ReykjavikAt each stage of our lives, we approach the idea of travel from a different perspective. Whether you’re taking your first flight across the pond in your retirement, or are a regular jet-setter in your twenties, travel offers you life experiences that you won’t get from a book, and can’t put a price tag on. Here are some thoughts on how to make the most of your next trip and experience great adventure at any age.
Freedom & Flexibility
Your twenties offer much in the way of freedom and flexibility. While I recommend the quintessential travel dreams of climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, speeding along the German Autobahn in a flashy sports car, pub crawling across the UK, and touring the monuments of Rome, there are some additional destinations that you should add to your twenties to-do list.
Iceland – Did you know that Icelandair allows their passengers lengthier layovers at their primary hub in Iceland? Before you book a straight flight to continental Europe, consider taking a few days in one of travel’s rising stars. The most inexpensive digs will be at a hostel or guesthouse, or you can always spend a bit more for a hotel room. Pick up your car rental from the Keflavik International Airport and head towards the geothermal pools of the Blue Lagoon, or visit the Gullfoss (Golden Falls), a spectacular waterfall east of Reykjavik. In the evening, get ready for the fast-paced and shenanigan-filled nightlife in Reykjavik that is gaining international notice by the thirty-and-under set. Icelandic crafted beer, schnapps, and loads of music venues are just the tip of the iceberg.
Portugal – The beautiful coastline, white sands and fiery cuisine of Spain are on the lips of many, but next door, although a fraction of its size, Portugal has its own allure for the young and active traveler. Nazaré and Peniche are modest seaside towns known for their spectacular swells where surfing records are set and met. Sun-bleached beaches and open-air cafes are packed from dawn to dusk. For a change of pace, the capital city of Lisbon becomes a playground of trendy clubs, bars and restaurants for the gregarious, where locals and internationals mix and mingle. The bright and busy city by day is taken over by the eclectic sounds of DJ’s from across the globe at night, interspersed with 20’s jazz and even classical strands. The notes escape into the streets with the opening and closing of every door and window, calling you to find your rhythm.
The next few decades the growth of your family will change how and when you can travel, compared to the dilettante days of your twenties. Commitments to work and home will make finagling vacation time like a game of Tetris, maneuvering all the pieces to fall correctly into place. When it all comes together, you’ll want to know that your leisure time is going to be well spent!
Belgium – Less than an hour’s drive south of Liège, in the small town of Heyd, plan on staying a night or two at La Balade des Gnomes. As you pull up to the car park, you’ll see the novelty of a working drawbridge and exterior of the private suite shaped as the Trojan horse are only the beginning of these unusual accommodations. Each fairytale-themed room of the farmhouse and suite is rich in intricate and whimsical detail at every turn. As an admonition, these accommodations were not made for practicality or to be spacious, so don’t expect that! The accompanying restaurant La Gargouille (The Gargoyle), is also uniquely appointed and receives stellar ratings for cuisine when you’re feeling peckish. In nearby Durbuy, Belgium’s largest adventure park has enough activities like kayaking, carting, golf and laser games to keep the entire family busy for a day. Tournai offers a treetop playground full of workshops, zip-lines and educational events, and no visit to Belgium would be complete without sampling some of the famous Belgian chocolate and beer.
Croatia – You could rent a villa in Tuscany or a Chateau in Bordeaux, and take easy day trips to wineries and historic sites in between the kid activities—but, have you ever considered the prospect of renting a lighthouse on the Adriatic Coast? A setting along the lines of the Swiss Family Robinson and Pete’s Dragon combined, but without shipwrecks, pirates and dastardly characters except in play. More than twenty meters high, the Sv. Ivan Na Pucini lighthouse is located on a cliff islet off the shores of Rovinj. Fabulous ocean views from which you may spy bottle-nosed dolphins, there are two snug beaches and the surrounding waters perfect for fishing and diving. Pula, Rovinj and Rijeka are not far away if you suddenly crave a little noise and bustle.
Perception Alters Appreciation
Our perceptions alter our appreciation in all facets of existence. The all-night parties in the flower of youth, and the multitasking middle years of family vacations give way to an age where you can rekindle your flame and gain a renewed vigor and sense of purpose for travel—tempered, of course, with the history of experience. Immerse yourself in the culture, customs and people of an area instead of leap-frogging from place to place.
Netherlands – Skip the hotel and try renting a houseboat on Amsterdam’s Amstel River for a longer stay. You get all the perks of a home-like, but still foreign setting, and the benefit of an atmosphere where you may still come and go freely. Make meals with goods from a fresh market, or dine out at the plethora of restaurants in the city. A Dutch specialty is raw herring, and many Indonesian dishes have been incorporated into the local fare, such as you’d try Indian in London, or Vietnamese food in Paris. Take a romantic gondola ride down Amsterdam’s canals, or join a free tour of the diamond factories like Gassan Diamonds. There is a wide array of events that take place throughout the year that are worth investigating! Amsterdam is also well positioned as a base of operations to make day trips to increase your familiarity with the surrounding cities. If you prefer a lesser-known city than Amsterdam, try more northerly and picturesque Groningen, where you can still get the canal experience for housing and a watery tour from the canals, as well as ample access to further cultural and historical locations.
Czech Republic – The Czech Republic may be a small, landlocked country, but it is an architectural and cultural treasure trove. Illustrious mansions, castles, cathedrals and museums offer a visual counterpoint to the natural scenic landscape. You can’t go to the Czech Republic and not visit Prague, but Ostrava, is a less obvious choice with a wealth of engaging activities and sights, while offering the benefit of being next to the Polish border. Street vendors and musicians abound, and there are organized events including the Colours of Ostrava Music Festival. There is no lack of specialty shops to peruse, where native goods can be found amidst restaurants to sample the food and famous Czech beer. Hotel accommodations or apartments are available for the budget traveler, as are more sumptuous options. This charismatic country begs an extended stay as much as the more publicized countries of the romance languages, so indulge yourself a bit before moving on to the next location. Your Auto Europe car rental allows you to tour exclusively in the Czech Republic or further into Central and Eastern Europe!
Keep in mind, these enticing travel destinations could just as easily be enjoyed by a broader spectrum of folks than I’ve outlined. These are merely suggestions from my own travel history and what I’ve garnered from a diverse pool of other world pilgrims along the way! The world is your oyster—for more travel inspiration, check out these destinations to watch in 2014. Auto Europe takes the guesswork out of travel planning and makes confirming a car rental for your European vacation a snap! Reserve a rental car or other transportation service with Auto Europe online today!