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July 01, 2008

Strategizing Summer

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

My grad school training inculcated a strong respect for statistical data and reasoning. Alas, this is a low-budget blog when it comes to research, so cold reality dictates that when we absolutely, positively have to crank out some content, anecdotal evidence is king.

Having spread my rationale as thickly as I might peanut butter on a sandwich [Yummmm!], I introduce the subject of vacation travel planning for summer 2008.

The USA is being hammered by the double whammy [thank you, Al Capp, wherever you are] of high fuel prices and a weak dollar. That doesn't mean that the entire nation will hide under beds until fall, but there surely will be behavioral changes "at the margins" as economists are fond of saying.

Behavior at the margins à la chez Pittenger takes the form of not going to Europe. Readers will recall that we were in the Great Lakes area in May for about ten days. In September we have a 12-day trip scheduled to Boston and then to Québec, Montréal, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Rochester and points between. Flying for both trips is financed by cashing in frequent flier miles. There also will be our usual late-October, early-November trip to Santa Barbara and the week in Vegas shortly afterwards. Plus some short trips around Washington and Oregon. After all, we're retired and wish to travel while it's not much of a physical chore -- as it surely will be later.

Our bottom line seems to be economizing by avoiding unfavorable exchange rates for pounds and euros along with some air fares. Automobile travel will be about normal, however.

What money-saving steps, if any, are you taking this year with respect to travel?



posted by Donald at July 1, 2008


Me. I'm inviting friends to come to the great Northwest while it is fairly decent weather.

Then, day trips in comfortable cars.

For longer trips over the weekend, I plan to leave the big Mercedes at home and then take advantage of weekend downtown car rental rates for small highly efficient travel.

$20 bucks a day picked up on Friday and dropped off Monday. Plus they come and get you and take you home. No taxi fares.

Posted by: vanderleun on July 1, 2008 7:43 PM


Posted by: David Fleck on July 1, 2008 7:44 PM

I'll be camping within the US this summer: In Nevada/California, South Dakota, Michigan UP (Sylvania Wilderness). I use fuel to get there, but then it's fuel-free transportation -- canoe, feet, mountain bike.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on July 1, 2008 9:15 PM

My money-saving tip: I'm going to London in August. First time in my life. Yay!!!
[tips and advice appreciated!]

And I paid cash for my British Airways ticket.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 1, 2008 10:10 PM

Fuel, schmuel. Try taking care of a cantankerous parent. That will definitely be keeping the wife and me inside the borders this year. Vacations are planned based on where we can go for a maximum of eight days. Europe is definitely out.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on July 2, 2008 7:29 AM

Lunnun, eh, Tat? I'll assume that the National Gallery, The Tower, The Houses of Parliament, Hampton Court, The British Museum, the Royal Parks, the West End theatres and so on are well-documented, though I can't resist adding that I do like the National Portrait Gallery. We've enjoyed strolling through The Inns of Court - very attractive. It's well worth walking over the wobbly bridge from The City to the Tate Modern - go up into that gallery's coffee bar and enjoy the view back across the river to St Paul's. See if you can fit in a visit to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich - it's beautiful. (You'd want to check how much of it is open to the public; we saw it when we were at a wedding there, and were bowled over.) A few years ago we had dinner outdoors, on the boardwalk, at the Brown's Restaurant just downstream of Tower Bridge - if you eat after dusk, the bridge is illuminated, the traffic beetles about the river, and the whole scene is very fine. (Brown's = decent small-chain restaurant, not expensive (by British standards)). We haven't tried them yet, but people speak very well of the London Eye (Ferris wheel) and the Globe Theatre - the outdoor Shakespeare venue. We enjoy afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason; lunch is good there too. We have also enjoyed the water bus between the Tate Modern and The Tate. (Oh, buses to Oxford are frequent and cheap, or there's the train - you might want to grab the chance to walk around Oxford - it's a jewel-box. Worcester College and Magdalene College are particularly fine, although alas the former has dispensed with its flock of wallabies after one of them skated on the College lake and drowned; happily, the latter retains its herd of deer.) What you need now is for someone who's up-to-date on pubs and restaurants to chime in.

Posted by: dearieme on July 2, 2008 8:10 AM

London is one of the great cities and I trust Tatyana will greatly enjoy her visit. That said, as a money-savings effort it seems counter productive as London is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world, especially for visitors.

Having virtually no cash not already going out for required expenses my strategy is stay home and putter in the garden.

Posted by: Chris White on July 2, 2008 8:13 AM

Chris, you're usually faster on the uptake than that.

Just got back from a business trip to France, and yep, it's damned expensive this year. God, Paris was great, though.

Posted by: CyndiF on July 2, 2008 11:09 AM

Or, thank you, thank you *dearieme, I'll try to fit it all!
Although, once I started looking into the online guides and especially since I discovered yesterday a resource called Pevsner, I'm a bit overwhelmed. Once again - be careful what you're asking for...

I figured now is the best time to go to London: all you guys are staying home, as well as millions of other tourists, and whole of the Ireland is on the streets of New York, buying up all available luggage to fit the staff they snatched on a favoUrable (he-he) exchange. So London merchants might submit to the market pressures and dining out somewhere with river views might, in fact, be within my budget! A 3-star hotel in Kensington area was, actually, 70 pounds a night - not bad, compared to relative NY prices.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 2, 2008 11:44 AM

I generally limit hiking and fishing day trips to spots within 150 miles, one way, as much over that and the ratio of driving to fun isn't that great. With the higher gas prices, that makes for a pretty expensive day trip, given that most my favorite spots require 4 wheel drive to get into and my truck's gas mileage isn't great. Consequently, I'm making fewer excursions this summer and staying overnight or taking a day off to extend the trip to 3 days. Less driving and dollars for more time outside.

Posted by: mdmnm on July 2, 2008 12:55 PM

Word to the wise, Tats: if you do go to Oxford, the first of those Colleges is pronounced "Wooster", with the first vowel pretty brief, the second "Maudlin", with the first vowel extended for as long as you have patience. And my wife reminds me that in Oxford you had better do the guided tour of the Bodleian Library: we did it a couple of years ago and found the Duke Humfrey’s reading room, in particular, to be stunning.

Posted by: dearieme on July 2, 2008 1:32 PM

Expense be damned, I took the family to Europe this spring. I found the prices fairly reasonable using my mental exchange rate of 1 euro = 1 dollar. Je ne regret rien. This summer: camping.

Posted by: Intellectual Pariah on July 2, 2008 1:46 PM

Oh Tatyana, the challenge was to mention money-saving. So - you could try the open-top, double-decker, hop-on-hop-off bus tours. We've not tried them in London, but have enjoyed them greatly in Berlin, Paris and Oxford.

Posted by: dearieme on July 2, 2008 2:32 PM

Motel 6 (or its equivalents) for sleep. Subways or Mickey D's for food. And when I get out to Wyoming (this summer's project) smaller gulps of the state per day. But getting there from upstate New York's a killer, gaswise. Luckily I'm not addicted to comfort so the sleep and food parts aren't really that much of a sacrifice. My one vice: impulse buying at "cowboy clothing" stores. But I'm not above haggling over price and since they're hurting too...;^)

Posted by: ricpic on July 2, 2008 4:55 PM

Dearieme, I'm afraid even if perfect the word Wooster after about 300 repetition, the rest of my communication will betray my heavy Russian Brooklyn accent quite openly. No point in trying to conseal it.

Double deckers were on my list (after experiencing them in Oporto).
Thank you very much.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 2, 2008 8:11 PM

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