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Old 03-20-2007, 11:12 AM   #1
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My parents are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and my mom mentioned that she would like to look into Germany. I am going crazy (in a good way) researching this for them because this is my hood, and so far I've found them cheap flights to both Munich and Berlin from where they live and a cheaper flight from Munich to Berlin or vice versa so they can avoid the Deutsche Bahn on a long trip.

I'm trying to sell this to them as hard as I can because they really deserve to get out there, and this would be perfect for them (Lederhosen and Oktoberfest for my dad and WWII history and castles for my mom). Does anyone have suggestions for encouraging older, but less adventurous people to travel? They're not "old old" and have high activity levels, but they get nauseated when they think of how and where I travel, and have really only been away internationally together twice (Mexico for a honeymoon, London/Paris for a 20th).
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Old 03-20-2007, 11:25 AM   #2
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Just try not to force it down their throats. My family is the same way. Just make sure you book them the more popular things to do. Being a tourism major, we learn all about the different types, and from what you are saying it seems that they would be the type to have more of a set plan, but not to detailed.
Try just getting the tickets and the places to stay (hotels for sure, 2*+), have a list of complied things to do, like walking tours, or day trips. Make sure you leave some time for them to wander by themselves.
Also, make sure they know at least a couple words of German to make them feel more comfortable.

Good luck!
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Old 03-20-2007, 12:27 PM   #3
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why not look into group tours? it may not our style so much but could take alot of pressureof them?
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Old 03-20-2007, 12:42 PM   #4
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Indierock, you're a tourism MAJOR?! You are pretty much my hero right now. I find myself playing travel agent (like playing house or dressup - oh, you should do this and it will cost x amount and this is the best) but obv only for people I know. Do you get awesome ideas all the time?

Back to my parents though, my trouble is that they are only "considering" it and I'm afraid they'll chicken out. I speak German fluently and studied abroad/worked and visited once as a complete tourist as well, so I'm pretty boned up on the area. And they've also made it really clear that it would not be a mistake to go - they LOVE traveling whenever they've gone. It's just taking that initial step of saying they can leave their responsibilities behind for a week or two and actually do something they deserve.

Maybe this is more of a rant than an actual question, I was just hoping that maybe somebody had an angle that I hadn't thought of or considered. My poor parents. I think I've actually hurt my credibility by backpacking, because they think I can't possible be sane or rational after I've gone on some of the trips I have...
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Old 03-20-2007, 12:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by kiwichick View Post
why not look into group tours? it may not our style so much but could take alot of pressureof them?
I WISH. It sounds bad, but they don't do well in crowds. This makes them sound like jerks, but they have zero tolerance for stupid people, and they have gotten less forgiving with age (can you imagine growing up with that ?!) but I will look into a tour package that arranges transport but doesn't require you to stick *with* the group. Though, it really might bring them EVEN CLOSER together after 30 years of marriage if they spent two weeks with strangers they could gossip about and band together against.
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Old 03-20-2007, 12:47 PM   #6
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lol nah i get it-my parents are the same! but yeh they do seem to enjoy mocking the idiots of the group as a team
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Old 03-20-2007, 05:38 PM   #7
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Munich would be a good city to start off in because you take the SBahn into the center of town.

Deutsche Bahn was my favorite rail company in Europe, I take it you had different experiences

Some hostels (like the Wombat in Munich) have small hotel like accomodations and can be a good way of trimming the costs. Good luck!

--Joey
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Old 03-21-2007, 02:22 AM   #8
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A couple of things come to mind here.

First (I get this from my dad, whenever I invite them to visit me) is the discomfort of sitting on a plane for such a long flight. He's flying from the west coast, so we're looking at at least 8-9 hours to Europe. That may be one reason they're hesitant, and if it is, that's a really tough one to overcome, because there's really nothing you can do to break up the journey. Adding a stopover makes it possible to walk and stretch a bit, but adds to the overall length of travel, so it's not really a big advantage, unless you have small children.

Second, expense. I know it's an anniversary, but is it possible they're thinking, "we really don't need to be spending this kind of money on this..." If so, consider going in with any siblings or close family friends to buy them a night or two stay at a really lovely - not necessarily expensive - maybe a wonderfully atmospheric gasthaus, in Germany. The fact that someone else has invested in them, might be enough to motivate them to take the plunge.

