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  1. #1
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    Planning a LONG trip

    So I've recently accepted a new contract (Yay!) that I'm hoping will allow me to save enough money to go traveling through Europe for a couple of months this fall (Oct-Nov). Fingers crossed I can make the financial sacrifices (good bye Netflix ) to make this trip happen. I've always wanted to do something like this but I've never been able to either afford it or take the time off work. The fire at Notre Dame has reminded me that some times, you just gotta take the chance when you get it. This is that chance.

    I've traveled a lot but I've never planned a trip of this length before and..... I've got no idea where to even start.

    In the vague planning stages I've thought of maybe starting in Paris (found a cheap flight) and spend most of the time in eastern Europe. Might take a side trip to meet up with a friend in Jordan to see Petra (just a week at most). And I'll need good wifi (even if I have to pay an Internet cafe) since I'll be doing 5-10 hours of remote work per week. I've got a few ideas of places I want to see (Christmas markets, Auschwitz, Prague) but I guess, I'm over whelmed.

    For people who have planned these long trips, how do you do it? Do you just go and plan 1 week at a time? Pick out the big must see things and fill in from there? Some other method I haven't thought of?
    Synapse 25, Aeronaut 30
    "I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seaker, or a gunfighter but I am proud of what I am... I am a Librarian!"
    -The Mummy

  2. #2
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    Dear Librarian, awesome! May I suggest that you let the weather dictate your trip a bit and perhaps spend time in southern Europe? At least, October and November in Sweden are unlikely to attract everyone, otherwise you are welcome to make a side detour and visit us.

    OK, to your points:
    1) check your local library, I discovered that my library had lots of streaming services (to make up for your loss of Netflix, which is very sad)
    2) since you are a librarian (are you? if so why did I just remind you to check your local library? hmmm) anyway I highly recommend that you make sure you are signed up for eduroam. Our university has it and whenever I travel I find I can hook up easily in local libraries and universities with a good wifi connection.
    3) I enjoyed looking at Rick Steves' itineraries and audios -- he gives good intros for Americans unfamiliar with Europe, talks about the fun stuff in each region, and in general might give you a better idea of what you want to do
    4) since you are undecided and perhaps would like to be flexible, maybe a Eurail ticket for two months would be a good thing for you and help to give the trip a bit of structure?

    I once went on a year-long trip where I intended to go around the world. I landed in London, stayed there 19 years, and have now been in Sweden for 6 years. At this rate I will return to the US when I am 1000 years old. Anyway I can say it was life-changing :-)

    What I did was find as many friends and friends of friends as I could who might be willing to show me around or put me up or feed me a meal. That gave a bit of structure to the trip in my mind. Another thing you might like is to think of any "must-see" ideas. You could also (for example) decide to stay in one spot on a Greek island for a month and rent a long-term AirBnB, and then spend another month visiting friends or on the train. Again use any connections you might have -- like friends on this forum!

    Two months seems long, but it's really not. Have fun!

  3. #3
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    There is a young Canadian couple who have reached Financial Independence (FI) and now travel the world - they have no fixed address.
    Besides their FI posts, they do specific posts on the places they have visited, especially in terms of how to live there frugally for a week or two at a time. These might help you pick some places and have an idea of costs. They like good food/drink, free cultural things, and spas.

    This is the series of posts: https://www.millennial-revolution.co...loring-series/

    ETA, they do like a good swear word or three, if that bothers you
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ejvc View Post
    Dear Librarian, awesome! May I suggest that you let the weather dictate your trip a bit and perhaps spend time in southern Europe? At least, October and November in Sweden are unlikely to attract everyone, otherwise you are welcome to make a side detour and visit us.
    Despite the fact that I'm a California native currently living in Florida, I'm not afraid of a little snow. Several years ago I had a trip to Russia planned for my birthday (which is in December) but ended up spending the money on grad school instead (such is life, lol). I actually think traveling in winter might be easier, which maybe I'm overly optimistic about. But I would think I'd only need 1 good pair of boots and a single heavy coat and boom, done. No need for multiple pairs of shoes or fussing with tons of layers for a bunch of varying climates..... Just some warm fuzzy tights under my jeans and a t-shirt. Plus, traveling in the off-season is usually cheaper.

