Skip and Terri Weir are a couple of empty nesters seeing the world, sharing their experiences through photos, sketches and digital journaling. You can read about their adventures on their blog, Tumbleweed Tourists.
Terri was kind enough to answer a few of our questions below.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Terri: Our first trip overseas was in 2004. We loved everything about experiencing other cultures! Some of the most significant memories of that trip were from Croatia — the kiwis arranged over grids to create shade for walkways and driveways, the smell of the city streets, the smiles of the locals who happily spoke to us in near perfect English, having never left their own country.
I loved the people most of all. When we visited a village which had been bullet pocked during the war in the 90’s and listened to their stories, we were captivated.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Terri: I’d say we specialize in ‘hanging with the locals’ travel. We walk city streets, we speak with the locals, we explore local venues. We love small cafes and parks. We love to sit and people-watch in the big public squares. My husband Skip loves to sketch, so we will pick a spot to sit and he will sketch what he sees. We may visit a tourist stop or two, but it’s not our goal. We do love boat and bus tours. We love the fresh air against our faces while discovering a new city!
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Terri: Porto, Portugal. It’s an exquisite city. It’s very clean and beautiful. It’s not particularly walkable because it’s built on a mountainside, but if you take your time, you can see it all by foot eventually, and it’s worth the effort. The week we spent there in July, the weather was a perfect 72 degrees, breezy and sunny, every day. The people are friendly, the food is unique, there are boat rides and bus rides and wine cellar tours. And I’d say it’s not overrun with tourists. It may well be a best kept secret in Europe. My husband sketched the Porto Cathedral while we were there and it’s my very favorite of all his work.
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Terri: London, England. We went last year.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Terri: Don’t over pack. Only take what you can carry onto the plane with you. So much time is wasted checking bags, and who needs to haul around all that extra weight? We never check bags. We can fit everything we need under the seat in front of us.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Terri: Porto, Portugal. It’s a beautiful and clean city with much to explore. The people are friendly, there is plenty to do and see, and it’s not overcrowded. Prices are reasonable, food is unique, weather is typically outstanding.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Terri: Be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for petty theft. I’m a trusting soul, but it was drilled into me repeatedly — especially when we traveled to Paris, France and San Jose, Costa Rica. Use a small cross body bag with a strap that can’t be cut and keep all your money, cards, and documents in there and never let it leave your side. My husband had his art bag sitting open next to him at Notre Dame and a French woman scolded him, pointing at his bag, “PICK POCKET PICK POCKET.” He closed it. A friend we were traveling with in Costa Rica set her cell phone down for only a second and someone on a bicycle swooped it up and was gone into the crowd.
If you’re keeping up with your stuff, they will move on to someone else. Don’t let anyone ruin your trip. You don’t have to look for trouble around every corner, but plan ahead to be safe.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Terri: Stay relaxed. Don’t over-expect. Be nice to the staff and crew. Be nice to everyone. Check out the laws and practices of the countries you travel to before you go. Just because you’ve traveled internationally doesn’t mean you know what they will expect from you in a certain country. Travel light. We carry everything we take in a personal bag and a carry-on that fits under a seat.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Terri: Having enough stuff with them! I can’t believe the huge bags people carry.
TA: What’s a travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Terri: Though none of these things have happened to us, when we rented a car in Costa Rica, we were warned of criminals staging minor accidents, flattening tires, or breaking out car windows so they can rob you.
Don’t engage with people asking you for things. Just say no and get away. I saw this type of activity more at the Louvre and Notre Dame in Paris than anywhere else I’ve been in the world. Con artists abound.
Always have more than one credit card with you which has enough available credit to cover all your needs. I did have someone steal my credit card numbers the day we arrived in Costa Rica so it was deactivated — no more credit card. Thank goodness I had another one with me. It’s a good idea to use an RFID pouch to keep them from being scanned. Don’t use a debit card when traveling. It’s much harder to get your stolen money back.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Terri: Croatia. Delicious fish. Borek. Great Italian food. They do interesting things with pizza (think tartar sauce) and I had a sandwich there I wish I could duplicate. It had ham, sausages, boiled eggs and I can’t remember what else but it was fantastic. The bread in Croatia is amazing. And the cheese!
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Terri: What immediately comes to my mind is this little Argentinian steakhouse in San Jose, Costa Rica. Tenador Argentino. Quaint, gentle lighting, a little outdoor seating on the second floor. The food was outstanding. Possibly the best bite of beef I’ve ever had in my life. It may not be someone else’s idea of romantic, but for us it was a very memorable evening.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited?
Terri: I found Paris to be surprisingly affordable. We stayed in the Latin Quarter for less than $100 per night and ate delicious meals for $15-30 (no alcohol).