We deserve it. For that matter, so do you. To this end, we have come up with some New Year’s resolutions, not about where we will go this year, but rather, what we intend to do in 2008 to put more fun back in the travel experience. Any suggestions, we’re all ears.

What to do about transportation ?

Every time we think of flying, we’ll try to think again. An impractical suggestion when crossing an ocean but for intra-continental travel, we’re going to get better about using trains, cars or buses and stay on the ground. We think the best way to send the airlines a message is by staying away.

If we must fly, we’ll use airlines that have on-line check-in and we’ll only take carry-on luggage. We’re going to get tactical with our credit cards and use those that offer air miles and start going for upgrades. We’ll never again book a flight where we need to be at the airport at 5:30 am (what lunacy) and if we can’t find a direct flight, we’ll look for somewhere else to go. We’ll get better about packing picnics and refuse the meals. We won’t shop in duty free either in the hope that airport operators begin to lose their incentive for us to loiter and consume.

All in all, even if we have to spend more, we’ve had it with being treated like cattle and we’re through behaving like sheep.

No big changes to our accommodation and food strategy

Smaller family owned and operated hotels such as Villa Duflot in the south of France Hotel Planac in the Italian Alps and Pensione Tranchina in Sicily served us well in 2007 and we intend to stay with that strategy in 2008. Considering how many gracious inns and historic properties run by interesting people exist, we see no reason to give Holiday Inn or the Four Seasons our business. We still think Karen Brown’s Guides have the edge on finding charming and historic places to stay and we will continue to follow their suggestions where possible.

To find information on restaurants and all things culinary in places we are going to visit, we love reading both the Chowhound and eGullet websites which are surprisingly good for international destinations. For France, we’re still hooked on Chocolate & Zucchini. We’ll continue to look for good foodie website. Please send us yours.

No matter where we go, we intend to visit a market or food shop and bring home at least one local ingredient. Bringing food home and an interest in a cuisine is one of the nicest ways we know to prolong the pleasure of a trip.

Reading lists before packing lists

This year, before we worry about what’s in our suitcase, we’re going to brush off our library card and hit the books. Not just the guide books but also the novels, the histories, the newspapers and the cookbooks of the places we’re going to visit. Surely, this simple change will have the biggest impact on putting more fun and more meaning back in the travel experience.

In any event, we want to thank our readers for their support in 2007 and we look forward to sharing new uncrowded travel experiences in 2008. As you begin to formulate your travel plans for this year, we encourage you to take the advice of Yogi Berra:

“When you get to the fork in the road, take it.”


  1. Great post, Kate. It's so easy to forget what's so wonderful about traveling sometimes. You really hit home on a lot of topics that I, too, would like to change. With regards to hotels, you're so right. I've really come to love and appreciate the smaller, independent, wonderful places. They really put the meaning back into travel. Your post reminded me of some videos you should check out: I think they showcase the whole point of hotels–to fit your personality and your style. My favorite video is from room 223 called Labels. It’s so hilarious! Gymnasts is good too! You need to go check it out! These videos are awesome…I work with them so I have the inside scoop!

  2. Kayla,

    Your right! The videos at are wonderful.

    Even if Cambria Suites is a chain, I love the attitude about the uniqueness of every guest.

    Thanks for bringing this fun idea to NoCrowds attention.


  3. Kate, some food blogs:
    cupcakeblog(dot)com. creative use of ingredients.
    C'est moi .. you know this.
    cleacuisine(dot)fr I have both her books: Agar-agar & Quinoa which give some sense of her blog.

    mercotte(dot)fr. about the best blog I've seen. Download her Pdf on macarons en francais.

    chiliundciabatta(dot)com - you know deutsch, best baking blog by far.

    Best from John Chypre

  4. For foodie websites try:

    from an American in Frankfurt