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  1. #1
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Car Free vacations

    I'm wondering what any of you do come vacation time...

    I recently returned from a trip to Mexico. Admittedly, my wife and I flew, but --against all advice -- we did not rent a vehicle, but rather took buses for the whole trip (except for a couple of brief taxi rides...) Several times we took advantage of a "collectivo" - a large van something like US rideshare that heads to a specific destination. In all, I really didn't want to drive anywhere... too stressful for one thing and I had a perfect vacation w/o a car rental.

    On the other hand, the Mexican vacation is an awful carbon footprint sink, considering the airplane ride. I am , however, a faithful lurker in the Touring forum and I think a bike-camping trip leaving right from my door on my trusty Bianchi is in my stars. For the past several years, I have handle a real itch to hit the road with a tent and sleeping bag... I'm not even sure why... It must be some deep feeling that a bicycle tour could be a lot of fun.

    What are you carfree vacation plans or fantasies?

  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    We quite often take the Amtrak to NYC or CHS or SAV. We have discussed a return trip to DC...we usually fly in there from CLT into DCA and stay in Crystal City at the Lennox Club. My vacation time is very limited at this point in time, so I have to get where I am going quickly if I am going to have much time to see/enjoy anything. Last year I didn't get much of a real vacation just a few days here and there. This year is looking better.

    I love cycle touring, if I can convince the wife "to give it a go" we may try some B&B stuff on the tandem this fall when it cools off. That is something we can do right from our front door, and hit up a couple of winery tours just for fun.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Most of my vacations are all or mostly car free.

    I just came back from a trip out to Vancouver ... I took the shuttle bus to the airport, flew to Vancouver, and took the shuttle van to my destination, and the same thing in reverse on my way back. I didn't have my bicycle with me when I was there, so I walked wherever I wanted to go.

    When I went to Europe, I was dropped off at the airport in a car, and picked up again at the end, but in between, the trip consisted of a flight to Europe, a few trains, a couple ferries, and lots of cycling.

    In 2004, I spent 3 months in Australia. Again, someone dropped me off at the airport and picked me up again 3 months later, but in between there were a few flights, a few short train trips, a few bus trips, several ferries and cruise boats, lots, and lots, and lots of cycling (5000 kms worth), and I rented a car for 3 days in there ... so those 3 months were almost entirely car-free.

    I really enjoy cycletouring ... either right from my door, or travelling to a starting location elsewhere in the world.

  4. #4
    tsl
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    This summer I'm taking Amtrak 1,500 miles to Denver and meeting up with some folks in Loveland for a few days of riding. Cab from here to the train station and shuttlebus from Denver to Loveland.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

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    For the last year, our vacations have been visiting parents. Visiting his is easy. Walk to the student union, wait for the bus, pay $10 for a ticket. Arrive about 1 hour later, get picked up by one or more of the parents. Once we've been picked up, there's little further driving as their hometown is very walkable. (this is one reason why a folding bike appeals to me - it would be easy to transport so I could do a lot more wandering when I visit them)

    Visiting mine means getting on the same bus, pay $28 for a ticket, and get dropped off at Midway airport. Catch our flight, arrive at BWI, get picked up by my parents or a sister. There will be a lot of driving. No real way to avoid it given the bridge situation - the area is full of creeks and rivers, and often your only crossing option is an interstate.

    Since we both like beer and there is no shortage of breweries in WI, we're planning on doing some brewery tours via bike this summer.

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    Senior Member sprockets's Avatar
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    My last vacation was the first time I took my bicycle with me (it's a Bike Friday). Normally I like to travel light and take busses and occasionally taxis. That didn't really change, although it was nice to have my own bike for sight seeing. My girlfriend was skeptical at the time but admittedly impressed by the bike's performance. She's still not sold on the dragging a bike along for vacation (she likes to travel light too) but I think I may be able to convince her to give it a try once I get the Raleigh Twenty fixed up for her.
    *************************
    As god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

  7. #7
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    This summer I'm taking Amtrak 1,500 miles to Denver and meeting up with some folks in Loveland for a few days of riding. Cab from here to the train station and shuttlebus from Denver to Loveland.
    Amtrak seems a great way to go... if you are not in a rush. The train station is a 50 miles bike ride south of here, but that kind of ride is just a pleasant day out for me.

    Any problems taking your bike on the train??