Third, fear factor. Yes, your experiences make you uniquely qualified to advise and research and so forth, but if they faint when they hear your tales, you need to reassure them that older people travel safely and independently throughout Europe all the time. In fact, if they stay in hostels, they're just as likely to meet wanderers of their own age as young people (obviously, party hostels wouldn't necessarily be the best choice). Riding on DB, they'll get senior discounts if they're older than 55 or 60 (double check that, I can't recall off hand) and the trains are clean, efficient and safe.

I can offer a couple of examples of older people traveling independently, if it would help.

In the last few years my mom has traveled, on her own, with my dad or with another friend to Japan, South Africa, France, Russia, Germany, and Lithuania. She speaks English and a little French and the only place she ever had a problem was a train station in France where she admits she foolishly left her wallet on a counter and turned away. She's 63.

My dad does a lot of diving all up and down the Pacific coast, and survived the long flight to Lithuania just fine. He's 72.

An American couple we know celebrated their 30th anniversary by traveling from their then home in Japan to Ireland and Lithuania, and recently moved to Naples, Italy, from where they do a lot of traveling around Europe. They are in their 60s.

My aunt celebrated her 60th birthday by traveling solo to India. She loved it so much, she went back the next year. You might not want to mention that she got hit by a motorbike and spent several weeks in a local clinic, though.

My mother-in-law has recently traveled to Japan, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Estonia and Latvia, and she and her husband will soon embark on a Germany/Czech Republic trip. They are both in their early 60s.

My friend's mom, at 70, took herself off to Italy and the Czech Republic. If you had to choose from all the above examples, she's probably the least adventurous of the lot, but she had a marvellous time and I can't help but think of E.M. Forster's "A Room with a View" whenever I imagine her taking that trip.

These are real live people with jobs, homes, kids and just as many reasons to stay safely home as anyone else. But, they go and they like it.

It's not a bad idea to put together an easy-going itinerary - make sure you include travel times, and leave lots of time for lingering lunches, since the food is good and there's no need to rush. That way they will have the security of a plan, without the rigidity of a tour. I know you mentioned Munich, but another area that is truly beautiful, has great food and wines, and a nice laid back atmosphere is the Rheinland. They could take a river cruise, stopping off here and there for lunch or an overnight stay. The train service along the Rhein is also good, so they could combine trains and boats for a really nice experience. And they'd be sure to see plenty of other older people walking, eating and generally enjoying the region - with less of the crowds of the bigger cities, if that's an issue.

In that area, there are plenty of gasthaus options that would be reasonable on the budget (around us, you can stay at a B&B with breakfast for around 40 Euro for two people), but in the larger cities you might want to check out the Etap hotel chain. www.etaphotel.com The rooms are basic but clean and have ensuite bathrooms, and usually run from about 35 to 50 Euros/night, depending on location. We stayed in Paris for about 45 Euros, in central Antwerp for 50, and in Salzburg for 35.

I know she said Germany, but if you're mom's really into WWII stuff, Normandie is fascinating and beautiful.

Good luck, let us know how it works out.

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Old 03-21-2007, 05:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe7f View Post
Deutsche Bahn was my favorite rail company in Europe, I take it you had different experiences
--Joey
It's not that - it was really amazingly clean and efficient (60 second window of arrival/departure time - NOTHING late!!). It's just that if you're not a student but not a Rockefeller, 105E for a one way from Munich to Berlin express is ridiculous when you can take a $76 roundtrip between the two cities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tumblezweedz View Post
I know she said Germany, but if you're mom's really into WWII stuff, Normandie is fascinating and beautiful.

Good luck, let us know how it works out.

All your tips are FANTASTIC!! My mom actually mentioned Normandie - so you clearly have insight into this!

Thank you all!! I talked to her last night, panicked that she was only pipe-dreaming and she thanked me for my ginormous email about what she could/should do in Germany and said that if I help her with an itinerary, she's more than ready to go!! She was worried about getting around without language skills, and I told her the Germans were chill, then reminded her that I have been to countries where I am illiterate and countries where I learned not one damn word (despite my attempts) the whole visit!

Also told her I have Tpunks scheming with me to help nudge and she laughed!
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