Thursday, July 16, 2009

Planning - Phase I

While the concept of this trip has been in the works for several months, the official research & planning really began on my 35th birthday -- Sunday, July 12th. Greg & I spent the day reading our individual copies of Rick Steves Europe Through The Back Door. Rick is well known for his travel series on public television. I actually don't recall when I first encountered his books or his show, but I did use his advice, in conjunction with Let's Go Europe (for the hostel recommendations) to put together my itinerary back in 1998. And I truly believe it made all the difference, as it directed me to wonderful, less-trafficked places like Cinque Terre & Siena, Italy, instead of just Rome, Florence & Venice; Alsace, France along with Paris; Gimmelwald, Switzerland; Bacharach, Germany; the list goes on & on. I've continued to use Rick's books repeatedly over the years, from an 8 day vacation in Portugal a couple of years ago, to England last fall. Of course, I also do a tremendous amount of research online and consult other guidebooks as well, but you can't go wrong with Rick Steves (as long as you're not an overly demanding, must be pampered at a 5 star hotel and need 3 suitcases to haul everything kind of traveler). Ok, enough singing the praises of Rick Steves! Don't you think I should get some kind of kick-back for every person who uses the above link to peruse his website and possibly even buy a book or DVD??? We are now right at 8 weeks before departure. There's so much to do to prepare for being gone for 3 months; you really have to make a checklist to be sure everything gets done in time. So that's what I'm focusing on now -- list making. This includes both Greg & I separately writing down where we want to go and what we want to see & do and then combining those two lists and somehow coming up with one reasonable list that is mutually agreeable and not overly ambitious. Then we have to research where we want to be when (from mid-September to mid-November) based on weather, holidays/events, and seasonal closings. Finally, we have to figure out the most cost-effective mode(s) of travel and create a rough itinerary of our trip. Only then can we determine what we need to buy in advance (e.g. Eurail passes or plane tickets) and if we need to reserve any hotels or hostels if there's somewhere specific we want to stay. I'm really only skimming the surface of all the things to think about, but I think that's enough for this post.

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