Let’s Get Rookie Travel Bloggy

There isn’t much news around these parts this week. It might hit 50 degrees today! The sun is shining. My Facebook tells me that they are having an ice day in Bethel. This is a fundamental difference in life this year compared to last. I was utterly miserable around this time last year because I needed any sign of spring and Bethel simply could not provide me with even one. Fairbanks functions much more normally (my definition of normal) and I am so grateful. Here is a picture out of my classroom window right now.

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If you look very closely you can still see dirty snow piles toward the woods. Everything in the foreground is just mud. I guess mud is unavoidable in Alaska, but we do have many more paved roads and parking lots here than we did in Bethel.

I can’t wait to see something bloom outside!

Because of all this sunshine and warmth my mind is naturally starting to turn toward summer. If only I didn’t have these pesky 7 weeks of school left. 7 weeks and one day. As we have mentioned, our summer is set to consist of a little European travel. Here and there I think I’ll start talking about our planning process. Today let’s discuss The London Pass.

The London Pass is an overarching pass that you can buy that allows you access to many well-known and lesser known London attractions. You are also able to skip lines at some attractions and it offers a wide range of discounts at other places. You buy them by day amount. One, three, four, six, etc.  In order to save any money you have to hit a certain number of attractions per day. The easiest way to come close to getting an advantage is to really go nuts for one day or chill down and shell out for the six day pass.

The last time Sergio and I went to London we were there for a friend’s wedding. We had a wonderful time and did so many amazing things on that trip. There are lots of great things to see and do that don’t cost anything. This is especially true when you are traveling as a couple and totally find sitting on a bench under a bridge watching Le Tour de France on tv to be a fantastic outing. We also sat at the most adorable little hole-in-the-wall cafe near Shoreditch and had cider with our friend for hours. We sat in some grass in City of London to take advantage of free wifi. We toured free museums (they’re all free!), and government buildings, and wandered parks. Really, the only things we did that cost anything were the theater (always take advantage of the West End), food, and renting bikes to take around. We didn’t pay for any attractions or tours downtown. It was a great time.

Here’s the thing. We aren’t traveling as an incredibly easily entertained couple this time. We are traveling with very differently aged kids. Not to mention that a lot of the tourist attractions we skipped are totally worth seeing. I’ve seen most of them on previous trips but Sergio hasn’t yet. As we started listing what we think a teenager ought to experience and then what a young kid might also like, we found ourselves getting overwhelmed with decisions and costs. So we turned to The London Pass. This is a sort of controversial travel decision. It’s hard to use it enough in the days allotted to actually get a monetary advantage. Depending how many days you paid for you have to squeeze three to four attractions in per day to make it worth anything. That’s exhausting. It’s easy to exhaust yourself trying to see and do too much and that’s before you try to drag a 7 year old around with you!

We debated and debated the merit of getting the passes. Here is what it finally boiled down to for us. Ease. It doesn’t really matter if we get a huge (or any) economic advantage out of the passes. What matters is that the passes allow us to enter any attraction that it covers whenever the mood strikes. We won’t find ourselves standing outside of the Tower of London debating lines and costs. It’s really hard to watch your spending money disappear into the conversion rate ether. This way it’s already done! Out of sight, out of mind! We will very likely see many of the notable attractions but also find ourselves taking advantage of some of the lesser known things that the pass covers as well. Not to mention that the museums and parks are still free. Our problem this go around will be finding time for everything we want to do.

So there you go. We’re doing it for the ease. I’ll report back in a few months and let you know if we bargained correctly.

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