photo of south of France coast from last Europe trip
Next month, Laura and I will be venturing off to Europe for a month-long vacation. Our itinerary looks something like this: Dublin > Inverness > London > Paris > south of France > Lyon > Switzerland > Berlin.
Planning a month-long trip is so much work (poor us). But we've managed to figure out the logistics of almost the first half of the trip by dividing up the planning (Laura is looking for couchsurfing hosts and hostels, I'm looking up transportation).
Thought I'd share some tips below of what has been helping us so far:
Hipmunk.com - Hipmunk is a site created by the same people behind Reddit. Alternative to looking up flights on Orbitz or Kayak, it lets you search flights and easily compare your options. You can see times, airlines, prices, and durations all in one. You can even sort by "agony".
Pinterest.com - Ok, so everyone knows about Pinterest. But not many utilize it as a shared planning tool. For travel, I created a shared board with Laura. This is where we pin anything we both come across that we may be interested in seeing on our trip. With the gazillion resources online of what to do, see, eat, this helps us keep reminders of what we should do once we're in a city.
Rome2Rio.com - I just came across this today! I've been okay with booking trains and finding bus schedules, but I came across a conundrum, debating whether to rent a car or take a train across the south of France. On Rome2Rio, I type in an ideal itinerary and it tells me information for whether I travel by train or car. I can easily see the route on the map when I click on each one, as well as see the prices of the train tickets or what it'll cost me in fuel. Best site so far for regional travel planning.
GOOGLE IS YOUR BESTEST FRIEND.
Seriously. Here are all the Google resources Laura and I are regularly using to plan this trip:
- Google Search: for obvious reasons, but also checking exchange rates every day. When the euro went down with the Cyprus crisis, we hopped right away with booking train tickets and hostels that we knew of.
- Google Maps: I create a saved map for each city and pin about anything/everything to know where places are in relation to each other (example: train station, cafe, hostel, etc.). Here's an example of one I made from a past trip to Barcelona.
- Google Drive: Laura and I share an itinerary document, travel tips document, and a spreadsheet with our so-far spending budget that shows what we owe each other in the end.
- Google Calendar: in the very beginning of planning, we created an ideal itinerary in Google calendar so we can share, and from there we changed it and changed it until it was the trip we wanted. I also learned that I could import this calendar into my iCal, so whether I'm on my computer, an iPhone, Android, whatever, I can see and edit the same calendar. Very handy for us to be on the same page when I'm booking transportation and she is booking accomodations.
AND SOME EXTRA NOTES...
Create an Amazon.com wishlist specific for your trip. Then anytime you think, hey, I need to make sure I have a raincoat, or I need a travel guide, then just look it up and save it to your wishlist.
Use an American Express card for as many things as possible. An AMEX card has many travel benefits, including insuring your travel in case of cancellation or lost baggage (via plane, ferry, bus, train, car, whatever), providing rental and travel insurance, and also providing global assistance in case of an emergency while abroad. Also it helps to budget your trip for 2+ people when you use one card.
That's about it for now, more tips to come! Will share below some more websites we're using.
TravelFashionGirl.com - how to pack minimally but with style in mind. We're just taking a backpack and tote/purse (you can always get a cheap suitcase abroad).
AirBnB.com - affordable homes in the areas you want, often cheaper than a hotel or hostel for 2. We're staying in one with washer/dryer in one of my favorite parts of Paris so we can have some privacy and relaxation from our long trip.
CouchSurfing.com - yes, it seems shady and can be, but if you're picky and lucky, you'll find and make some amazing friends abroad. Luckily we'll be meeting up and staying with several people I've met through this website again and again.
More info about our trip to come!