    Then again, see above about being a Cali girl and maybe I have no idea how to dress for a REAL winter (closest I've gotten to 'winter' was living in DC, Baltimore, and NYC). And yes, I am a real librarian But like a different kind of librarian (currently I'm doing consultant and contract work for digital asset management) and you'd be amazed at how many times I forget about my local library (that's terrible isn't it?). I just moved recently so maybe its high time I popped down there and checked out what they have available. I'll definitely check out Eduroam, that sounds like it'll be a great help!

    I've been watching Rick Steve's videos the last couple of weeks. My boyfriend found one of his videos about traveling to Cuba (we leave the week after next!) a couple of months ago. I find them to be pretty good, short but still covering an area pretty well. I suspect I'll do a lot of traveling by rail or bus and was thinking about a rail pass. I was just concerned about if I would travel around enough to make it worth the cost? Or if buses would be the cheaper option. I haven't had the greatest of luck using AirBnB internationally, I'm pretty sure our host in Lima was running an 'illegal' hostel and wasn't even located in country and in San Salvador..... Well the 'family run' hostel was actually a room in our tour guide's grandma's house where we couldn't really shower (we also met his mother and great aunt..... and their entire bible study group, although I did enjoy the VW bus in the living room).

    Unfortunately, I don't really know anyone in any of the places I'm thinking of visiting (plus, introvert with a nice dose of anxiety mixed in so.... yeah). I'm hoping that staying at hostels will help me meet new people and I know some will do free walking tours for guests or have other trips available and such. I did a couple of those in Nicaragua and it was great; convenient and cheap.

    I guess I'm kind of leaning towards the idea of a 'must see' list and trying to work a trip around that. I usually only travel for 1-2 weeks at a time (because broke and work) and I try to pack as much in as I can (I can sleep when I'm dead right? lol) so my planning can get a little complicated. My thought was to do about 1 country/week and the logistics of that plus the world-is-my-oyster openness of traveling solo.... Like I said, it's a bit overwhelming.

    Quote Originally Posted by G42 View Post

    ETA, they do like a good swear word or three, if that bothers you
    Both parents were sailors and I inherited every bit of their vocabulary.....

    I'll definitely check their website out though. I'm pretty good at traveling cheap in Central/South America, but I know Europe will be a bit more difficult. I'm also not a foodie (like at all, Kraft mac & cheese is a high art form to me) so that's probably where I'll be able to save the most money.
    Synapse 25, Aeronaut 30
    "I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seaker, or a gunfighter but I am proud of what I am... I am a Librarian!"
    -The Mummy

  5. #5
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    Greetings,
    While you haven't asked for help packing, I'm going to suggest https://www.onebag.com/ I find it much easier to travel with less stuff, but it was not easy to figure out how to do that. Doug has many suggestions that will help lighten your load.

    To decide where to go, I make a list. What do you like to do? What have you always wanted to try? Do you like stone circles, hot springs, zip lines, hot air ballon rides, castles and manor houses, meeting people, music, or something else? Where can you go and do (or experience) those things? Nearly every country, city, and town has a tourist website or information center. The library and your local bookstore will usually have travel guides, if you want to research that way.

    While traveling and visiting tourist sites can be fun, I find that experiencing something is more memorable when I can do it myself. How can you make your trip more memorable? Bring an experience home with you! Take a cooking class or language lessons in the country you are visiting. Music or singing lessons can be fun, too. I'm looking forward to yodeling lessons the next time I'm in Europe.

    How do you like to travel? I love train travel and cycling. I've been on two self guided bicycle tours. I take the train every chance I get. I look for unusual modes of transportation. In Alaska, where I live, you can go ride on a dogsled led by a team of huskies. What's unique or unusual where you are visiting?

