How Working in the Travel Business Changed How I Travel
Whenever those of us at BootsnAll tell people what we do for a living, one of the first questions we get is, “Ooh, do you get to travel all the time?” It’s one of those questions where no matter how you answer it you’re kind of screwed. If we say, “Why, yes, we travel all the time! It rocks!” then the person asking the question hates us. If we say, “No, we don’t actually get to travel as much as you might think” the person is either disappointed or thinks we’re somehow missing out on the whole point of working in the travel business. We can’t really win.
The real answer to the question is that we may get to travel more than the average American, but no – we’re not off discovering someplace new every week. Having said that, for my part, working in the travel business has definitely changed the way I travel – and I’m about to put my travel knowledge to good use once again.
I’m about to fly to Milan, where I’ll be based for the next month. I’ll be collecting more information to fill the virtual pages of BootsnAll’s Italy travel guide, and also reconnecting with friends. I’m excited about the trip, and while I don’t usually do big overseas trip at the last minute like this one is, I’m much more calm about it than I would have been a few years ago. I owe at least part of that calm to knowing where to look for what I need; the other part might be due to the glass of Valpolicella that’s sitting on my desk – but I digress.
Usually when I’m planning to travel, whether it’s for work or for fun, I start with airline tickets. It’s the biggest expense, so it’s the logical place to start. Luckily for those of us who are about to hit the “purchase” button, there are some amazing deals out there right now. When I was researching my Italy trip I found incredibly cheap tickets to Europe, and they weren’t just limited to shoulder-season or off-season fares. There are even mid-summer deals available, although I now try to avoid traveling in the height of summer. My upcoming May-June visit is going to be the closest thing to peak season Europe travel that I’ve done in years, and although airfare was a bit higher than my last Italy trip in the early spring, it was still better than I remember peak season fares being.
The next thing I’ve always checked off on my trip planning to-do list is the lodging. I’m lucky this time in that a friend in Milan has offered me the use of her apartment while she’s out of the country, so in Milan I’m set. I’m not going to be spending the whole month in Milan, however, as much as I might enjoy that. (I know so many people who don’t like Milan, but I can’t help myself – I just love it.) So with what’s left of my week at home before I leave, I’ve been trying to sketch out some trips to other Italian cities and figuring out where I’ll stay when I get there.
I’m in the minority in the BootsnAll office in that my accommodation resume isn’t littered with the requisite party Europe hostels – in fact, I’ve stayed in very few hostels in my life, and always in a private room. I didn’t do the post-college backpacking thing, and by the time I got to traveling again I was already too old for hostel dorm rooms. Scratch that – in some ways, I’ve always been too old for hostel dorm rooms. Trust me on this one. I think my family and friends would back me up on that.
So, it’s mainly been budget hotels in Europe for me, and it will likely be the same on this trip – although I’m also looking at private rooms in hostels again (thank goodness more hostels are offering private rooms!), and will likely stay with friends here and there as well. Unlike my trips to Europe several years ago, however, I’m not planning every day or booking all my hotels before I leave home. Having a month to play with definitely gives me a degree of freedom to “take what comes” that I didn’t really have when I was limited to 10-14 days of travel, but I also think just knowing how many hotels and hostels are in the places I’m thinking of visiting eliminates the worry I used to feel that every place would be booked solid.
In the end, while I may not be jet-setting off to new and fascinating locales every other month, I am lucky to work in a business that allows for more frequent and longer trips than the standard American vacation – and I’m even luckier to be surrounded by smart travelers who make every trip I take now easier and better.