  8. #8
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    First of all, I'm not sure it's necessary to give up air travel: according to Bjorn Lomberg (who I don't agree with at all but who also is not an idiot), air travel comprises 3.5% of humanity's carbon footprint. Compared to driving, or even using incandescent light bulbs, it's minor.

    To date, I have not taken a major trip only by bike. Once, a long time ago, I rode a 5-speed bike from Rome to Pisa and then to Florence (which was very fun), but I got to and from Italy by rail. More recently, I rode from Seattle to Port Townsend, WA, but that experience was so unpleasant I won't do it again; in many areas, the shoulder of the highway was pretty much non-existent, there was a lot of traffic, and no alternate routes, and I felt we were taking unnecessary risks.
    My dream trips are to ride from Seattle to San Francisco, or even better, to Lexington, KY, but I'm not sure I'll ever do either one; I'm worried about riding on high-speed highways with narrow shoulders, and I enjoy other activities besides riding, and time is limited...
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    My dream trips are to ride from Seattle to San Francisco, or even better, to Lexington, KY, but I'm not sure I'll ever do either one; I'm worried about riding on high-speed highways with narrow shoulders, and I enjoy other activities besides riding, and time is limited...
    You don't necessarily have to ride on high-speed highways with narrow shoulders. There are other roads out there.

  10. #10
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    First of all, I'm not sure it's necessary to give up air travel: according to Bjorn Lomberg (who I don't agree with at all but who also is not an idiot), air travel comprises 3.5% of humanity's carbon footprint. Compared to driving, or even using incandescent light bulbs, it's minor.

    To date, I have not taken a major trip only by bike. Once, a long time ago, I rode a 5-speed bike from Rome to Pisa and then to Florence (which was very fun), but I got to and from Italy by rail. More recently, I rode from Seattle to Port Townsend, WA, but that experience was so unpleasant I won't do it again; in many areas, the shoulder of the highway was pretty much non-existent, there was a lot of traffic, and no alternate routes, and I felt we were taking unnecessary risks.
    My dream trips are to ride from Seattle to San Francisco, or even better, to Lexington, KY, but I'm not sure I'll ever do either one; I'm worried about riding on high-speed highways with narrow shoulders, and I enjoy other activities besides riding, and time is limited...
    My biggest beef with air travel is the general hassles involved, weather gets bit crappy...delays, somebody forgets to maintain aircraft...delays, overbooked an aircraft....delays, etc, etc. FWIW my wife works for a major airline as a Sr Flight Attendant, been at it for 25 years. The friendly skies aren't so friendly anymore and have become one big hassle. I still have to fly for work occasionally. The last 2 times I missed important meetings due to delays and cancellations. I would be royally po'ed if I had to miss a couple of vacation days due to crappy service.

    We were discussing taking the QM2 over to England later this year...

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    First of all, I'm not sure it's necessary to give up air travel: according to Bjorn Lomberg (who I don't agree with at all but who also is not an idiot), air travel comprises 3.5% of humanity's carbon footprint. Compared to driving, or even using incandescent light bulbs, it's minor.
    The carbon footprint doesn't worry me. The Transportation Safety Administration does. I'm not a fan of gross incompetence and rudeness. Since I like being treated as a human being, I find the local bus service to be a lot nicer to deal with. And Amtrak seems to at least *try* to be pleasant.

    If I'm paying someone else to do the navigation, I'd like the trip to be nicer than driving myself. These days, air travel is more stressful than driving... and I GAVE UP driving.

  12. #12
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    Amtrak seems a great way to go... if you are not in a rush. The train station is a 50 miles bike ride south of here, but that kind of ride is just a pleasant day out for me.

    Any problems taking your bike on the train??
    Dunno. I'll let you know.

    For this trip, the bike still needs to be boxed and it needs to be a checked-baggage train. But it also needs to be boxed for the shuttle from Denver to Loveland, so it's no biggie.

    And yes, I won't be in a rush. I always wanted to take an overnight train, and this is the perfect opportunity.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  13. #13
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    Amtrak seems a great way to go... if you are not in a rush. The train station is a 50 miles bike ride south of here, but that kind of ride is just a pleasant day out for me.