    Where will you stay? Hotels can be nice, but a Bed and Breakfast is usually a more personable experience. A farm stay or Hostel might be appealing to some people. I've found accommodation available in some castles, a Gypsy wagon, campgrounds, dormitories (when school is out of session), on canal boats, and at monasteries.

    Rick Steves has many videos that may give you some more ideas. I tried punting in England after I saw it on Rick's show. https://www.ricksteves.com

    Whatever you decide to do, we would love to hear about your trip, including the planning parts, the packing and selecting of items to bring, and of course the trip itself. You are going to have a great time! elisa

  6. #6
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    I’ve done two month-long trips solo: one trip island-hopping in Greece about 20 years ago, and the second one was to the Netherlands where I bought a used bike and rode across the country (plus added a few days in Switzerland).

    I usually have more ideas than time on trips, so I’ll jot down some trip ideas and search if they’re feasible when I’m intending to visit. I’ll also use Google Flights to look for flights; you can put “Europe” and also some timeframes and it will spit back ideas. Note that it can be cost-effective to book the ticket to Europe out of a large airport to save cash if you can get to one easily (e.g. round-trip train ticket to LAX costs me about $100 but adds some time).

    I will also create an itinerary with paper and pencil (not pen!) so I can start blocking out days. I block a couple of days early for jetlag/decompression time, and I will block out the last full day or two so I am physically in the city I am departing from to return home. The last trip I landed in Zurich to find out that Amsterdam was shut down for the day and the French air traffic controllers were on strike; I had to fly to Amsterdam from Basel 36 hours later. Fortunately that was in the beginning of the trip! I also soft-block a full day out of the schedule if I am traveling a significant distance between cities (4+ hours total travel time); that way I don’t overbook that day with activities and have to scramble to get to the airport or train station. My itineraries are city names only unless there is something time-specific that I need to schedule (e.g. museum I want to see has something cool on Tuesdays); that way I put in some level of flexibility until it gets closer or I need to overhaul the itinerary when something specific comes up.

    I will also write a packing list early on, pack bags, and even walk a mile with those packed bags and some clothing I intend to wear so I can iterate the packing list. I both overpack and forget things, and a couple of times I had to go out and buy something I needed before I left. It’s much easier to do that a month before than it is the night before!

    That’s pretty much all I have as suggestions. I’d love to hear about your trip and where you ultimately end up visiting!

  7. #7
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    If you are short on money then eastern Europe is (much) cheaper than western Europe and still very interesting. My husband has travelled quite a bit in eastern Europe and recommends Riga, the capital of Latvia. The Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) could be part of a nice itinerary that includes Scandinavia. The Estonians are culturally rather Scandinavian and you can take a ferry to Finland from Estonia and then trains. Norwegian runs a lot of cheap flights to Oslo and Stockholm. Alternatively you could head west and take the train to St Petersburg! The Man in Seat 61 (The Man in Seat Sixty-One - the train travel guide...) is a great privately run website that tells you everything you could ever want to know about train travel in Europe, and then I also second the recommendation for the One Bag site for packing. We are setting our packing limits at 7kg each for our train trip around this summer.

    In terms of AirBnB -- I have had better experiences in law-abiding countries, e.g., I would be more inclined to AirBnB in Germany or Sweden than in Italy or Greece (where according to what I have heard from other travellers, flouting the law is kind of a sport). I would not trust it at all in eastern Europe (but -- I haven't actually tried it).

    We live in an extremely boring town but we have a separate guest house and like to cook, and live near a beautiful river, so I reiterate the invitation to stop a night or two with us, if you are up our way. DM me with your email address if you like and we can exchange details.

