I recently took a cruise trip to the Caribbean with a couple of my closest girlfriends. While laying by a pool reading a book, with very little else in my plans for the day, I thought about the types of trips people in different countries take. While traveling experiences depend a lot on the family or the person, I do believe there are some fundamental differences between how Czech’s and American’s travel.
Czechs, well most Europeans in general, have much more vacation than we do. This was actually something that has taken my husband some time to wrap his mind around. Average vacation length is about a month, not including holidays. This means that most cities empty out in the summer months since most people are off of work and traveling wherever they want. Imagine how Iowa City feels when all the students leave -- that’s exactly how Brno felt in the summer; but it wasn’t just the students who left, it was everyone. I know this is not true of every European city, big cities such as Paris, London, and Prague are a bit different as summer is the time when tourists flood in. Summertime in Prague means you rarely see an actual Czech because they’ve all left to get away from the tourists who come and take over their squares, coffee shops, and restaurants.
The most common trips most Czechs take are camping in the summer and skiing in the winter/spring. Camping is popular because most people have family cottages, which allows them to get out of the city and have a garden. Many of my friends travel an hour or so to their cottage, stock up on supplies, and go out on hiking trips in the many marked forest paths surrounding their land. Czechs affinity for camping starts at a young age, as all elementary schools take a mandatory, week-long camping fieldtrip, similar to our idea of summer camp. Skiing is by far the most popular social sporting activity in the Czech Republic. Just as with camping, Czech children are taken on week-long skiing trips. It seems that every person in the Czech Republic knows how to ski or snowboard. Most people take off throughout the winter time to stay in Slovakia, Austria, France, or Italy at a ski resort.
Croatia is the go-to vacation spot for many Czech families. I have been told by many Czechs that they like it because it’s on the ocean, it’s inexpensive, and most Croatians speak or understand Czech. I believe to Czech’s, it’s America’s Cancun. When I suggested my interest in traveling to Croatia, my husband responded that he’d been a million times and would much rather go to a more exotic country like Italy or France.
Quick hop over to a new country
Lastly, Czechs and all Europeans for that matter, have the great advantage that they can easily jet off to other foreign countries. Taking a week trip to Spain, England, France, Italy, etc. is a very simple and ordinary event. For Americans, jetting off to a foreign country in Europe is the equivalent of heading down to Disney World, going to see a show on Broadway, or touring around the national parks. While most people would agree that the East and West coasts, North, South, and Midwest are all very different, they are all still in the same country. For Czechs, they easily have the opportunity to explore a new country, which often brings a new language and a totally different culture and history.
Having traveled the ‘European’ way and the ‘American’ way, I am a grateful I had the opportunity to experience both. As for what’s next? My husband has many places in the US he’d like to see, so exploring America will fill our vacation days in the future.
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