    Any problems taking your bike on the train??
    From my end here in the deep south...depends. From CHS (Charleston, SC) to FAY (Fayetteville, NC) I can take the pedals off, turn the handlebars sideways and off we go. Apparently they have some type of tie down system in the baggage cars. Further north (apparently above Richmond, VA/DC area it has to be boxed) Folders travel in the passenger cars as carry on, or as checked baggage...your choice. I am saving pennies (yeah right...try dollars) for a tricked out Brompton, mainly for multi modal travel. I love traveling by train for the most part.

    It is looking like my next long term job site will be in Richmond, VA...that means I still get to ride Amtrak I have gotten to the point where driving is a chore...and I don't like chores

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  14. #14
    Senior Member TuckertonRR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Folders travel in the passenger cars as carry on, or as checked baggage...your choice. I am saving pennies (yeah right...try dollars) for a tricked out Brompton, mainly for multi modal travel. I love traveling by train for the most part.

    It is looking like my next long term job site will be in Richmond, VA...that means I still get to ride Amtrak I have gotten to the point where driving is a chore...and I don't like chores

    Aaron
    I highly recommend the "dimpa" bag, from Ikea (if you can get it) for the Brompton. It's alot cheaper than their own carry-bag, and very useful, esp. for train/bus travel.

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    I'll be going to Ocracoke Island, NC for the four long weekends this summer. There are no car rentals on the island, but there are bike rentals. We get around with a trailer for beach gear and a Trail-A-Bike for our daughter. We will also be going to Rochester, NY to watch the falcons. That could be carfree, but we usually get a car so that my wife and daughter can go to Niagara Falls when they tire of birding. Finally, we will spend two weeks on Sandy Island, NH, which is not only carfree but bikefree, because there are no roads.

    Paul

  16. #16
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Most of my vacations in the past four years have been car free. I've loaded up the bike, picked a destination and gone away. The act of cycling is a huge part of the attraction for me. Another is getting to see parts of B.C. that I might miss in a car. Most of the time, I'm not interested in tourist destinations. I'd rather explore a town or a region that might otherwise be ignored. When I get back at work, I feel relaxed and refreshed, much more than if I've driven out somewhere.
    Life is good.

  17. #17
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    There is something primally satisfying about rolling out of your yard and then coming home from an adventure on your own steam a week or two later.

    I really like to do that. However, you can't always do that. So this summer we will rent a van, drop it off, and then ride home along the Maine coast. You can have someone drop you off, ride to a destination you would like to go to, and then rent a van or take a train or whatever and come home. One year we drove to Burlington, left the car, and rode around the lower half of Lake Champlain. I'd like to go from here to Burlington via the Kancamangus Highway. But none of us are in good enough shape. Maybe next year.
    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
    Stewart Brand

  18. #18
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    One year we drove to Burlington, left the car, and rode around the lower half of Lake Champlain. I'd like to go from here to Burlington via the Kancamangus Highway. But none of us are in good enough shape. Maybe next year.
    One year I drove down to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, parked the car and took my bike on the ferry to Victoria, B.C. I had a great week cycling the southern part of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. Getting back to the car was a bit of a let down.
    Life is good.

  19. #19
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    My biggest beef with air travel is the general hassles involved, weather gets bit crappy...delays, somebody forgets to maintain aircraft...delays, overbooked an aircraft....delays, etc, etc. FWIW my wife works for a major airline as a Sr Flight Attendant, been at it for 25 years. The friendly skies aren't so friendly anymore and have become one big hassle. I still have to fly for work occasionally. The last 2 times I missed important meetings due to delays and cancellations. I would be royally po'ed if I had to miss a couple of vacation days due to crappy service.

    We were discussing taking the QM2 over to England later this year...

    Aaron
    I totally agree with you on this. If I can avoid flying, I do. I can think of no other form of transportation, including driving a car, that pisses me off more, and I'm car-free. When I fly in the US, I sometimes get the feeling that we're inching dangerously close to third-world status. Well, actually, that's not fair to the third world...
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  20. #20
    The Idler Domromer's Avatar
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    Best vacation I ever had was Rottnest Island, It's off the coast of Perth Western Australia. There are no cars on the island. It's full of people riding bikes and it's so peaceful and quiet. Going there in 99 was a big reason for me to become car free. The island felt huge because you were moving at a human pace. I highly recommend visiting if you ever get the chance.