  8. #8
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    I stumbled upon Airwander.com while trying to add some continental stopovers for a trip to Israel in November. It might be a little adventurous for my trip that has a group portion that is pretty tightly scheduled, but it could be great for your trip. It got me some very cheap fares by adding long layover stopovers to the base itinerary. It pulls and arranges itineraries from sites like Kiwi and CheapOAir that you buy separately.

    I experimented with stopovers in places like London, Prague and Stockholm, and the itinerary added long (6-24h) layovers in places like Oslo, Kiev, Bucharest, Cluj, Athens, and Brussels. About half the itineraries I looked at were under $1000 R/T, and even the most selective schedules with more stopovers I looked at were under $2000.

    The catch is that you'll have mixed itineraries with majors like Turkish or Delta, and local low-costs like Ryanair and Blue Air, so you have to pack light to keep baggage treatment consistent. It also only does flights, so you'd have to do some finagling to get a portion of a trip on rail.

  9. #9
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    A little late to the party here but I've done two long international trips (1 year in South America in 2012 to 2013 - but half was just living in Argentina so really only ~6 months of travel, and 3 months in SE Asia last year, both times with my partner so not solo travelling but I think some of the same advice still applies). Since I haven't spent much time in Europe, can't help you with specific suggestions there (but looks like others already have!), but in terms of general advice for extended travel:
    - Don't plan everything! I know this is tough for most people but I can't stress this enough. I'm a huge planner but once I got comfortable with the idea, I really appreciated having flexibility (and I took out all my planning urges on getting *options* in place so that I always had an idea of what to do next even if I wasn't yet committed to it). My best travel times were when I only decided on and booked one place ahead - that is, I'd arrive somewhere only committed to be there for a short period of time (say, 2 nights, sometimes more, sometimes less), but with no next stop planned yet, then if I really liked it there, I could stay longer, and if I didn't, I could move on to the next place - often someplace I hadn't even known about before but learned about at the current spot. Which brings me to my next point:
    - Meet people! Yes, even if you're an introvert, find a way to meet people - hostels are often really good for this but make sure you find one that matches your vibe (I'm not a big fan of loud party hostels filled with young folk myself, but have had amazing times at more chill places with communal areas that encourage sharing travel stories). But there are other ways to meet people (and I'd recommend trying to meet locals and expats, not just other travelers that you'll find at hostels) - take classes, go to a local meetup, go hang out at a local cafe / bar. Unlike meeting people back home, you always have something built in to talk about - your trip and their experiences (traveling or living there).
    - Pack light! It just feels great to be able to pack up quickly, hop between trains, buses, and walking, and then get settled in to a new place quickly. Save your time and energy for experiencing a place not hauling your luggage. For my trip last year, I went with a Smart Alec (26 liters + 2.5 liter top pouch) and a Side Kick (3 liters) - I'm small so honestly even less would have been better.
    - Do less. This is related to not planning everything - admit that you won't be able to do everything you want to, and give yourself time to really savor the places you love. My current rule of thumb is no less than a month per country - and TBH that often feels really rushed (depends on the size of the country of course). I really like going slow and seeing the "in-between" places, but that's me. Do you.

    Hope this was helpful!

  10. #10
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    Yeah.... The last 3 weeks have been an insane blur of EVERYTHING-MUST-BE-DONE-RIGHT-NOW-WORK-THREE-JOBS-DON'T-SLEEP and then go on vacation. So I apologize for not getting back to everyone sooner! This also means, unfortunately, other than setting up my savings goals/rules in my app I haven't actually done any planning....

    AlaskaGirl: I Love ultra light travel!! I tried it once on a weekend trip and was hooked. It was cheaper, I didn't worry about overhead space, I didn't have to deal with baggage claim, just get on, get off, and go! I've done a few with just my S25 but for this trip I was thinking 2 bag with my A30 as well (I'm a shopper ). The idea about taking a class is an interesting one, it's not something I'd thought of. Do you find it hard to find classes in English in other countries? Or are they designed to be tourist friendly?

