Since I began traveling extensively seven years ago with a nearly two month trip to Alaska, my style of travel has adapted to fit the situation. When I went to Alaska I drove my cargo van from Dallas and back.
I lived in that van or slept in a tent for all but three nights while in Alaska and three nights in motels on the way home because my traveling partner on the way home, Jean, wasn’t going to sleep in either of those other two places.
I was trying to see and do as much as possible for the least amount of money. I’m willing to spend money to do whatever is necessary to see certain things.
For example, it was $1250 for one night at Brooks River Lodge, including air fare from Anchorage, to see about 40 grizzly bears in the McNeil River in Katmai National Park.
Iguasu Falls on the border between Argentina/Brazil
I’ve also taken two helicopter rides and booked a hot air balloon trip in Africa that was cancelled due to weather conditions in order to experience places from different perspectives. Conversely, I spent less than $100 to camp for five nights in Denali National Park.
I believe there are two ways to travel: with a group or independently. Independent travel could also be solo travel or with a friend/spouse and where you make your own arrangements for the trip. Most of my trips have been independent travel. The only exception was my trip to South Georgia Island last October. That was group travel. You either go with a group on a ship or you don’t go.
When David and I started talking about the possibility of a trip to Japan, he told me he didn’t have time to plan it but if I organized it, it love to go. He asked me what I thought it would cost us. I had started doing the research already and I threw out a number that I thought was reasonable. We came in very close to that number.
Another way we could have done this trip is with a small group of individuals led by a professional photographer or two. Group travel. The difference in cost would have been two to three times more money and about a week shorter. One photographic tour group I know of had two photographer co-leaders and a Japanese speaking local guide. I believe there were about eight people in the group. Those eight had to pick up the travel expenses for those three leaders and permit them to make a profit for their efforts. When traveling with a professional photographer you are also getting photo tips and instruction, as well. There is value to that. I have the time and I’d rather take more trips and spend less money. See more, spend less works for me.
When you travel with a group, photographers or not, everything is planned for you. You don’t have to worry about where you’re going to spend the night, where you’ll have lunch and dinner or how you’re going to get from place to place or what you’re going to see. There are advantages to that kind of trip. Also, these leaders have been to these locations before so you aren’t wandering around trying to find some specific location. For me, a little wandering leads me to places I didn’t expect to see and to photo opportunities I might not have seen otherwise. Likewise, I may miss something the professional tour guide would have taken me to.
I’ve also booked myself into a place like Jaguar Camp in Brazil and been included with other travelers for a few days to share our experiences. Even though I met up with others, I did the research of where to go and booked directly with the owner of Jaguar Camp.
I met three sisters on that trip, one of whom reads this blog, and we have periodic communications. When our time together was over, we each moved on to other parts of our trip. When I went to Ecuador, I got myself to the Galapagos, booked myself on a one week cruise and met up with thirteen others. One of those also stays in touch through my blog. I did the research on where and when to go but when I got there I had a shared experience with others.
I’ve found I like a mix of group and solo travel. For David and me, I liked traveling with someone that I could share common interests and experiences with yet we were in control of where we went and what we saw. It wasn’t perfect. We got on the wrong train, got lost in a part of Tokyo and went searching for places to eat. We turned onto roads we hadn’t planned on traveling and found places we hadn’t expected. Yet, that was part of the adventure. In the end, we saw what we went there to see and found a number of things we hadn’t planned on seeing. I consider our trip to be like solo travel.
Now, quickly to tell you what I liked about each of the photo groups in the last post.
For me, #1 could have gone either way but I decided I liked b & w slightly better.
What should have been #2 and #3, the two snow paths in the trees were largely b & w images. The blue cast should have been corrected before I posted them. B & W for me. #4 went missing,
#5 & #6, again I felt were black and white images except for the blue sky so again, I chose b & w.
#7 was always b& w for me. I like the drama of it although I can see why several still liked it better in color.
The last two, #8 & #9, I believe are better in color. I liked the drama in the sky in #8 and felt it lost that in b&w. Lastly, #9, could also have gone either way but my preference was for color.
Thanks to everyone who’s participated. If you haven’t had the time yet, don’t let my opinions keep you from making your choices.
This post will end the Japan blog series. Until my next trip. Thanks for reading this.
I appreciate all your comments and suggestions.