Travel and trends

It’s summer and almost everyone is away for some kind of break. Me too. But traveling through Europe for two weeks I could not help but notice some new behaviours, and I thought I would share som insights.

Insight number one – the touring

This summer “everyone” is either touring Europe by train or car. In the olden days we called it interrailing, but I realise it is a different thing now. But noone is staying at the same spot for a whole period. If you go to Sicily, you change locations. Not one week at resort – and no all-inclusive.

We went by electric car. Two weeks in Europe. First stop Copenhagen. Then Odense, Bremen, Brügge (Brouges) Boulogne-sur-Mer, Caen, Cabourg, Honfleur, Letretat, Fecamp, Lille, Düsseldorf and then back home to Stockholm. Two weeks.

One of the reasons we chose to go by electric car was that it was a cheaper option. I think we estimated to spend 400 euros for all tolls, charging and travel for two weeks.

We tried electric car for the first time last year and liked it. The number of charging stations must have more than doubled from last year. If you are thinking of doing a tour by electric car, my first suggestion is to get a subsciption to one of the station brands. It doesn’t really, really matter which one you choose but you get a discount. The subscription should be for minimum four weeks and it costs, but it is worth it.

Subscribing to an electrical station is a good learning. Another realisation is that roads in Europe are super boring. Super straight and very efficient. But very monotome.

We used the map on the phone for planning various destinations, but you need to add an hour. If the map says that the distance between Odense and Bremen is 4,5 hours, you need to add time for charging and traffic jams. Especially around larger cities like Hamburg in this case.

But charging stations are easy to find. Get a coffee and stretch your legs, or read up on next destination.

Remember a few years back when everyone talked about “personification”? Everything was supposed to be personalised. Your phone cover was supposed to be unique and there were stickers on laptops etc, etc. You get the concept. That’s is all gone. Very few cars are personalised. Not even caravans. Previously we had stickers for soccer clubs, places we had visited or whatever – all gone.

Last comment on driving by car. Don’t forget that there will always be Sunday. I mean, arriving at a city in France or Germany on a Sunday means that everything is closed. Also, don’t forget that a lot of towns still practice some kind of siesta. And arriving after 8 pm or 20.00 could mean that there are no restaurants open in that town.

This Carrefour in Fecamp is closed four hours during the day.

Insight number two – the hotels

How is one staying? I think most people try to mix. You save up by staying a budget hotel so that you can splurge later. Airbnb is of course an option but today almost as expensive a normal hotel. We did a mix. It is kind of interesting to see that budget hotels are rolling out. You get a smile at the front desk and breakfast but the rooms are so small that you basically can not fit two people and suitcases. But friendly. Save up and spend the money later. Perhaps at one of those “trendy” or “designer” hotels like Mama Shelter and 25hrs hotels.

We initially said that we should not prebook anything and only book the day before arrival, but I actually needed the security of having a bed to sleep in.

Both Airbnb and hotels worked well. No real new changes besides perhaps that budget hotels are available.

Our budget for hotels where approximately 100 euro per night for a double room.

Above picture from Airbnb at Caen in France.

Fancy hotel with a view at Brügge.

25hrs hotel in Düsseldorf.

Insight number three – the information

One of my latest obsessions is to find out how people nowadays find information. Everyone is focused on finding the best restaurant, the nicest beach and a relevant museum. How do you do that? How do you find a unique experience that you can post on Instagram?

Above pictures are my two stops that got most attention on social media. First is the See-through-church in Belgium. See here. And then the gardens of Etretat. Link is here.

How do you find these? Obviously word of mouth. These things are difficult to find when just searching on Internet.

I don’t think there is a straight answer to this. The tourist information out there is very uneven. And you can’t really look up #dusseldorf on Instagram… You get halfnaked girls and strange suggestion.

It all comes down to – do you trust the person giving the information.

I have two strong suggestions. First is to search for “top ten to see in Lille” or whatever city you go to. That gives you an overview of the most important things. Then I want to recommend the map app on your phone. Nowadays you can type in the word “sights” and get the interesting things near you. You could do the same thing for “museums”.

No, not everything under “sights” is superinteresting but a good start.

I think it’s worth stopping buy sites like Dezeen or Wallpaper. They have semi-old things but can be worth to check out. That is how I found this building where the facade is made of hedges in Lille.

Insight number four – the shopping

Noone is shopping any longer. We travel for the experiences.

You would think that the trend with focus on local craft and local design would be in these touristic cities, but not really. Here at Brugge.

Instead of buying stuff we buy experiences.

So, to sum it up: its pretty affordable to do touring, but plan your timing. Information is difficult to find but talk to people. The app on your phone is pretty good to start with. And forget about shopping. Spend it on experiences instead.

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