  21. #21
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
    We will also be going to Rochester, NY to watch the falcons.
    Give a shout when you get here.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  22. #22
    Neil_B
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    This year for vacation I and BF poster "neilfein" are riding from Pittsburgh to DC via the GAP trail and the C & O Canal Towpath. However, there's no good car-free way to get to Pittsburgh - unfortunately neither of us have the time to ride from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and Amtrak doesn't have checked baggage on the cross-state line. So we are renting >GASP!< a SUV to cross the state and carry our gear.

  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    My biggest beef with air travel is the general hassles involved, weather gets bit crappy...delays, somebody forgets to maintain aircraft...delays, overbooked an aircraft....delays, etc, etc. FWIW my wife works for a major airline as a Sr Flight Attendant, been at it for 25 years. The friendly skies aren't so friendly anymore and have become one big hassle. I still have to fly for work occasionally. The last 2 times I missed important meetings due to delays and cancellations. I would be royally po'ed if I had to miss a couple of vacation days due to crappy service.

    We were discussing taking the QM2 over to England later this year...

    Aaron
    Whereas I enjoy flying ... I look at it as hours and hours of rest and pampering. Where else are you allowed to sit and sleep, watch a movie, and/or read, while being fed periodically, with nothing else to do?? I can't think of any time in recent years at home where I've just sat and watched a movie, I'm usually doing 101 other things with the movie on as background noise. And waiting for my flights gives me the chance to curl up in a chair and read a book ... something I rarely do any other time.

  24. #24
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Whereas I enjoy flying ... I look at it as hours and hours of rest and pampering. Where else are you allowed to sit and sleep, watch a movie, and/or read, while being fed periodically, with nothing else to do?? I can't think of any time in recent years at home where I've just sat and watched a movie, I'm usually doing 101 other things with the movie on as background noise. And waiting for my flights gives me the chance to curl up in a chair and read a book ... something I rarely do any other time.
    You obviously ARE NOT flying domestically in the USofA. Last trip I took out to Seattle from the East Coast, we were 4 hours behind schedule, no food on board, no movie and they closed the rear toilet half way there. That was after TSA didn't like the looks of my laptop and spent 30 minutes inspecting it Good thing they were too stupid to open files. I have a couple of sets of blue prints for FAA control towers on there (I have built 2 of them so far) They also didn't like the fact that I have multiple company (IBM, Micron, Alcoa, PM-USA to name a few) ID's in my bag (required by my job)

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    You obviously ARE NOT flying domestically in the USofA. Last trip I took out to Seattle from the East Coast, we were 4 hours behind schedule, no food on board, no movie and they closed the rear toilet half way there. That was after TSA didn't like the looks of my laptop and spent 30 minutes inspecting it Good thing they were too stupid to open files. I have a couple of sets of blue prints for FAA control towers on there (I have built 2 of them so far) They also didn't like the fact that I have multiple company (IBM, Micron, Alcoa, PM-USA to name a few) ID's in my bag (required by my job)

    Aaron
    I've only flown domestically in the US once ... from Denver to Des Moines. It was a rather basic flight, but was on time. It was a branch of United Airlines.

    We've got an airline like it here in Canada too, called Westjet ... very basic airplane, but clean, with functioning washrooms, extremely friendly staff, complimentary beverages and snacks, and usually on time. The attraction of flying with Westjet is that you can often get from Edmonton to Vancouver (for example) for under $200, and they only charge $40 (each way) for my bicycle.

    However, for longer-haul flights I go with Air Canada. This year I've flown with Air Canada three times, to and from Europe, to and from Australia, and to and from Vancouver. They've recently upgraded their planes so that they have personal entertainment systems. On the back of the seat in front of you is your screen, a touch screen, and you can choose the movies you want to watch when you want to watch them. They've got games for kids, and a large selection of radio stations and CDs to listen to. You can also watch your choice of your favorite TV shows if you like. In addition they feed you about every 2-3 hours ... a bit less during the night. I usually go for night flights, so typically there will be a supper, a bedtime snack, breakfast, and possibly even another snack or lunch before landing. (And snacks are not a miniature bag of pretzels, they are things like chicken wraps or sub sandwiches or something).

    Air Canada charges a bit more for my bicycle ($50 each way), but it's not bad.

    Now I will say that 15 hours on a plane (Vancouver to Sydney) does get a little long and tedious, no matter how comfortable the plane is!

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