A Month In Place

One week from today, Brett and I will board a train and head for a week’s stay in Rome. We will have been in Florence for a month, in hindsight one of the best decisions we made when planning our itinerary.

A month in place, we’ve discovered, has had an amazing number of benefits:

  • We’ve saved quite a bit more than expected. We received a very large monthly discount for our stay in our wonderful Airbnb rental (38% over the daily rate). It’s less expensive for owners to have someone stay for a full month than having someone in and out in a few days, and discounts can range from 10% or more (there are usually discounts as well for weekly rentals). Also, because we’re in the apartment long term, we’ve been able to shop at local grocery stores, and eat most of our meals at home which has saved quite a bit as well.
  • We’ve been able to unpack our suitcases and set them aside. It’s been wonderful to live as residents rather than as travelers.
  • We’ve had the time to take some great side trips. The same was true when we stayed for three weeks in Strasbourg. Going away for a couple of days didn’t take away from our time where we were staying nor did we feel rushed or worn out on our visits.
  • We’ve gotten to know our neighborhood more in depth. This is one of the greatest benefits of staying in place for a while. We’ve learn all sorts of shortcuts and the best or better ways to get from Point A to Point B, depending on the weather or time of day. We’ve also found the best or better places to shop, and had a chance to interact with local businesses versus those geared more toward tourists. We’ve gotten a feel for our neighbors, through music, arguments, noise, and their comings and going.
  • We’ve had the time to do some fun, off-beat things, like searching for different gelato shops. We could of course do these things in a shorter visit, but it would have the potential to detract from other “must see” or “must do” activities.
  • We’ve had time to relax and recharge. This honestly has been the best benefit of all. By staying in place a month there’s been no pressure to get out and do something every day (although we usually do) so that we don’t miss out. If we want to take the morning off and sleep in it’s not a problem, the same for taking an entire day off. We’ve had the time to take care of personal business (FAFSAs and insurance changes) that would have otherwise impacted a shorter stay somewhere.

One month in place definitely isn’t always possible, and we know there are places where we wouldn’t want to stay a month! Family obligations, housing issues, or having a pet can make such a long stay difficult or impossible as well. However, our month in Florence, and our longer time in Strasbourg, have given us some solid reasons for how we might want to travel in the future, especially as we get older. Instead of quick visits or trips where we’re having to pack and unpack over and over and deal with transportation issues or live out of a suitcase, we’ve come to appreciate having the time to get to know a place more deeply, adequate time to rest when needed, and the time to settle in.

8 thoughts on “A Month In Place

    • Laura says:

      These long stays have greatly affected how we see traveling going forward. Even if we end up buying a car and driving around the U.S. we now think we’d do better to pick a place and settle for a while versus driving from town to town every few days.

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  1. Laurel Hill says:

    That does sounds like a good way to travel as we get older. Some of the exhaustion definitely comes from moving around every few days, and Florence is a great place to park. I love your description of getting a sense of your neighbors from music, arguments, noise and their comings and goings. Very perceptive.

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    • Laura says:

      The greatest benefit to a long stay has been avoiding travel exhaustion, and to be able to see and do things in a location without any pressure or feeling like time is closing in. Florence has been a wonderful place for a long stay; Strasbourg was too. Still just tourists, I think we’ve developed a greater appreciation for the city though and how it works than we would have if we had only been here for a few days.

      I have to laugh a bit about the arguments – we have heard some doozies here! But, we’ve learned that people are not afraid to take an argument to the street, or wind it up. It’s not socially unacceptable here. Music-wise we’ve heard everything from American rock to popular Italian to opera (a singer lives on our little street). And, other than Saturday night, everything goes very quiet by 9:00 p.m. Saturday nights are a completely different story though – party all night!

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  2. Vivian says:

    The couple of times I traveled overseas, jet lag was a real issue for me and took a couple of days to adjust, Sounds like a month stay would be a perfect way to adjust to a new place.

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    • Laura says:

      We were absolutely exhausted when we arrived in Florence – other than our flight from Montevideo to Paris, the trip from Bordeaux to Florence was the longest and most difficult we have experienced. Staying here for a month meant that we could catch our breath and get our strength back. It would be the same for jet lag, I think – there’s be time to adjust without feeling like you would miss out on anything.

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    • Laura says:

      Our stay here (and back in Strasbourg) has us re-thinking about how we want to travel in the future as well! The benefits of a longer stay in place versus only a short time have become almost overwhelming during our stay here. We ran into a couple yesterday that was only in Florence for three days, and were trying to see everything – we were exhausted just listening to them, and more grateful than ever for our month here. I think for older travelers especially, if they can pull this off, this is the way to go.

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