    Allanorn: I kind of do a mix of digital and 'hand'. I like to do all my planning stages digitally, especially budgeting! I've got some Numbers files that I use to plan my days and the cost; my math skills are abysmal but I can plug in formulas! Plus they update automatically as I change things. My iPad also has a notebook app that I can use my Pencil with and handwrite whatever I need. It's all stored in the cloud so I never worry about not having access or losing it somewhere. I also keep all my previous packing lists and update for the next trip as I'm planning it.

    Like you, I also usually have more ideas than time, I typically try to plan no more than 2 things a day (1 in the morning, 1 in the afternoon) so I don't end up rushing about and not really enjoying whatever it is I'm doing.

    Ejvc: Thanks for the offer! If I make it that way I'll let you know. A couple days in a quiet boring town might be just what I need at some point, lol. I've been leaning toward Eastern Europe, partially because of the cost difference, partially because I've never been there and it just looks so beautiful. My plan was to budget around $5500 which would give me around $500 or so per week. Honestly, though.... No idea yet if that's enough (and to some degree it will depend on what I do/see/stay, etc).

    Imperator: The extremely long layover is one of my favorite things, it's how I got to visit San Salvador. I see it almost as an extra 'free' mini vacation on my main vacation. I love that there's a website for it!

    ClaireJ: I think one of the biggest blocks I'm coming up against is wanting to really get to know a country and also getting to visit as many places as I can in the time/budget I've got. Not over planning is REALLY hard for me (thanks anxiety!). I feel so much more comfortable if I know what to expect (even if it's just because I read a blog post about it). I've gotten better about pushing through it but there have been times in the past where I've gone to a place for something and then just kept walking right on past it because I can't bring myself to go inside.

    I know the importance of leaving time for just wandering (which I love) and so I can spend more time at an unexpected jewel or something but leaving unplanned time makes it more difficult for me to get started. Like if there's a plan then I know I need to be at X at Y time and I need to get ready for that, but if it's just I'll do whatever today then it's hard for me to even get out the door. It's a weird quirk and it sucks, but I'm trying to get better about it.



    And because everything ends up more complicated this also might be more of a 4 month near-content-travel-thing than 2. A friend is coming down to visit for a week at the end of Sept. (she wants to do ALL the theme parks). The day after she leaves I have a wedding to fly to, then right after returning from that is when I would leave for this trip. My boyfriend wants to do a big trip right after that (either a week or two but I can't get him to make up his mind) and my grandparents usually want to travel for the Christmas/New Years holidays too. So... yeah.... yay but also.... it's a lot
    Synapse 25, Aeronaut 30
    "I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seaker, or a gunfighter but I am proud of what I am... I am a Librarian!"
    -The Mummy

  11. #11
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    OK, well then, I have a suggestion (which you can feel free to trash since it's from Someone Random On the Internet (SROTI?)) -- why don't you just pick a city, like Riga or wherever, and make that your base for two months. You can do day trips or weekends if you want to, thus combining "travelling" with "learning" and get some much-needed rest in as well.

    $500 a week will not be enough for Western Europe, I'm afraid. I've just been planning our summer holiday and we are lucky to get a hostel for $80 a night. But in Riga AirBnB is showing many apartments at about $50 a night even in high season in July.

    BTW I have never been to Riga I'm just using it as an example of a capital city in Eastern Europe. While in Helsinki, not so far away, the rooms are $120 a night.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClaireJ View Post
    - Don't plan everything! I know this is tough for most people but I can't stress this enough. I'm a huge planner but once I got comfortable with the idea, I really appreciated having flexibility (and I took out all my planning urges on getting *options* in place so that I always had an idea of what to do next even if I wasn't yet committed to it). My best travel times were when I only decided on and booked one place ahead - that is, I'd arrive somewhere only committed to be there for a short period of time (say, 2 nights, sometimes more, sometimes less), but with no next stop planned yet, then if I really liked it there, I could stay longer, and if I didn't, I could move on to the next place - often someplace I hadn't even known about before but learned about at the current spot.
    I would also recommend doing this. As a former overplanner, I used to be frustrated over things not going my way. But that is a reality of travel, you can plan and plan but certain things get in the way, like weather or holidays. I eventually started to "let go" a bit, making note of the places I want to visit but still leaving room for more spontaneous adventures. A while back I had a friend who went on a trip to Prague not knowing where the agency would take her - that was her note, for the travel agency to arrange everything and not inform her of the destinations. She only researched about the general list of things to bring, the safety precautions, something like this reference, and that was it! A few years ago I would not completely where she's coming from, but now it's something I can imagine doing in the future. Some of my most memorable experiences came from being more flexible

