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.