  13. #13
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    I suggest doing some basic planning, but don't get into too many details. Usually I just plan to the point of how many days and when I'll be in a particular place. Nothing like showing up for some local holiday where everything is closed...

    One reason I plan is for budgeting purposes. I'm not comfortable just throwing a number like '$500 a week" at something, I want numbers to be realistic (and I like to be under budget). I set up a spreadhseet matrix with places I want to visit, and a daily budget for;
    -lodging
    -local transit
    -transit to/from airport
    -food
    -tours & sightseeing

    I just go city by city and look at Trivago, transit agencies, restaurant menus, etc. and get actual numbers for what I could expect to spend.

    Plug the cities into the Kiwi 'Nomad' feature, and it will construct an itinerary with the number of days in each place that is lowest cost. Plug the ticket cost and number of days for each city into the spreadsheet, and the formulas will (usually) give me some jaw-dropping number that I start whittling away at!

    Setting up multiple columns with the same formulas will allow you to compare costs of different itineraries, bare things down or redistribute them to match your expectations.

    Nothing worse than getting over there only to find you'll have to mortgage your house halfway through to finish the trip!

  14. #14
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    Instead of a wedding, my wife and I travelled around the world for 7 months and visited all our family around the world. We ended up going to India, Kenya South Africa, UK and Canada. From each location we based ourselves and did trips from that point. And it was dirt cheap to travel within.

    Specifically for you Iím not too sure about Paris but London has excellent connection between other cities via Ryanair easyjet busses and trains etc.

    One tip though is donít always write off tours. Sometimes a tour such as Topdeck or GAdventures or Intrepid is actually cost effective and quite good to relax and let someone else do the work so to speak.

    All in all though I would highly recommend you have a rough guide. For example flight into Paris then Austria to Prague and maybe a flight from London back home. I found it always helped to have ďmilestonesĒ to reach. So when you get to a place you know that you have x amount of days and whatever you can do you do. If you try and do eeeeeverythign youíll never get anywhere planning. Sometimes you have to plan around an itinerary and not the other way around.

    My last tip would be and what we found in our trip. Everywhere you go make a decent plan for atleast the first few days. That way you get there and you know what youíre doing and whatís around etc. the worst thing is turning up to a new country or city tired from your travel not knowing whatís around or whatís going on. It drains you after a while and itís way more motivating having a plan atleast for the first few days.

    Hope it helps

    Ohh and I did the full time with an A30 and an almost empty WF.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Air-miles are another option; You don't have a whole lot of time, but you can often find a credit card with a big mileage bonus for the airline you're looking at for your transatlantic legs, and put EVERYTHING you buy on it. Like @LordAnubis said, you can usually get to London or Paris with relatively few miles (my last look on Delta was 52k r/t JAX-LHR, and I think I got 40k bonus when I signed up for their credit card), and then the low-cost carriers can get you nearly everywhere else for a pittance.

    Norwegian is convenient from Orlando, but I imagine a legacy carrier would be more comfortable for the transatlantic leg (particularly if it were 'free'!) Plus, they seem to be having financial issues and a 737Max problem, so I would be nervous about them pulling a WOW! and abandoning you over there.
    Last edited by imperator; 07-17-2019 at 09:08 AM.

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